Friday, November 28, 2008

Why would you want a chocolate Labrador Retriever puppy?

What color Labrador Retriever should I buy? Do you think the yellow Labrador Retriever is better than the black Labrador? These are just a couple different questions I receive from readers of this blog.

I came across an interesting article into why someone would want to own a chocolate Labrador Retriever as opposed to the yellow or black Labrador Retriever.

I feel the author, Stewart Richardson makes some valid points, such as higher prices being charged just for the color, and the gene pool for the chocolate Labrador being smaller than those of the yellow and black Labrador Retrievers, contributing to more inbreeding.

He also goes into medical conditions which I feel can be just as common in all the Labrador Retriever colors, as well as other opinions that can be argued back and forth in regards to the yellow and black Labrador Retriever.

I have posted this article as another information tool for us Labrador Retriever owners and to provide another opinion for some of the questions that I do receive from the readers of this blog.

Why would you want a chocolate Labrador Retriever puppy?

Why would you want a chocolate Labrador Retriever?

That's a question that I often ask myself, as I receive various requests for information about them.

Having been involved with Labrador Retrievers for many years now, and having also observed numerous Labrador Retrievers, including chocolate, I find it difficult to justify the additional price often charged for chocolate Labrador Retrievers.

The yellow and black Labrador Retrievers have been bred now for many, many, years. And they seem to be a very different (and nicer) dog to me than the chocolate Labrador Retrievers.

This opinion is also shared with various other Labrador Breeders to whom I have spoken.

Some Labrador Breeders have felt that the 'gene pool' for the chocolate Labradors is much smaller than those of the yellow and black Labradors. And this smaller gene pool, could contribute to more inbreeding and/or maximum inbreeding depression (which is the opposite to hybrid vigor).

This certainly seems to make sense to me, and I can't see why this wouldn't be the case?

From my personal experience, the vast majority of the chocolate Labrador Retrievers seem to me to be different to the yellow and black Labrador Retrievers, not only physically (obviously their color, but other elements also), but also in respect of their temperament, etc.

Some of the chocolate Labrador Retrievers that I have observed have had temperaments more like kelpies than Labradors. And some of the chocolate Labrador Retrievers I have observed have had temperaments with a combination of being very shy, fearful, etc combined with aggression (seemingly through a heightened sense of fear).

Also, I have seen chocolate Labradors with hereditary diseases, such as ectropion, which is a defect with their eyes which involves their eyelid being lose or turning outwards, which increases risks of foreign bodies (such as grass seeds, etc) being able to get under their eyelid/s. This in turn can then cause other health problems, which may need Veterinary attention.

Another eye condition, which is also accepted as being hereditary, is entropion, which is the opposite to ectropion. With entropion, the eyelid turns inwards, and can irritate the eye by (for example) the eye-lashed rubbing against the eye.

Some Veterinarians will operate on the eyelid/s to remove the defective part, in order to try and reduce the associated risks or health problems. But, of course, dogs with these problems should not be used for breeding, in my opinion (and that of some Vets) as they may produce offspring with the same or similar eye problems.

However, there are some Labrador breeders of chocolate Labradors who knowingly continue to breed from Labradors that have hereditary eye problem, and produce offspring with problems.

I know of cases that have even been reported to the appropriate controlling body (eg Royal NSW Canine Council, now trading as Dogs NSW), and to the best of my knowledge, nothing has been done to prevent the reported Labrador breeders from continuing to breed from defective breeding animals, and producing defective offspring, which they sell to the unsuspecting public!

There have also been cases of the President (at the time) of the NSW Labrador Retriever Club 'endorsing' a Labrador Breeder that was using defective breeding Labradors and producing defective puppies.

Please don't assume that ALL chocolate Labradors are defective etc, as I am certainly NOT suggesting this. But I certainly believe that generally, I would prefer a yellow or black Labrador over a chocolate Labrador, and that if I had to have a chocolate Labrador, then I would do a LOT of research about the parents, their health and temperament, before accepting it.

About the Author:

The Author has been involved with dogs for most of his life, including breeding various breeds of dogs, including the Labrador Retriever. Grant feels that there are many Labrador puppy breeders with sites on the internet, and which offer a wealth of information. Such as which has numerous pictures, a Labrador Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page, plus more.

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Pet Vitamins November 15, 2010 7:20 AM  

Most people get a chocolate lab because the "chocolate" lab has been correctly marketed. People being a creature of habit follow the herd.

I myself prefer the yellow lab.

Brian December 19, 2010 8:27 PM  

From someone who has two chocolate labs, I can tell you that this author has no idea what he is talking about. Wish I knew his name, because I could completely disregard anything that he ever had an opinion on. Your generalizations are ridiculous and I think you should just stick them up your @ss!!!

Fay December 19, 2010 9:57 PM  

Thanks for your comment Brian. Sorry, I don't have the authors name to pass along to you as this article was posted a couple of years ago. Happy holidays!

craig,  October 25, 2011 12:39 PM  

Just my two cents, although nothing has been posted for months. I purchased a choc lab that is the sweetest animal on earth. She does get crazy with her smaller choc sister (not by blood) and the'll play pretty hard at times. Mine outweighs the other by 20 lbs. But, she did need two TPO surgeries on her hips at nine months. Perhaps she was the vict of being from a puppy mill. I will never know. I did zero research on her parents. I would sell my soul to keep this dog happy

Anonymous,  April 22, 2012 9:01 AM  

Author of the article has no clue what he is talking about!!! I have an 11 year old choc, had him since he was 6 weeks and he is the best dog ever!!! He is super super smart, gentle and a love bug. When choosing my lab i choose choc b/c they are rare, you don't see to many people with them and i will choose a choc again!!!!

Fay April 22, 2012 8:26 PM  

Thanks for your comment anonymous. Love my chocolate Lab girl (as well as my black beauty) with all my heart!!

maggie,  April 27, 2012 11:01 PM  

I just lost my yellow lab. I loved her with all my heart and my 9 month old chocolate lab certainly has big shoes to fill. There are some differences in their nature but I highly doubt this has to do with their colour. How can we expect any two dogs to be the same? My chocolate is very loving and barely leaves my side now. I know he will be different but is shaping up to be every bit as devoted and loving.

Fay April 28, 2012 2:42 AM  

Hello Maggie - my deepest condolences on the loss of your yellow lab.

Thank you for sharing your comment and good luck with your new chocolate Labrador Retriever.

Anonymous,  June 01, 2012 2:57 PM  

:'-( We had to put our amazing 15 yr old chocolate lab to sleep yesterday. No dog will be able to replace him. He was so loyal, gentle,and smart! He was a good reader of people, and a sweet comfort everytime I needed him, and knew when I was pregnant with our oldest son before I did! I agree that this guy doesn't know what he's talking about...or just bias to his own dog :).


Fay June 02, 2012 10:21 AM  

Hi Lucy, my condolences on the loss of your chocolate Labrador Retriever.

Thank you for sharing your comment.

Anonymous,  June 07, 2012 2:27 PM  

I, too, have to disagree w/this author. ALL 3 colors are just that. A color of a dog, which happens to be a lab. I've done so much research on this breed (and the breeder I've chosen) and have come to the conclusion that color has nothing to do w/their personality. Chocolate just happens to a pretty color, along w/the black as well. My suggestion would be to steer away from the other color that seems to be appearing and thats the "silver". This is not the breed standard of color.
Just my thots

Anonymous,  July 06, 2012 6:45 PM  

I have a yellow female and a male chocolate lab. The yellow female has been quite aggressive at times with children. I have no idea why because she has never been bothered by kids.
Now, my chocolate male, whom I have had for 4 years is the dearest, kindest, smartest dog ever. If I didn't know better I would believe that he totally understands english. He seems to understand what I say without me teaching him. I am telling you, he is the most wonderful dog I have EVER owned in my life.

Anonymous,  July 22, 2012 9:49 AM  

Wow..the author of this article is a moron. Period. My 3 year old choc lab is by far the loyalist, most loving and happy creature on this earth. I would walk thru fire for him...his temperament has nothing to do with color..he is a lab . Period!!
This guy needs to do research if his own in how to get a clue

Jeanne,  July 26, 2012 3:50 PM  

I have had three labs, two black, and now a 3 month old chocolate male. I had a breeder (who only breeds blacks and yellows) tell me that the chocolate lab was the bottom of the lab gene pool. I fully disagree. It is important to deal with a breeder that is trying to improve the breed, not just make a buck. I was careful to select a good breeder. My boy has a wonderful temperament and the classic labrador look.

Anonymous,  July 27, 2012 7:31 PM  

Smaller gene pool? My chocolate was thrown from two blacks!

Anonymous,  July 30, 2012 12:05 PM  

Has anyone noticed what color Labrador gets used the most by Guide Dogs etc? Haven't seen too many chocolates?

Dave,  July 31, 2012 4:44 PM  

Obviously a generalization, concerning his description of Chocolate Labs. I have a 4 year old that is the best behaved animal I have ever seen; wonderful around young children and very healthy. I worry about breeding issues when he is older, but so far so good. I couldn't have a greater pet!

Todd Herreid August 04, 2012 11:19 AM  

What a fool. I hunt with both a black and a chocolate lab. Give me my chocolate over the black anytime. Color has nothing to do with how your dog turns out.

emily inksetter August 25, 2012 10:01 PM  


I recently had to put down my five year old chocolate lab due to a number of serious health problems.

He developed severe systemic allergies at age 3. No problem. We put him on steroids from April to November and he was just fine. Just after his fifth birthday he had a seizure. Then he had three more. Then he was having three a day. The anti-seizure meds brought them down to one a week.

Come the following April when we were going to start him on his annual steroid regimen the vet informed us that the prednisone and phenobarbitol were incompatible and he'd just have to get through.

He chewed holes in his skin down to the bone. He was covered in hot spots and rashes so badly we couldn't even touch him without causing him pain.

We told the vet we couldn't do this to him and that maybe we were fighting a losing battle.

She then suggested we try mixing the drugs and see how he reponds....kind of a last ditch effort.

Two seizures the first day, five seizures the next day, two days later a seizure so severe we had to rush him to the vet college at the university for IV valium.

We put him down the next day.

It was like fate when I ran into a very responsible lab breeder just two weeks later. She was walking her dogs and I pet them and started crying and told her my story not knowing about her long history with labs.

She told me a bunch of stuff about DNA, genes, responsible breeding, etc. Chocolate is a recessive gene. If she gets one chocolate from a litter, it's worth a bundle...but it will likely be a healthy dog. She said NEVER buy a chocolate from a litter of chocolates. They have been improperly bred and the chances of problems are raised considerably.

She went on for awhile about biology stuff that went right over my head, but in the end, when I told I had picked my dog from a litter of eleven other chocolate puppies she just shook her head, held my hand and said she was sorry for my loss.

Of course most chocolate puppies will be fine, but if improperly bred....they are just a heartbreak waiting to happen.

Mike Jenkins,  January 10, 2013 9:52 AM  

I have a 4 year old chocolate lab. I took him over from my son who split with his partner. He was 18 months old at the time, and overweight.He is now 39k in weight and the most loving dog I have ever come across.He taps me on the leg when he knows it's time for dinner (5.00pm)and gets me to tuck him in at bedtime (11.00pm) after his evening walk...I kid you not!...He likes his food, as they do, but knows when when he's had enough (unlike some human's,eh?)All this stuff about choosing breeds & colours because some "EXPERT" says so is totally irrelevant.If you like the look of a dog, you'll find a way of training and loving the dog. It's that simple.

cncbuss March 18, 2013 8:26 PM  

I'm linking to this post in my own blog. Thanks for the great article!

I LOVE my Chocolate Labrador. I wrote about her in my own blog post at

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