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Silver Lab – Know Everything About This Controversial Dog

silver lab laying down
Reading Time: 8 minutes

The silver lab has the typical look of a labrador but with a glimmer of silver as a difference, making it a unique one. For a while now, the silver lab has been the crux of many debates and controversies but that doesn’t stop his unique beauty from charming people. Is he a purebred? Is he a crossbreed? The debate keeps firing. Although it’s helping the popularity of the silver lab.

It’s unfortunate that the silver lab had to be in the middle of such a heated debate in the dog community. Many breeders have tried to explain the origin of his coat hence the different theories about his existence.

If you’re nursing the idea of owning a silver lab then you’d need to know some things. Let’s get into facts about the silver labrador so that you can make an informed decision.

History And Controversy

Newfoundland in Canada was where the popularity of the labrador retriever started from during the 19th century. The lab is a hunting dog and typically helped in retrieving fishes, ducks, and other water animals. For fishermen, the labrador is still the best dog to have around.

St John’s dog was what his ancestors were called. Although they looked the same, St John’s dog only appeared in black. He was renamed Labrador retriever after British nobles took him to their homeland and refined the breed. Since then he has become the favorite canine for most people worldwide and is sitting on the position of the most popular dog in America according to the American kennel club.

When it comes to the silver labrador, the community is divided. While some believe that the silver lab is a purebred just like others, some others believe it to be a crossbreed between a labrador and a Weimaraner.

This controversy emanated from an advertisement of gray labrador in the 1950s. It was confusing for several breeders and lovers of the labrador breed because it literally came out of nowhere. Now, every interested person is asking how and why this came to be. Well, the same arguments are present for some other breeds such as the red fox lab.

Unfortunately, the silver lab is not recognized by the AKC or any authorized body. Although you can register him as a regular labrador. For the AKC, “chocolate labrador” is the category where you can register your silver lab. The rarity of the silver lab is kinda tricky to determine but this controversy is sure raising his popularity by the day.

Explaining The Occurrence Of The Silver Lab

As I’ve said earlier, the labrador community is divided into two factions when it comes to the silver lab. We’ll talk about the two theories now to throw more light on this sliver variant.

First Theory: Silver lab is a purebred labrador

This group of people suggests that the silver lab has always been around but was either not recorded or immediately put down. This is to avoid this unknown gene from entering the gene pool and they’ll be accused of crossbreeding. It was not until the 1950s that a kennel was bold enough to advertise their silver labrador publicly. The answer, as many have suggested, lies in the genetics of the dog breeds used in the refining of the labrador we know today. So it’s possible that this rare gene was inherited from their ancestry.

Second theory: Silver lab is a mixed breed

This is the faction against the purebred nature of the silver lab. The only suggestion plausible to them is that the Weimaraner’s gene was mixed into the gene pool to achieve this unique coat color. Except for the difference in coat color, the Weimaraner resembles the labrador both in size and appearance.

Back in the days, due to the rarity of the special labrador, they were bred with close relatives to achieve this silver color. This is called inbreeding. So the part of the community that supports this second theory isn’t only furious that the silver lab is a hybrid but also because they were inbred.

In-breeding, as they fear, will lead to health problems which makes them wary of mixing silver labs with other Labradors. The breeders of the silver lab have been accused of being interested in the money with no consideration for the dog’s health.

Genetics Of The Silver Lab

Being a dilute version of the chocolate Labrador, the silver lab possesses what is called the dilution gene. The watered-down colour of the silver lab is due to this dilution gene. The coat colour is the most part affected by this dilution but the colour of the eyes and nose can be affected as well.

 All colours of the labrador breed are controlled by specific genes. For instance, the B and E genes control coat colours in standard labs be it black, chocolate or yellow. Nevertheless, the silver colour is influenced by the D gene.

Going further, genes come in pairs and the unit of these pairs can be made of big ‘D’ or small ‘d’. The big D expresses as full-strength goat colour while the small d expresses a watered-down variety of the colour.

To explain the above statements, I’ll give a few pairings and we’d see what colors they’ll be expressed as.

  • DD – Chocolate
  • Dd – Chocolate
  • dd – Silver

So as you can see, any pair that contains the big D still comes out as chocolate. This is because the big D gene is dominant, so whenever it appears even if it’s just one copy, it’ll dominate. In the above three pair examples, only the third option can result in a silver lab. This is because two copies of small d are needed(otherwise known as a recessive gene) to produce this silver color variant.

The Silver Lab As A Show Dog

Genetics of the silver lab is more of theory than proven hence they can join any AKC event and can be registered as a labrador under the chocolate variety. But one thing they can’t do is compete in show events. So if you’re buying this silver lab just to show him in the ring then know it’s a dead end.

Of course, the lovers and admirers of the silver lab keep fighting against the AKC and suggest that this breed should be able to compete. For others, they are contented on how the AKC managed the situation and hope it remains so.


silver lab standing in garden

Asides their unique silver coat color, the silver lab looks like ever other labradors out there. His color is described as silver while some others see it as a diluted brown. He’s called a silver lab just in general terms as his silver coat can still come in different shades. They usually have yellow eyes and a brown nose. Before 8 months, many lab puppies have light blue eyes which slowly changes to yellow.

The looks of a silver lab is still a subject of controversy as some claims he looks more of a hound than a labrador thanks to his Weimaraner ancestry. That his muzzle is thinner and longer than the standard lab and his ears are also larger than the normal labrador. Well, some would go as far as saying that the silver lab simply does not look like a labrador.

The male silver lab will grow up to be 22.5 – 24.5 inches tall from paw to shoulder while the female will be on the smaller side at 21.5 – 23.5 inches. Being quite heavy, the male weighs 65 – 80 pounds while the female tops at 55 – 70 pounds. They are sturdy dogs with a strong muzzle and mighty necks. Their tails are long and thick which can serve as steering when in water.


Being an intelligent and easily trained dog, the silver lab loves pleasing his owner. If consistent with his training, the silver lab would turn out to be the most obedient dog and will do anything to help his master. If you seek true companionship, then look no further than the silver labrador.

He is always interested in joining family games due to his social nature. He so enjoys playing games of catch as he will retrieve anything you throw just to entertain the family. To him, everyone in the family is a member of the pack and he feels comfortable snuggling with anyone of them. If well socialized, he loves children and other smaller pets.

Though this could backfire as being left for long would trigger separation anxiety. He is a carefree and untroubled dog and is described as “friendly, active and outgoing” by the AKC. His sweet personality is a good reason for his position as the most popular dog in America, for 23 years!

Exercise And Training

The silver lab being a working dog is highly active and requires at least 60 minutes of exercise daily. This does not mean just 60 minutes of walking around the park, he needs intense exercise to burn through pent-up energy. They will need interactive and rapid exercises such as taking part in agility courses, playing fetch, or even jogging as they’re good at it. Since time immemorial, they’ve been the fisherman’s best canine so swimming is also a good exercise for them.

The best way to train your dog still remains positive reinforcement. This entails that correct or required behavior is rewarded. Being intelligent, Labradors enjoy training sessions as it stimulates them quite well. Early socialization will also help with tolerating children and other smaller pets.

His intelligence coupled with his eagerness to please, the silver lab will dedicate themselves to impressing you with all they’ve got. So once you’re are continuous with training, you’ll have gotten yourself a super obedient pooch.


Being a large and very active dog, the silver lab requires about 3 cups of food daily. This should be divided into two meals, and never kept to be eaten once. It should be a high-quality dog food that contains the necessary nutrients for growth and good health.

Labradors have an appetite and tend to eat whatever they can lay their paws on, so you’d have to be wary of how you keep their food. Monitor how many treats you give them as well because they’re prone to obesity.

Your love for your dog is definitely unconditional but do not show it by giving him excess food.

Health Concerns

This is another area that fuels the controversy surrounding the silver lab. Some claim that there’d be health problems due to alleged in-breeding of the silver lab. As it hasn’t been proven yet, the silver lab suffers health conditions the same as a traditional labrador.

They are generally healthy and live out to be 10 – 14 years old. You just need to be aware of these health conditions if you’re considering getting a silver lab. Common ones are;

Colour dilution alopecia: It is found in dogs that have the dilution gene. Not all of them have it anyways. It can make your dog prone to bacterial infections in the hair follicles causing dry skin and hair loss eventually. It isn’t life-threatening but isn’t curable as well. Although it can be managed using antibiotics.

Others include;

  • Exercise-induced collapse
  • Elbow and hip dysplasia
  • Eye problems

Once you own a silver lab, the best practice would be to be consistent with regular vet checkups and be on the lookout for symptoms.


silver lab

To protect them from cold, the silver lab has a double coat that is thick and dense hence water-resistant. They do shed but just a fair amount. So they’d require to be brushed about twice weekly. Although, you might need to brush them more often during their shedding season.

Your pooch will need to be bathed at least every six weeks to keep him smelling good. Remember other aspects of grooming as well, brushing his teeth, cleaning his ears, trimming nails as well. It will benefit your dog to take them to a professional groomer every once in a while.

Getting A Silver Lab

For a traditional labrador retriever, you’ll have to pay anywhere from $850 upwards. Due to the rarity of the silver labrador and increased demand, its price is a little bit higher at $1250 – 1500.

Ensure you buy your pup from a reputable breeder and request for the parent’s health clearance. This is to make sure your dog avoids future health issues.

Try to interact with your pup’s mother and siblings as this would help you determine his temperament and how he’d grow up to act.

Make sure to ask the breeder a lot of questions about any confusion you have. And a reputable breeder would also ask you questions about your home as well to ensure his puppy is going to be well taken care of.

By all means, avoid cheap dogs from puppy mills or bad breeders. It might seem like a good deal at first but along the line, you’d regret it. This is because a lot of things aren’t taken into consideration about the dog. They’re just in it for the money.


Whether you’re for or against the silver lab, one thing is certain, his popularity keeps on rising. They are social, friendly and fun-loving dogs. They are best suited for families with space, time, and energy.

The silver lab is not only an eye-catching dog but loyal and dedicated. He would anything to please his owner. As an owner of a silver lab, you’ll be rewarded with unconditional love and companionship.

Should you get a silver lab?

Well, after reading through this article, I think you should be able to make a decision now.