CONTROVERSY SURROUNDING SILVER/GRAY LABRADOR RETRIEVERS
There have been numerous arguments surrounding the official classification of silver or gray Labrador Retrievers. Some people claim that the silver coloration is a serious defect, and that all Labradors with a silver coat coloration should be destroyed to preserve the integrity of the breed. This is an extremely outrageous request, as no dog deserves to be euthanized simply because of their fur color. Generally, Silver Labrador Retrievers are rare, and are more commonly classified by breeders to be a mis-marked Labrador. “Mis-marked” also refers to purebred Labrador Retrievers that have patches, stripes or tints of inconsistent colors, ranging from black, to blue, to gray.
There is no information that defines a Silver or Gray Labrador Retriever as having any temperament or health characteristics different from other color variations. Though there are many organizations that classify Silver Labradors as an “incorrect” representation of the Labrador Retriever breed, there is no evidence that fur coloration affects any other traits of a Labrador Retriever.
DO SILVER LABRADORS REALLY EXIST?
This is more common of a question than you might think. Some breeders refuse to acknowledge the Silver Labrador Retriever as a Labrador, and therefore stand by the belief that purebred Silver Labradors do not exist. This argument was intensified when the American Kennel Club decided that Silver fur coloration should be classified as a shade of Chocolate.
SILVER AS A SHADE OF CHOCOLATE
With the growing controversy over the legitimacy of the Silver Labrador, the AKC (American Kennel Club) eventually decided to come to an official consensus regarding Silver Labrador Retrievers. In 2000, the AKC decided that Silver Labradors were not a result of cross-breeding, and were legitimate variations of the Labrador Retriever breed. However, Silver is not recognized as a correct color for a Labrador to be registered under. Due to the Chocolate Labrador fur coloration being officially said to range in color “from Sedge to Chocolate”, the AKC decided that the current policy should be that all Silver Labradors need to be registered as “Chocolate”.
Naturally, this has created some controversy with some Silver Labrador breeders and owners, due to the AKC not recognizing Silver as a separate fur coloration. However, until a new policy is developed, Silver Labrador Retrievers are officially considered to be a shade of Chocolate Labrador.
IS SILVER/GRAY A RESULT OF CROSSBREEDING?
The AKC, along with several canine genetic experts have done numerous tests to verify the integrity of Silver Labrador Retrievers. According to the AKC, there isn’t any reason to suspect that a Labrador Retriever with a silver fur coloration is not a true purebred Labrador Retriever. There is speculation that Silver Labrador Retrievers can only be produced by cross-breeding of impure Labrador bloodlines, but this is not the case.
A few decades ago, the Chocolate Labrador was suspected to be an incorrect representation of the Labrador Retriever breed. It’s only recently that the Chocolate Labrador was officially recognized to be a purebred Labrador Retriever. However, if Silver truly is a variation of Chocolate, it is worth noting that the first Silver/Gray Labrador Retrievers were reported as Chocolate Labradors were increasing in popularity.