Black labs are smarter, yellow labs are hyper, chocolate labs are not intelligent…and on and on the debate goes. Even the animal world is not immune to stereotypes. Let my experience assure you that these stereotypes don’t hold water. I’ve been in the Labrador Retriever breeding world since 1998, and I can definitively say that your dog’s qualities will be determined by its pedigree and breeding program.
When one looks at the pedigree of a well-bred lab, the first thing that should stand out are the lineage and titles it will inherit. A puppy chock-full of past champions and dogs that have attained titles will inherit the same DNA that gave its predecessors the ability to attain such titles. Your dog stands to inherit the same fleetness of foot, the same stamina, the same great sense of smell, the same dedicated personality, etc., as his predecessors had. To say that a dog, merely by the color of its coat, will exhibit certain traits would be a genetic fallacy.
In Labrador Retrievers, the black is the dominant gene in the scheme of color. With that, all dogs of the breed will carry this color. In other words, any Labrador Retriever can produce black offspring, regardless of the color of his/her coat. Yellow and chocolate coat colors, along with their slight variations, have to be carried by the parents to have pups of those colors. These colors are “recessive” in the gene pool. An example of this would be breeding a yellow lab to a chocolate, where neither parent carried the other coat color gene. Their pups would be black, and all of the pups would carry the yellow and chocolate recessive gene.
The thought that a puppy would be destined to a certain personality trait or ability can be explained simply by using one of my dogs. My male Soggy Acres Desert Fox MH AKA “Rommel” is a black Labrador Retriever that carries both the yellow and chocolate recessives for coat color. I can breed Rommel to a female that carries the same genetic coat variations and have puppies of all three coat colors in one litter. With only one recessive gene being the difference in the pups DNA, there would be no chance of a major difference in the pups from this litter. Just as in hair color with humans, coat color is no indicator of things to come.
Ultimately the ability of a pup rests in what they were bred for. If a Labrador Retriever is bred for coat color only, whether black, yellow or chocolate, there could be a risk for you, the consumer. Clearly, attempting to pair animals to breed for color alone negates all of the truly important factors in creating a strong, healthy, intelligent litter. Looking at the pedigree and genetics of potential litters is the first step in finding the traits desired in your future champion.
This article was brought to you by Soggy Acres Retrievers.
Image courtesy SportingDog Adventures