This isn't a new colour variety, but one that first appeared in pure-bred Labradors in the US 60 years ago

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The colour of the coat of the golden retriever has long been a subject for debate. The Kennel Club’s breed standard states that “any shade of gold or cream” is acceptable, while the American KC requires “rich, lustrous gold of various shades”. I presume from this that the Americans prefer their goldens to be, well, golden, but I stand to be corrected.

Colour is a contentious issue in many breeds. I remember at one Game Fair meeting a handsome large Munsterlander that happened to be brown and white rather than black and white. As a result, he couldn’t be registered, despite having an excellent pedigree. In times past he would have been tapped on the head as a puppy, so the problem would never have arisen. Genetic throwbacks happen, but our passion for breed purity means that these dogs are never bred from.

“Labrador enthusiasts become apoplectic on the subject of silver Labradors”

German shorthaired pointers (GSPs) are a breed in which there’s a lot of colour variation allowed, with everything from liver-and-white ticked (roan) to solid black. In recent years, the solid black dogs have become more popular and sell for a premium price. To my eye, an all-black GSP looks too much like a leggy black Labrador, especially now that many remain undocked. Tri-coloured GSPs aren’t allowed: I have never come across one, though I wouldn’t be surprised if they appear occasionally.


However, when it comes to controversial coat colours, there’s nothing to beat the so-called grey or silver Labrador. This isn’t a new colour variety, but one that first appeared in pure-bred Labradors in the US 60 years ago. Many claim that these dogs must have Weimaraner blood somewhere in their ancestry, but despite extensive research there’s no indication that this is the case.

 

Most Labrador enthusiasts become positively apoplectic on the subject of silver Labradors, as the following, posted on the Internet, reminds us: “There is no such colour as champagne, grey or silver — they are the brainchild of an idiot who is ruining the pure-bred Labrador. They are mongrels.” In the show-dog world where racial purity is everything, there’s no more damming word than “mongrel”.