Ever seen one? They're not new - in fact the colour appeared in pure-bred Labs in the USA over 60 years ago.
What exactly is the right colour? The Kennel Club’s breed standard states that “any shade of gold or cream” is acceptable for golden retrievers, while the American KC requires “rich, lustrous gold of various shades”. Colour is a contentious issue in many breeds.
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 USA 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. The colour is causing controversy in the United States, where a number of kennels are now specialising in breeding silver Labradors. However the colour is virtually unknown in the UK.
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”.
These are certainly having a bit of a moment just now and becoming increasingly popular. It is the ideal colour for a wildfowling dog, allowing it to blend naturally into the background. However black has always been the dominant colour for Labradors out in the field and at gundog trials.
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Black and tan Labradors?
The Labrador breed was first recognised back in 1903 and since then hundreds of thousands of Labradors have been bred. So it’s hardly surprising that some quirky colours have appeared along the way. Some Labradors even emerge with black and tan coats, possibly due to Gordon setter blood being introduced to the breed at some point. Chocolate Labradors are also popular.