The Labrador Retriever

From the Labrador Retriever Breed Standard:

“The Labrador Retriever coat colors are black, yellow and chocolate. Any other color or a combination of colors is a disqualification. A small white spot on the chest is permissible, but not desirable.”

The above quote is from the AKC Labrador Retriever Standard. There are only three recognized colors in Labradors. A white spot on the chest is permissible. NO other colors are recognized. However, other colors can, and do, occur. Brindling, black and tan, dilution of the chocolate gene which gives a chocolate a gray (or silver) appearance. These colors are a disqualifying fault, and are incorrect for the breed.

Do not be fooled into buying a puppy in any breed that the breeder claims has a “rare” color for that breed. Remember “yellow”  runs the gammit from snow white to a deep fox red.   A reputable breeder will tell you if a puppy has a mismark or incorrect coloration and will require you to spay or neuter that dog to prevent the reoccurance of the disqualifying fault.

Mismarked or incorrect coloration does not affect the ability for the affected dog to be be an excellent hunting dog and a good pet. A labrador is a labrador regardless of its coat color.

These pages are a guide for determining what coat colors you can expect from a given breeding.


Labrador Retriever coat color inheritance

Key to both Genotypes and Phenotypes:

  • BB = black Lab, no chocolate gene
  • Bb = black Lab, carries chocolate gene
  • bb = chocolate Lab, no black gene


Yellow is produced by the presence of a recessive epistatic gene which has the effect of masking the the black or chocolate genes.

  • EE = no yellow gene
  • Ee = yellow carrier but apears either black or chocolate
  • ee = yellow Lab

So…if we put these principles together we end up with the following: 

  • EEBB =Basic Black (BB)
  • EEBb =Black that carries Choc. (Bc)
  • EeBB =Black that carries Yellow(By)
  • EeBb =Black that carries Yellow and chocolate (Byc)
  • eeBB =Yellow (Yy) [does not carry chocolate]
  • eeBb =Yellow that carries Chocolate (Yc)
  • eebb =chocolate pigmented yellow ~ No Black Pigment (NBP)
  • EEbb =Chocolate (CC) [does not carry yellow]
  • Eebb =Chocolate that carries yellow (Cy)