Like other breeds of the Labrador, the silver lab is intelligent, loving, and full of energy. The most noticeable difference is, of course, their strikingly beautiful silver-blue-gray coat. It is the main characteristic that makes them stand out from the rest of the Labrador breeds. Their beautifully colored coat is the result of two recessive genes. The silver lab’s pedigree status is still hotly debated. But no matter how you feel about their pedigree status, they are beautiful and make great pets.
The Infamous Diluted Gene that Makes Silver Labs Silver
When most people think of the Labrador Retriever, they think black, yellow, or chocolate. But the silver lab doesn’t quite fit into any of these categories. The American Kennel Club does recognize them as a pedigree, but they accept them as part of the chocolate lab classification. Since their pedigree is still being debated, they often cannot be entered in show dogs. They can certainly be the working dog, which is what their ancestors were bred to be.
Originally, Labradors were bred to work, and most of the time, they were used as gun dogs. Today, however, they can provide a wide variety of services and tasks including, show dogs, sniffer dogs, obedience dogs, and service animals. Being bred to work makes them a very high energy breed. This just means they need to be kept busy and they need lots of exercise. The silver lab was an unexpected surprise that showed up in the 1950’s when they were first bred. This made some people lean toward the thinking that they resulted from out breeding. Today, lab mixes are common, but the silver lab didn’t result from being bred with the Weimaraner as many suppose.
Many have thought the silver-coated lab was a cross with a Weimaraner. If this was the case, it could no longer be considered a lab. Instead, the gray coat has a genetic cause. Various genetic combinations create the more common chocolate, yellow or black coat. The DNA from both parents affect the color. The silver lab’s unique color is due to a recessive gene. In humans, the “d” gene makes kids have blue eyes. In Labradors, it makes their coats silver. The “d” gene isn’t responsible for a brand new coat color; it actually just dilutes an existing one. This characteristic crosses all the typical colors.
- A champagne lab is a diluted yellow Lab
- A charcoal lab is a diluted black Lab
- A silver lab then is a diluted chocolate Lab
Temperament of the Silver Lab
Their even temperaments make Labradors popular especially for families or those who need service animals. They are usually very content to let kids crawl all over them. But it’s always best to teach smaller kids some boundaries and how to deal gently with pets. There are some times when the breed can produce a dog with a less friendly temperament. This can be caused by genetics if one of the parents had a different temperament, but it can also have a lot to do with how the pup is raised. It’s important for them to be socialized and not mistreated. Extra training and lots of patience may be beneficial and help ease the temperaments. This can take years of effort and there is no guarantee they can be rehabilitated. When they are treated gently and given lots of tender, love and care, they usually have very pleasant temperaments.
It is important to find a reputable breeder who is licensed and registered. When you meet a young silver lab pup, you can get a great feel for their personalities and temperaments. Breeders usually allow you to meet either one or both of the pup’s parents as well. The silver lab is not as abundantly available as the black or yellow varieties. It can take some patience and persistence to find a silver lab. But it will be worth it in the long run.
Comparing the Silver Labrador to Other Labs
Of course, the silver lab is just a different color of Labrador, so it is similar to all the other labs. They will grow to weigh between 55 and 80 pounds, with females being slightly smaller in size than males. They will typically be between 21 and 24 inches in height. Even silver labs can vary in coloration. Most of the time, they will look smooth and silvery. If the silver color comes from a diluted chocolate lab, it may look more silver with a little bit of red pigmentation too. If they are a dilution from the black lab, they will be a darker shade of silver without the red undertone. No matter which dilution they are, they will be a beautiful shade of silver. Since this coloration is rare, they are sure to stand out from the crowd.
Taking Care of Your Silver Lab
The Labrador is relatively easy to care for. They do need a lot of attention and exercise. For first-time dog owners, labs are probably the best large breed dog to start with because of their easygoing temperaments. You will not be disappointed these are great dogs!
Feeding the Silver Lab
There are not a lot of special food requirements for a silver lab. It is important to provide them with high-quality dog food that at least meets the guidelines provided by the AAFCO. It is important to learn how much food they need according to their age and weight as they can be prone to gain unnecessary weight. When choosing food for your silver lab, make sure to choose one which is fortified with supplements that support joint health. It should contain omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine, and chondroitin. When you cannot find a dog food with these ingredients, purchasing the standalone supplements is a good idea.
Talk to your veterinarian about choosing a dog food made for large breed dogs. They have unique nutritional requirements from what smaller breeds need. It will depend on the actual size your silver lab grows to be. Some labs are a bit smaller than what most consider a larger breed. Adult labs can eat between 1600 and 2400 calories each day. This can vary based on the dog’s weight and the amount of daily exercise. So, it’s always best to speak with your vet to find their recommendations for feeding your lab.
Exercising Your Silver Labrador
A silver lab is usually full of energy and require a lot of exercise. They need more than just two 20-minute walks a day. They will need to go to the beach, pool, or park several times a week and stay for quite some time so they can burn off some of their extra energy. When you first get your silver lab, you’ll learn what types of things they like to do. It can take some time but the more time you spend with them the easier it will be to develop things they like. They might prefer a game of fetch with a tennis ball. Or they might love to go swimming. Most of the time, labs like to go for a run. They can tend to be competitive and enjoy things like obedience, obstacle, or agility competitions.
Training A Silver Lab
Since the lab can be a relatively big dog, it’s important to train them properly. They usually have friendly personalities but will still require some training. They like to please their people and they are an intelligent breed. These qualities make them pretty easy to train. As soon as you get your new dog, you’ll start training with house training them. You may choose to use a dog crate to help with this process. Most labs are quick to learn how to go outside to relieve themselves. It’s also important to start socializing your silver lab as soon as you can. Even though they have a wonderful temperament, continuing to socialize them is essential. Introduce your young silver lab puppy to everything you can fin from people to animals, equipment, smells and noises. A well-socialized pup is less likely to have behavioral issues as they mature, especially aggression and fearfulness.
Please check with the vet before you start introducing them to other dogs to make sure it’s okay. The vet usually wants you to wait until all the immunizations have been completed before socializing them. The vet will be able to tell you which immunizations are needed before socialization can begin.
Grooming Your Silver Lab
There isn’t a lot to learn about grooming a silver lab, they don’t have any special grooming needs. However, you may find that regularly brushing them two or three times a week can help reduce some of the sheddings. They tend to shed quite a bit which can be a problem for those who suffer from allergies. Your silver lab will need to be bathed regularly. One time a month is usually adequate unless they have been swimming or play outside and get dirty. They typically love the water so bathing them is usually an easy task.
Life Expectancy of the Silver Lab
Labradors have a life expectancy of 10 to 14 years. That gives them an average of 12.5 years. Because of their friendly nature and gentle personalities, they usually bond with multiple members of their human family. They are a patient breed and usually get along with both children and other pets. With their life expectancy rates, they make a perfect addition to today’s family.
Common Health Risks of Silver Lab
In general, the silver lab is susceptible to the same issues labs of any other color are. They often have eye problems like retinal dysplasia or cataracts. Labradors can develop hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and some suffer from epilepsy. There is also a chance they will suffer from different neurological issues, but these are usually treatable. Another common problem is patella luxation. This is a condition where the lab’s kneecap moves out of position and prevents the knee from extending. It is usually easily and successfully treated via surgery.
In general, labs are healthy. But in some cases, because of their unusual coats, the silver lab can be prone to color dilution alopecia which just means their fur falls out in patches while they are young. This is due to the diluted gene that causes their unique silver color. They can have infections in hair follicles.
Should I Buy a Silver Lab?
A silver lab puppy is perfect for almost any household. They are very adaptable to their environment and can adjust to being a one-owner pet, or living in a house with six humans. They tend to like having a human around most of the time, but don’t really care who it is. Labs also adjust well to other dogs and pets too, without having any issues. They just like company. Remember they need a lot of exercise every day. So be ready to take them on long walks or allowing for plenty of time for them to play outside daily.
Due to its rarity, a silver lab can cost you somewhere around $1200. Avoid what looks like a super deal as you could be dealing with a dishonest breeder or a puppy mill. It may also not be a true pedigree Labrador.
Labs may be a little more difficult to train than a retriever, but that’s mostly because they are highly intelligent and get bored easily. Keeping training sessions short, engaging, and interactive enough can help your lab learn some cool tricks. They can be taught to open doors, retrieve almost anything, and protect their owners. They can be very independent, but they also love lots of attention. If you have the time to give to your pup every day, the silver lab might be the perfect breed for you. Who wouldn’t want this adaptable and gentle puppy as an addition to the family? Time and patience and continued training and socialization will help you raise an irreplaceable companion. Overall, the silver lab is a beautiful, eye-catching dog and will continue to be a loving companion to you for years.