The Labrador Retriever comes in three colors — yellow, black, and chocolate. The yellow Labrador Retriever’s color ranges from white to pale cream to red fox. But despite these differences in shades, they are all recognized as yellow Labradors.
The History of Yellow Labradors
Yellow Labradors were once unwanted. Black Labradors remained the most favored for years. However, dog owner looked down at yellow Labs with disdain and never received popular patronage.
In the early years of the breed, yellow Labradors were darker in color – similar to that of butterscotch shade. In 1899, “Ben of Hyde” became the first yellow Labrador to be registered by his owner Major C.J. Radclyffe. These dogs were initially known as Golden Labradors. However, the Kennel Club of the United Kingdom decided to change the color name to yellow based on the fact “gold is not an actual color.” Thus, the yellow Labrador officially came into existence.
In the 1920s, the physical characteristics of the yellow Labrador Retrievers were different from that of the standard set for the Labrador breed of that time. However, it was later decided that the yellow Labradors should also adhere to the same standard as that of black Labrador Retrievers.
The Rise in Popularity of Yellow Labrador
In the 20th century, people favored lighter shades of yellow more than black and the preference for this type of Lab began to grow. The rise in the popularity of the yellow Labrador is believed to be partly because of the Kleenex advertisement aired in 1972. The jolly yellow Lab pup rolling in rolls of flowing toilet paper captured the imagination of many Americans. This resulted in an increase in the popularity of yellow colored Labs.
The Red Fox Labrador
Red Fox Labradors are yellow Labradors but they have an attractive coat with darker shades of yellow and fox red. The 1980s witnessed a surge in the preference for Labs with darker shades of yellow. English Breeders were able to produce many darker-colored yellow Labradors, including the following.
- Balrion King Frost – A black Labrador who was born in 1976. Balrion King Frost consistently fathered “very dark yellow” litters. He was the one who had “the biggest influence in the re-development of the red fox shade”.
- Wynfaul Tabasco – A red fox Labrador born in 1986, Wynfaul was the grandson of Balrion and the “father of the modern fox red Labrador” dogs in the real sense. He was the only modern red fox Labrador to receive the title “Show Champion” in the UK.
- Red Alert and Scrimshaw Placido Flamingo – These two Labradors got the credit for with passing on the fox red genes into many renowned bloodlines.
Initially, the new color gave a headache to dog lovers. Some irresponsible breeders took the term “fox red” as a marketing opportunity to sell these Labradors at a higher price. Such breeders produced these fox red Labrador puppies just for their color and not for the development and betterment of the breed. This put the Labs at the risk of losing their original traits. However, with popular awareness about breed standard becoming strong, such practices began to dissipate.