Purebred or Not? — How to Identify a Pure Labrador Puppy

One of the first questions that potential Lab owners or even actual Labrador Retriever owners ask themselves is how to identify a purebred Labrador puppy.

This question is a pretty valid concern considering breed standards are quite strict, and you never know if your Lab is a crossbreed or not.

So, in this article, we will dive further into how to identify a purebred Labrador Retriever puppy.

Before We Start

It’s important to understand that unless you want your Labrador to compete, the question of whether they are purebred or not should not matter.

Their breed is generally just a convention and shouldn’t really factor in your care for them.

That said, some pet owners do prefer purebred Labs for certain personal reasons, and that is completely fine!

There are different ways to tell whether a Lab is purebred or not. The first one is by taking a look at your Labrador and assessing them based on their physical appearance. Others rely on pedigree or DNA tests to be sure.

How to Identify a Purebred Labrador Puppy: The breed standard

Before diving into the methods mentioned above, let’s first talk about what the breed standards for a Labrador are.

What are the qualifications for a dog to considered a Labrador?

The breed standard can get pretty strict since they operate on certain rules and regulations.

There are different standards for what a Labrador should look like in various aspects.

But for the purpose of singular discussion, this article will refer to the standards set by the American Kennel Club.


There are three commonly acceptable colors for a Labrador: yellow, black, and chocolate.

Although there are certain discrepancies or ranges in the colors that are accepted, the standards are quite strict about those three colors.

For one, black Labradors have to be all black, while chocolate Labradors can range from light to dark brown colors.

On the other hand, there are more accepted colors ranging from fox-red to light cream in yellow Labradors. These colors are all accepted without disqualifying the Labrador.

Despite being permitted, however, this does not mean that these white markings, as long as they’re quite small, are desirable.

Color patterns or brindles not accepted and will disqualify a Lab from the breed.

However, these changes are not to mistaken as disqualifications when they come from the passing of an age.


A Labrador’s coat should be short, straight, and quite dense. However, according to the AKC, it should give a hard feeling to the touch.

The undercoat should be soft and protect the dog from weather and water. Wooly and silky coats not allowed.

General Appearance

Generally, Labradors have to medium-sized and athletic, with a height of  21½ to 24½ inches.

The weight of the Labrador can range from 55 pounds to about 70 pounds at the highest. Any more than that does not fit into the standards set by the AKC.

Labradors also have to have a specific neck, hindquarters, and other requirements to qualify. For a more detailed count on the matter, take a look at the official standards by the AKC here.

Are the breed standards enough?

The quick answer is no. Visual appearance alone is not enough for you to determine if your Labrador is purebred or not.

Of course, there are certain tells, and a Labrador puppy has a distinctive look to it. But generally speaking, the sight alone is not enough of a determiner.

The reason for this is that Labradors who are purebred can look quite far-fetched from the traditional Labrador appearance.

This is especially true in working lines where the Labs stray away from traditional Labrador looks.

The fact that crossbreeds can also look a lot like a purebred Lab means that there’s really no telling if the accuracy of the visuals is on point.

How to Identify a Purebred Labrador Puppy: Pedigree

Another way to determine whether you have a purebred Labrador within your midst is by looking at their pedigree.

A pedigree document is an instrument that proves that your dog is purebred. This document signifies that the lineage of your Labrador is true and pure.

In the AKC, the pedigree documents for a certified Labrador can be found online for up to four generations.

You can ask your breeder for this certification or get your Lab’s certification from the club where your Lab is registered.

Ideally, before you purchase a Labrador, you should ask to see the pertinent documents first, so you know you are getting a purebred Lab.

However, these documents are not foolproof and only guarantee accuracy up to the honesty of the breeder.

There are many cases of these documents being fake documents, so you should still be vigilant and take caution.

There are countless cases of fake certifications all over the world. Similarly, people on online forums also had the same problem when they bought a dog, only to find out that the dog was not entirely purebred.

To get a more accurate and honest take, make sure that you are buying from a trusted breeder.

How to Identify a Purebred Labrador Puppy: DNA testing

DNA testing is the most accurate method available today. Fortunately, there are DNA tests already available for Labradors, so you can easily get one if you want to.

However, before you get a DNA test, you will have to check if your location is in proximity to a laboratory or if you can ship to one.

Of course, not all DNA tests are the same, and some are more accurate than others.

For instance, in this 2018 study, only 90% of a few hundred purebred dogs that underwent a DNA test were found to be purebred. In other databases, it could be more, or it could be less.

Supposedly, a database that has more dog breeds in its system is more likely to produce accurate results. So, it all depends on the accuracy of the Laboratory or the system you will be using.

Make sure to go to a laboratory with an accuracy rate that you are comfortable with.

While most DNA tests can be done through a simple swab on the cheek, one test, namely Mars Veterinary’s Wisdom Panel Professional, has to use a blood sample.

Take note that your veterinarian will be the one to do the process and not you.

Overall, DNA testing is pretty accurate, and since purebred dogs are more likely to get the right results, you’re probably on the safe side.

Some tests even cost less than $100 and can be found online, so clearly, you can just easily get your Labrador tested.

So what?

In the end, there are several ways you can guarantee that your Labrador is purebred.

As we have mentioned above, you can visually inspect them, look up their pedigree, or do a DNA test.

As of now, DNA testing is the most accurate method that you can use to tell if your Labrador is purebred or not.

But again, a Labrador’s purebred status is just a matter of convention and general perception.

Your experience with your dog should not change, even if they are not purebred.

Regardless of your Labrador’s pedigree and history, the most important thing is to treat your Lab with love and care.

Labradors are amazing companions and will stay with you for a long time yet, so you should cherish the experience.

Authored By

John Lab

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