Silver Labrador Retriever: Controversy, Puppy Price, Facts

The Labrador Retriever is well known as the most popular dog breed in the United States.

The major kennel clubs recognize only three standard colors: Black, yellow, and chocolate. It was probably assumed that every Labrador on planet earth would have these colors. 

However, there has been an increase in the number of nonstandard Labradors, enough to hold the public’s attention. The silver Labrador Retriever and the white Labrador are examples.

The silver Lab’s relatively uncommon color has made it popular amongst pet parents, and it has also become controversial.

The controversy has split the debaters into two sides, and there might not be a consensus anytime soon.

Let’s look deeper into this Labrador color variant, from its history to the controversies surrounding it.

We would also give tips on how to take care of your silver Labrador puppy, along with what to expect in terms of personality and appearance. 

The Silver Labrador Retriever Origin And Controversy

Young Silver Labrador Retriever Puppy Standing on Grass

The origin of the Silver Lab is tied to the history of all Labradors in general. It goes back to Newfoundland, Canada, where this breed’s ancestor lived. 

Known as the St John’s Dog, it served as a companion and assistant to fishermen. It is believed to be a descendant of the Newfoundland dog and some water dogs. 

It soon got exported out of Canada and moved into England, where the third Earl of Malmesbury gave it the name Labrador Retriever.

Then came the dark period in the Lab’s history when it almost went extinct.

The St John’s Dog got extinct in Newfoundland, but the ones in England (that now went by the name Labrador Retriever) managed to survive. The American Kennel Club recognized it in 1917. 

There’s no concrete record of when the Silver Lab first emerged, but the debates have raged with both sides upholding one theory against the other.

These debates aren’t centered on only the Silver Labs, though. Even the Red Fox Lab has felt the heat too.

1st Argument: The Silver Labrador is a Mixed Breed 

Supporters of this position argue that the Silver Lab is not a true purebred Labrador.

They assert that the only way the silver color occurred is through a crossbreeding of the Labrador Retriever with another breed.

The breed often pointed out as the second parent of the Silver Lab is the Weimaraner. The latter looks a lot like the Labrador except for the full silver coat.

They are against the breeding of the Silver Labrador because, if their assertion is true, then it is unethical to pass off a mixed breed as purebred.

It would mean that breeders of the Silver Lab are rendering the Labrador’s gene pool impure. Inbreeding could also lead to many health problems. 

They also accuse Silver Labrador breeders of being extremely profit-motivated to the detriment of health.

However, there seems to be no substantial proof to this argument. A Labrador Weimaraner mix would look different from the Silver Lab we’re focusing on.

Plus, there are many Silver Labs around that inbreeding is not even necessary. 

2nd Argument: The Silver Labrador is Purebred

Diluted Chocolate Silver Lab Sitting on Dry Grass

This second school of thought suggests that the Silver Labrador is normal, but with a different color.

They also argue that the Silver Lab has always existed for a long time, but was either registered as ‘unrecognized’ or euthanized by breeders to avoid being accused of mixed breeding.

The silver color is linked to a rare Labrador gene that dilutes color. It is also linked to the dogs used to get the Labrador Retriever we have today: The Chesapeake Bay Retriever and St John’s Dog.

In the 1950s, Kellogg’s Kennel was the first to start displaying Silver Labrador. Now, Silver Labs are constantly bred with other Silver Labs to produce more.

Dive Deeper:
20 Fun Facts About Labrador Retrievers You’ll Love

Silver Labrador Color Genetics

Silver Lab Pup Laying on Grass

For those who strongly support the Silver Lab as a purebred, the commonly accepted theory is that the Silver Labrador is a diluted variant of the Chocolate Labrador.

This is similar to the White Labrador being a lighter shade of the Yellow Labrador. 

This diluting is usually caused by a gene often labeled Dd present in the Chocolate Labrador.

The dominant “D” stops the diluting from happening, while the recessive “d” speeds the process. Silver Labradors come with a ‘dd’ gene.

The fastest way to get a Silver Labrador Retriever puppy is to breed it with another Silver Lab. Two Chocolate Labradors can produce silver offspring, but it is a genetic lottery. 

Can The Silver Labrador Retriever Be Registered?

Silver Lab Dog Sitting on Snow

The above color genetics is only accepted by those who support the 2nd Argument mentioned above. The opposing party doesn’t agree. Thus, color genetics remains a theory.

Due to this, the Silver Labrador can only be registered as a Chocolate Labrador and the breeder must present records of at least three generations of pure breeding.

Under the Chocolate Labrador category, Silver Labs can also contest in American Kennel Clubs events but can’t contest as a separate color of its own.

While enthusiasts of the Silver Labs would prefer having a separate color category, this is the current reality.

Silver Lab Appearance

Close Up Cute Silver Lab Puppy

The Silver Labrador is similar to any other Labrador Retriever out there, with the color as the only exception.

The color is also called a diluted brown by some, but many would simply refer to it as it is. There are different shades of silver, and some are lighter than others.

The nose of a typical Silver Lab is usually brown, while the eyes are yellow. The controversy seeps into how people consider the Silver Labrador’s appearance.

The purists state that the Silver Lab has some qualities of the Weimaraner, including a hound look, bigger ears, and a longer muzzle.

The purebred theorists believe that the Silver Labrador looks just like a normal Labrador. 

In size, the male Silver Labrador is bigger than the female. He weighs between 65 and 80 pounds while she weighs between 55 and 70 pounds.

The male Silver Lab is also taller, getting up to 25 inches while the female peaks at 24 inches.

Silver Labrador Temperament

Close Up Silver Labrador Retriever Dog Smiling

While purists may argue otherwise, there is no evidence to prove that the Silver Labrador acts differently from other Labradors.

As such, it is safe to say that they act the same. Other factors can influence temperament, but the color isn’t one of them. 

Labradors are intelligent, trainable, and always willing to please. It’s not surprising they are highly popular, given that even first-timers can own one.

Extroverted and highly sociable, the Lab would want to get acquainted with visitors, not frighten them off. Labradors are also loyal and kid-friendly. 

The good nature notwithstanding, Labradors need training, just like any other dog breed.

They are highly active and may become uncontrollable if not well trained. Exercise would also help them control their energy. 

Exercise And Training

As high-energy dogs, Labradors, in general, require a minimum of 1-hour of exercise each day.

This exercise should be intense, but not to the point of exhaustion as that can be problematic. A walk combined with some other physical activities (like swimming and fetch) can help. 

Mental stimulation is necessary too for the Labrador. It is a highly intelligent breed and should not be left understimulated or it would get bored and destructive.

Find some good games, toys, and puzzles that will challenge your Lab’s intellect. 

The Labrador is eager to please, making it one of the easiest dogs to train. This includes the Silver Lab.

Thus, with enough consistency and the right level of positive reinforcements to keep this breed entertained, your pooch will be learning tricks and commands in no time. 


The Silver Labrador has a double coat, similar to other Labradors. The topcoat is short and thick while the undercoat is soft and protects from the weather. 

As with many other double-coated breeds, the Silver Labrador is a high shedder, making it unsuitable for allergic sufferers. Invest in a good brush and vacuum cleaner. During shedding seasons, the Silver Labrador needs daily brushing. 

Silver Labradors should be bathed once every two months. If it does roll in the mud, it would need more bathing. 

Of course, other hygiene needs to follow. Brush its teeth, trim the nails, clean its floppy ears and watch out for infections. 

Silver Labrador Retriever Health And Nutrition

Close Up Adult Silver Labrador Retriever Dog In Forest

The Silver Labrador is a healthy dog breed and has a fairly long life span of 10 to 12 years. It also needs high-quality meals as that would influence its health positively.

You don’t have to bother about whether or not your Silver Lab will eat. Labradors love food and will happily gobble it up. 

For a dog its size, Labradors need around 3 cups a day, which can be divided into two meals.

Monitor their meal to prevent them from getting obese as Labradors are prone to this. Do not let a Labrador free feed. 

Besides feeding, another way to keep your Labrador healthy is by taking note of the possible illnesses it can suffer from.

Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

Hip and elbow dysplasia are both joint-related issues that are common amongst many dog breeds, especially medium and large ones.

Both of them are caused by an abnormality in the structure of the hip and elbow joint, leading to deterioration.  

Symptoms of both forms of dysplasia include pain, reluctance to move and exercise, and even arthritis. 

Exercise-Induced Collapse

Exercise-induced Collapse usually affects Retrievers, including the Labrador and the Golden. It should be considered an emergency as the affected dog can die within 25 minutes. 

Ensuring your Lab doesn’t overexert itself is a good start, but there’s little you can do to prevent this besides watching out for the symptoms and getting immediate help. 

Eye Conditions

Some eye conditions are popular in the canine world and also affect Silver Labradors.

One such eye issue is Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), a strong cause of blindness.

Just as the name goes, PRA occurs when the retina starts deteriorating. There is no cure for PRA, so dogs with this illness should not be bred.

A cataract is another eye issue that makes a cloudy film cover the lens. This can only be treated surgically. 


Bloat is also called Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV) and is another serious illness that mainly affects large dogs.

It can occur when a dog rushes its food or eats immediately after exercising.

When the stomach gets filled with fluids, it expands and twists. Bloating is fatal if not treated immediately. 


Epilepsy is always characterized by frequent seizures. Idiopathic epilepsy is the most common form of epilepsy in dogs and it is inherited.

The exact cause remains a mystery, though. Epilepsy has no cure currently, but can be managed with good medication. 

Color Dilution Alopecia 

This health issue is more specific to Silver Labradors and any dog with a color dilution gene (represented in the Silver Lab’s case by dd). It is not found in all dogs with color dilution, though.

A bacterial infection in these dogs makes the hair fall off and can cause dry skin. Antibiotics are the most effective treatment for this medical condition. 

Silver Labrador Puppy Prices And Breeders

Close Up Silver Labrador Puppy Lying on Dog Bed

Finding a standard Labrador Retriever isn’t always difficult, but because of the high demand for America’s favorite, their price range falls between $800 and $1,200. It is a bit costly, but not as much as rare dogs like the Wolfdog

The Silver Labrador puppy is a bit rarer than the standard Labrador Retriever, so it tends to be more expensive, costing between $1,250 and $1,500. 

Finding a reputable Silver Labrador breeder is important, and even more for this color variant.

Due to the arguments surrounding this breed, you must make sure you’re getting a purebred pup, not a Lab Weimaraner mix.

A reputable Silver Lab breeder will be able to show proof of pure breeding for at least three generations.

He/she should also comfortably answer any question you might have, as well as show you the environment the pups are raised. 


Are silver Labs just Weimaraners?

The short answer is that both exist. There is the mixed breed of the Labrador and the Weimaraner that’s slowly rising in popularity, as well as the Silver Labrador which is considered a dilution of the Chocolate color.

Our focus here is on the Silver Labrador, which isn’t different from a standard Labrador if you overlook the skin color.

Closing Thoughts: Is The Silver Labrador Retriever Right For Me?

If your aim of getting a Silver Lab is to enroll it in competitions, you may encounter some issues.

As we mentioned above, Silver Labs are not recognized as a separate color. They are registered under the Chocolate Labrador color, which on its own is already a problem.

Color prejudice exists even amongst canine owners, and your Silver Lab might be looked down upon. The controversies might also draw in some difficulties.

Hence, for competitions, it is better to get a standard Labrador Retriever dog breed. 

There are no hindrances for household pets, however. So you’re free to pet parent a Silver Labrador as long as you have the right environment to accommodate one.

Labs are not suitable for apartment living and should be with an active family. Commit to the welfare of your dog, and you’d have a best friend.

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Authored By

Ben Pierce

Ben Pierce is a canine behavioral and nutritional specialist, professional dog trainer, and the CEO of Puplore. A former military working dog handler, Ben founded Puplore to provide owners with breed-specific information and to act as a go-to guide to health, nutrition, care, and to help them find the confidence they need to step up to the plate and become the best pup parents they can possibly be. A firm believer in treating all animals with kindness and compassion, and that positive discipline is paramount in achieving a harmonious canine-human relationship, Ben’s former and present careers have enabled him to become a leading light in his chosen profession and business.

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