White is probably not the first color you’d think of when you want to get a Lab, but the number of white Labrador Retrievers has been noticeably on the increase.
People opt for them because they are unusual, adorable, and even exotic-looking.
Anyone who’s out to try something new might be drawn towards getting a White Lab.
However, because white isn’t one of the standard Labrador colors, its existence brings about many questions.
Are white Labrador puppies really purebred? Are they healthy? Is the white color a result of albinism?
All these questions and more will be tackled as we bring to light every piece of information on the White Labrador.
White Labrador Retriever History and Controversy
The Labrador Retriever is currently the most popular dog breed in the United States, and it has held that position for more than two decades.
This popularity has made it subject to different controversies, including the topic of colors.
While the standard Labrador colors are chocolate, yellow and black, many others like silver Labrador and white have laid their roots. Hence, the back-and-forth arguments.
Before its popularity, however, the Labrador Retriever was your average water retriever and a companion for the families of fishermen.
It used to go by the name St John’s Dog until it was exported to England from its native country Canada. It was in England that it got the name Labrador Retriever.
This might come as a surprise, but the now-famous dog breed once faced extinction.
It completely disappeared from Newfoundland where it was first bred, but fortunately was saved in England. After the Second World War, it rose to mainstream popularity.
The Kennel Club in England first recognized the breed in 1903. 14 years after, the American Kennel Club followed suit.
White Labradors came about as a selling strategy of breeders, causing perhaps more controversies because it is seen as a profit-making venture.
But perhaps the biggest subject of discussion is what makes a Labrador white.
Theory 1: The White Labrador is an albino
The first theory used to explain the existence of White Labradors is that they are albinos.
Albinism in dogs, just like in humans, is caused by a lack of pigmentation in the skin.
It is relatively rare in dogs, and even more so in Labradors, but it still occurs.
Albinism is closely related to leucism, where there is low pigmentation. Leucism usually occurs like vitiligo in humans.
While these skin defects can make a dog white, you can tell the difference between an albino Labrador, a leucistic Labrador, and a “normal” one.
Albino Labradors have pink noses, red eyes, and very pale hair. Leucistic Labradors often have normal eyes, but there may be patches of another color on the skin.
Both conditions are rare, so chances are most White Labradors around are neither albinos nor leucistic.
If you do notice that your dog fits this category, you need to take extra care of it.
Theory 2: The White Labrador is the same as yellow
The second theory is that the white color in Labradors is a diluted yellow.
It is a universally accepted theory, and the American Kennel Club registers White Labradors as yellow.
This means both parents had yellow genes, but the shades were pale enough to become White.
There is some biological truth in this as, indeed, no specific gene in the Lab is known to produce the white color.
Therefore, the white Labradors are considered a paler version of the Yellow Labrador.
White Labrador Color Genetics
Now that we know the white Labrador Retriever is a shade of the yellow Labrador, the genetic process that occurs for the yellow to be produced will be the same as that of the white Labrador.
To get a glimpse at how the white Labrador is formed, you need to understand the general Labrador genetics.
The most dominant Labrador color is black, so the gene is usually characterized by the dominant B.
The black Labrador gets either black genes from its parents or a black dominant and chocolate recessive gene from the parents. Thus, the black would either be BB or Bb.
Chocolate color is recessive and labeled b. The chocolate Labrador only gets the recessive chocolate gene from both parents (bb).
The yellow gene is more complicated. Yellow is influenced by the recessive e, and it can override the black B and chocolate b.
However, the dominant E gene doesn’t interfere with the black and chocolate colors. The yellow comes only when the puppy gets ee from both parents.
So, the chances of getting the white color are higher when two yellow Lab parents mate.
It is a genetic lottery, though. That’s why the white Labrador is rare.
In the Ring
Unlike other colors like silver, white Labs are allowed to partake in shows and are even prized.
Because white is recognized as a shade of standard yellow, they can be registered as yellow Labradors.
With this in mind, understand that there are two Labrador types and only one is bred to partake in shows.
These subtypes also apply to White Labradors, so they must be taken into account.
The two types of Labradors are the English and American Labradors. The English Labrador is also known as the show type Labrador and has a different body build.
It is usually wider and more muscular with bigger heads. These dogs are also more challenging to train and are very energetic.
The American Labrador is also known as the working type Labrador, and the white ones tend to be a darker shade, edging towards normal yellow.
These dogs have a slimmer shape and are suitable for work.
They are easier to train compared to the American Labradors, but also need enough exercise as they were bred for work.
The white English Labradors are the only variants that are developed and trained for shows.
Besides the color, white Labradors are not different from other Labs.
Facially, Labs have wide heads with large eyes and droopy ears at the corners of their heads. The nose is often black, like many other dogs.
Labs are medium to big-sized dogs, and the white Lab is not an exception.
Male Labs are usually bigger than the females. While the male weighs between 65 to 80 pounds, the female weighs between 55 to 70 pounds.
The same applies to height as the male is usually an inch taller.
These dogs are either stocky or with a slimmer build, depending on whether they are show dogs or work dogs.
The Lab comes with a thick, double coat with waterproof fur perfect for a water retriever. It also has webbed paws and a bushy tail that helped it swim better.
The Labrador is America’s favorite for a reason, and that reason isn’t limited to its looks (though the Lab is a cute-looking pooch).
Its personality is what shines through, and there seems to be no reduction in the demands for this breed.
The white Labrador acts and behaves like any other Lab. Hence, the color doesn’t modify temperament.
Labs are known to be affectionate and loving towards everyone. They are kid-friendly and love adults just the same.
They are also friendly with strangers and can cope with other dogs, cats, and rodents. Labs are excellent family dogs.
New pet parents can take a chance with this breed because of its good nature, but the novice should be sure he/she can handle an energetic dog.
Labs are exuberant and are not good fits for a couch potato.
Exercise and Training
As a highly energetic dog, this breed needs a lot of exercise every day. Without this, it can become restless and destructive. 30 minutes to an hour of exercise is good enough.
This breed doesn’t always know when to stop and can overexert itself to the point of fainting.
Observe your dog to know when it is tired, and stop once it is. Also, keep it hydrated and take breaks in between, especially during summer.
Some of the Lab’s favorite activities include swimming, fetching, and some sporting activities like tracking, dock diving, and agility.
Labradors are highly trainable and cooperative, but it is still better to start training at a young age to curb unwanted behaviors.
It should be socialized so it won’t grow to be shy and fearful. Obedience training is important too, especially because of its restless nature.
Fortunately, you won’t have too many difficulties training this breed.
The good news is, Labradors are easy to groom. The bad news is, they are heavy shedders.
This breed is a poor choice for an allergy sufferer—a very poor one.
You’d need to have a vacuum cleaner on standby to keep your environment free of dead hair.
Labs will also need more brushing during those shedding periods. Other than that, grooming is an easy job.
Labs don’t need regular baths, so once every two months should suffice. Of course, if they get themselves dirty and muddy, you should bathe them during that period.
Other forms of hygiene are necessary. Brush your Lab’s teeth daily, clean its droopy ears and clip the nails.
Nutrition & Diet
White Labs need as many high-quality meals as other dogs. And just so you know, this breed loves food!
There are hardly any picky Labrador Retrievers around. This has its benefits as you don’t have to worry about it not eating enough, but there is a catch.
Because they love food, they tend to overeat, making them prone to obesity—an unhealthy state to be in. Thus, you must regulate their meals.
This breed needs about 1.25 to 1.5 cups daily. This is only a guideline, however, not a rule.
Your pet’s age, size, activity level, and individual preference determine how much it would eat. Consult your vet or a nutritionist for better recommendations.
Feeding and other care habits are essential for good health, but this doesn’t stop your pooch from falling ill.
Health & Lifespan
The oldest Labrador that we can find from official sources lived for about 29 years. However, the median lifespan of all Labradors is 10 – 12 years.
This breed still ranks among the longest living dog breeds in the world.
The White Labrador Retriever has no illness that’s color-specific, so the following illnesses can affect all members of this breed. They include:
Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
Hip and elbow dysplasia are both joint-related conditions that are usually inherited and manifest later in life.
Hip dysplasia occurs when the joint gets dislocated as a result of an ill-fitting of the ball and socket.
Elbow dysplasia is also caused by an abnormality in the development of the joint, except in this case it is the elbow that’s affected.
Hip and elbow dysplasia can render a dog lame. Common symptoms of both include limping, pain, and a reluctance to move and exercise.
This happens to puppies more and can be avoided if you ensure your Labrador puppy doesn’t exert itself too much. The adult should also be paced well, especially during the heat.
Exercise-induced collapse happens just as it sounds. If your dog gets too exhausted, it might faint.
This should be treated as an emergency as the collapsed dog can die in under 25 minutes.
Like many other dogs (and humans), Labradors are susceptible to some eye conditions. Two common ones are Progressive Retinal Atrophy and Cataracts.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy is an inherited eye issue that occurs when the retina starts weakening till the affected dog gets fully blind.
Sadly, there is no effective cure for this illness. The vet might administer treatments to delay the deterioration, and a blind dog can still live a normal life.
Dogs with PRA in their genes should not be bred, however.
Bloating, or Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV), is a serious condition that often affects big dogs like the Labrador, especially as the latter tends to like food.
It occurs when the stomach gets filled with fluids, then twists and swells. It is fatal and can kill a dog within minutes.
You can prevent bloating by not letting your dog rush its food, feeding it in small portions, and not exercising it immediately after a meal.
Epilepsy in dogs is very similar to that of humans. It is an incurable condition characterized by mild or severe convulsion.
Several drugs can be administered to reduce the convulsions, but it remains for a lifetime.
What Toxins Can Cause Seizures In Dogs? Careful!
White Labrador Price: Why Are White Labradors So Expensive?
Buying a white Lab puppy will cost you more than getting a black, chocolate, or even yellow Labs.
This is because of the selective breeding involved in getting a white Lab, and the genetic lottery of the whole process. As a result, the white Lab is rarer than others and not easily found.
In addition to the tough process involved and the rarity of this member breed, there has been a high demand for white dogs of various sizes.
Labrador enthusiasts caught up by the white dog fad would seek a white Lab, which is exactly what is happening.
The white Labrador price is between $1,000 and $3,000 for the initial purchase.
Aside from the initial cost, keep in mind other items to buy, along with services to pay for.
To avoid spending a lot on medical treatments, do not get your Lab from a puppy mill, pet store, or any breeder that seems shady.
Find a reputable breeder who would satisfy your curiosity and give you a healthy pup. Alternatively, you can opt for adoption.
Should I Get a White Labrador Retriever?
The White Labrador’s only difference is the color, and for some, that’s enough to remain on a waiting list for a long period.
Its temperament, energy, and intelligence are the same, so you can count on it to be a good family dog.
That said, Labs are not for everyone. The ideal owner should have a large space as this breed is not suitable for an apartment.
The owner should also be active and not mind shedding. Both new and experienced pet parents can own one.
The White Labrador is a pale yellow variant but can be an albino too (but that is rare).
Its behavior is similar to other Labradors and is heavily influenced by the owner’s pet parenting.
Fortunately, the Labrador is easy to train. With enough effort on your part, you’d be rewarded with a dutiful and friendly companion.
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