There’s a lot of controversy on this online at the moment. The Silver lab vs the weimeraner.
Are they the same? Are they different? Has the labrador been cross bred to get that silver coat? If so, did they nab that quality from the weimeraner gene pool?
The truth is that both exist! oh yeah.
Silver Labradors are a rare and unique color variation of the beloved Labrador Retriever breed. These stunning dogs have a striking silver coat that sets them apart from their more common chocolate, black, and yellow counterparts. But despite their distinct appearance, there is a lot of debate and controversy surrounding the silver Labrador, with some breeders and dog enthusiasts questioning their authenticity and others passionately defending their legitimacy.
In this blog, we will explore the world of silver Labradors, their history, genetics, temperament, and everything else you need to know about these beautiful dogs. Whether you are a silver Labrador fan or just curious about this fascinating breed, this blog will provide you with all the information you need to fall in love with these amazing dogs.
What is a Silver Lab?
A silver Labrador is a color variant of the purebred Labrador Retriever (who are one of the united states most popular dog breed!). They’re known to be a friendly dog, and excel at being a service dog. So, when this colour variation comes up, whose coat color genes are recessive, resulting in a dilute color variant. They are not their own dog breeds, they are the same as yellow labs or chocolate labradors, just a colour variant.
They look, physically, just like a regular labrador (either American labs or english labradors), they may have a white spot, but usually floppy ears, strong, broad head, intelligent stocky body, and famous otter tail. The only thing that the ‘silver’ comes from is a genetic mutation that very rarely shows itself.
It’s good to note that any breed of dog specifically bred for a recessive gene has a strong chance of health problems (much the same as blue eyes, or the difference color some dogs come in called “Merle”. Labradors often struggle with things like hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia and people who are not responsible breeders and is simply looking to capitalise on the different color will often breed this color to compromise health, decrease life expectancy and increase health concerns.
How is a Silver Lab Different?
Well, this all comes down to genetics, and it gets pretty technical, so bear with me.
The coat color is determined by two main gene pairs: “B” and “E” alleles. Different combinations of dominant and recessive genes create the color variations that you see today in Labradors.
The E-Locus is the part of your dogs DNA that dictates yellow pigment in their coat, or whether they’ll show different colors. The region has three alleles which have a dominance hierarchy: E > e.
The B-Locus dictates the “brown” of your dogs coat within their DNA, and B is more dominant that b, so B/B- black B/b- black carrying brown b/b- brown.
For example, two recessive “e” genes always result in Yellow Labradors, including eeBB, eeBb, and eebb gene pairings. Likewise, a dominant “E” and “B” gene always produces a Black Lab, such as EEBB, EeBB, EEBb, and EeBb pairings.
To get a Chocolate lab, at least one dominant “E” gene needs to be present, as well as a double recessive “b” gene pairing, such as EEbb and Eebb.
These two main genes, “B” and “E,” are commonly accepted as the determining factor of a Labrador’s coat color. However, there is another gene that can play a huge role.
After the E’s and the B’s section, there’s a D section that dictates how strong their coloration is, and it’s referred to as “Dilute”, where D will give a solid colour, and d will be a washed out, or diluted colour. This is the part of the Labrador genetics that becomes quite equestionable.
“D” is the dominant gene, while “d” is recessive. Most Labradors possess a “DD” allele, and any presence of the dominant “D” gene in the allele results in a solid color, non-dilute coat. However, if the Labrador possesses both recessive genes, creating a “dd” allele, the Labrador will have a dilute colored coat, creating the silver coat color.
This combination is rare, leading many traditional breeders to think that Silver Labs are not purebred Labrador Retrievers, but this recessive gene pairing is their only difference.
What is a Weimaraner?
A Weimaraner is often associated with the Silver Labrador because of the breed’s distinctive gray coloring—a color that led to their nickname of “Gray Ghost.” Weimaraners are native to Germany and were originally bred as companions for hunters, especially big game hunters like deer, bear, and wolves.
Weimaraner dogs are also purebred dogs, and they are absolutely beautiful dogs! They are floppy eared, graceful hunters, but have a short coat which is described as a slick coat, and a more whip-like tail. They look a lot like german shorthaired pointer, but they’re a gorgeous gray colour instead.
The Weimaraner breed is named after the area of Germany where they were first bred, the Court of Weimar. The noblemen of the area wanted a dog that combined speed, stamina, intelligence, and excellent scenting ability to help them during their hunts with large game.
Today, Weimaraners are still a sought-after dog breed both for their hunting abilities and their loving, loyal personalities. While they share a few similarities to the Silver Lab, like their intelligence, energy, and loyalty to their family, they are a very different breed from the Silver Labrador.
Weimaraners tend to be slightly larger in height and weight than Labradors, but they can appear slimmer because of their difference in build. While both dogs are athletic, Weimaraner’s have deep chests that give them a skinny appearance. The Weimaraner’s coat also tends to be shorter than a Labradors, making them even slimmer.
Because Weimaraners were bred to hunt and not just retrieve, they also don’t have the same soft mouth that is often associated with Labradors. The breed also has a slim, narrow tail that is often docked and looks very different from the thick, tapered tail that Labradors have.
Weimeraners have been popular in the united kingdom for a long time.
The Common Misconception About Silver Labradors
In north america, in the early 19th century, Mayo Kellogg started breeding labrador retrievers, and he deliberately began selecting for pointing ability (because, you know, the labrador wasn’t enough of a versatile hunting dog), and he is often accused of breeding the labrador with the weimeraner to get that train – but it was false.
In Europe, very detailed accounts tended to be kept, especially in the UK, where they very much favoured the black colouring, and the colourings of yellow and brown were considered to be recessive and less desirable.
However, it’s good to note that
There were no recorded reports of silver-colored Labradors until the 1950s, when Gun Dog Magazine ran an advertisement for Silver Labradors for sale. This combined with the recessive dilute gene being rare has led many breeders to believe that Silver Labradors aren’t purebred Labradors.
Instead, they believe the dogs have been bred with Weimaraners to get their distinctive coloring.
Much like doodles, you’ll get a lot of people tell you that a “reputable breeder won’t breed a silver labrador retriever” because it’s not within the breed standard – but the same was once said about chocolate labs! And lets be real, the important part is if your breeder is breeding specific colors for money and allowing health issues to perpetuate.
While there is limited evidence to suggest that Silver Labradors are a mixed breed, many non-reputable breeders have contributed to the growing controversy.
Some of these breeders sell intentionally mixed breed puppies, but they advertise them as purebred Silver Labradors, and some breeders will even sell blue Pitbull puppies as Silver Labradors.
Naturally, these unfortunate circumstances have led to many dog lovers to question the authenticity of the Silver Labrador breed. In fact, many reputable Labrador breeders will not breed Silver Labradors and will even steer interested customers towards some of the more popular Labrador colors, like yellow or chocolate.
The breed is recognized as a pure breed by many professional breed associations around the world, including the American Kennel Club which allows owners to register their Silver Labradors as “chocolate.”
There are also other diluted variations of other Labrador colors, including a diluted Yellow Labrador which is known as a Champagne Labrador Retriever and a diluted Black Labrador which is known as a Charcoal Labrador Retriever. Dogs with dilute coats aren’t, however, allowed to enter shows.
What Should a Silver Lab Look Like?
The breed standards for a Silver Lab are exactly the same as other color variations of Labradors, but with an emphasis on their gray color. They are considered a medium-to-large breed dog that can stand anywhere from 21.5 to 24.5 inches and weigh between 55 and 80 pounds.
The breed was originally bred, as the name implies, to help fishermen in Newfoundland retrieve everything from long lines to lost hats. The water-resistant coat and natural athleticism of the Labrador Retriever made them excellent divers, and that still remains true today.
The Labrador Retriever is known for its dense, short double coat and thick, tapered tail known as an “otter tail.” These two characteristics make Silver Labradors and all of their color variations natural swimmers. Labs also have webbed paws with skin between their toes that helps them to swim.
For Silver Labradors, their fur should be an eye-catching silver color that can look gray or even a faded brown color (as they are considered a diluted Chocolate Lab).
Overall, they have a strong, solid body shape that can make them appear larger, even with their medium size. Labrador Retrievers also have a broad head with floppy ears and dark, expressive eyes.
What About A Silver Lab’s Temperament?
Labradors tend to be one of the best dogs to become great family pets, and labrador puppies are almost so ingrained into the American family life… because they really do make good pets – and a silver lab temperament is no different! Typically they’re great with small children and tend to be what’s known as “velcro dogs”. It’s good to remember though, that they are part of the sporting group, and you may want to remember that they will need exercise, and definitely have a lot of enthusiasm for life.
Do Silver Labs Need A Lot of Exercises?
Yes, being a hunting dog, they need plenty of exercise. Silver lab puppies will not need as much exercise (no puppy does!). If you want a little more guidance on what your silver labrador puppy needs in terms of exercise, check here. This also may be separation anxiety.
How Should I train my Silver Lab Puppy?
Early days of getting any puppy are pretty rough (this is when the puppy blues usually kicks in).
With positive reinforcement! Every lab owner should be using positive reinforcement – regardless of the color of labrador.
You may get to a point that your labrador starts on destructive behavior, sometimes this is due to exercise or lack of because they are active dogs and their energy level needs work! Proper training will include plenty of socialisation, lots of obedience and practice. If you do it right? They’ll be your loyal friend for life and be able to go absolutely anywhere.
Is A Silver Lab Puppy Pure Labradors?
Yes! It’s absolutely possible that a silver lab can be a pure labrador! Much like White labs! They just have a color variation for the silver gene that results in this unique coloration.
It is, however, possible that a labrador might not be a labrador as puppy mills and other unethical breeders like to try and capitalise on this, as it is entirely possible that a greedy breeder may sell you a blue staffy puppy, or a labrador cross weimeraner, or a wide range of things as the male silver lab you’ve been dying for (or female!).
If you want to guarantee that your puppy is genuinely a labrador retriever breed, then you can try going through the labrador retriever club.
Is A Silver Lab Likely to have health problems?
Color dilution alopecia
Color Dilution Alopecia (CDA) is a genetic condition observed in dogs that have a dilute color coat, which causes hair thinning, hair loss, flaky, and itchy skin patches. It is a recessive inherited condition that has been observed in many different breeds with blue (silvery or bluish-gray) or fawn (soft brown) coats. The condition is not treatable, and the severity of the condition is mild, but it requires a diagnosis by a veterinarian. The condition is also associated with a form of follicular dysplasia and may affect any dilutely pigmented dog, regardless of coat color. Therefore, it is highly recommended not to breed affected animals.
This tends to develop early, so you’ll quickly find out in your weekly brushing.
Elbow dysplasia is a disease that affects the elbow joint in young, large, rapidly growing dogs. It is caused by abnormal bone growth, joint stresses, or cartilage development. Elbow dysplasia is a genetic ailment, so breeders are encouraged not to use affected dogs in their breeding programs. While elbow dysplasia cannot be cured, it can be well-managed with surgery and the appropriate medical management, and many dogs have a good long-term prognosis. The symptoms of elbow dysplasia in dogs include lameness, pain, and stiffness in the front legs.
Hip dysplasia is a genetic condition that affects many dog breeds, particularly larger ones like the labrador. It occurs when the hip joint does not form properly, leading to a loose and unstable joint. This can cause pain, stiffness, lameness, and eventually arthritis. While genetics play a big role in the development of hip dysplasia, environmental factors such as rapid growth, obesity, and over-exercise can also contribute. Diagnosis typically involves a physical exam and x-rays, and treatment options include medication, surgery, and lifestyle changes. Preventative measures such as proper nutrition, exercise, and breeding practices can also help reduce the incidence of hip dysplasia in dogs. This can (and should!) be tested for.
Labradors are excellent pets
both the Silver Labrador and the Weimaraner are beautiful and unique breeds that have their own set of characteristics and traits that make them great pets for the right family. While the Silver Labrador is known for their friendly and outgoing personality, as well as their loyalty and intelligence, the Weimaraner is known for their athletic ability, hunting instincts, and strong-willed personality. When it comes to choosing between the two, it ultimately depends on your lifestyle and preferences. If you are looking for a friendly and loyal family dog, the Silver Labrador might be the perfect choice for you. On the other hand, if you are an active outdoorsman or woman looking for a hunting companion, the Weimaraner might be a better fit. Ultimately, both of these breeds have a lot to offer and can make wonderful additions to any family.
With training, and investing in a healthy puppy, either will be a welcome addition to your family.
Silver labradors have definitely had an upturn in popularity in recent years, just make sure to take an extra closer look to your dog and their breeding. So, either way, make sure you buy your puppy from a responsible breeder.
If you need help finding a great breeder, try this, or get in touch and let’s find you the dog of your dreams!
Author, Ali Smith
Ali Smith is the Positive Puppy Expert, dog trainer and is the founder of Rebarkable. She is passionate about helping puppy parents get things right, right from the start. To help create a puppy capable of being a confident and adaptable family member and keep puppies out of shelters.
Ali has won multiple awards for her dog training, and has had her blog (this blog!) rated as 2021 & 2022 worlds’ best pet blog!