Can’t decide between a Yellow and a Black Labrador?
Consider a brown one!
Brown Labs are called Chocolate Labrador because of the delicious deep brown color of their coat. Not to sound biased but Chocolate Labs are the prettiest of all the labs. That’s also why they are usually raised for the ring.
Due to this little fact, there personality may be slightly different from their yellow or black cousins – both more used to the field.
However, they are just as lively, loyal, and friendly as any Labrador. A Choco Labbie makes for a perfect family dog and gets along with all the people and animals in the house. Let them play in the yard and they may even become besties with your neighbor.
If that is the kind of canine companion you desire, a Chocolate Labrador may just be the perfect partner for you. This guide will help you learn more about the charming Chocolate Labradors.
Overview and History
Like all Labradors, Chocolate Labs are sweet natured dogs that will make your heart melt with affection.
The difference in the color doesn’t make it a different breed. However, the general preference of color has changed tremendously over the years, and therefore, the history of Chocolate Labrador is different from that of Black or Yellow Labs.
During 1800s, Fishermen in Newfoundland started raising and training Labrador Retrievers as their work companion. Proficient swimmers and loyal as any beast, those Labs would swim in freezing cold water to retrieve fish for their masters.
A few years later, Labbies also proved themselves useful as hunting companions for hunters in North America. Their popularity soon reached the UK, and Labrador became one of the most sought-after working or hunting breeds across the Atlantic as well.
The Rise of Brown Coats
Sadly, for around a century, only the Black Labradors were desirable. It’s not like the ancestors didn’t have the genes to bear yellow or brown pups – but all other colors were considered flawed. Yellow was still acceptable. Brown Labs, called Liver Labs at that time, were so undesirable that most Chocolate lab puppies were culled as soon as they were born.
It wasn’t until 1920s that people started to see Liver Labs as desirable pets. In the 60s, the brown coat got its first public recognition when an English Chocolate Labrador, Cookridge Tango, became the first Labbie to win the English Show Championship.
Now, of all the three officially recognized colors of Labrador, Chocolate is the rarest. And this ‘rarity’ factor also contributed to the sudden popularity of Choco Labs as show dogs over the past few decades.
Many believe that the history of raising these dogs for the show ring has influenced their temperament and behavior. They have what some would call the ‘show dog’ attitude. However, more and more people are raising their Chocolate Labs as field dogs nowadays. So, if there really was any difference due to the way these Labs were raised, it may no longer be significant.
A Chocolate Labrador looks like… well… a chocolate colored Labrador. That is about the only main difference there is in terms of appearance.
What’s worth noting is that field line Labs and show line Labs do look slightly different. The latter usually have chunkier heads and thicker tails. Since, Chocolate Labs are commonly raised as show dogs, they are more likely to have those features.
Despite the name, the color of a Chocolate Labrador’s coat varies from a light tan to rich chocolate brown. Their eye color also varies from light honey to deep brown. The color around their mouth, nose, and eyes can be different from the rest of the coat.
And while we are talking about colors, here is an interesting fact:
Silver Labrador, neither common nor popular, too comes from the same genes that result in Chocolate Coat. So, it is also considered Chocolate Labrador but AKC or any of the known clubs do not officially recognize this color.
Weight and Size
Adult show line Chocolate Labradors, have a heavier build and weigh around 80 to 90 pounds. These Labs are more common in the UK, while the American Chocolate Labrador is usually bred for the field. It is leaner and usually under 80 pounds. Females Choco Labs are generally 10 to 15 pounds lighter than male counterparts.
That said, most American Chocolate Labradors, even the ones bred for work, carry the genes of show line Labradors. So, many of them grown just as big as their British cousins.
The Chocolate Genes
Labrador’s coat color is a product of its genetic code and that’s also the reason it’s rare.
If one or both of the parent is black or brown, you can expect a Chocolate pup in the litter. Two Yellow Labs, however, cannot give you a Chocolate pup. That’s because the brown color is technically just a variant of black.
The dominant ‘B’ gene in Black Labradors is responsible for the dark pigment called eumelanin, which makes their coat black. Their offspring, however, can have a recessive ‘b’ gene instead of ‘B’. This recessive gene means less eumelanin. Offspring that inherit the recessive gene from both parent are Chocolate in color.
We won’t get too much into the Yellow Labrador genes but they two have domeonet E and recessive e genes. There are a total of nine possible genotypes or combinations of B and E genes. And out of these nine, only two can result in a Chocolate Labrador.
This explains why they are still rare.
Now, the question that still needs to be answered is if the genes that determine the coat color have any impact on a dog’s personality.
Personality and Temperament
Labradors are now seen as the perfect family dogs, but historically, they were raised for the field. That means that they aren’t just sweet and affectionate, they are smart and agile an energetic as well.
We have already discussed how Chocolate Labs were initially considered unfit, and most were killed as born. Unlike Black Labs, this particular color only got attention when Labrador garnered fame in the ring. Due to this major difference in history, it is believed that the temperament and traits of brown Labs are slightly different from Yellow or Black Labradors.
However, there is little evidence to substantiate this claim. Scientific studies have shown no real impact of recessive genes on a Labrador’s temperament.
The first thing you will notice about your Labrador is that they are always ready to play. These high-energy, big beasts will fetch for anyone. If they can’t find anything else to play with, they’d chase their tails. If you don’t have another pet or someone to play with your Choco Labbie all the time, get them some nice toys to keep them positively engaged.
It doesn’t take long for a Chocolate Labrador to like you or anyone else. They shower their love on every single being in the house, wag their tails the moment they see you, and they keep coming back for cuddles and belly rubs. In short, they know how to win everyone’s heart.
Due to their history as work dogs and hunting companions, Labradors are intelligent, agile, and independent. They train easily and quickly and might even surprise you by doing something that you haven’t even trained them to do. This shows their ability to think and act in different circumstance.
However, Labs who come from a line of show dogs, may not display as much intelligence, agility or trainability. And that may be true for many Chocolate Labs.
Excitability is another trait that may be influenced by the line of dogs your Lab belongs to. Show line Chocolate Labradors can be more excitable as compared to field line dogs. This excitability can hinder their training, as they would prefer play over work.
Labradors are generally well behaved and they do not indulge in anything that might upset people or pets around them. One little issue that might be a nuisance for some owners is their barking habit.
These little excitable goofballs love to bark. However, the bark is generally out of excitement. That is why, despite being barkers, they do not make a good guard dog.
Simply put, your Chocolate Labrador carries the same personality traits as yellow and black Labs. The ‘show dog’ attitude people do point out is usually a product of other factors such as environment and training.
Speaking of training, it is fun and easy to train a Labrador – as long as you can keep it fun and easy.
How will you train a Chocolate Lab Retriever if they are always in the mood for fun?
Chocolate Labs love to be appreciated. It is in their nature to obey and serve, and it won’t be wrong to call them people pleasers. So, a little appreciation can go a long way.
If you cannot make training interesting and exciting for your Choco puff, they will get bored. On the flip side, if its too much fun, their excitability will distract them from learning. It is a problem commonly reported in Chocolate Labradors, so you need to find a good balance.
That said, let us not ignore the fact that you won’t have to work too hard on skills or traits that the breed is known to possess naturally. That includes sociability, chase, and retrieval. As for sociability, some Chocolate Labrador may not be as friendly with other pets as they are with humans. Setting playdates with other dogs can easily resolve the issue.
An important Chocolate Labrador training tip is to use food for positive reinforcement. Food is a really good reward for these babies. As we always emphasize, dogs are more likely to obey a person who holds the treat bag.
Dogs that have a tendency to be a field companion is generally low maintenance . It is entirely possible to raise your Chocolate Labrador as a work dog, a companion dog or a seeing eye assistant. This means, Labbies more likely to care for you and not the other way around.
However, as their pet parent, you need to ensure their emotional, physical, and mental wellbeing. You are responsible for their health, happiness, and hygiene.
The short, thick coat of your Chocolate Labrador doesn’t require excessive brushing and detangling. Checking for ticks is also easy, as is preventing them. However, Labradors aren’t hypoallergenic and shed a lot. Brush their coat everyday to remove dead hair before they end up on your couch or carpet.
Aside from that, you won’t have to do much to keep the coat smooth and shiny. The brushing will spread the oils evenly over the coat.
They do not even need regular baths, although they love water. It’s ok if you don’t bathe them till they are visibly dirty. However, that may happen too frequently for some Chocolate Labs as they love to roll around in the yard.
Brush your baby’s teeth daily, but keep checking their eyes and ears to clean them when needed. As far as nail clipping is concerned, it is not easy when you have a dark colored dog. It is difficult to see where the quick is, and you might clip more than you should
Chocolate Labradors may not be as agile as Black Labs, but they are Labradors after all. They are full of energy and enthusiasm and regular exercise is necessary for their wellbeing. Although not an aggressive breed, Labbies can get destructive if they can’t channel their energy in a productive manner.
Just like their training, make their exercise fun and engaging. Choose interactive activities so that their exercise time is more of a productive playtime.
Chocolate Labradors need 1 to 2 hours of daily exercise. At least 30 minutes of that time should be rigorous physical activity, while the rest of the time should be divided between walkies and mentally stimulating activities.
Remember, they will be more interested in exercise that involves you as well. You can play chase and fetch with your pal, or take them to a pool that allows people to swim with their pets. Swimming is an activity they truly enjoy, and they are good at it.
For mental stimulation, you can either create a fun obstacle course for them, or buy them dog puzzle toys.
Chocolate Lab puppies may have the same level of energy of an adult Lab, but they lack stamina. Therefore, you need to start with around 30 minutes of exercise a day, and gradually increase that time after carefully observing their stamina level.
As a high-energy dog, your Chocolate Labrador needs a high-protein, high-fat diet. Fat is what converts into energy in dogs. They love to eat and can easily burn all those calories. However, if they aren’t effectively utilizing the calories consumed, they will get fat, lazy, and sick.
Obesity is more common in Chocolate Labs than in Yellow or Black Labradors. They have the same appetite but may not always be as agile or active. So, you will have to observe your Lab as an individual to decide how much calories it actually needs to consume.
If you are raising a work dog, make sure you pick a dog food that is good for their body and brain. As active dogs, they also need healthy bones. Any premium ‘Active-Dog’ formula for large breed would be perfect for your Labrador.
Your little Labbie should be on puppy kibble from age 2 to 15 months. Feed them four to five times a day until 6 months of age, and then gradually make it three meals.
Once they have switched to adult food, it is best to limit their diet to two meals a day. That is a good way to prevent overeating and unwanted weight gain, a common health concern in Labradors.
Some people believe that Chocolate Labradors are weaker than other Labs, but that is a misconception that came from the ‘flawed’ gene myth. We will further dissect this myth in the next section. Before that, let’s have a look at some health issues Chocolate Labradors are susceptible to.
Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
All Labradors, Chocolate or not, are prone to both these problems, especially if you are unable to maintain a healthy weight.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Chocolate Labradors are susceptible to vision related defects, especially progressive blindness, which can be hereditary.
Chocolate Labs do not have sensitive tummies but they can bloat quite often. It is common in large and deep-chest breeds.
It is worth noting that most of the problems are hereditary. A DNA test of parents can help you get a baby that is least prone to these health problems. However, finding such a baby can be a bit of an issue.
And that is what brings us to the final section of our Chocolate Labrador guide.
Controversies and Concerns
A study of around 33, 000 Labradors suggested that Chocolate Labs have a shorter life span and more health issues. Compared to 12 years average lifespan of a Black or Yellow Labrador, Chocolate usually live for ten years. The findings caused a stir in the Chocolate Lab owners community, but there are some important facts to consider.
While many tied health and longevity to the gene responsible for the coat’s color, genealogists have actually denied that connection. As a matter of fact, inbreeding is one of the biggest culprit behind these statistics.
The possibility of producing a brown pup can’t be increased without reducing the gene pool. This, in turn, increases the risk of hereditary health issues in Chocolate puppies. Genealogists call it a ‘consumer-driven genetic bottlneck‘.
That is why it is important to buy your Chocolate Labrador from a breeder who can provide health reports of its parents. Puppies must have proper health checks as well. A little caution on your part can play a huge role in eliminating unethical breeding practices.
Chocolate Labradors are absolutely adorable and full of energy. While their rich brown coat is gorgeous, it isn’t the only reason to bring them home.
Chocolate Labradors are smart and hardworking dogs. They are useful as assistant dogs and are also great for homes with kids and other pets. Their Chocolate coat is beautiful and makes them stand out. They will win the affection of everyone – not just in the house, but also in the park, the neighbourhood, and anywhere you take them. Just make sure you are buying your baby from a reliable breeder, and you will have a wonderful companion by your side.
FAQs: Chocolate Labradors
How much does a Chocolate Labrador cost?
A healthy Chocolate Labrador puppy can cost you around $ 800 to $ 1200. Reliable breeders go through a lot of trouble to ensure a healthy puppy that doesn’t carry diseases and infections.
How long does a Chocolate Labrador live?
The average lifespan of a Chocolate Labrador is around 10 years. That is around 2 years less than the average lifespan of Black and Yellow Labradors.
Why are Chocolate Labradors rare?
Chocolate Labradors are born when the offspring carries the recessive gene of Black Labradors. Out of nine possible genetic combination, only two can result in a Chocolate Labrador. That is why the are rare.
Are Chocolate Labradors difficult to train?
Trainability has little to do with the coat color, but work-line dogs are easier to train than show-line dogs. Since most Chocolate Labs come from show-line lineage, many owners find them a little difficult to train.
Are Chocolate Labradors hypoallergenic?
No, none of the Labrador Retrievers is hypoallergenic. They are high shedding dogs and will shed more in spring and fall.