While the labrador retriever is a rather common breed of dog, some different variations are less well known yet growing in popularity. One of these variations is the silver lab, a variation of the chocolate lab. The thing about labs is that you have to consider what you are looking for before picking one, especially if you want a hunting dog.
A silver lab would make a great hunting dog. There are two types of silver labs: English silver labs and American silver labs. While you can try to train either for hunting, the English lab is designed for shows, while the American lab is designed for hunting.
In the rest of the article, we will take a look into what a silver lab is. You will find all the information you could need to figure out if the Silver Lab is the dog for you. We are going to talk about temperament, appearance, training, health problems, and more.
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What Are Silver Labs?
The three most common types of labradors are the chocolate lab, the black lab, and the yellow lab. However, there are variations outside of those three caused by genetics. Some are considered mixed breeds, while others are still recognized by the AKC (American Kennel Club) as a full-bred labrador retriever.
The Silver lab is one of the variations that the AKC recognizes as a purebred lab; however, you would register it as a chocolate lab.
This variant also called a blue lab, is caused by a certain gene that turns chocolate labs into silver labs, black labs into charcoal labs, and yellow labs into champagne labs. In the past, silver labs have not been a sought-after color.
In fact, they were not even really heard of until the 1950s, but recently it has become more fashionable to have a silver lab.
As you may have guessed, the most distinctive feature of the silver lab is that they have a silver coat. However, some other features are pretty common to most Silver labs.
First, most silver labs have a brown or light brown nose. This is likely because they are variants of brown labs.
Silver Labs tend to have blue eyes at birth, but around eight months to a year, the color starts to change to a light yellow color.
Sometimes, this color will stick for the rest of their lives, while other times, it changes back to blue or even turns green.
They tend to be rather mid-sized, not overly thick-set or skinny when healthy, though they can get slightly bigger than most traditional labs.
Are Silver Labs Purebread?
Purists may argue that the silver lab is not pure-bred because their coat is different from the traditional chocolate lab. Most people that subscribe to this belief argue that the silver lab is the cross between a lab and a Weimaraner because they sometimes look houndish in addition to their coat.
However, if this were true, they would have larger, round ears rather than triangle ears. Additionally, all AKC genetic testing has found evidence against this theory.
What is the Difference Between English Labradors and American Labradors?
We mentioned earlier that there are two types of silver labs: English and American. These classifications are fairly common terms that you will likely hear again if you are interested in labradors.
It is important to understand that these terms have nothing to do with where the dog originates from but rather it identifies their type and certain features related to said type.
English Labradors are traditionally dogs you would see in a dog show. They tend to be a bit bulkier and shorter. As far as temperament, they tend to be more mellow, hence why they are not typically suited for hunting.
Because Silver Labs do not conform to the standard qualities of a lab, they typically cannot be entered in dog shows, but their mellow temperament makes them great family dogs.
American labrador, on the other hand, makes great hunting dogs. They tend to be a little bigger and have extremely high energy. American Silver Labs are field dogs, through and through. They are great dogs, but aesthetics have not to be considered in their breeding.
What is the Temperament of a Silver Lab?
All labs generally have similar temperaments. They are known to be man’s best friend and America’s sweetheart. They are loyal and people-loving from the day you bring them home.
Any temperament problems tend to be due to inadequate training rather the genetics.
That being said, they are really smart, energetic dogs, and they need to be stimulated, or else they get bored easily. You want to start training them young along with playing and exercising with them regularly.
If you teach them to hunt, great activities include things like fetch, jogging, and swimming.
The most important thing is that you find a good breeder. A good breeder will be able to tell you about both of your puppy’s parents. This will allow you to estimate how big your dog will get, the kind of temperament he/she will have, etc.
Are Silver Labs Easy to Train?
Whether your pup is a family dog or a hunting dog, if you get a big dog, you must train him, or things can get out of control quickly.
The good news is, silver labs are really easy to train. They are super smart and want to make you happy. You can start teaching them basic tricks and commands from very young people and move to more complex ones rather quickly. Of course, when training any dogs, you will need plenty of treats and patience.
Are Silver Labs Expensive?
Because of their rarity and growing popularity, Silver Labs tend to be more expensive than traditional lab variations. You may find a black or chocolate lab for around 600 dollars, but you should expect to pay at least twice that for a Silver Lab.
If you do come across one that is less expensive, it could sign that the breeder is cutting corners and not as reputable.
If you do not have the kind of money and are okay with getting a dog that is a little bit older, you may be able to find a rescue to adopt.
Silver labs are a little harder to come across in rescues because they are rare, but labradors are unfortunately one of the most abandoned breeds. If you expand your search and have a little patience, you will likely find one that you can rescue.
Whether you are buying a puppy or rescuing one, it is always better to go through a shelter or a reputable breeder rather than a puppy mill or pet store.
The dog will likely be healthier, have a better temperament, and you can trust that you are supporting a humane group.
Do Silver Labs Have Health Issues?
Labradors as a whole are a rather healthy breed, but there are a few problems that you could run into. The most common health problem that all labradors, including Silver Labs, may face is hip or elbow dysplasia.
Dysplasia is a hereditary problem, but dogs can live long, happy lives with it if you catch it early.
There are also a few health problems that any chocolate lab, including silver labs, is more at risk. These problems include hot spots, eye problems, and ear infections. All of these problems are usually treatable.
One health problem that is unique to Silver Labs is called color dilution alopecia. While all variants of dogs can get it, it seems to be much more common in Silver Labs.
Color dilution alopecia is not life-threatening, but it can cause your pup to develop dry skin or even loose sections of hair. The good news is that it is possible to treat with certain shampoos.
Hunting With Silver Labs
In conclusion, American Silver Labradors make great and trustworthy hunting partners. From their intelligence to their temperament and size, these dogs are a great option, especially for duck hunting.
If you are interested in taking your Silver Lab hunting, you need to focus on training.
Of course, your dog will need to learn all the typical commands (sit, stay, quiet, etc.), but you will also need to teach your dog how to get things and bring them back.
Fetch is a great option to practice this skill before you are ready to take them out hunting. If you have never trained a hunting dog before, you may want to consider enlisting the help of someone who has, but the good news is a lot of the skills are almost instinctual to labs, so it should not be too hard.
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