silver labrador dog breed

The Silver Lab: The Most Misconceived Type of Labrador Retriever 

The Silver Lab is a dog that experiences a lot of controversy. Many claim that the Silver Lab is not a purebred Labrador Retriever, rather it is a Lab Weimereiner mix. Meanwhile, other Labrador Retriever breeders state that this is a naturally occurring coat color within the Labrador Retriever breed. In this article, we will get to the bottom of these questions and explain everything you need to know about the Silver Lab. 

What is a Silver Lab? 

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There are two potential answers to this question. Many Labrador Retriever breeders claim that the silver coat comes from a recessive and somewhat rare color dilution gene. Whether or not this gene was a spontaneous mutation or has always existed within the breed is unclear.

Meanwhile, some claim that the silver Lab is a result of crossbreeding at some point in the dog’s lineage. The most popular believed culprit is the Weimaraner, another popular sporting group breed with a similar build and appearance to the Lab. 

Where did the Silver Lab Originate From? 

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Though there is evidence suggesting that there have been silver Labs born as early as the 1950s, the most well-recorded litter of silver Lab puppies was born in the 1980s in the United States. In fact, it is the breeder behind this litter that advocates for the coat type. 

Dean Crist, a Labrador Retriever breeder since the 1970s, is also incredibly knowledgeable in Biology and Genetics. He stands by the fact that his first silver Labs were far from a Labrador Retriever Weimareiner cross. Instead, he states that his first silver Lab puppies were born to two purebred Chocolate Labs

Crist stands by the fact that the silver coat on these Labs comes from a recessive color dilution gene. So, a Labrador Retriever with a dilution gene on the chocolate coat type will be silver. 

That being said, it is also entirely plausible that the silver Lab was the result of crossbreeding at some point, even if there is a naturally occurring dilution gene in Labrador Retrievers. This especially stands true today, where breeders may try to meet the demand for silver Labs by including a Weimareiner in their lines. 

What was the Silver Lab Bred For? 

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The silver Lab was bred for the same jobs that all other dogs were bred for. That is, to be a hunting companion and water retriever. Of course, Labs have developed a variety of jobs and titles over the years from beloved family pets to seeing-eye dogs for the blind. Many labs will even go into search and rescue work. 

What Does a Silver Lab Look Like? 

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The most eye-catching element of the silver Lab’s appearance is their unique coat color. However, they are all-around good-looking dogs with some other unique characteristics as well. Here is what the Silver Lab is supposed to look like. 

The Silver Lab’s Coat 

The silver Lab will have a short double coat that is water resistant. Of course, they should also have that beautiful silver coat coloration as well. It is important to mention that silver labs should have a solid coat color, and they shouldn’t have any spots or markings on them. 

Other Unique Characteristics 

The silver Lab should have exactly the same build as any other kind of Labrador Retriever. They will have short droopy ears, a long tail, and a proportionate head and body. Silver Labs will have a fairly long snout, a light grey or liver-colored nose, and hazel-colored eyes. 

How Big Does a Full Growl Silver Lab Get? 

The Silver Lab’s Height 

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The Silver Lab has the same height as other types of Labrador Retrievers. Female silver Labs will stand between 21.5 and 23.5 inches tall at the shoulder. Males tend to be of a similar size, but they can also be slightly taller. Most male silver Labs will be between 22.5 and 24.5 inches tall at the shoulder. 

The Silver Lab’s Weight 

Silver Labs are large dogs that can weigh anywhere between 55 and 80 pounds when kept at a healthy weight. Males tend to be larger than females, but they can be roughly the same size in some cases. 

How to Take Care of a Silver Lab 

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Labs are large dogs that need a decent amount of exercise. Other than that though, the Labrador Retriever is a relatively low-maintenance dog. Here is what you need to know about properly taking care of a silver Lab. 

How Much Exercise Does a Silver Lab Need? 

All Labrador Retrievers need about an hour of exercise per day. Doing this will not only keep your silver Lab healthy and mentally stimulated, but healthy as well. Labs have the tendency to become overweight and develop weight-related health problems when not exercised enough. 

Does a Silver Lab Need Grooming? 

The Lab has a very low maintenance coat. You will only need to quickly brush your silver Lab’s coat around once a week to remove shedding hair. This frequency of brushing will likely need to increase temporarily during your Lab’s shedding season. 

You will also need to bathe your silver Lab whenever they get dirty. Giving your Lab a bath can help remove shedding hair as well. However, it is best to limit this bathing to once a month at a maximum if you can help it. 

Of course, you will also need to keep your silver Lab’s nails trimmed and their ears clean. It is important to remember that Labs have floppy ears that are more prone to developing ear infections than other ear types. It is recommended that you brush your dog’s teeth as frequently as possible as well, preferably once a day. 

What is the Best Diet for the Silver Lab? 

Labrador Retrievers need about 2 ½ cups of food per day. It is best to separate this portion into two 1 ¼ cup meals to prevent complications with digestion such as bloat. 

It is also important to mention that food allergies are fairly common in all types of Labrador Retrievers. These typically include allergies to protein sources and corn, wheat, and soy products. The protein sources that commonly affect Labs include beef, chicken, eggs, and fish. 

Are Silver Labs Easy to Train? 

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Yes, silver Labs are known to be some of the easiest dogs to train when it comes to teaching them tricks and basic obedience commands. Early socialization and training using positive reinforcement are key for training a silver Lab puppy. 

Are Silver Labs Easy to Potty Train? 

Luckily, silver Labs are also known to be pretty easy to potty train. Most silver Lab owners report that sticking to a consistent potty training schedule is all they needed to have a fully potty-trained dog. 

What is the Silver Lab’s Temperament? 

The Labrador Retriever is the most popular dog breed in the United States for a very good reason. These dogs are loyal, easy to train, and dependable. They are also amazing dogs for families with children thanks to their active and outgoing nature. Here is a bit more information about the silver Lab’s temperament. 

Does the Silver Lab do Well Around Children? 

The silver Lab does famously well with children. In fact, Labs are the most popular family dog to have in the U.S. This is because Labs are active and playful while also having a gentle and cuddly side to them.  Labs have a great temperament, and they are sure to become a child’s best friend in no time. 

Does the Silver Lab do Well Around Other Pets? 

Labrador Retrievers are also known to behave very well around cats and other dogs. Purebred Labs are not known to have an incredibly high prey drive, which makes them suited for homes with cats and smaller dogs. This is especially true if your Lab has been well-socialized with cats and small dogs from an early age. 

Labs are known to do well with other large dogs as well. While they are not known to have a very high prey drive, it is not recommended to have a Lab around small pets like rodents and reptiles. 

Are Silver Labs Aggressive? 

Silver Labs are not known to be aggressive in any way inherently. However, it is important to mention that any dog breed could potentially become aggressive when mistreated or neglected in any way. 

What Environment is Ideal for a Silver Lab? 

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Silver Labs need a decent amount of space to run around and exercise. As a result, they do best in rural or suburban environments. It is also best to have a house with a yard when owning a silver Lab. These dogs are not well suited for city living most of the time. 

When it comes to temperatures, Labrador Retrievers are not necessarily sensitive to cold or hot temperatures. However, they can experience negative effects in both very cold and very hot temperatures just like any other type of dog. This is important to keep in mind if you live in an extremely hot or cold climate. 

What is the Average Lifespan for a Silver Lab? 

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The average life expectancy of the silver Lab is between 11 and 13 years. Feeding your dog a healthy diet and providing them with the recommended amount of daily exercise will help your dog live the longest and healthiest life possible. 

Silver Lab Common Health Issues 

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Just like with any other dog breed, the silver Labrador Retriever can be prone to inheriting some medical conditions. Here is a list of health issues that are known to occur in silver Labs. 

  • Allergies 
  • Hip Dysplasia 
  • Elbow Dysplasia 
  • Gastric Torsion 
  • Epilepsy 
  • Osteochondritis Dissecans 
  • Cataracts 
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) 
  • Otitis Externa 

Purchasing a silver Lab from a reputable breeder can help prevent you from purchasing a silver Lab that will experience some of the above health conditions. Additionally, taking your silver Lab to their routine vet visits will help catch any medical issues early. 

How Much Does a Silver Lab Cost? 

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A silver Lab puppy from a reputable breeder can cost anywhere between $1,000 and $3,000 when buying within the United States. However, this cost is somewhere between $1,000 and $2,000 most of the time. 

Other Similar Dog Breeds 

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Like the silver Lab but are looking for some other options that are similar as well? Well, the Weimaraner and the Golden Retriever are both fairly similar dog breeds to the silver Lab in one way or another. Similarly, you may also want to consider Labrador Retrievers with different coat types as well. Here is some more information on dog breeds that are similar to the Silver Lab. 

The Weimaraner 

Also a member of the sporting group, the Weimaraner is a large dog originating from Germany. Weimaraners were originally used for large game trailing. However, now they are more commonly seen as family pets. 

Weimaraners are large dogs that weigh between 50 and 70 pounds. They also typically have a lot of energy and need a decent amount of daily exercise. Like the Lab, Weimaraners have a short coat that is low maintenance when it comes to grooming. 

Like silver Labs, Weinaraeiners will always have a gorgeous gray colored coat that can come in blue, silver, and gray. However, this coat coloration is officially accepted in the Weimaraner breed, and they do not have as much controversy surrounding the Weimaraner breed. 

Other Labrador Retriever Colors 

Of course, you may want to still consider a Labrador Retriever if you do not have your heart set on a silver-colored dog. There are currently three coat colors officially accepted in the Labrador Retriever breed. These coat colors include black, yellow, and chocolate. 

Not only do these Labs have the same body structure and temperament as the silver Lab, but they have all of the same care requirements as well. So, if you want a silver Lab for their temperament or other attributes and not just their coat color, you should consider another type of Lab! It may be easier for you to find a black, yellow, or chocolate Lab puppy than a silver Lab puppy as well. 

The Golden Retriever 

Although the Golden Retriever isn’t extremely similar to the Silver Lab in appearance, they are incredibly similar in temperament. Like Labs, Golden Retrievers are friendly and outgoing dogs that are also loyal and easy to train. Golden Retrievers also behave famously well around children, cats, and other dogs. 

Golden Retrievers have exercise requirements that are very similar to those of Labrador Retrievers. However, Goldens will need to be groomed slightly more often. Like Labs, Golden Retrievers are large-sized dogs that do best in rural and suburban environments. 

Finding the Right Silver Lab Breeder 

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There are a lot of considerations to make when it comes to finding the right dog breeder. Here we will be explaining some signs of a reputable silver Lab breeder along with some signs that you should steer clear of a breeder. Let’s get into it! 

Signs of a Reputable Silver Lab Breeder 

Every reputable breeder will be transparent with their breeding and puppy-rearing practices. Here are some signs that a silver Lab breeder is reputable. 

  • The breeder clearly and honestly states the dog’s lineage. (If they are a purebred Lab or not.) 
  • If a purebred Lab, their pedigree is provided. 
  • Silver Lab puppies do not cost more than other colored Labs.
  • The breeder health tests their dogs before breeding them. (For Labs this should be hip, elbow, and eye evaluations along with DNA screening.) 
  • All dogs are provided with a healthy diet, enough exercise, and humane living conditions. 
  • All dogs are kept in good health with proper preventative care. (Vaccines, deworming, etc.) 
  • All puppies are socialized and the breeder explains how socialization takes place. (Programs like Avidog and Puppy Culture are great.) 
  • All dogs are sold with a health guarantee, the longer the better. 
  • You are allowed to see where the breeder’s dogs are kept most of the time. 
  • The breeder follows ethical breeding practices and ensures that their female dog is of fit health to be bred before breeding. 

Following these guidelines will help ensure that you find the best silver Lab breeder possible. It will also help prevent you from falling for puppy scams or unethical large-scale breeders. 

Signs a Silver Lab Breeder is Not Reputable 

Just like signs of a reputable silver Lab breeder, there are some signs that a dog breeder is not reputable. Here are some red flags to look out for when searching for a silver Lab breeder. 

  • Silver Lab puppies cost much more than Lab puppies of other colors. 
  • The breeder is not transparent about their breeding practices. 
  • The breeder is lying about the silver lab being a purebred dog, or they will not show you proof of pedigree. 
  • Dogs have not been health tested before breeding, or the breeder will not show you official proof of health testing. 
  • Puppies have not been socialized.
  • Puppies have not received vaccinations or deworming. 
  • Puppies are not sold with a health guarantee. 
  • The breeder will not let you see where the dogs are kept or they ask to meet you at an unusual location. (parking lots, street corners, etc.) 
  • The breeder is breeding many different types of dogs. (signs of a large-scale breeding operation.) 
  • Dogs are not kept healthy.
  • Dogs are not kept in humane living conditions. 

Taking note of the above red flags will help you steer clear of silver Lab breeders that are not ethical. Of course, it is always a good idea to follow your gut as well. If something doesn’t seem right with a breeder then this is a sign that you shouldn’t purchase a puppy from them. 

Conclusion (Is the Silver Lab Right for You?)

The silver Lab is a beautiful dog that is great for active families that live in rural and suburban environments. Labs are also an excellent choice for families with children and other pets thanks to their gentle and easygoing temperaments. So, is the silver Lab right for you and your family? What are you waiting for? Go find your new best friend today! 

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