Silver, Charcoal and Champagne – The Dilution (dd) gene in Labs

“Silver”, “charcoal” and “champagne” aren’t recognised colours in Labradors, as the dilution gene (dd) comes from the Weimaraner after the era in which it was tolerated to breed in other breeds into the Labrador population. These dogs possess the homozygous autosomal recessive alleles “dd” at the D locus, found on canine chromosome #25. The gene at the D locus is commonly called the “dilution” gene but is more correctly termed the “melanophilin” gene or “MLPH.” When a Labrador who carries the dilution gene (dd), is bred with another Labrador who also carries the dilution gene (dd), puppies can be produced in the litter that are either carriers of the dilution gene (dd), are not carriers of the dilution gene (dd) or who are what is called a dilute colour, being light silver, charcoal silver, or champagne.
A “silver” Labrador is dilute or lighter shade of a chocolate Lab, while a “charcoal” Labrador is dilute or lighter shade of a black Lab, and “champagne” is a dilute or lighter shade of a yellow Lab. All these dilutes carry the dilution gene (dd). While AKC, UKC ACA, etc register them as purebred Labs, according to their “foundation” genetic colouring, being either black (charcoals), chocolate (light silvers), or yellow (champagnes), most non breeders of these shades insist there was intermixing at some point in time. In any case, no kennel club officially recognizes “silver”, “charcoal” or “champagne” as legitimate colours for Labrador retrievers, so beware spending a large amount of money on a dog where the seller claims otherwise.

Response of Robert Young of AKC on March 27, 2000, giving AKC’s official position on the issue of “silver” Labs. Consensus at the “Silver Lab” meeting held on July 14, 1997.

1) The foundation for the AKC registry is based on parentage and not colour.
2) We should register all Lab pups coming from purebred AKC registered Labs.
3) We should not register Labs as “Silver.”
4) After a review of pictures, the file and history of this issue which goes back to 1987, we feel the most appropriate colour for registration is Chocolate.
5) We will entertain complaints of impure breedings on an individual basis, but complaints should be based on more than colour.

In 1987 we conducted an inquiry into the breeding of the litters that contained the dogs that were registered as silver and one of our representatives was sent to observe several of the dogs that had been registered as silver. Colour photographs of these dogs were forwarded to the office of the American Kennel Club where the staff of the AKC and the representatives of the Labrador Retriever Club of America examined them. Both parties were satisfied that there was no reason to doubt that the dogs were purebred Labrador Retrievers, however both parties felt that the dogs were incorrectly registered as silver. Since the breed standard describes chocolate as ranging in shade from Sedge to chocolate, it was felt that the dogs could more accurately be described as chocolate than as silver.

As serious Labrador breeders would want to avoid the appearance of “silver”, “charcoal”, or “champagne” in their lines, I’ve decided to add the dd-carrying and dd-affected Labs that come to my knowledge to the LabradorNet Database.
To be able to find all the dd-carriers and dd-affected Labradors in the LabradorNet Database, as well as their ancestors, and otherwise related dogs, just follow these simple steps:
1. Go to the LabradorNet Database.
2. In “Field to search” choose “Color”
3. In “Search string” enter “Beware!”
4. Click the button “Search now”

Jack Vanderwyk,
August 2012

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About Jack Vanderwyk

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