Stance of some KCs and LRCs on the “silver” controversy

Note: Alopecia, the colour mutant in Canis lupus familiaris which we know as the dilute (dd) locus, was first mapped in 2005, and first reported in 2007. The last stance of the AKC and some other organisations on the “silver” controversy goes back to 1997. After 17 years it’s about time they change their minds and make good use of modern scientific facts. Today it’s easy to show the presence of the dilute (dd) locus in the DNA of dogs, so excluding affected Labradors and carriers of the dilute locus from the stud books shouldn’t be any problem.


The American Kennel Club (AKC) – the organisation which allowed “silver”, “champagne”, “charcoal” and other diluted dogs to be registered as chocolate, yellow and black Labradors since at least 50 years, and therefore is responsible for the massive mess we’re in today, keeps proving that they are a rigid, money making club, without a shred of respect for the wishes of the parent breed club, the Labrador Retriever Club of the United States (LRC). The AKC is not worthy of being the guard of the Labrador Retriever stud books.

The registry of the American Kennel Club is based on parentage and not the coat color of a member of any breed. In 1987 the AKC, in corporation with the Labrador Retriever Club of America, conducted an inquiry into the breeding of litters that contained members that were registered as silver. An AKC representative was sent to observe these dogs. The report and color photographs of these dogs were reviewed by AKC staff and representatives of the Labrador Retriever Club of America. Both Parties were satisfied that there was no reason to doubt that the dogs were purebred Labrador Retrievers, however they felt that the dogs were incorrectly registered as silver. Since the breed standard at the time described chocolate as ranging in shade form sedge to chocolate, it was felt that the dogs could more accurately be described as chocolate rather than silver. This remains the current policy of the American Kennel Club.

Jack Norton Special Services Dept.

So, it’s all about proof of parentage. If the AKC has allowed some dilute bloodlines to be registered for fifty years, they assume that their colleagues did a good job. Without any doubt. How arrogant is that? Once you start lying, you can’t stop, no matter how obvious it becomes with the scientific facts we have today.

Consensus at the “Silver Lab” meeting held on July 14, 1997.

1) The foundation for the AKC registry is based on parentage and not color.
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 color for registration is Chocolate.
5) We will entertain complaints of impure breedings on an individual basis, but complaints should be based on more than color.

Robert Young AKC

So, the AKC shouldn’t register Labs as “Silver”, but they should register “silver” mutts as chocolate Labradors. The AKC, the guard of the Labrador stud books, refuses to look into the genotypical facts, and thinks looking at a picture (phenotypical) is enough to come to a thorough conclusion. I’m sure the American courts will disagree with them.


The Labrador Retriever Club Inc. (LRC) is the parent Labrador Club of the United States. Their stance is clear:

There is no genetic basis for the silver gene in Labradors. The silver color is a disqualification under the Standard for the breed. The LRC does not recognize, accept or condone the sale or advertising of any Labrador as a silver Labrador. The Club opposes the practice of registering silver as chocolate.

Yet the AKC keeps registering “silver” dilutes as chocolate, “champagnes” as yellow, and “charcoals” as black Labradors.

How the “silver gene” was introduced into the Labrador in the USA cannot at this time be proven but because it seemed to originate from one kennel it is most likely an accidental or deliberate mating with another breed. There is reference that the kennels in the USA from which the colour may have originated years ago at the time bred both Labradors and other hunting breeds including Weimaraner’s. Others have suggested it may have been that the colour was a natural mutation. Mutations however typically do not reproduce in a typical pattern. The ‘silver’ Lab expression follows the exact same pattern as any other (dd) dilution in other breeds. The ‘silver’colour has not been seen in any other country.


The Kennel Club (United Kingdom) was the first Kennel Club in the world and many of the practices it developed during 1850 to 1900 were later adopted by other Kennel Clubs around the world.

The KC’s Official statement:

In 2001 the Kennel Club received a direct request from the Labrador Breed Council to restrict the registration of Labrador colours to black, yellow and chocolate/liver and for any other colour to be registered as non-standard (the Kennel Club changed the wording of non-standard to non-recognised in 2007 as it was perceived that this removed any rarity value to it). Any silver Labradors should fall into this latter category and should have non-recognised printed in the colour field on their registration certificate. It is our understanding that the silver Labradors resident in the UK originated from the US. The American Kennel Club has advised us that following an investigation into the original silver coloured dogs in 1987, they had no reason to doubt that these were not purebred Labradors. This decision appears to have been arrived at with representatives from both the AKC and from the LRC of America. The genetics of the silver colour in the Labrador is not known, at least not to us. However, there are breeds where silver is a colour and the genetics has been worked out, the silver Poodle, for example. Silver in the Poodle is the result of an interaction between two different genes, the dilution gene and the grey gene. The dilution gene has two different forms, ‘D’ and ‘d’, as does the grey gene, ‘G’; and ‘g’. ‘D’ is dominant to ‘d’ and ‘G’ is dominant ‘g’. The silver Poodle is ‘dd’ and has at least one ‘G’ version of the grey gene. It is probably fair to say that silver in the Labrador will have a good chance of having a similar origin. The ‘d’ version of the dilution gene will certainly be present in the Labrador gene pool, although possibly at a low frequency. Most breeds are ‘gg’, so the G could well be a new mutation, or has been introduced at some time in the past by cross breeding a Labrador with a breed that has the ‘G’ version of the grey gene. Provided a dog has been born from two registered parents (either registered with the Kennel Club or with another KC with which we have a reciprocal agreement) the legal position is that it is not possible to debar an application to register a litter unless a formal due process has taken place with a formal disqualification being imposed. As far as judging goes, it is down to the judge of the day to determine whether the dog conforms to the breed standard – this includes colour too – and to award or penalise accordingly. Whilst the Kennel Club can understand and share the concerns about this issue, unless proof can be obtained that these dogs are not purebred, the Kennel Club has no justification to refuse registration based upon colour alone.

Well, Kennel Club, with the DNA test for the dilute (dd) locus, you now have the possibility to take a legal position.


Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) is an international federation of kennel clubs based in Thuin, Belgium. The English language translation, World Canine Organisation, is not often used. The FCI was  founded in 1911, and unites 86 kennel clubs from around the world. In total, the FCI recognises 343 breeds of dogs and each breed standard is assigned to a country and managed by a kennel club within that country.

The Labrador breed standard is assigned to England and managed by The Kennel Club. On the issue of color, the standard is:

Wholly black, yellow, or liver/chocolate. Yellows range from light cream to red fox. Small white spot on chest permissible.
Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and on its ability to perform its traditional work.


Both recognized Labrador Clubs in the Netherlands, the LKN and the NLV, are strongly opposed against the practice of registering any dilutes as Labrador Retrievers.
This is the stance of the NLV:

The silver- gray color is not a recognized colour in the Labrador Retriever breed.
The standard of the Labrador Retriever shows that there are three colours in Labradors: black, yellow and chocolate.
The colours ‘silver ‘ and ‘blue ‘ are not native to the Labrador population. These colours are caused by the presence of the double recessive ‘d allele’ which turns black into ‘blue’ and chocolate into ‘silver’. Normally, the Labrador genotype has DD , which ensures normal distribution of the pigment granules in the coat. The recessive allele ‘d’ concentrates the pigment granules around the core of the hair. This ensures that the colour seems to be dilute.
Dogs with the genotype bbE_dd show a silver gray color (as in the Weimaraners), while dogs with the genotype B_E_dd have a blue-gray coat color .
In other words, chocolate is silver, black is blue. These dogs also have a light eye colour.
Because of the fact that the ‘d’ allele is in fact alien to the Labrador, it is likely that it is the result of outcrossing (in all probability with Weimaraners ) within the Labrador population in the U.S.
The NLV is concerned about the fact that silver gray Labradors are also present in our country and are likely to become popular. It’s quite possible that, together with the alien to Labradors ‘d allele’ other undesired characteristics have been crossed in. In addition, the emergence of a “fashion color” often has disastrous consequences for the health of a population of purebred dogs.


The Raad van Beheer op Kynologisch Gebied in Nederland is the Dutch National Kennel Club. As such it is the guard of the stud books of purebred dogs (NHSB).

Legally we have no possibilities to avoid registration of  ‘silver’ Labradors in the studbook.
If you purchase a silver gray Labrador puppy, born out of parents which are imported, it will probably get a pedigree certificate from the Raad van Beheer. However, in this certificate will be mentioned that the dog’s colour is “not recognized” (NEK). If you wish to visit a dog exhibition then your dog will be disqualified by the judge, or get a negative review because of a different coat colour in the breed standard.
The rules and regulations of the Raad van Beheer stipulate that the offspring of parents, which are listed as coat colour NEK, cannot be registered in the NHSB studbook. In other words, the offspring will have no pedigree.

In fact, this is the same stance as the British Kennel Club. The problem however is that these imported dogs come from the United States as normal black, yellow and chocolate Labradors, thus avoiding registration as “not recognized colour”. Their offspring will also be registered as black, yellow and chocolate, so no bells are ringing and the drama continues for generations and generations. That’s how it started in the United States, that’s how it will continue in the rest of the world.

Keeping our eyes closed doesn’t make the problems disappear. The matter is as simple as horse meat in beef. The Kennel Clubs, the guardians of the studbooks, make a fortune with issuing certificates that ensure that this particular dog is purebred. If you buy a pedigree Labrador and it proves to be affected by (or carrier of) the dilute (dd) gene, while this gene is alien to Labradors, than you have bought horse meat in your beef, and you can successfully sue the organisation which issued the certificate that said it’s pure beef. Sadly, it seems that only such court cases will force the Kennel Clubs to do their jobs properly.

Jack Vanderwyk,
January 2014

A noncoding melanophilin gene (MLPH) SNP at the splice donor of exon 1 represents a candidate causal mutation for coat color dilution in dogs.

– Alopecia, colour mutant in Canis lupus familiaris

DNA test for the dilute (dd) locus – It’s here, it can be done!

– The Silver Labrador Controversy: Official Statements

Please sign and share this petition!

Click here to download the print version of the petition, to be used at shows, events, etc.



About Jack Vanderwyk

Hey! What am I like! :-)
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