The future looked so bright. Their business plan looked promising. You buy a couple of silver bitches, have them mated by a silver stud, wait for nine weeks, and Bob’s your uncle. No experience or skills needed.
The target market was clear: people who were looking for an “exotic” Labrador, with exciting colors like “silver”, “charcoal” or “champagne”, and willing to pay exorbitant prices.
However, many breeders of dilute “Labradors” regret their decision to step into this business. These entrepreneurs can’t pay the bills anymore and are having great difficulties selling their merchandise.
What went wrong?
The short answer to this question is: everything.
First of all, a lot of these clever entrepreneurs had exactly the same clever business plan. More experienced breeders of dilute “Labradors” were able to sell the majority of their merchandise to these new entrepreneurs, who wanted to get rich quickly and were eager to pay the exorbitant asking prices. The market was flooded and soon became saturated. As a result, the market value of the merchandise declined. Even with the lower prices it became extremely difficult to sell the merchandise at all, because on the demand side there are only so many people who are willing to pay for a “silver Labrador”. when you can get them at a nearby shelter. And then they ask themselves why so many of these “exotic” dogs end up in shelters.
Problems on the demand side
It took a while before the entrepreneurs realized that nobody who ever owned a real Labrador, with it’s adorable temperament, would ever buy a dilute. They wouldn’t want to be seen in the vicinity of a dilute. This limited their target market to people who were unfamiliar with the Labrador Retriever.
While in the beginning the controversy with regard to dilutes attracted some “rebellious” clients with money in the pocket, the shock and awe effect soon faded, and $3,000.00 dogs ended up in shelters.
And then there was bad publicity, which isn’t good for business. Sure, it attracted some “rebellious” types, especially when the Council for Purebred Labrador Retrievers (CPLR) turned the “controversy” discussion into a racial issue, comparing the effort to keep the Labrador breed pure to human racism, saying “all Labradors are equal”. But there was minimal support for this approach, while the real bad publicity was focused on the lack of health and behavioral problems of the merchandise.
Problems on the supply side
Working hours were hard and long. The costs of vets, special food and food supplements to mask the effects of hereditary skin diseases were high. You became a member of the Council for Purebred Labrador Retrievers (CPLR), hoping to sell more merchandise and make more money, but the CPLR proved to be a clever entrepreneur, too. They encouraged you to join their Improvement Movement, to test your stock extensively, and to approach reputable Labrador breeders to get your hands on their stock. “Sure,” they said, “inbreeding is the easiest way to produce more silvers, but breeding out to other non-silver Lab lines can be an invaluable tool for you to use to produce better silvers and ensuring that the silver Lab is indeed every bit a Labrador as any other Labrador, not a new breed.”
In fact it was a long term strategy, involving several generations of merchandise and a lot of money and effort, which wasn’t very tempting, as the CPLR would be the one who profited most from this scheme. The CPLR leadership were doing well enough to stop breeding altogether. With all their CPLR merchandise they seemed to have learned a lot from Herbalife and other Pyramid schemes disguised as business opportunities. Business wise quite okay if you’re at the top of the pyramid, but not if you’re at the bottom.
So yes, the era of the “silver Labrador” is over. Some of these entrepreneurs will keep on struggling for a while, even move from Texas or Ohio to states where there’s still some demand and little supply, but these are exceptions. Others are focusing on foreign markets, but these are getting saturated as well. They’re too late. Those who made a buck on their junk are pleased with themselves. The rest of them might be better off with Herbalife.