The Kennel Club Registers Dilutes As Purebred Labrador Retrievers – A Trojan Horse

Caroline Kisko (Kennel Club Secretary and Communications Director) has admitted that The Kennel Club will register any pups from KC registered parents, whether they are black, yellow, chocolate, ‘silver’, ‘charcoal’ or ‘champagne’. Furthermore, these diluted dogs can be entered in shows. The Kennel Club leaves it to the Judges to decide whether these dogs meet the standard.

Our first problem is that the dilution gene (d) is alien to the Labrador Retriever breed. The dilution gene originated in a shabby puppy mill in the United States several decades ago where several pointing breeds were running loose together. In an effort to create a “pointing Lab”, the dogs were allowed to cross breed with Labradors. One of these breeds was the Weimaraner, and many of the diluted “Labradors” we see, especially those of the past, resemble the Weimaraner in several ways. It’s not only their appearance and behaviour, but also their diseases, which shouldn’t be introduced to our bloodlines.
Various expressions of the dilution gene have been noted. Some dogs with dilute color display minimal or no health problems; other dogs experience hair loss and skin problems. Color dilution alopecia (CDA) and black hair follicular dysplasia (BHFD) can accompany coat color dilution. These diseases cause recurrent skin inflammation and drying, bacterial infections of hair follicles and severe hair loss. Late 2013 a 12-week-old female silver Labrador Retriever was submitted to the Comparative Ocular Pathology Laboratory of Wisconsin, and was diagnosed with Malignant Uveal Schwannoma. Scientists believe that the dilute color mutation may contribute to the cause.
Other disorders that could travel with the dilution gene are heritable Weimeraner genetic issues such as trembling disorders, autoimmune related vaccination sensitivity and intolerance, Von Willebrands Disease, hyperuricosuria causing painful bladder and kidney disease, and behavioral problems that are more common in the Weimaraner, such as separation anxiety, and dominant, protective, territorial temperament. Minimizing occurrence of these conditions would mean minimization of the dilute mutation. Selection against dilution is important in breeds that display health issues associated with the mutation. It is also important to minimize the dilution mutation in breeds that do not have a standard written which include these colours. The Labrador Retriever is currently one of these breeds. Dilute coloured Labrador retrievers are a disqualification according to breed standards. Those dogs carrying the dilute gene should not be registered as purebred Labrador Retrievers.

The Labrador Retriever Club Inc. is the AKC Parent Club of the Labrador Retriever. On May 12, 2014, the LRC published the following message on their website: “Very exciting news – the OFA has agreed to maintain a database of Labradors who have been permanently identified (microchip or tattoo ) and have been tested for the d gene. Dogs having the genotype dd will be listed as affected, Dd as carriers of the dilute gene and DD as clear of the dilute gene. This is great news for us.”
Note: The Orthopedic Foundations for Animals (OFA)
 only registers hereditary diseases (or the lack of those) in their databases. So it’s not a simple matter of “a different colour”.

Our second problem is the fact that The Kennel Club has already registered 400+ dilutes as purebred Labradors, some as “Colour Not Recognised”, but all of them without any restrictions with regard to showing, breeding or anything else for that matter. These dogs are now part of the Labrador gene pool in the United Kingdom.

Our third problem is the fact that not all of these dilutes are affected by the dilution gene. Many of them are “only” carriers of the dilution gene, which means that they are able to produce dilutes. So not only could these dogs enter shows, they could also come to your doorstep for a mating with your Champion stud. Many breeders have been duped this way, and were unpleasantly surprised to see that their Champion is the sire of dilute carriers or the grandsire of diluted puppies.


What can we do?
While DNA-tests are increasingly used as a valuable breeders tool, we can easily and reliably test Labradors for the dilution gene. DD is the only acceptable result, as Dd is a dilute carrier and dd is affected by the gene. So any bitch you don’t know, which comes to be mated by your stud, should be tested for the dilution gene.
Of course, The Kennel Club should require all imported “Labradors” to be tested, but they don’t.
Despite the fact that we have been able to show the presence of the dilute gene in DNA since 2007, the Kennel Clubs just look at the phenotype of a Labrador, not at the genotype. So, a dilute who only carries the dilute gene without being affected by it, will be seen as a purebred Labrador, while a simple and inexpensive DNA test would show it’s a Dd, able to produce dilutes eligible to be registered as purebred Labradors.


And then there are the online LRCN and LabradorNet Databases, in which you can find the “Labradors” carrying, or affected by, the dilution gene. Note: not all of them are registered in the database, but most of their ancestry is. Studying pedigrees might give you an indication. F
rom a showing point of view it would be helpful if there were an addition to the standard, such as “any colour other than black, yellow or chocolate is considered a disqualifying fault “.

Last but not least there’s the organised Labrador world. There’s so much that should have been done, and so much more we can do. It all depends on the people we elect in the committees and the Labrador Breed Council. I refuse to believe that, in the end, a Kennel Club is able to decide something which dramatically affects the future of the Labrador breed, very much against the will of the Labrador Clubs and the Breed Council.

Jack Vanderwyk,
September 2014 

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About Jack Vanderwyk

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2 Responses to The Kennel Club Registers Dilutes As Purebred Labrador Retrievers – A Trojan Horse

  1. susan anne booth says:

    I have written a small booklet THE HISTORY OF THE LABRADOR, The early years, I have written this booklet to help dispel the story that the Silver colour was already present in the bred when it arrived in the UK or was bred either deliberately or accidently in the UK in the very early years of the breed arriving here by breeding it with other breeds. I have kept the price of this booklet to cost only. it can be purchased from Amazon in print only for $5.85 only. We must do everything we can to keep our breed pure and to keep it free from the dilute colours and all its evils. If the KC wont the breed clubs must fight it. This after all is what breed clubs are for. I hope Jack you don’t mind my mentioning the booklet on here, if you do, I apologise in advance, please feel free to delete it.

    • Susan, I ordered your book and was thoroughly delighted with it. Thank you so much for your continued dedication to preotecting and preserving the wonderful purebred Labrador!

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