Silver Labradors are a relatively new color of Labrador Retriever that has become more popular in the last few decades.
If you’re thinking about getting a silver Labrador, there’s a lot of info you should know before you make that decision, which we cover here. It’s definitely a controversial topic that we’ve heard a lot of discussion about here in the Labrador world, and one that gets people pretty riled up!
First of all, what exactly are they? Silver Labs can be identified by their lighter gray coat color that appears to be a shiny or almost “shimmery” silver.
We’ve talked with many Lab breeders who are adamant that these are not “pure” Labs, but we’ve also spoken with other Lab breeders who accept silver Labs and seem to reject the controversy around them.
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We’re going to get more in depth here about the controversy surrounding Labrador colors and the history of how the silver Labrador came about.
In a hurry? We get it. Check out this short video on Silver Labs:
What Are Silver Labs?
Traditionally the colors established by the breed standard set by the Labrador Retriever Club are black, yellow, and chocolate.
As Labradors have maintained the top position on the dog breed popularity chart for the last 30 years (though they were just outranked in 2022 by the French Bulldog!) colors and varieties that were once very rare are now being seen more frequently.
What were once considered unusual or uncommon colors, such as fox red Labs, white Labs, and silver Labradors are now becoming more common in addition. The three main colors are still by far the most popular though!
One of those emerging colors is the silver Labrador, which has a diluted “d” gene that causes their shiny silver coat color.
Silver Labs have grown in popularity over the last few decades, though not without controversy.
(Worried about Labrador shedding? We tackle this common Lab problem with our 3 Best Strategies to Conquer Labrador Shedding)
Controversy Regarding Silver Labs
You’ll find there are many strong opinions in the Labrador world regarding silver Labs and whether they are considered “purebred.”
Because of the presence of the recessive gene in the breeding of silver Labs, some purists believe that these silver Labs are not purebred Labradors at all, but are partly Weimaraners.
That’s because the Weimaraner, another type of field dog typically used for hunting wild game, possesses the “d” diluted gene and is noticeably silver in color.
There’s some speculation about the possibility that many decades ago Labradors were cross-bred with Weimaraners to achieve the first silver Labs, but this remains unconfirmed.
Others point out that the Labrador Retriever breed was originally bred from a few types of dogs, including the St. John’s Water Dog, and that over hundreds of years has become the dog today we recognize and identify as the Lab.
Their position is that as long as the parent dogs are Labradors, the puppy should be considered a purebred Lab.
You’ll find many breeders who refuse to breed or sell silver Labs and will steer you away from them towards some of the more traditional colors (or color variations or subsets). Many of them are extremely passionate about this!
If you’re exploring the possibility of getting a silver Lab, you’ll also encounter many other breeders who love silver Labs, consider them as purebred as the other Lab colors, and will only breed for silver.
The official position of the American Kennel Club and the Labrador Retriever Club in the United States is that silver Labs fall under the coat color category of chocolate, and are registered as chocolate Labs.
Sometimes breeders will refer to their silver Labrador puppies as “diluted chocolate” to clarify this further.
Silver Labs in the Show Ring
If you’re interested in possibly showing your Labrador Retriever, be aware that in the United States diluted colors are not permitted to be show dogs.
Your silver Lab can be an excellent hunting dog and family companion, but at this time is not allowed to participate in most competitions in the show ring.
Most Lab parents won’t be showing their Lab in competitive rings, so this won’t be a factor for them, but it’s something to be aware of if future show competition is something you’re hoping for.
How Long Do Silver Labradors Live?
The typical lifespan of a Labrador Retriever is between 10-14 years, but recent data indicates that chocolate Labs may be more likely to have a shorter lifespan of around 10.7 years.
Because silver Labs are considered a diluted version of chocolate, it’s possible your silver Lab may have a lifespan similar to chocolates (and slightly shorter than other Lab colors).
Since the lifespan of your dog depends so much on excellent health, your choice of a breeder is critical to selecting a dog that may be less likely to suffer from health problems and have a shorter lifespan.
If you’re trying to maximize your Lab’s lifespan, make sure you do thorough research on your breeder and select a Lab breeder carefully.
(Read more to find out if you’re working with a reputable Labrador breeder)
How Big Do Silver Labs Get?
Your silver Labrador should grow to be about the same typical size as other colors of Labrador.
Male Labs typically grow to become 70-85 lbs, though many are larger. Height is often around 24.5 inches at the shoulder.
Females usually grow to be 55-70 lbs, with height around 21.5 inches at the shoulder.
You may also notice some types of Labs referred to as “American Labs” or “English Labs” which can also reflect some size differences.
In general, American Labs can be taller and leaner, and English Labs shorter and stockier.
You don’t need to go to England to find an English Lab either! In the United States, you can find breeders of both American and English Labradors.
(Confused about American vs. English Labradors? You’re not alone! Read more)
Cost of Silver Labrador Puppies
The typical Labrador puppy will range in price from $500-$2500, depending on where you live and where you are getting your puppy from.
(Getting a new Labrador puppy? Be sure to check out these 6 Puppy Must-Haves before you get your new pup!)
Lab rescue groups and shelters may have Lab puppies towards the lower end of the price range, whereas specialty Lab breeders may be towards the higher end or even above it.
Silver Labs are less common than other colors of Labrador Retriever, and you may find that breeders charge a premium for silver Lab puppies, especially if there aren’t many breeders located in your area.
Be prepared that if you’re set on getting a silver Lab you may have to travel to find a breeder that specializes in them.
Are Silver Labs Good With Kids?
The Labrador Retriever has been the most popular dog breed for the last 30 years in part because Labs are excellent dogs for families.
Your silver Labrador should exhibit the same delightful personality traits as other colors of Lab: intelligence, athletic ability, friendliness, and stable temperament.
Labs are a fantastic choice for families and a silver Lab should demonstrate the same wonderful qualities as any other Lab.
As always, do your research on breeders and inquire about the temperament of the parent dogs to get an idea of what you’re more likely to get in a puppy!
Is a Silver Lab the Right Dog for You?
Should you get a silver Lab? Even though Labs are extremely popular, it doesn’t mean they’re the perfect dog for everyone.
Do you have the energy it takes to keep up with an active, athletic dog?
Do you have outdoor space or access to a place for your Lab to run off energy daily?
Can you stay on top of medical care and make sure your dog receives proper wellness care, in addition to the possibility of unscheduled and unexpected (and possibly expensive) vet visits?
Are you prepared to deal with Labrador shedding, which can be a significant problem to deal with most of the year?
If you’re committed to the Labrador breed (and we happen to think you’re making the best choice!), you can explore whichever color of Labrador Retriever you think is best, knowing that the personality and temperament of each individual dog is unique.
While silver Labs are more common now than they used to be, you likely won’t get as many raised eyebrows or questions about them as you would have in previous years. Be aware that there’s still some controversy over breeding and gene dilution to keep in mind as you make your decision.
We had a “silver” lab in 1970. He was beautiful. He was born from 2 black labs that had weimaraner 1/4 and 1/2 in each. 1 and only silver out of litter of 8. We had named him Big Gray.
He sounds like a wonderful dog!