Lab Coat Color

There are three official coat colors in Labs - Black, Yellow, and Chocolate. Black is the most common of colors, and was the original color. Yellow coats can range in color from white to fox red, but are all recognized as "yellow" under AKC standards. The yellow coats tend to be a bit less sleek than the black and chocolate, but otherwise labs of all three coat colors tend to be quite similar. Coat Color Selector

Coat inheritance in labs can be a bit tricky, and you may be suprised to see a black lab nursing yellow and chocolate pups!

To understand coat inheritance, you'll need to know a little bit about basic genetics. Both the mother and the father pass on a single "allele" that helps to determine the color of the coats in the pups. What makes it tricky, is that the allele for black vs. chocolate is separate from that of yellow vs. not yellow.

Ignoring yellow for a moment, lets look at black vs. chocolate coat inheritance. Black is the dominant color over chocolate, meaning that if there is a mix of black and chocolate alleles, the pup's coat will be black. A chocolate lab inherited the allele for chocolate from both its mother and father. Its make up we will call (bb). A black lab can either be pure black (BB) or black carrying chocolate (Bb). Both labs will look exactly the same   a lab "carrying" chocolate will not have a mixed black and chocolate coat.

If you breed a chocolate lab to a chocolate lab, you will always get pups that carry the dual allele for chocolate (bb)   (don't forget, we're ignoring yellow coat coloring!). The square below shows the results of such a breeding:

Breeding of:
a Chocolate (bb) and a Chocolate (bb)

 
Dog #2
b b
Dog
#1
b bb bb
b bb bb

Each parent carries (bb) and each will pass on a single (b) to their pups. Each pup than inherits (bb) from its parents, and all pups will be chocolate.

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If you breed a black lab to a black lab, things get a little more complicated, as each lab could either be pure black (BB) or black carrying chocolate (Bb). The squares below shows the possible results of each such a breeding:

Breeding of:
a pure Black (BB) and a pure Black (BB)

 
Dog #2
B B
Dog
#1
B BB BB
B BB BB

Each pure black parent carries (BB) and each will pass on a single (B) to their pups. Each pup than inherits (BB) from its parents, and all pups will be pure black.


Breeding of:
a pure Black (BB) and a Black carrying Chocolate (Bb)

 
Dog #2
B b
Dog
#1
B BB Bb
B BB Bb

The pure black parent carries (BB) and the black carrying chocolate parent carries (Bb). The second dog can either pass on (B) or (b) to their pups. Each pup than has a 50% chance of either being (BB) or of being (Bb). All pups will be black, but on average half the pups will carry chocolate.


Breeding of:
a Black carrying Chocolate (Bb) and a Black carrying Chocolate (Bb)

 
Dog #2
B b
Dog
#1
B BB Bb
b Bb bb

With both parents carrying chocolate (Bb), either dog can either pass on (B) or (b) to their pups. On average 1/4 of the pups will inherit (B) from both parents and be pure black (BB). 1/2 of the pups will inherit (B) from one parent and (b) from the other, making them black carrying chocolate (Bb). 1/4 of the pups will inherit (b) from both parents, making them (bb), or pure chocolate.

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Things get even trickier when we bring Yellow back into the mix. The allele for Yellow coats works separately from that of Black vs. Chocolate. Yellow is a recessive coat color, so the pup must inherit the trait (ee) from both parents to have a yellow coat. A (Ee) or (EE) pup will have either a Black or Chocolate coat depending on the alleles for Black vs. Chocolate that it inherited. A (BBEe) dog will have a black coat, while a (bbEe) dog will have a chocolate coat.

 

The chart below shows all the different possible combinations of the two allele pairs (B vs b) and (E vs. e) and the resulting coat colors:

Alleles for Coat Color

black chocolate yellow dudley*
BBEe
BbEe
BBEE
BbEE
bbEE
bbEe
BBee
Bbee
bbee


* A dudley is a lab that is yellow with brown nose and light eyes. This lab carries no alleles at all for black coloring (neither B nor E). This is considered undesirable according to breed standards (but can be pretty darn cute! Visit Gordon and Dakota at the pink nose club to see.). Note: many yellow labs have noses that turn pink as they get older and in colder weather. These are not true dudleys. A dudley lab has a pink nose from birth. They also will have pinkish coloring rather than black around their eyes, and often have pale greenish-brown colored eyes.

 

Coat Color Selector