Chocolate labs - are they a relatively new "invention";?

(64 Posts)
giddly Sat 30-Aug-14 08:21:53

Probably a stupid question, but i went to see a friend yesterday who has a beautiful chocolate lab puppy. It got me thinking - when I was a child (I'm quite ancient) I only remember yellow and black labs. Now I would say chocolate is probably the most popular colour for a lab round here, but I think I only cam accross the first one about 20 years ago. Are they a new strain, or did I just lead a very sheltered life prior to this? Also the lovely "red" ones seem new too.Are they a distinct type, or just a very dark yellow one / very light brown one?

EdithWeston Sat 30-Aug-14 08:32:35

I remember only yellow and black ones when I was small, but the first chocolate one I met was a fairly elderly adult in the late 80s or early 90s.

The first time I met a fox one was about a decade ago.

Perhaps these colours have always been around as natural variations?

YouLoveItDoreen Sat 30-Aug-14 08:51:12

I was told that chocolate labs were often drowned as they were undesirable for a long time, I'm not sure how true that is though. As for fox red Labs, I've only seen them in the last 10 years or so.

SlothBear Sat 30-Aug-14 08:54:49

Chocolate labs became known and popularised after the publication of Emma and I by Sheila Hochen in the 1980s, The book was about the author's chocolate lab guide dog, and there were also sequels about her later chocolate labradors.

3stripesandout Sat 30-Aug-14 08:57:45

Every single on I've seen has been really overweight! My friend bought one, the breeder said they were considered "throwbacks" hmm in the past

NCISaddict Sat 30-Aug-14 08:58:37

I grew up with a fox red lab, he died when I was 7 which was forty years ago, so they were definitely around but possibly not as popular as they are now.

SlothBear Sat 30-Aug-14 08:59:26

Sheila Hocken, sorry.

Have you heard of Silver Labradors? VERY controversial.

www.notosilverlabradors.com/

SlothBear Sat 30-Aug-14 09:00:24
dotdotdotmustdash Sat 30-Aug-14 09:02:29

The colour 'chocolate' in labs is actually really called 'liver' and they've always been around, or at least popped up in some litters, but lab breeders weren't keen on them as their mouth/nose tissue is often brown rather than black.

Once someone decided to call them 'chocolate' their popularity soared. Unfortunately the liver labs have generally been bred for their colour rather than any of the other important traits (eg. structure, temperament, working ability), so many of them aren't very well put together, temperamentally sound or good workers. You will very, very rarely see a chocolate lab doing anything other than looking pretty as a pet.

SlothBear Sat 30-Aug-14 09:06:53

I don't even thing they look 'that' pretty, they are the most adorable puppies, but they seem to age very quickly, the ones I know are overweight and arthritic at a very young age.

AlpacaLypse Sat 30-Aug-14 09:08:22

I agree with dotdot, all the chocolate labs I've had on my books for dogwalking have been remarkably dim. One did go through gundog training, but it was really only to improve his recall and general obedience (which it did seem to help with). He certainly isn't fit to actually take out shooting.

However, they've all been affectionate and good natured, which is of course key in a family pet.

WeAllHaveWings Sat 30-Aug-14 09:08:38

This is interesting and part of the reason we went for the more traditional black lab puppy, now 18 months old (who has been attacked twice..........both times by different choc labs).

I think choc labs look lovely, but I am wary of them compared to yellow and black (probably because of the two attacks)

nuttymutttie Sat 30-Aug-14 09:22:28

My chocolate lab died last year aged 17 after winning working trials awards and also competed in Crufts at Obedience. Some chocolates are very intelligent, hard working and healthy. She was a rescue that was dumped outside my house at 4 months old.

It is not a good idea to dismiss a whole breed due to appearance

dotdotdotmustdash Sat 30-Aug-14 09:30:55

But the chocolate isn't a breed nutty they're just a colour within a breed. It may well be that your lab came from yellow/black parents who had been bred for their attributes rather than their colour and she was just a good lab with a liver coat. The issue is that some (poor imo) breeders breed just to produce a chocolate coat rather than produce the best dog they can.

Ainmnua Sat 30-Aug-14 09:35:59

I came onto this thread excitedly thinking it was about laboratories making new chocolate blush

tabulahrasa Sat 30-Aug-14 09:36:22

"Every single on I've seen has been really overweight!"

To be fair, every lab I see that isn't a working one is overweight, of any colour.

You get perfectly good working chocolate labs...it's just that they became popular and people were breeding them purely for the colour, which is never good for any breed.

WeAllHaveWings Sat 30-Aug-14 09:50:00

nutty I said I like the appearance, its the mostly puppy farm / show line gene pool and the characteristics of that made we dismiss the breed.

WeAllHaveWings Sat 30-Aug-14 10:01:00

That should say colour, not breed!

giddly Sat 30-Aug-14 10:05:13

Than's interesting - thanks all. The friend's dog I saw yesterday is a trainee assistance dog (and doing very well) so presumably well bred.

Methe Sat 30-Aug-14 10:05:47

Most Labrador are overweight nowerdays. The 'show' bred labs look terrible.

marcopront Sat 30-Aug-14 10:14:34

Ainmnua so did I.

easylife73 Sat 30-Aug-14 10:23:05

Overweight labradors are the result of overfeeding, nothing to do with the breed itself. We have a black lab stud dog for guide dogs, and he is an ideal weight, not overweight at all, and everyone comments on how fit and healthy he looks. He is fed a weighed amount of food twice daily and has no treats, unless we are trying to get medication in him, when he might have a bit of sausage etc. He is weighed regularly and if his weight starts going up his food is dropped by 10g or so at each meal. But it really annoys me when well meaning people think it's okay to give him food as "a little treat won't hurt him"....it will, all those little treats add up to extra calories for dogs just like they do for us, hence obese dogs.

tabulahrasa Sat 30-Aug-14 10:36:34

Overweight labs are of course the result of over feeding...but, I think people over feed them because they don't realise what shape labs are supposed to be.

Which no, is nothing to do with breeding.

Floralnomad Sat 30-Aug-14 13:15:24

Round our way it's all black and choc absolutely no yellows at all ,most of them waddle !

soddinghormones Sat 30-Aug-14 13:24:52

We had a gorgeous fox red lab when I was growing up (more years ago than I care to remember ..) As far as I remember the very pale yellow labs didn't start getting really popular until later

She was a walking dustbin and we had to watch her like a hawk to make sure she didn't get fat

I was shocked at the state of the lab which won best of breed at Crufts this year - it was really stocky and had rolls of fat around its neck - I thought it was obese but the commentators were waxing lyrical about its chunkiness and 'bone' hmm

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