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Raising Your Labrador Retriever- Lab Colors
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Raising Your Labrador Retriever- Lab Colors

Labrador Retrievers have been the most popular breed in the United States for the last 10 years. There are few cuter pups than Labrador puppies.There are three basic colors for Labs, Black, Yellow and Chocolate. Variations of these colors have a big range. Chocolate Labs can have a dark coat almost black with a burnt almond color showing through to a classic brown. Yellow labs vary from white to a dark red. There are variations that show up when the colors are mixed as well. Some Labs show yellow eyes and pink noses while others have dark eyes and pure black noses. All of these mixes have been shown to have genetic origins.

The color of your lab is inherited from its parents. A copy of the parental genes is combined to create the colors variation that we see in our Labrador puppies. Specifically, chromosome 11 determines the Black vs. Chocolate coloration and Chromosome 5 controls the yellow pigmentation. Chromosome 11 is a dominant gene so this one, that controls the Black coloration should be discussed first.

There are two types of gene (called alleles) in Chromosome 11. These are designated B and b, with the capital B being the dominant form. Two alleles are inherited from the parents, one from each parent. If the copies are both BB the Labrador Retriever will be Black. If the copies are bb, the Lab will be chocolate. Mixed copies Bb or bB will be Black Labs with a chocolate factor and are said to carry Chocolate or be Chocolate Factored.

Like the Black/Chocolate Chromosome, yellow color is carried by Chromosome 5 and has two alleles. These are designated E and e. Like the Chromosome 11 alleles, the Chromosome 5 alleles can have 4 combinations EE, Ee, eE and ee. Only the ee combination will produce Yellow Lab puppies. When the other combinations are present, the Black/Chocolate gene will dominate and the Labrador Retriever will be Black or Chocolate.

It is possible to predict the offspring from your Lab breeding if you know the parents of your Lab. You need to determine if your Lab has Chocolate factor(Bb or bB) or is the Dominant Black(BB) and if it carries the recessive ee gene. Chocolate Labs that have Yellow factoring will have Yellow eyes and Brown noses. On a similar note Yellow Lab puppies that have Black Noses will have a dominant B allele and those with Brown noses and light skin pigment will be Chocolate factored with only the bb alleles.

Color variation in Labrador Retrievers is a well researched science. If you are after a specific color in your Labrador puppies you only need to look at the parents to get a good idea of the results of your breeding. If you are after a Black or Chocolate, stick with the darker colors for your breeding, If you want a Yellow Lab breeding two Yellow parents will probably produce the coloration you desire. Either way, enjoy your Lab regardless of the color.


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