Which Lab is Best — Yellow, Chocolate, or Black?

Considering Labradors are regarded as the most popular dog breed in America, the decision to get one isn’t very hard. The real question comes in when you’ve got to decide which one.

So, which Lab is best-Yellow, Chocolate or Black? To settle this long going debate, we did some searching and here is your answer.

All Labradors are the same. Besides the color of their fur, there is no difference between a Yellow, Chocolate or Black Labrador! The coat color of a Labrador is determined by two genes that are responsible ONLY for that particular trait. These genes have absolutely no impact on any other characteristics of the dog.

Simply put:

All three Labradors colors are the best!

Now, we’re sure this answer must come as a surprise to many. But really, it’s all science!

Not convinced?

Well, then keep on reading.

Labrador Retriever Dog Breed Information (Video)

Why Labrador color doesn’t matter?

To understand the logic behind our statement that Labradors of all colors are the same, let’s have a quick biology lesson, shall we?

The characteristics of all species in the world are determined by the information stored in their DNA. The DNA is made up of genes. It is the gene that actually holds the information. And there is a gene for every characteristic. For example, there is a gene that holds information for the height of a Labrador, similarly, another contains information for the color, there’s one for temperament and one of each for all other attributes that make up a living being. Since there is a different gene responsible for each trait, no one gene can influence another. This means that the gene for color can only influence the coat color for a Labrador. It cannot determine personality, skills or anything else. So, to say that a particular color Lab is the best makes absolutely no sense.

Another justification for our statement is the fact that Labradors of all 3 colors can be born into the same litter. This means that regardless of the color, all Labrador pups will have similar personalities because they have the same parents.

A very easy way to understand this concept is to apply the same logic to human beings. Parents often have children of varying skin tones but similar personalities. On the contrary, it is also common for identical twins to have completely opposing personalities. This happens because there is no correlation between color and any other intrinsic characteristic of an individual. The same is true for Labradors.


Although science says that all Labradors are the same, many people believe otherwise. Each color is said to possess certain characteristics that the other doesn’t have.

Whether we believe them or not, it’s interesting to know exactly what these believes are.

Popular believes about each Labrador color

Black Labradors:

The most common color found in Labradors is black. Research suggests that initially, all Labradors were black and that all other colors came much after as a result of intentional breeding efforts.

Historically the shooting fraternity has considered black Labs to be the best. According to The Best of the Best, a history of the IGL retriever championship, during the period of 1909 to 2011, a total of 1790 black Labradors qualified to run compared to the meager 367 yellow Labs that made the cut. It is believed that black Labs make the best hunters due to their calm and patient nature. This is also why they are most popularly known to be skilled gun dogs.

Yellow Labradors:

Yellow Labs are most popular as show dogs. They debuted in the show ring at Olympia in 1913 and soon acquired the position of best conformation dogs. Although the position is now challenged by Labs of other colors, yellow Labradors are still considered as one of the best in the show category.

It is also believed that Yellow Labradors make for the best family pets as they considered to be the sweetest of all three, easily trainable and of course incredibly photogenic.

Chocolate Labradors:

Initially chocolate was the least desirable color for Labradors. Although they were recognized officially by the AKC in the early 1900’s it wasn’t until 1960 that they grew in popularity. Since then chocolate Labs have become famous as family pets. However, they do have a reputation of being hyper and umm… well a little wild.

According to research, Labradors owners rate chocolate Labs lower in terms of trainability and fear of noises. They rate them highly for depicting unusual behaviors. And in terms of fetching skills, they rate them lower as compared to black Labs. Yellow Labs on the other hands were rated similarly as their chocolate brothers.

Now that we know all about the three main Labrador colors, let’s talk about their other lesser-known siblings.

Lesser-known Labrador colors:


Labradors don’t just come in yellow, chocolate and black. Although these are only colors recognized by the AKC, new shades have emerged amongst Labradors. We’ve listed all of them down for you.

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1. Silver:

The most controversial color for Labradors is silver. Ever since their first appearance, there has been a heated debate about the gorgeous silver fellows being purebred Labradors. There are people who consider silver Labs as purebred while others are adamant that they are a mix-breed. It is due to this dispute that despite their existence, the AKC does not recognize silver as an official color for Labradors.

This debate sprung up because experts, to this day, are unsure about how the silver Labradors originally came into being. All that we know for sure is that the silver color was created by diluting the chocolate gene. But how this was done, remains undecided. Some claim that it was a recessive gene that Labs carried all along and finally only showed up when two Labs with the same recessive gene had offspring. On the other hand, a group believes that silver Labs are a result of cross-breeding with another type of dog that contained this recessive gene. Lastly, there are also some who claim that the silver color occurred due to a genetic accident or a rare mutation.

The bottom line is:

Silver Labradors exist and they are adorable!

2. Fox-Red

The Fox-Red Labs are basically the yellow Labradors’ cousins that had a little too much fun in the sun and got burnt.

According to the AKC, the fox-red color is just a darker shade of yellow, hence it is included in the same category. The only difference between the two is really just that the fox-red has an orange-red hue to their coats.

It is believed that the ancestors of these Labs were working dogs and that these Labs have inherited the same skills. Another general perception regarding the fox-red color is that it is rare. However, that is absolutely untrue. And anybody telling you so is just bluffing.

3. Champagne

Just as silver Labs, champagne Labs are bred by diluting genes. In this case, the yellow gene. However, since yellow Labs already come in a variety of shades, there is no debate about the champagne being purebred or not.

4. Charcoal

Charcoal Labs are again another case of gene dilution. Only this time around the black color gene has been diluted to create the new shade. Since charcoal is very similar to the original black, these Labs are categorized as black.

But that’s not all.

Did you know that Labradors can have patterned coats? We bet not!

5. Mismarked Labs:

Occasionally, Lab puppies are born with patterned fur of two shades. Although it is quite uncommon, it is very much possible. Especially if the parents are of two different colors. This condition occurs due to the genetic mix up that causes the pup of one color to have patches of another color. These fellows are called mismarked Labs.

  • Splash Labs

Amongst these mismarked Labs are “splash” Labs. As the name suggests, these pups have splashes of another color on their bodies. For example, a yellow dog can have black spots and a black or chocolate Lab can have yellow spots. These “splashes” can vary from a tiny spot to larger patches.

  • Brindle Labs

Another member of the mismarked Labs category is the Brindle Lab. These dogs have tri-colored fur. The colors may appear on the Lab’s body has speckled patches or streaks on the chest and leg area. This condition is pretty much exclusive to black Labs who may have patches of orange or tan streaks on their bodies. However, this is a rare occurrence.

By now, we’re sure you must be convinced that the color of a Labrador does not determine how good of a dog he will be.

But then, what does? You must wonder.

Well, let’s find out.

Factors that determine which Lab is best:

“It’s what’s on the inside that matters”

This is a common phrase that all of us use to discourage judgment based on physical appearance. We mention this here because the same principle applies to dogs as well. Truly, the Labrador with the best personality is the “best” Labrador.


There are many factors that determine the personality or shall we say the temperament of a Labrador. You need to consider all of these before you decide which Labrador is best.


Just like all dogs, Labradors require proper training from childhood in order to manage their behavior. The effort that a dog owner puts into training a Lab pup plays a significant role in how the Lab turns out as an adult. Of course, as research suggests the best way to do so is through positive reinforcement. Without such training, Labs may develop serious behavioral issues which can cause their owners a lot of trouble. So, when you decide to bring a Lab home, make sure the fellow is well trained.


Labradors are very loving and friendly spices. However, they can turn into monsters if they are not given enough exercise. These dogs are full of energy that they need to channel through physical exercise in order to remain calm. It is proven by research that Labradors who exercise for longer periods of time exhibit more calm behavior. So, if you want the “best” Labrador all you need to do is make sure that the dog has a regular exercise routine. This includes outdoor walks and indoor playtime with toys.

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Labradors love their owners and caretakers so much that they cannot handle being ignored by them. If the owners don’t reciprocate the same affection that is shown, Labradors get frustrated and exhibit reckless behavior. They may bark excessively or chew on furniture or shoes, just to draw attention towards them. Not only that, but Labradors may also experience separation anxiety if their owners leave them alone for long periods of time. This also pushes the dogs to behave unpleasantly. What this means is that the best Labrador is the one that is loved by its owner.

After reading this far, you may think you’re all set to judge which Labrador is the best.

But, here’s the twist:

Although the color of the coat does not determine which Labrador has the best personality, it is unfortunately related to how long the Labrador lives.

Keep on reading to know more.

Labs and health issues

According to recent research conducted at the University of Sydney, in Sydney, Australia, brown Labradors were found to have a shorter lifespan as compared to yellow and black Labs. This study also found that they were more susceptible to ear infections and skin diseases.

To carry out this research, the team analyzed 33,000 veterinary patient records from the UK. Almost half of these patients were black Labs, just over one-fourth were yellow Labs and just a little less than one-fourth were chocolate Labs.

It was found that the average lifespan of black and yellow Labs was 12.1 years. However, it was only 10.7 years for chocolate Labs. A shocking difference of over 10%! Although the most common cause of death was the same for all three colors, some non-life-threatening conditions were found to be more prevalent amongst chocolate Labs. It was observed that ear inflammations were twice as common, while dermatitis was four times more common in chocolate Labs compared to yellow and black Labs. The chocolate Labs also had nearly double the number of hot spots on their skin.

Although these findings represent a clear correlation between the chocolate color and diseases, according to the Lead researcher Paul McGreevy, BVSc, Ph.D., MRCVS, MACVS (Animal Welfare), professor of animal behavior and animal welfare science at the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Veterinary Science, they do not reflect the chocolate color to be the cause of these problems. It is more likely the long-term cumulative effect of selectively breeding chocolate puppies that have caused these problems to occur in these particular Labradors, he says.

Mr. McGreevy also states that this study should not be taken as definite and that more research is being done in order to see whether this is the case in chocolate Labradors in other parts of the world.

So, if you’ve got your eyes on a chocolate pup or already own one, do not worry. This study does not mean that your little chocolate bud will necessarily die earlier compared to a yellow or black Lab.

Although considering all these factors is incredibly important for anyone looking to bring a Labrador home, we understand that all this information can get slightly overwhelming.


we’re breaking down exactly what you need to know below:

Which lab is best for me?

According to the largest purebred dog registry in the world, the AKC, Labradors are friendly, compassionate and social dogs that are perfect as family pets. However, not all Labradors may be suitable for all families. This is because Labs are predominantly bread to be either conformation dogs or working dogs. And both of these types of Labs have slightly varying personalities.


Which Lab is best for you? Show or field?

Let’s find out.

Show dogs:

Show dogs are conformation dogs. They are most commonly used to compete in show rings. It is said that these dogs are relatively calmer and less fearful of new people and loud noises, Hence, they make great family pets for those who have young children and a lot of guests. They are also ideal for those individuals who live in the city and work long hours. Although no Lab should be left on his own for long periods of time, show Labradors are generally more patient if they are.

Field dogs:

Field dogs are gun dogs that are most used for hunting. These dogs love to be outdoors and tend to be easier to train. Considering they get to hear a lot of gunshots; it is also said that these dogs are less fearful of loud noises. Oh, and they love to play fetch! These dogs are best for families who either have a nice backyard for the dog to explore or for those who love being outdoors!

We hope this post has equipped you with all the knowledge you need to select the best Labrador.

And hey, don’t forget:

Its what on the inside that matters!

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Nadine Oraby

My name is Nadine; I am a passionate writer and a pet lover. People usually call me by the nickname “Joy” because they think that I am a positive and joyful person who is a child at heart. My love for animals triggered me to create this blog. Articles are written by vets, pet experts, and me. Thanks for visiting. Your friend, Nadine!

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