Do Different Color Labs Have Different Temperaments?

Regardless of color, Labs make loving companions.
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Some Labrador retriever owners will insist that different colored Labs have different temperaments. Some commonly held beliefs are that yellow Labs are lazy, chocolate Labs are hyperactive and black Labs make the best hunters. The truth is that the color of a Lab’s coat has no more bearing on his temperament than a person’s hair color has on her intelligence.

About Labrador Retrievers

The Labrador retriever originated in Newfoundland, Canada. Originally bred to help fishermen pull in nets and retrieve fish from fishing lines, this sporting breed is the most popular dog in the US today. As true retrievers, Labs make excellent hunting dogs. Their intelligence, even temper and highly trainable nature also makes them great candidates for service dogs. Labs are commonly used in law enforcement and search and rescue. They are loving and loyal companions who make great family pets.

The Three Colors

The American Kennel Club standards for the breed allow three colors: black, chocolate and yellow. Blacks are all black, although a spot of white on the chest is permissible. Chocolate Labs range from light to dark chocolate brown, while yellow Labs range from fox-red to light cream. Yellow Lab coats also might appear golden, causing them to become confused with the golden retriever, which is a separate breed. Coat color is determined by two genes that are unrelated to temperament -- one that determines whether the hair will be light or dark, and one that determines whether dark hair will be chocolate or black. It’s entirely possible, and also quite common, for a litter of Labrador puppies to include different colors. The only thing that is certain about predicting what color the pups will be is that two yellow Labs always produce yellow puppies, while two chocolate Labs can produce yellow or chocolate, but never black.

Labrador Temperament

Labradors, regardless of coat color, are sweet-natured dogs who love to be around people. They are highly intelligent, easy to train and eager to please. Although they might bark at strangers, they’re generally too friendly to make good guard dogs, more likely to show an intruder affection than teeth. Labradors are even-tempered and laid back, and tend to get along very well with children and other pets. They crave attention and activity, and might become bored and possibly mischievous if left on their own or ignored for too long.

Show Lines vs. Field Lines

There are two distinct lines of Labrador retrievers bred in the US, and these lines have much more influence on temperament than hair color. Field line Labs are bred specifically to be hunting dogs. As such, they might be more energetic and driven than show line Labs, which are bred for conformation to AKC standards and for even temperament. Show labs can be good hunters, although perhaps not as fast as field labs, while field labs might be a little more hyper. However, Labs from both lines still possess the qualities of a great companion.