Chocolate Lab is a nickname for a chocolate-colored Labrador Retriever. Some interested individuals might guess that it is some kind of rare color that isn’t recognized by most kennel clubs because of the context. However, they would be right in some respects and wrong in other respects. Chocolate Labs are the rarest of the three colors that are recognized by kennel clubs but Chocolate Labs are nonetheless one of the three colors that are recognized by kennel clubs. This has had some consequences, but for the most part, these dogs are the same as other Labrador Retrievers.
1. Covers a Fair Amount of Variation
It is important to note that Chocolate Labs won’t always have the exact same color as one another. Instead, they can range from a medium brown to a dark brown, meaning that they have some of the same variation as their namesake. For comparison, Yellow Labs and Black Labs are similar and dissimilar in this respect. The first can range from cream white to fox red. Meanwhile, the second are solid black.
2. Used to Be Called Liver
Once upon a time, chocolate-colored Labrador Retrievers were called liver-colored Labrador Retrievers. This was a common practice, as shown by how a wide range of dark brown-colored dogs, horses, and other animals were called by the same term. Curiously, these animals tend to be darker than actual livers, which are supposed to be a lighter sort of brown or even reddish brown because of the blood flowing through them. Off-colors often indicate that there is some kind of problem with the organ. For example, a gray or a white can mean cancer. Similarly, a green or a yellow can mean jaundice.
3. Got Rebranded
As such, it is no exaggeration to say that Chocolate Labs got rebranded. To be fair, it isn’t hard to see why. After all, being named for an organ wouldn’t have been particularly useful even under the best of circumstances. Furthermore, liver and other organ meats have seen their value plummet in much of the western world because of the idea that they are eaten by poor people. Something that isn’t wholly unfounded because the diminishment in the desire to make use of every single scrap of an animal is reflective of how much cheaper meat has become for the general population in those countries. In any case, this means that chocolate is a much more useful name for branding purposes, particularly since dog breeders presumably want to play up the lovable nature of Labrador Retrievers.
4. Wasn’t Always Very Popular
It is normal for specific kinds of dogs to experience changes of popularity over time. If anything, it would be stranger for a specific kind of dog to maintain the exact same level of popularity because of the sheer number of factors that would need to line up. As such, it should come as no surprise to learn that Chocolate Labs weren’t very popular until the second half of the 20th century. This was because black-colored Labrador Retrievers were the most capable of blending into their surroundings, thus making them the best-suited for their intended role. Both Chocolate Labs nor Yellow Labs were less so because they stood out more.
5. Became More Popular As the Dog Breed’s Original Role Became Less Important
It seems reasonable to speculate that the Chocolate Lab’s rising popularity was connected to the fall in importance of the Labrador Retriever’s original role. Simply put, the same characteristics that made them good hunting dogs also made them good companion dogs, meaning that they were able to make a smooth transition into the latter role. Since blending in isn’t an upside for pets, this meant that Chocolate Labs became much more capable of competing with their black-colored counterparts.
6. Its Color Is the Product of an Excellent Example of Epistasis
The color of Chocolate Labs is the product of an excellent example of epistasis, which is when the expression of one gene is reliant on the absence or presence of either one or more other genes. To be exact, there are two relevant genes. First, there is a gene that determines whether the dog will turn out to be black-colored or chocolate-colored, with chocolate-colored being the recessive trait. As such, the dog won’t be chocolate-colored unless it gets two copies of the gene for that trait. Second, there is another gene that determines whether the dog will be yellow-colored or not, with yellow-colored being the recessive trait. However, Chocolate Labs are even rarer than Yellow Labs because when a dog will be yellow-colored if they have two copies of the gene for chocolate-colored plus two copies of the gene for yellow-colored.
7. Recognized By Kennel Clubs
This explains why Black Labs, Yellow Labs, and Chocolate Labs are the three colors of Labrador Retrievers recognized by kennel clubs. It is possible for said dogs to come in other colors such as silver, charcoal, and champagne. However, those tend not to be recognized because they are considered to be a sign of crossbreeding. Similarly, it is possible for Labrador Retrievers to have various mosaics and other marks.
8. Known to Have Poorer Health
Chocolate Labs have been confirmed to have poorer health than either Black Labs or Yellow Labs. This can be seen in how they have a shorter expected lifespan than either one of its counterparts.
9. Might Have Poorer Health Because of Their Color
It isn’t clear why Chocolate Labs have poorer health. As such, some people have speculated about this being connected to their color. Unfortunately, this line of speculation can’t be either proven or disproven without further research, which takes time and other resources.
10. Might Have Poorer Health Because of Their Inbreeding
Alternatively, it is possible that Chocolate Labs have poorer health because they are more inbred. As mentioned earlier, it is harder to produce these dogs than their different-colored counterparts. Thanks to that, efforts to consistently produce Chocolate Labs have resulted in most of them coming from a smaller gene pool. Something that can result in health problems because of harmful characteristics showing up.
11. Named for a Place
In any case, Chocolate Labs and other Labrador Retrievers are named for a place. For those who are unfamiliar, there is a Canadian province called Newfoundland and Labrador. Newfoundland is the name of an island off of the Atlantic Coast. Meanwhile, Labrador refers to the continental portion of the province, which is separated from the island by a strait. Curiously, the island is home to about 94 percent of the province’s population even though the continental portion encompasses about 71 percent of the province’s landmass.
12. Originated from St. John’s Water Dog
Labrador Retrievers originated from St. John’s Water Dog, which was a landrace that came into existence in Newfoundland. Said dog breed’s origins are mysterious. However, chances are good that it came from a mix of working dogs from English, Irish, and Portuguese sources. In any case, St. John’s Water Dog worked well with Newfoundland fishermen for a long time but eventually went extinct for a number of reasons. One, there were heavy taxes plus other restrictions imposed on dog ownership in the 19th century, which were meant to encourage sheep ownership instead. Two, the United Kingdom instituted a long-term quarantine on imported animals in the late 19th century, which was a huge issue because that was the leading overseas destination for said dog breed. Combined with other factors, these were enough to make the St. John’s Water Dog go extinct in the 20th century.
13. There Can Be Considerable Differences Between Working Dogs and Show Dogs
It is interesting to note that there can be considerable differences between Labrador Retrievers that have been bred for working purposes and Labrador Retrievers that have been bred for show purposes. This is because both have been around for a while, meaning that enough time has passed for them to diverge from one another. Interested individuals should know that the working dogs are sometimes called the American version while the show dogs are sometimes called the English version. However, this is extremely misleading.
14. All Labrador Retrievers Can Trace Their Roots to the United Kingdom
After all, all Labrador Retrievers can trace their roots to the United Kingdom. Essentially, they are descended from St. John’s Water Dogs that were brought to that country before being crossbred with local hunting dogs. Using “American” and “English” to describe Labrador Retrievers in the aforementioned manner is nonsensical for additional reasons as well. To name one, these dogs started out as working animals in the United Kingdom, which makes it rather strange for the working dogs to be called the American version. To name another, Labrador Retrievers made the transition to companion dogs at around the same time in both the United States and the United Kingdom, meaning that dividing them in this way doesn’t make any sense.
15. Extremely Popular
Speaking of which, Labrador Retrievers have managed to become extremely popular. For instance, they are the single most popular dog breed in the United States. Furthermore, this isn’t a fleeting thing because Labrador Retrievers have held that position ever since 1991, which speaks of considerable resilience in their popularity.
16. Good Personality
The dog breed’s personality is one of its biggest selling points. Simply put, Labrador Retrievers tend to be a mix of kind, obedient, and otherwise good-natured. As a result, these dogs are capable of getting along well with not just humans but also other animals. Something that makes them very well-suited for families to say the least.
17. Can Have Personality Issues that Need to Be Prevented
Like any dog breed, Labrador Retrievers can have personality issues that need to be prevented. For instance, it is very common for them to be fearlessly boisterous. As such, interested individuals will want to keep that in check when these dogs are still young because that is the kind of thing that can get these dogs into serious trouble. Something that will be much more problematic once they are full-grown adults. Similarly, Labrador Retrievers are very easygoing animals, so much so that they are often trusting even with strangers. There is nothing wrong with that so long as interested individuals remember what roles that makes them suitable and unsuitable for. To name an example, Labrador Retrievers make absolutely terrible guard dogs.
18. Very Energetic
These dogs are also famous for being very energetic. This is great news for people who want to spend a lot of time playing with their dogs. However, this is less wonderful for people who are either unable or unwilling to spend that much time on such activities. Indeed, this is a reason that Labrador Retrievers aren’t necessarily the best companion dogs for people who have slowed down for one reason or another.
19. Can Be Excellent Swimmers
Given their descent from St. John’s Water Dogs as well as their original role, it should come as no surprise to learn that Labrador Retrievers can be excellent swimmers. In fact, it is interesting to note that these dogs often see use for water rescue. Of course, just because Labrador Retrievers can be excellent swimmers, it doesn’t mean that they are automatically guaranteed to be so. Dogs need to learn their skills in much the same way that we humans need to learn ours. For that matter, supervision is a must even for those that have proven themselves to be excellent swimmers because circumstances can always change.
20. Aren’t Supposed to Leave Their Mother Until They Are Eight Weeks Old
As a rule of thumb, Labrador Retrivers aren’t supposed to leave their mother until they are at least eight weeks old. In fact, interested individuals should see it as a sign for caution if a dog breeder is willing to let them have a Chocolate Lab puppy before it is old enough because callousness in one regard can mean callousness in other regards. Unsurprisingly, dogs that are separated from their mother too soon can show issues throughout their lifetime.