Brindle Lab | Myths & Truths
The brindle coloration in dogs is a beautiful coat with alternating light and dark stripes in a variety of color combinations. Brindles are common in breeds such as Boxers, Bulldogs and Greyhounds.
This color pattern can be very striking!
What About Labrador Retrievers?
The Labrador Retriever has been ranked the most popular dog in the United States by the AKC for nearly three decades. They have fantastic personalities: kid savvy, dog friendly, smart, and eager to please! What else could you want in a dog?
Labrador Retrievers with brindle coats are usually quite attractive and unique looking. Some owners want to know if the brindle coloration in Labs is a sign of poor breeding or breed impurity.
The AKC breed standard for Labrador Retrievers includes only the colors Black, Yellow and Chocolate. In fact, brindle coloration in Labradors is an explicit disqualification for the show ring. This means that if a Lab has a brindle coat, they cannot compete to represent the breed.
This has led some to believe that if a Labrador Retriever does not have one of those three color variations, it cannot be purebred Lab, however this is not true. Brindle Labrador Retrievers can, in fact, come from very solid purebred bloodlines.
Where Does The Brindle Labrador Color Come From?
Brindle coloration comes from genetics, specifically the part of the genome called the K-locus. For any dog to be a brindle, they need to have a recessive k gene passed on from both parents. This is the same for other lab types such as the Champagne Lab.
In breeds that commonly have brindle coats, the odds of the recessive gene for brindle to occur are much higher because many of the dogs in those breeds carry the gene. However, in Labs the recessive gene is rare, and so brindle colored labs are also quite rare.
Because the breed standard disqualifies the brindle coloration, it has historically been an undesirable trait, and thus, breeders would try to avoid coupling dogs that produced brindled puppies. Over time, this selective breeding has worked to keep the brindle recessive gene a rarely occurring gene in the breed.
Since brindle Labradors are not able to compete in competitions, top of the line breeders may still avoid pairing dogs that produce brindle puppies because they want to produce as many show champions in their bloodline as possible. Hence, the coloration remains rare.
Are Brindle Coated Labradors Different In Other Ways?
Some people have contributed to rumors that brindle Labradors are somehow genetically inferior, more prone to sickness, or in-bred. These rumors aren't true.
Very reputable breeders of Labrador Retrievers sometimes produce these gorgeous puppies who are every bit as pure bred as their Chocolate, Yellow and Black litter-mates.
The only difference between a Labrador Retriever with this color variation and solid colored Labs, is the color of the coat. You can expect the same great temperament and overall health of the breed to present in any responsibly bred brindle coated Lab.
Some people actually appreciate the rare beauty of these dogs, going out of their way to seek them out. If you are interested in a show dog, then a brindle lab is definitely not a good choice for you since the AKC and most other national kennel clubs will disqualify your dog for this coloration.
As long as you are not planning on showing your pedigreed dog, then these striped Labs are a perfectly fine choice!
Brindle Labradors & Responsible Breeding.
Because rare colorations can create special interest from buyers and boost sale prices, there is sometimes an incentive for unscrupulous breeders to try to create the color by mixing Labs with common brindle coated breeds such as Boxers.
Use a little extra caution with breeders that are going out of their way to produce brindle coated Labs.
As always, the best way to avoid poor breeding is to check the reputation of your breeder, make sure they have a line of dogs that include champions in the show ring, and ask for references from other customers.
In addition, insist on an on-site visit at your breeder’s home or kennel. No reputable breeder will ever deny you access to where they breed and raise their puppies!
Don’t be put off if they ask you to sign a contract to maintain certain conditions or promise to give your dog back if you have to rehome at some point in the future. These are the signs of responsible breeders that have a lifetime commitment to the puppies they are breeding.
If you do your homework to make sure you are dealing with a reputable breeder, then you can buy a brindle Lab with absolute confidence and expect them to have all of the great qualities of the most popular breed in the U.S.