Have you ever seen white Labrador puppies before? They are somewhat rare because you don’t often see Labrador Retrievers in this color. Labs are the most popular breed in the United States but they actually among those breeds with limited color options. In this post, we will highlight the differences between a true white dog and an albino dog.
Characteristics of White Lab Pups
A white Labrador is actually not identified as white but as a shade of yellow. This color comes in different shades. Many Labs used in the show ring come in yellow color. Also called English Labs, these dogs are the top choice for pet parents interested in breeding or showing Labradors.
The American yellow Lab, on the other hand, is better known for its ability to work or guide. Besides being good companion animals, Labs are a pretty good choice if you are looking for a pet that can be used for hunting and retrieving game.
A yellow Lab has medium-sized eyes in hazel or brown. Like a typical Lab, its ears are hanging close to its head. It has strong jaws and teeth and a broad and deep chest that adds to the strong built of the Labrador.
Yellow labs are not that old, since they were only recognized by major dog organizations at a later point. The Yellow Labrador Club was established in 1925. The first Labs were bred during the late 1800s on the coast of Newfoundland.
The first recognized yellow Lab was Ben of Hyde, born in 1899. His shade was close to a rich fox red color, which led to assumptions that he had American Water Spaniel in his lineage. Like the first Labs during that time, Ben had a heavy coat but he had a unique built because he had heavy bones much like the Zelstones or the flat-coated retrievers.
Labrador Recognized Colors
Labradors only have three accepted colors, if we use the breed standard set by the American Kennel Club. You will find them in a beautiful yellow shade while the others come in black and brown.
Black – a black Lab is the most common coat color because black is a dominant gene. Even if you pair a black Lab with a yellow or brown one, there is still a possibility you will have a black dog as a result. These dogs possess a lot of eumelanin pigment that gives them the solid black appearance. They also have both the B locus in their gene and were the only accepted color back in the day. Until the early 20th century, there were only black Labs. Back then, breeders used to euthanize other Lab colors, including the brown and yellow ones.
Brown – these dogs are also called chocolate, with some even referring to them as liver. Silver Labs also go under this category, although there are breeders who claim they are a different color. They have a brown nose and a yellow-colored eye. Did you know that brown dogs live less compared to other colors of Labs? This was based on research by the University of Sydney suggesting that these dogs are twice more susceptible to a number of infections, including skin infection and ear infection. They are not born with the same amount of eumelanin pigment in their coat, compared to black dogs. They are bred using the recessive gene b locus. Do note that BB, Bb, and bb will produce different colors of pups so it’s all in the genes.
Yellow – it is a result of pairing two dogs possessing a yellow coat gene. They come in many shades, ranging from cream white to gold. The white ones you see are actually a pale buttermilk shade. There are even yellow Labs sporting a fox red color. Genetically speaking, E locus is responsible for producing the yellow color in Labs. But a yellow only occurs if there is the “ee” present in the gene.
In all these recognized coat colors, you can spot some white markings on areas of the body like the chest. For example, a yellow colored Lab will have a tiny amount of white in his body. That is still acceptable. It’s normal for English Champion Labrador Retriever to appear with white patches in its carpal pad.
It is not easy to predict a Labrador’s coat color just by looking at the parents’ coat colors. You will have to consider a dog’s genotype or the locus present in their genes. A test for locus can confirm this if and will identify if there is “B,” “b” or “e” in a dog’s coat.
What is an Albino Dog?
Having a white Lab will make you wonder if your pet is truly white in color or if he is actually suffering from albinism. Many of us believe that if dogs have blue eyes and a brown nose, they are already considered as true albino dogs. In veterinary terms, this is referred to as being partially albino.
A true albino lacks pigment both in the ocular and oculocutaneous sense. Ocular means the eyes while oculocutaneous refers to the skin and hair as well and also includes the eyes. Their eyes will appear either blue or green. Their eyes have a very light rim.
Any dog may suffer from albinism, but it’s quite rare. It is classified as being a genetic condition so it is not recommended to continue breeding a dog if it is suffering from partial or full albinism. It is not that difficult to identify an albino Lab from a white dog because there are a few things that set them apart.
Albinism itself comes in various levels. Not all albino dogs will have a red or pink hue around the eyes. If you will notice, most albino dogs have pinkish shade around their eyes because they do not possess the pigment needed to let the blood flow in the blood vessels.
True albino dogs may live normally but they often do not live as long as other dogs because they are more prone to certain diseases. They often suffer from poor vision and other eye-related problems because of the inability to produce enough melanin in the eyes.
In addition to eye problems, albino dogs are also more susceptible to skin cancer. In some dogs, the signs noticed are tearings of the skin and rashes. Albinism has no cure but there are things a pet parent can do to manage the condition. Therefore, these dogs should have limited time outdoors especially during peak hours. Sun exposure has an impact on their skin and will make it dry-looking in an instant.
Where to Get White Lab Puppies
If you’re eager to bring home a white Lab pup and make him your pet, start by looking for a reputable breeder or a reliable animal shelter. As America’s most popular dog, you can find many of these dogs in shelters and rescue centers for dogs. It’s worth visiting the kennel or the shelter to see if the yellow Lab sports a pale white coat or if it is suffering from albinism.
The price of a Lab may vary, depending on the breeder. Unique colors like silver are usually more expensive compared to the common ones. A yellow Lab complete with health testing, vaccines, and de-worming may cost you anywhere from $800-$1,000. Before buying a dog from a breeder, check first if it went through the necessary health testing. The necessary health tests include:
- Hip testing – despite the fact that Labradors have a strong built, they are at risk for joint problems, like hip dysplasia. An orthopedic doctor will review the x-rays sent to confirm if a dog is at risk for hip-related conditions.
- Eye testing – your Lab should undergo BVA eye test to let you determine if he is free from any serious eye problems that can result in blindness in the future. Your breeder should provide a certificate showing that your Lab is clear from any eye problem.
- Elbow scoring – if you want to screen your dog for elbow dysplasia, you have to find out his elbow score. It’s screened through x-ray, with zero being the best result. Dogs with a score of 2 or 3 should no longer be bred to avoid passing the condition on to the offspring.
- PRA blindness test – Progressive Retinal Atrophy is a set of eye diseases characterized by the slow degeneration of the retina. It can be inherited and can result in blindness in the later stages. It is one of the important tests for Labradors because they are at risk for PRA.
For those considering getting a Lab from rescues, you may ask for recommendations from accredited Lab organizations. The good thing about getting a pet from a rescue is that you are helping abandoned dogs find their forever home. Many of these dogs are just waiting for new pet parents because they were turned over by people who were not willing to care for them or have given up caring for them.
Bringing home a new Labrador puppy will take months, especially if you are waiting for a litter of a particular coat color. If you are working with a breeder, you may need to wait for several months before you get to bring home your new buddy. Dogs need to have enough time with their mother and siblings for proper development.
Adopting a dog may take a shorter time, but this will still depend on the adoption center or shelter. The only drawback is that you may not easily get a pup because many of the dogs in shelters are adults.
When it’s Time to Get a Lab
Regardless of the coat color, Labrador Retrievers share many similar traits. Before making the final decision, consider these common traits often seen in this breed:
- They shed a lot. Labradors have short, dense, and two-layer coats and shed hair all year-round but also go through seasonal shedding. Grooming the dog properly will help minimize the amount of pet hair around the house. It helps to brush him regularly using a slicker brush to get rid of the dead hair. During the shedding season, which is during the spring and fall, it helps to brush your Lab’s coat with a de-shedding tool.
- They are good-tempered. Despite their intense shedding, many people still want to have a Labrador as a pet because of its gentleness and calm temperament. It has a low level of aggression which makes it ideal for households with other pets or younger children. With proper training and socialization, you can see your Lab’s natural inclination for life.
- They cannot easily adjust to any living environment. A large yard is best suited for a Lab because it likes running around and it is quite big for apartment living. Rural living is the best option for these very active dogs. However, if you don’t have that much space to let your Lab roam free, it’s important to take your buddy outdoors. This dog will appreciate a day at the park or socializing with other pets.
- It requires lots of play time and physical activity. Due to its high energy levels, you need to ensure your Lab gets to have his exercise every day. Dogs need to have an hour of physical activity per day to keep them in top shape. Walking and running are the best things to do with your Lab but because your buddy loves the water, it will appreciate swimming too.
A white Lab is not exactly identified as being white in color but just a variation of yellow, which is among the three recognized colors of the Labrador retrievers. The other two accepted colors are black and brown. It’s easy to set it apart from albino Labs, which have a pinkish eye rim and blue or green eyes.