Chocolate Lab Breed Profile, Temperament, Health & Color Differences

Chocolate Lab

Chocolate Labs are one of three different types of Labrador Retriever color variations.

Labrador Retrievers are widely considered the most popular dog breed and can be chocolate, yellow or black.

Retrievers were initially bred to help fishermen rail in nets and retrieve ducks. Unfortunately during the 20th century chocolate labradors were avoided in favor of the more traditional black.

Despite years of selective breeding the brown gene survived. Today many owners love this dog’s rich deep chocolate color.

If you are interested learn what is different about chocolate colored retrievers, if they are as healthy as other Labradors and their temperament then read on…

Chocolate Lab Retriever

Chocolate Lab Overview

Chocolate Labradors are a specific color variation of the Labrador Retriever.

Despite Labs being popular for most of the 20th century, it wasn’t until the 1960s when people realized the beauty of the color brown. Before this the classic black was heavily favored by hunters and fishermen for their ability to blend in with the environment. Yellow and chocolate colors were more easily spotted.

Chocolate Labs are very similar to their yellow and black siblings but there are a few stigmas that continue to surround this color.

Many believe that chocolate colored Labradors are less intelligent.

This is not true and arises from the assumption that breeders only bred for the color brown and disregarded any other traits such as intellect and trainability.

One myth that is true is their poor health.

Because they are less common than yellow or black siblings, they have a smaller gene pool. This accounts for less genetic diversity and lowers their lifespan by 2 years to an average of 10 years old.

Labrador Origin

During the 1500s fishermen from Newfoundland wanted a hard-working dog that could resist the vicious Canadian winters.

Small water dogs were bred with Newfoundland Dogs to create the St. John’s Water Dog.

Three hundred years later the St. John’s Water Dog was discovered by visiting English noblemen. The noblemen were amazed at the dog’s agility and work ethic and quickly imported them to England.

They selectively bred this dog for shooting sports and named them Labrador Retriever.

Since they first made an appearance in the U.S in the 1900s chocolate labs have become extremely popular.

Labradors are popular because they are extremely friendly, easy to train, and are suited to many different types of owners. The only exception may be older or inactive people because of their exercise needs.

The first kennel club to recognize Labrador Retrievers was The English Kennel Club in 1903. The American Kennel Club registered their first Lab in 1917. Both clubs group them as medium sporting dogs.

Why We Love The Chocolate Labrador

Chocolate Lab

They make excellent family dogs but are also great hunting partners. Here are some of the main reasons why they are so widely loved:

  • They are exceptionally friendly and will befriend just about anyone they meet.
  • Labs are very intelligent and can be trained to do a variety of tasks.
  • Labrador Retrievers are very good-tempered and are assigned to many roles such as service or rescue dogs.
  • Their playfulness and gentleness make them a great companion for children.
  • They are very energetic and will have a blast hiking, swimming or playing fetch.

Breed Facts



55 to 80 pounds



21.5 – 24.5 inches



$800 – $1,200



10 to 12 years

Chocolate Lab Puppies

Chocolate Lab Puppies

Chocolate Labrador puppies are born brown and stay the same color as they age.

Heathy puppies will be interactive and curious. Physically, they should look sturdy and well-fed.

Chocolate Labs tend to have more genetic health issues than their yellow or black siblings. It is therefore very important to find a reputable breeder.

Backyard breeders and pet stores should be avoided. They may seem less expensive to purchase but you will probably end up having to pay more in vet fees in the long run.

Once you find a breeder make sure you ask about the parents:

  • Did they display any genetic concerns?
  • What was their personality like?
  • Why were they selected for breeding?

Don’t feel intimidated to ask to see health documents and certificates.

A responsible breeder will be able to provide you with tangible evidence that your dog and its parents are in good health. This will lessen the chance of your dog having hereditary health issues.

How Much Is A Chocolate Lab Puppy?

Chocolate Labs are sold for $800 – $1,200. The more expensive dogs are from show or working bloodlines. The average litter size is five to ten puppies.

Once you pick a puppy, be prepared to wait until it is old enough to leave mom. Responsible breeders don’t allow their puppies to leave until they are eight weeks old.

Choosing a Chocolate puppy is not hard as they all look very similar.

Your main focus should be on their health and personality.

First, does the puppy look and act healthy?

Secondly, what type of dog would you like to bring into your home?

Where to Adopt

Unfortunately it is common for chocolate labs to make their way to shelters.

They are known to suffer from health problems that play a factor into why owners abandon their dogs.

Adopting a senior dog is an amazing act that allows many good dogs to have a second chance.

Some organizations that focus on rescuing and rehoming Labs include: Lab Rescue LRCP, Midwest Labrador Retriever Rescue and Golden Gate Labrador Retriever Rescue.

Chocolate Labrador Color

Chocolate Labrador Retriever

Chocolate Labradors are a beautiful brown color. Most are a solid brown without any patterns.

Silver Labs are sometimes confused for this variation but they are a cooler diluted shade.

This breed is limited to a rich brown color. Many people identify the Silver Lab as a separate variety as their color is less intense.

Their coat should always be short and straight. A slight wave down the spine is also acceptable.

They have very dense fur with a soft undercoat that protects them from the cold.

How Big Does A Chocolate Lab Get?

Labradors are medium to large sized dogs with floppy ears and a chiseled head. Healthy chocolate retrievers weigh 55 – 80 pounds and are 21.5 to 24.5 inches tall.

Purebred retrievers all look very similar – the only difference is their coat color.

Labradors are easily identifiable by their short single-colored coat, sturdy build and droopy ears.

They still have an agile body from their working past that allowed them to move swiftly and smoothly.

Their paws are webbed and they have an otter-like tail that helps them swim.

Chocolate Labs Temperament

  • Very sociable
  • Intelligent
  • Playful
  • Very high prey drive
  • Constant energy
  • Mouthing

Labrador Retrievers are one of the most delightful dog breeds.

They are incredibly friendly towards both humans and animals. These dogs are confident in everything they do.

Their loyalty makes them want to protect their family however, their friendliness prevents them from being good guard dogs – they are simply too nice for the job!

Hunting is in their blood so they have a very high prey drive. This urge can be controlled with training but you are still going to want to invest in lots of recall training. Lastly, chocolate labs don’t bark a lot unless they’re unleashing some pent-up energy.

One of the many reasons for why they are so popular amongst dog lovers is because they are so nice.

Their breed standard describes them as active, friendly and outgoing.

They are able to befriend just about anyone and are amazing dogs for families. Labradors love to play and will make a great match with children or other dogs.

This breed is also very eager to please. They love their owners and constantly want to make them happy.

Unlike other dogs that may be taught to roll over or play dead, Labs can be trained to perform actual jobs.

With their astounding sense of smell and confidence this breed is known for being one of the best search and rescue dog breeds. These dogs also make reliable, hard-working and well-tempered service dogs.

Characteristic Rating
Prey Drive
Social Tendencies

Are Chocolate Labs More Aggressive?

Aggression is not something you have to worry about when owning a Labrador.

They are so incredibly patient and gentle that they will only bite as a last resort. On the downside, this means they will most likely befriend a burglar rather than try to scare them away.

They may bark however.

Labs bark for a variety of reasons:

  • To alert their owners of something.
  • To show their excitement or eagerness.

If your dog barks excessively it is normally because they are bored and need a distraction. Keeping them entertained will prevent nuisance barking.

Are Chocolate Labs Good Family Dogs?

Yes! Kids and Chocolate Labrador Retrievers get along great. Teenagers love how easy going these dogs are and will consider them a best friend.

Smaller children should be supervised. These dogs can get a little too excited when playing and may accidentally knock down a small child.

Though these dogs are patient and well-tempered they are very active.

This makes them somewhat unsuitable to seniors as they may require more exercise than an older person can offer. Seniors should consider adopting an older Lab who may not need as much physical activity as a puppy.

Labs will be very friendly towards guests, other dogs and pets in the home.

Are Chocolate Labs Healthy?

Labrador Retriever Chocolate

Unfortunately Chocolate Retrievers live shorter lives than their yellow or black siblings.

The median age for a black or yellow Labradors is 12 years. It is only 10 years of age for brown labs.

To help them live a healthy life the main thing you can do is avoiding obesity. Providing the right diet and enough exercise is also key.

Most purebred dogs have a risk of inheriting genetic conditions. Chocolate labs are at an increased risk of genetic health issues because they have a smaller gene pool and are more commonly inbred.

Some problems include ear and skin infections.

They can also inherit joint issues such as osteoarthritis which has no known cure.

Some other health concerns that are common amongst all Labradors include hip or elbow dysplasia, laryngeal paralysis, hypothyroidism and cancer.

The most important thing you can do is to find a responsible breeder and ask for health-check documentation.

You want to make sure that the puppy’s parents were in excellent health to reduce the risk of buying an unhealthy puppy.

Care Guide (Grooming, Feeding & Exercise)

Chocolate Labrador Dog

Chocolate Labs are not a high maintenance breed. They are easy to care for by first time owners. They need an owner who will shower them with love while remaining strict when it comes to training and nutrition.

Any responsible owner is suited to own this brown dog.

A Labrador can be a great addition to any home (i.e. apartment or house).

Feeding Guide

Daily Food Consumption
Guide ~1,500 calories
Cups of Kibble Three Bowls of Kibble Required per Day

Since they are a very active breed, their food needs to be high in fat and proteins but low in carbohydrates.

The best food for labs is one that is formulated for large active breeds.

These dogs tend to overeat. Gluttony can be a problem for Labradors so their weight should be carefully monitored.

The recommended food intake for Chocolate labs is two cups of kibble in the morning and one in the evening.

Exercise Requirements

Daily Exercise
Minutes 120 minutes
Activity Level This is a high activity dog breed
Favorite Exercise Swimming

Chocolate Labradors are curious, energetic and active.

These dogs will have fun doing just about anything with their owners.

They can be entertained with many different activities such as running, fetch or swimming. You can also take them along for hikes, swims or other adventures.

If they get bored, they may unleash their pent-up energy on items around the house or start barking.

You should walk your Lab at least three times a day, but walking alone will not satisfy their energy levels. They need at least two hours of exercise daily.

A strenuous activity finished off with a game of fetch will meet their exercise needs.

Are Chocolate Labs Smart?

Funny Chocolate Lab Face

Labradors are naturally friendly, sociable and very smart.

These dogs like to learn and will therefore be trained fairly quickly.

You can choose to locate a dog trainer however this is not necessary. You will be just as able to train your dog.

Positive reinforcement is the best method of training.

You should socialize them towards children and other pets. Once boundaries are set, they will know exactly what sorts of behaviors are acceptable and not acceptable.


Chocolate Labs are the perfect choice for many. Labradors have been America’s favorite dog for over two decades. From large families, to single owners who need emotional support, these dogs can be their new best friend.

Chocolate Labradors especially have a beautiful appearance with their deep-brown coat.

Before adopting make sure you are ready to give them plenty of exercise and health care.

If this breed is not the right match for you then you may want to investigate their yellow or black siblings. They are nearly identical but are known to be healthier. Another great alternative is the Golden Retriever.

Let us know what you think about this wonderful companion below.

About John Woods 282 Articles
John Woods is the founder of All Things Dogs, member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, graduate in Animal Behavior & Welfare and recognized author by the Dog Writers Association of America.

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