Silver Lab: Dog Breed Information and Owner’s Guide

Labrador Retrievers can come in many colors, but have you ever seen a Silver Lab?

A Silver Lab is a beautiful slate grey Labrador Retriever.

Whilst they are very rare they still have the same friendly and happy personality of regular Labs.

A genetic quirk and a controversial breeding history makes this breed different from the three typical Lab colors (Black, Brown and Yellow).

Life is never dull with one of these lovable dogs around. Do you think you would like one in your life?

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about these beautiful dogs…

Silver Labs

Silver Lab At A Glance

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Silver Lab

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A Puppy Lab Playing

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Silver Labrador

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Silver Labrador Retriever


The Silver Lab is a lovable and active breed with a heart of gold.

The Silver Lab is a color variation of the Chocolate Lab. They have the exact same playful personality of standard Labs and make fantastic family dogs. This breed will love being the center of attention and even first time owners will be delighted with a lovable pooch that is quite easy to train and care for.

  • Popularity: #1.
  • Speciality: Retriever.
  • Weight: 55-80 pounds.
  • Price: $1000-$1500.
  • Personality: Outgoing, playful and happy.

Similar Breeds

Weimaraner
Weimaraner
Price: $750-$1200
Lifespan: 11-14 years
Family Friendly: Yes
Size: 55-88 pounds
Shed: Low-Medium
Activity: High
Black Lab
Black Lab
Price: $500-$1000
Lifespan: 10-14 years
Family Friendly: Yes
Size: 55-80 pounds
Shed: Medium
Activity: High
Silver Lab
Silver Lab
Price: $1000-$1500
Lifespan: 10-12 years
Family Friendly: Yes
Size: 55-80 pounds
Shed: Medium
Activity: High

Silver Labrador Overview

Silver Lab Puppy Walking

The standard Labrador Retriever comes in three fur colors: Black, Yellow and Chocolate.

Silver Labs come from a recessive dilute gene in Chocolate Labs – this makes their brown fur appear to be grey or blue.

Historically these dogs were used to fetch and retrieve hunted game birds. However they are now more commonly known as loving family or service dogs.

Other than their unusual color this dog is just like any other Lab.

They are family oriented and extremely friendly (almost to the point of being too trusting of others).

Their entire day is focused around fun and games and they love nothing more than being the center of attention.

If you are looking for a beautiful active dog that loves human attention then this is the breed for you.

Pros

  • Incredibly friendly and family oriented.
  • Most beloved dog breed in the country.
  • Gets along with everyone.
  • Makes the best playmate for children.

Cons

  • Rare and difficult to find this color.
  • More expensive than other colored labs.
  • Controversial pedigree and registration status.
  • Has a shorter lifespan than other labs.

A Day In The Life Of This Breed

In the early morning hours your Silver Lab will be awake long before the alarm goes off. They will let you
know that it is time to wake up by jumping up beside you and licking you all over your face!

Once you are awake they will expect you to lead them to the kitchen.

After breakfast they will follow you around as you get washed, dressed and ready for the day.

Now it is time for their morning walk and some Labs will let you know that by bringing you their leash.

After a long walk through the neighborhood (or the park) they will curl up in their crate when you head out to work for the day. Giving them this morning walk is the key to settling them down.

Your pup will wait peacefully in their crate when you go to work. A settled Lab will sleep the time away until you come home from work. They will watch at the window as you walk up to the door and then greet you with a shower of puppy kisses and nose boops.

Now that you are home it is your dog’s favorite time of day: playtime!

A game of fetch or a trip to the dog park will all be appreciated.

Every day is an adventure for a Silver Labrador, but the best daily adventures include a walk along the beach, or a puppy play date with their friends.

After dinner another walk around the block will help them wind down for the day.

Do not forget though that this breed enjoys domestic comforts just as much as it loves the great outdoors.

When it is time to wind down for the day they will wait for you to join them on the couch. And at bedtime your loyal friend will curl right up at the foot of your bed.

Your Lab will give you a little kiss goodnight before the two of you fall asleep. Tomorrow will be
another busy day. When the sun comes up, they will be ready to do it all over again.

History And Origin

All Lab Colors

The Labrador Retriever comes from Newfoundland (Canada) and they are named after the nearby province of Labrador.

However the exact origin of this breed is still hotly debated.

What we do know is that they were bred to be the perfect hunting partner and game bird retriever. They became an instant hit once they were introduced to the rest of the world by the English in the 19th century.

In 1917 the Black and Yellow Labs were both officially recognized by the American Kennel Club.

Then in the early 1920s breeding began to produce a Silver Lab.

However straight away this color was under heavy controversy.

Silver Lab Retrievers were bred from the unpopular Chocolate (or liver) colored Lab. At this time the Chocolate color was still considered a flaw due to their recessive status and their increased susceptibility to health problems.

But the Silver color had even more controversy.

At the time lots of people noted their similarity to the Weimaraner (another Retriever from the Sporting group). It was rumored that Silver Labs were really just Weimaraner hybrids rather than purebred dogs.

Breeding purists also debated whether or not the presence of the dilute gene affected the dog’s pedigree. Could a dog with dilute genes really be considered a purebred dog?

In the end the American Kennel Club agreed to recognize the color as a Chocolate derivative. All Silver Labs must be registered as Chocolate to gain AKC recognition.

Unfortunately the controversy over the breed’s lineage continues to this day.

Silver Labs cannot compete in AKC dog shows but they are eligible for other AKC events.

6 Fun Facts

  1. Due to this breed’s striking similarity to the Weimaraner, it was once believed to be a Weimaraner hybrid.
  2. The Silver Lab was first bred in the 1920s.
  3. Throughout the early 20th century the Chocolate and Silver fur colors were considered a flaw. Whilst they are far more popular now they are still the least popular fur colors for the breed.
  4. Silver is not the only unusual fur color in the Labrador Retriever. The Red Fox Lab sports a darker variant of the Yellow fur color and looks rusty red.
  5. Their history of diving after game birds has shaped them into phenomenal swimmers. There is nothing that a Lab loves more than a dip in the pool on a hot summer day.
  6. The Silver Lab’s dilute gene can also cause bluish grey colors in other breeds such as French Bulldogs and Weimaraners.

Temperament And Behavior

A Silver Lab Puppy

Your Silver Lab will be the best friend you have ever had.

This amazingly friendly and energetic pup will capture the heart of your whole family in no time.

Their wild spirit is almost always active and they will want to spend most of their day playing.

Even the most engaged owners may find themselves tired out by the end of the day.

However once your dog has had their fix they will be very calm and gentle.

Any Lab owner knows just how goofy and over the top these dogs can be. They are always looking for something silly to keep their owners entertained.

Despite their goofball personalities they are surprisingly empathetic and understanding of their owners’ emotions.

Their own emotions tend to mimic those of the humans in their lives.

Your Silver Lab will know when you are happy, sad or angry. When you are in a bad mood they will be the first to try to cheer you up.

This breed is much more intelligent than many make them out to be and that is what makes it so good at working. Fetching and retrieving is their favorite game and also their favorite way to help out. Consider asking your pooch to retrieve things for you to keep their mind engaged.

It goes without saying that this breed gets along very well with children and tend to see them as playmates on their level.

They get along with other dogs too but toy breeds may be a bit put off by their hyperactive behavior.

How Much Does A Silver Lab Cost?

This color is considered a luxury color.

In addition it is very rare and difficult to breed for.

There is no guarantee of the dilute recessive gene in a litter of puppies. Most of the time a Silver Lab is a rare find in a Chocolate or Black litter.

All of these factors contribute to the puppy’s high price tag – a Silver Lab puppy will cost anywhere between $1000 and $1500.

Age Price
Puppy $100-$1500
Adult $500-$750
Adoption $200-$300

Buyer’s Tips

  1. A Silver Lab will be more expensive than other more common colors, so you will need to budget accordingly. Expect to pay anywhere from $1000 to $1500 for your new puppy.
  2. This color is more susceptible to health problems than other colored Labs so a good pet insurance plan is worth considering.
  3. Unethical breeding practices are common for specialty colors like this. Make sure to beware of bargains that sound too good to be true!
  4. Even if it means paying a little bit more, request your puppy’s certification and paperwork. You want to make sure that your pup is what you expect and that they have been properly cared for as a youngster.
  5. A large and energetic dog like this can eat a lot – the average food cost for a Labrador Retriever is between $35 and $60 a month.
  6. Make sure that your home has enough space to accommodate this active pooch. If you do not have your own yard, you will need to take your dog to a park to let out their energy for at least an hour every day.

Silver Lab Appearance

A Silver Lab Outside

The first thing you will notice about this breed is their stunning silver coat.

This smooth double coat looks almost like velvet and is either slate grey or a faded brown.

Just like other Labs they have a strong and lean runner’s body with long floppy ears and gentle dark eyes.

Another one of their defining features is their straight otter tail. This tail allows the dog to safely maneuver through water.

They are built for the land and water and have long muscular legs that are made to run and swim.

Size

Once fully grown the boys will stand between 22-24 inches tall, whereas the girls will be slightly shorter at 21-23 inches tall.

The males will be between 65-80 pounds and the females will be between 55-70 pounds.

Colors

The Silver Lab can come in lots of different shades. Usually it is a slate or bluish grey however faded brown is another possibility.

Their coat is smooth and feels like velvet when you stroke them.

It is also waterproof and will protect them from the cold.

All Silver Labs must be registered as Chocolate Labs in order to gain AKC recognition.

Silver Lab Care Guide

Silver Labrador

A Silver Lab never asks for much.

First time owners can keep this breed providing they are able to handle this breed’s high energy.

Other than their high activity level and need for mental stimulation, the breed’s needs are very basic (even children can learn to care for one).

Feeding, training and grooming do not go too far beyond what every other dog needs to be healthy and happy. It will not take too long for your new silver friend to fit right in.

Exercise

This very high energy breed spends most of its day on their feet.

They will want to be running and jumping for most of their waking hours.

You should give them at least a full hour of physical activity every day.

Fetching and swimming are any Lab’s favorite ways to play. A game of fetch in the pool can create some of the best fun for any Silver Labrador.

They also enjoy games of chase and can even learn to play tag with you. Toss a ball or a frisbee and watch them catch it right out of the air.

  • Total Daily Activity: 60+ minutes.
  • Activity Level: 4/5.
  • Favorite Activity: Fetching

Grooming

Although this dog has short fur they are not considered a low shed breed.

If you bring this dog home you should expect to see a few silver hairs on the couch and the carpet.

The dog will shed moderately throughout most of the year and require brushing once each week.

During the spring and the fall they will drop much more hair than usual as they prepare their seasonal coat. During this shedding season you will have to add an extra day of brushing to keep your dog’s fur looking neat and clean.

If your pooch is active you generally wont need to cut their nails.

Just make sure to check their nails every two weeks. You should only trim them back if they are beginning to curl.

Finally pay attention to their teeth – dental care is an often overlooked aspect of dog grooming.

You will need to brush their teeth at least once a week and can motivate them with a tasty flavored toothpaste.

A Puppy Lab Playing

Nutrition

The key thing to know about what to feed Silver Labs is that their nutritional needs will differ at different stages of their life.

Once fully grown a Lab needs about 800 to 1200 calories per day.

You can feed them a high quality kibble.

Or if you want to feed them wet or raw food then you can replace one of your dog’s daily cups of kibble with a can of wet food or a raw cut of chicken or turkey.

Never feed raw beef or pork to a dog.

Protein should be the number one ingredient in any Lab’s diet, followed by healthy fats. Carbs should be the last on the list.

All ingredients should come from natural sources rather than artificial fillers.

Growth Chart:

  • At 7 to 12 weeks old your puppy should weigh between 10 and 22 pounds.
  • Between 12 weeks and 6 months they will grow to half of their adult weight (~40 pounds).
  • At 6 to 9 months of age your puppy will be three quarters of the way to their adult size. Puppies at this age weigh between 50 and 65 pounds.
  • By a year old your dog will be at their full adult weight of 55 to 80 pounds.
Height Weight
Male: 22-24 inches 65-80 pounds
Female: 21-23 inches 55-70 pounds

Health Concerns

Silver and Chocolate Labs are more susceptible to ear infections and skin disease than the other fur colors.

Swimmer’s ear (or otitis externa) is one of these common ear problems.

Your pup’s adorable floppy ears can catch a lot of water while they are swimming.

This dirty water can stay in their ears and cause an infection. The symptoms include redness and darkening of the ear canal, itching and crust around the ear.

Topical creams and ear drops can be administered for mild cases of swimmer’s ear. For the more severe cases a few weeks of anti-inflammatory medication may be necessary.

With Silver Labs you also need to look out for painful skin lesions known as a hot spot.

These are formed when the dog licks or picks at an injured spot of skin. Regular injuries, insect bite and sunburn can all form a hot spot. They are usually visible on the dog’s skin, and can be noticed when the dog is licking or biting at the spot.

Anti-inflammatory medications will usually clear the problem right up but your pup may need to wear a cone to stop them picking at the spot.

How Long Does A Silver Lab Live?

Unfortunately Silver and Chocolate Labs do not live as long as their Black and Yellow counterparts. A Silver Lab typically lives between 10 and 12 years.

How To Train A Silver Labrador Retriever

Silver Labrador Retriever

Your puppy may be very stubborn when you first start training them.

However it will not take long for them to become a model member of the family!

Your biggest challenge will be motivating a distracted dog that just wants to goof around.

Show your puppy how happy you are whenever they successfully carry out a command or follow your instructions – this is the best motivator for a dog that just wants to make you happy.

You can also use treats as Labs are very motivated by treats.

Never punish your dog for bad behavior or raise your voice.

Their negative behavior is an attempt to earn negative attention – the best way to stop this is to offer no attention at all.

Socializing should start with the breeder long before you bring your puppy home.

Shop around for puppy kindergartens before you bring your pup home. Your pup will be able to meet their very first friends there and learn to get along with others.

Just remember this is a dog that enjoys being active and mentally stimulated.

An under stimulated dog will behave destructively in order to entertain itself.

You can keep their mind and body active by trying out new tricks and new games every day.

Fetch is the best training game for any Retriever – it is also a great opportunity to practice obedience commands, such as drop it, leave it and sit.

Try using a new toy for each round of the game, as well as increasing the fetching distance with every throw.

Summary

If you are looking for a unique furry friend then the Silver Lab is out there waiting for you.

The breed is suitable for absolutely everyone.

Owners of any lifestyle and skill level will find an amazing companion in this lovable pooch.

Do not be fooled by their goofy personality.

This is one of the smartest dogs around and each day you will need to exercise their body and their mind.

No matter the color, a Labrador Retriever is always a welcome addition to any home – the beautiful silver fur is just an added bonus!

Let us know any questions in the comments section below…

John Woods Headshot
John Woods is the Founder of All Things Dogs and leads our editorial team as our Editor in Chief. A member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, he has been a dog lover since he was 13 years old. John is parent to Nala, a working lab retriever. John has also volunteered at multiple animal shelters, where he gained firsthand experience of rehabilitation and force-free positive reinforcement training methods.
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8 Comments

    • Hi Azher,

      In terms of a Weimaraner and Lab mix, I’m not sure why you would mix these two breeds as they are both already similar in terms of temperament, loyalty and working heritage. If you are mixing for appearance alone, you would be sacrificing all of the known and stable temperament benefits of both purebreds. You’d be better with a Silver Labrador.

  1. We have a 4 year old male Silver. Had him since 8 weeks. He is a beautiful pup and all Lab. Friendly, smart, energetic and loving. Still a rather unique dog here in Northern Connecticut. All who see him always comment positively. We love Riley.

    • I have a 4 year old girl silver lab. She’s amazing and everyone who sees her says only positive thing. Her name is also Riley!

  2. Just purchased a male silver lab. His name is Mickey, he’s very active at 12 weeks old, will he calm down? How do I teach him to play on his own after we have finished playing?

    • Hi Debra,

      You are absolutely correct – your 12 week old lab will certainly be very active! Most breeders tend to say Labs calm down around the age of 5! That’s not to say that you can’t teach him appropriate behavior though. If you want him to play on his own, the game needs to keep his attention. A top tip is to have two boxes of toys. Rotate them. So have one box of toys out for a couple of days, then tidy them up, put them in a cupboard and then bring out the other box of toys. The novelty will spark their attention so they will be more inquisitive.

      Also, consider using brain games or puzzle games. Slow feeders are great for Labs as they love their food! This is also a calming activity to reduce their overall stress levels (physical activity raises stress levels in a good way). Offer some long-lasting chews; this is great for their jaw development and it scratches their itch to chew which also reduces overall stress levels.

      Dogs are incredibly adaptable, they will generally fit into most routines, so start as you mean to go on.

  3. My first dog, a silver lab, male named thor. Got him from a colorado breeder at two months. He is a treat. I live on 12 acres near national forest, loves to run and walk in the forest with me always staying nearby. This is a great dog very sociable and always happy. Loves human interaction and always ready to fetch and play

  4. The Lab was first developed in England. The Lab was brought back to the Americans. Now, why there are “English Labradors” and “American Labradors” has more to do with physical traits as much as where they were bred. English stock is a lower to the ground, stockier, heavier and calmer. American stock tends to be taller and leaner, lighter on paw and just hyper active.

    The reason for this are not extremely clear but once you take into consideration that England is cooler than the majority of the US, and has more low laying marsh and bog lands than the US with its high lands and tall grassed field, mountains and wetlands, it might make sense.

    Whether you want to believe that the lines were cross bred with a Red Bone Coon hound, or simply selectively breed to make hunting easier, the American does not match the standards set froth for the English style Lab to the point they are almost different breds these days.

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