How Labrador Retriever’s Coat Colors are Determined: Black, Chocolate, and Yellow

A Labrador retriever’s coat is a defining characteristic and an important factor when choosing the newest addition to your family.

As recognized Labrador breeders, we are knowledgeable on these dogs and their coat colors. There are several factors that determine color, which every prospective buyer and owner should know.

Most importantly to note: there are only three colors of Labradors Chocolate, Black, and Yellow. There is a great variation in the yellow color from fox red to almost pure white. All other color variations are not recognized by the AKC.

Black Lab PuppyBlack Labs

Let’s start with the dominant color: black.

So, for context, every Labrador retriever is born with two alleles or genes. One from each parent, just like us: Each parent can donate a dominant B black gene or a recessive b chocolate gene.

If you have at least one B black gene, you will have a black dog. So, they can be BB or Bb.


Chocolate Lab Puppy

Chocolate Labs

If they possess two recessive genes b the chocolate gene, it means that they will have a rich chocolate coat.

The only genes a chocolate dog can have is bb.




Yellow Labs

Yellow Lab PuppySo where does the yellow color come from?

Another allele comes into play with a yellow coat. There is a gene that is an on/off-switch. The off switch is recessive just like chocolate. The on switch is dominant E just like the black gene. I don’t know why they chose the letter Ee.

If the puppy possesses two recessive off-switches, it will be yellow because you’re “turning off” whatever the other color is. If there is at least one on switch EE, Ee two on switches or an on-switch with an off-switch allele, then the puppy will show its color based on the Bb genes.

If you’re looking for a yellow Lab, there is a wide array of yellow coats, from almost white to fox red. Those colors are more complicated genetically

Exotic colors

You will see people offering Labradors in other colors. These include silver, champagne, and charcoal. None of these colors are recognized by the AKC. They may be registered as chocolate from the AKC, but they are most likely mixed with another breed to obtain those colors. We never offer any of these exotic colors nor do any of the breeders I know.

At Hidden Pond Labradors, we have top-notch sires and exceptional girls that allow us to offer beautiful litters of black, chocolate and yellow Lab puppies.

If you’re looking to add a Lab to the family, check out our puppies who are ready to go to their forever home! Call us at 607-857-1461 today with any questions you may have.


Dani Hodge

I purchased a home 6 years ago. I am a foster parent from time to to time. I am thinking about a chocolate lab (puppy) where can I find a breeder in union county NJ area.


I have a lab her dad is yellow. Her mom is golden and she is beautiful. 3 yrs old. I bread her with a pure choc lab and her puppies look like rottweilers? They are pure labs? Is that normal


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