There is a popular misconception surrounding the origin of Labrador Retrievers. Many seem to think that this special breed of dogs originated in the Labrador region of Canada, while Labrador dogs were first discovered in Newfoundland during the 1500s. In this period, the fishermen in these regions frequently used a cross-bred species known as St. John’s Water Dog to assist them while fishing in deep waters. These dogs were cross- bred from Newfoundland dogs and a small water dog species. These sporting dogs loved the water and enjoyed fishing nets and fish hooks. The St, John’s Water dogs prevalent in the Newfoundland region till the end of 1700s, and began getting imported to England in the early 1800s. The Earl of Maimesbury and later, a British Sports legend, Colonel Hawker – both recognized the hunting skills of these dogs. As the Earl and Duke of Malmesbury renamed the dogs as their “Labrador dogs,” this god species gained instant recognition and was inducted into the  English Kennel Club by 1903. The breed’s name and fame reached far and wide, and soon farmers and hunters in the United States began importing them for their lives. The Labrador Retriever was finally given recognition by the American Kennel Club in 1917. Gradually, this breed of dogs made their way into American homes as a favorite pet dog because of their obedient, loyal, and loving nature. 


Chocolate Labrador on Beach Sand from Pixabay

“A House is never lonely where a loving Labrador wait”

Labrador Loving Soul

Chocolate Labradors are somewhat rarer among the Labrador Retriever species, and very often their coat color is linked to their common health issues and behavioral traits. But is there any scientifically proven evidence behind these popular assumptions? Let’s find out.

Impact of Color and Recessive Genes on Chocolate Labrador Health


Chocolate Labrador Resting on Green Grass

RVC VetCompass News Flash, which published the results of the joint study conducted by the Royal veterinary College, London and the University of Sydney, Australia’s VetCompass Program on labrador Retrievers, mentioned that Chocolate Labradors have the highest proportions of ear infections with 23.4% of of them affected. Comparatively, Black and yellow Labradors seem to have much lower proportions of ear infections.

Professor Paul McGreevy of the University of Sydney, who participated in this study, made a significant observation, captured in the following quote:

“The relationships between coat colour and disease may reflect an inadvertent consequence of breeding for certain pigmentations. Because chocolate colour is recessive in dogs, the gene for this colour must be present in both parents for their puppies to be chocolate. Breeders targeting this colour may therefore be more likely to breed between only Labradors carrying the chocolate coat gene. It may be that the resulting reduced gene pool includes a higher proportion of genes conducive to ear and skin conditions.”

The above view on the direct relationship between Chocolate labrador’s coat color and observed health problems has been later supported and shared by many other publications like National Geographic or Today’s Veterinary Practice.

The National Geographic author’s discussion on Chocolate Labradors’s longevity clearly correlates the Chocolate lbrador’s coat color with the short life spans of this particular type of Labrador Retrievers. In an article titled Can a Labrador Retriever’s Coat Color Impact Lifespan and Increase Health Issues?, Today’s Veterinary Practice author has tried to establish that the joint RVC-Vet Compass study on Labrador Retrievers reveals that Chocolate Labradors enjoy significantly lower lifespans, compared to their black or yellow counterparts. The findings of the UK study are available in an open access journal,  Canine Genetics and Epidemiology.

An article from MedicineNet, published in 2018,  tried to correlate the chocolate coat of Chocolate Labradors with this dog’s common health problems like ear infections, skin diseases, and lower life spans. Well, these declarations are not merely biased assumptions because a joint study (the largest study on Labrador dogs to date) conducted by the Royal Veterinary College, London and University of Sydney/, Australia’s VetCompass Program, established beyond reasonable doubt that the above assumptions about the chocolate Labrador Retriever are based on scientifically studied and collected data related to this breed of Labradors.

Skin Problems in Chocolate Labradors and How to Fix It

In an article titled Chocolate Labs Are Less Healthy Than Their Black and Yellow Puppy, the author states that a common skin infection in Chocolate Labradors is known as “Hot spots,” is predominantly found in the Labradors with chocolate coats compared to the same breed of dogs with other color coats. 

Ear Infections in Chocolate Labradors and How to Fix It

Although the ears of a Labrador make them appear “comical,” this is not the time and place to discuss their funny attributes. As this post is focussed on Chocolate Labrador health, the health aspects of the ears is the focus of discussion here. The large, flappy ears of a Chocolate Labrador can often be the “breeding grounds” : of bacterial infections. The dog owner can ensure good ear health and complete safety from future ear infections by following these tips:

  1. Consult a Vet and prepare a regimen for cleaning the dog’s ears.For example, if the chocolate Labrador is fond of regular swimming, then the ears should be cleaned and dried after every swimming session.
  2. The excess hair around the ears should be clipped to prevent any type of bacterial infection from growing.
    .
  3. Whenever a chocolate Labrador develops an ear infection, the dog should be immediately taken to a vet for a check and an appropriate ear drop or cleaner to prevent further damage. . 

Obesity in Chocolate Labradors and How to Fix It


Chocolate Labrador Relaxing

Obesity afflicts many dog breeds, and Labradors are no exception to this rule. According to pet experts, Labradors are particularly prone to weight gains. In this breed of dogs, the weight gain is directly attributable to overeating and lack of exercise. According to serious researchers, “a high percentage of Labradors have a gene mutation linked to increased weight.

One advantage of Chocolate Labradors is that they usually love water sports,which can be put to positive use during routine exercise sessions. To prevent your Chocolate Labrador from gaining unnecessary weight, the dog owner can following these simple tips:

  1. Consult a Vet and develop a diet chart with the proper food groups and nutrients.
  2. Use a slow feeder dog bowl to prevent the dog from eating too much too quickly.
  3. Do not allow the dog to eat between meals
  4. Let the dog exercise regularly, preferably through swimming if the god loves water. Chocolate Labradors are known to be water sports enthusiasts
  5. Do not allow the dog to consume too much water as it causes a condition called “bloating,” which many times, proves fatal for a dog..

Bone Joint Infections of Chocolate Labradors and How to Fix It


Chocolate Labrador Resting on a Bed

Many Chocolate Labradors suffer from hip=joint or elbow-joint pain, which can affect their mobility functions.When talking about common Labrador health conditions,, The Labrador Training HQ webzine author also points out that bone-joint problems affect all Labradors, which includes Chocolate Labradors. One of the primary reasons behind the prevalence of bone-related, health issues among the Labrador breed may be obesity and restricted movements. The only way the dog owner will be able to tackle this health issue is by making the Chocolate Labrador eat the right nutrients, exercise, and help the dog maintain a healthy weight. The chocolate Labrador loves water and water sports, so swimming could be the ideal answer to bone-related problems. The best piece of advice is to consult an experienced Vet for the right diet and supplemental nutrients. 

Behavioral Traits of Chocolate Labradors: Facts or Fiction? 

Are Chocolate Labradors hard to train, aggressive, and hyperactive? Who Knows? 

When BMC Canine Medicine & Genetics published this linked article, they clearly highlighted the fact that Chocolate colored Labrador retrievers “enjoy a reputation” of being aggressive, hyperactive, and hard to train. But is there any scientific evidence behind making these assumptions about  dog breed? Probably no. This article author further states that the Chocolate Labrador has been the target of “biased opinions’ ‘ – unsubstantiated by scientific data or empirical evidence. A questionnaire-based survey was conducted with pet owners to dispel the myths. The survey results proved beyond doubt that these myths indeed – there was not a shred of evidence to prove that Chocolate Labradors are more aggressive, more hyperactive or harder to train than Yellow or Black Labradors. 

Short Lifespans of Chocolate Labradors – Remedial Actions for Dog Owners

In an article titled Can a Labrador Retriever’s Coat Color Impact Lifespan and Increase Health Issues?, Today’s Veterinary Practice author has tried to establish that the joint RVC-Vet Compass study on Labrador Retrievers reveals that Chocolate Labradors enjoy significantly lower lifespans, compared to their black or yellow counterparts. The findings of the UK study are available in an open access journal,  Canine Genetics and Epidemiology.

The study conducted by RVC and University of Sydney’s VetCompass Program revealed that out of the 33,000 Labrador dogs studied, longevity ranges were found to be disparate across different color groups. On an average, the Black and Yellow color Labradors were found to have at least 10 years extra lifespans when compared to the Chocolate Labradors . The correlation between the chocolate color coat and low lifespan of Chocolate Labradors could not be scientifically established through actual evidence, but the historical data showed that this color Labradors died prematurely when compared to their other color counterparts. 

In this case also, the only precaution that Labrador owners can take is making sure the Chocolate Labrador eats well, maintains healthy weight, exercises, and pays regular visits to the Vet  to get the skin and ears checked for infections. 

Summary 

According to Dr. Dan O’Neill, RVC;s veterinary epidemiologist and VetCompass study participant, mentioned that the Vet Compass study on Labradors was the largest Labrador research project conducted till date, and was designed to change the approach to managing Labrador health issues. Vets can now play an advisory role for Labrador owners, offering them best-practice advice and tips for breeding, cross-breeding, and taking care of Labradors.

University of Sydney’s Professor McGreevy warns:

“Breeders targeting this color may therefore be more likely to breed only Labradors carrying the chocolate coat gene. This narrows the gene pool and may result in a higher proportion of genes conducive to ear and skin conditions, and could ultimately affect longevity.”