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Chocolate labrador

Chocolate Labrador

Chocolates, like yellows, have also been present all along in the breed. In fact, the well known story of the origins of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever refers to an 1807 shipwreck involving two St. John’s dogs probably destined for Poole and hence to Malmesbury or Buccleuch: one black and one liver.

Some believe that the chocolate color was introduced into Labradors around the turn of the century by crossing with Pointers. This is unlikely for several reasons:

  • Prior documented presence of livers in the St. John’s dogs.
  • The presence of the liver color in many other closely related breeds, such as the Flat-coat, Chesapeake, and Newfoundland.
  • Since liver is recessive to black, it is perfectly possible to "hide" the gene in many generations of black, especially if the occasional liver is quietly culled.

Chocolate Labradors have gained favor much more slowly than the yellows have, although culling of them probably declined about the same time. They did well in early field trials at the turn of the century but it was not until 1964 that Britain had its first chocolate bench champion, Cookridge Tango.

Chocolates are by far the rarest color in the ring, whether show or field. They are increasing in popularity steadily, though, and in another 10 years may equal the other colors in numbers, acceptance, and quality. Prejudice against chocolates in both show and field arenas is still widely present today. They are either "too ugly" for the show ring or "too stupid/stubborn" for the field.


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