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A Teaching Moment: My Response to a Misleading Article About Labrador Retriever Coat Color Genetics

Wow, I didn’t know I was doing anything special! Yesterday morning I woke up to this article from PEOPLE Magazine on my news feed (no surprise Google thought Lab news would interest me!)

For years, we here at Karemy Labradors, and many other quality breeders have known how, and regularly have, produced litters of puppies containing all three colors; though it is not something we try to do often. The reason People Magazine Staff considered it rare was probably because most reputable breeders try not to produce the no black pigment gene (NBP), which is commonly called a “Dudley.”

For comparison, here are two of our beautiful pups. Luna (yellow bandana) has the dudley pigmentation (NBP), and Lockett has black pigmentation.

Photo Credit: The Romero Family

Dogs with the dudley pigmentation are considered a disqualification in confirmation show ring and cannot be shown as a result. Because of this, there is generally a prejudice against them in circles of quality breeders. It is due to this stigma that breeders will tend to only breed black and yellow or black and chocolate together. You will also frequently see breeders who will exclusively work with one color. At Karemy, we do not intentionally breed for dudleys, but we also know they are just as healthy and happy as our yellows with black pigmentation so we don’t mind it. We’d love to see dudley’s be accepted into the show ring one day!

Returning to the article, I am upset with it because of the false impression it gives that producing three colors is rare in a litter. I am also upset because these breeders talk of breeding for color not health, structure, and temperament which are the three most important traits any reputable breeder should be considering. The emphasis on three traits are the reason the Labrador Retriever has been the most popular breed for 30+ years in America and many ot