Can chocolate labs serve as guide dogs: Labrador retrievers are the most popular service dogs, although there are many breeds of dogs that can serve as guide dogs. Although mostly black or yellow, Labrador guide dogs are available in both black and yellow. It is because of this that some people wonder why chocolate labs aren’t being used as guide dogs.
Because chocolate labs aren’t as common as other colors of Labs, they’re not quite as common to be used as guide dogs. They come from a recessive gene that causes them to have chocolate fur. Since breeders are more concerned with temperament than color, it’s just a basic fact of genetics that most guide dogs are yellow or black.
In this article, we are going to don our scientist’s hats and examine this genetics issue a little more closely. There are many myths associated with chocolate Labs, and by understanding how the science of breeding operates, we can dispel many of them and demonstrate that these pups are just as capable as their blonde and black-haired brethren.
Chocolate Labs Cannot Be Guide Dogs?
There are many Labrador lovers in the world, so for us, it would be heartbreaking to find out that there might be people in need of a service dog who could not have a chocolate lab companion by their side. Thankfully, that is not the case. Although we may not see very many chocolate labs occupying this role shortly.
Even though Chocolate Labs are not excluded from serving as guide dogs, they are just less common than other breeds. Some of the most prominent breeders in the country, Guide Dogs of America, Guide Dogs for the Blind, and Southeastern Guide Dogs, all-breed Labrador Retrievers with no specific color preference.
According to Guide Dogs of America, the Labrador Retriever is the breed of dog in which they have had the greatest success. Additionally, Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds have also been successful within the organization. We at Southeast Guide Dogs and Guide Dogs for the Blind only have Labradors and Golden Retrievers in our breeding program, or a mix of the two.
These breed choices have historically been determined by the following factors, according to Guide Dogs for the Blind:
- Coat type
Even though coat color is not one of the primary traits these guide dog breeders tend to be interested in, the fact remains that most guide dogs are yellow or black Labs.
Labrador Retriever Breeding & Color Genetics
It is important first to discuss how simple genetics affects breeding practices for guide dogs. This will help explain why one sees so many of them that are black or yellow Labs. The coat color of a Lab is determined by its genes, just like the coat color of a person.
Each Labrador will have a different coat color depending on its genetic makeup, so even intentionally breeding for a specific color doesn’t guarantee the puppies will have that color. The only exception to this rule is if two yellow Labs mate, the resulting offspring will all be yellow. As yellow labs are already quite common in the United States, it’s easy to see why this cycle continues.
Yellow, Black, or Chocolate Lab
Even though there are various mixes of Labrador colorations available, genetically speaking, there are only three basic types of colors: yellow, black, and brown (chocolate). Moreover, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC), these are the only three “official” colors of the Labrador Retriever breed.
To understand how these color variations are passed from parents to pups, we need to first discuss the concept of genetics.
There are two types of genes, dominant and recessive. Depending on how the genes of each parent come together, the offspring’s visible traits will be determined by the combination of those genes. As far as the coat of a Labrador puppy is concerned, there are two types of genes, and each puppy inherits one gene from each parent.
Having a black coat is the result of a dominant “B” gene in the dog, whereas a brown coat is the result of a recessive “b” gene. This would mean if the puppy inherits one gene from each parent, the possible combinations would be:
- Coat in Black – BB
- Bb – Black coat
- bb – Brown coat
The yellow coat of a yellow lab comes from a different gene altogether, which can “override” the black and brown genes, resulting in a yellow coat. Those genes either belong to either the big “E” dominant gene or the little “e” recessive gene category. Almost every Lab will inherit one copy of the “E” gene from each parent, but depending on if it is dominant or recessive, the pup may or may not be yellow regardless of the dog’s “B” or “b” genetic makeup.
To make this concept more understandable, let’s take a look at a table with each possible genetic combination and its resulting coat color:
Genetics and Color – A Guide Dog’s Bottom Line
When you scrutinize the genetic information and color outcomes this way, it’s easy to see that it’s merely a matter of probability that results in more yellow and black Labs than browns. The breeders of guide dogs use their own breeding colonies based on temperament and health qualities, so it is more likely that puppies will be a different color than brown in the end, meaning there will be fewer chocolate Lab guide dogs.
As a result of the way that these genetic traits are passed from parent to puppy and the possibility of the masking (“E/e”) gene, even if two chocolate Labradors mate, there is still no guarantee that any of the pups in the litter will also be chocolate Labs.
chocolate labs serve as guide dogs
If a guide dog breeder is lucky enough to have a chocolate pup in their litter, the pup will receive the same training and opportunities as any other Labrador. Chocolate Labs are excellent choices for guide dogs or service animals because the breed is well suited for assisting the blind or disabled. Additionally, Labrador retrievers do not exhibit any differences in personality due to the color of their coat.
Labrador Retrievers As Service Animals
A Labrador retriever is, by far, one of the most well-suited dogs to serve as a guide dog, like breeding, history, and current research have all shown. It is a fact that the most common guide dog in the United States is a Labrador Retriever.
One of the reasons for this is that their size makes them perfectly suited for the task at hand. For a guide dog to be comfortable in its harness, its handler must be tall enough so that the dog can reach it comfortably. Additionally, a Lab’s short coat makes it ideal for those with allergies or sensitivities to the hair of pets since it does not require as much grooming as many longhaired dogs do, and it’s also better suited to those with sensitivities to pet hair.
There are probably two most important characteristics of Labradors: their mild temperament and high level of intelligence. As a result, there is enough variation among the dogs so that they can meet the needs of the various people who require service animals.
Black vs. Yellow or Chocolate
It is still unfortunate that there is still a stigma out there today surrounding the behavior of chocolate Labradors. Despite these rumors and misconceptions, chocolate Labradors are not less intelligent than black or yellow Labs, nor are they more aggressive than either.
In research on the subject, it has been shown that any variations in behavior or physical traits of the dogs are associated with whether they were working dogs versus show dogs rather than the color of their coats.
Regardless of the color of the Lab, they are among the best-trained working dogs out there. These pups are extremely eager to please, extremely hardworking, and highly intelligent. Because of this, labs are used to perform such important jobs as leading the blind, performing search and rescue, sniffing for bombs and drugs, and even working as therapy dogs.
Even though every dog has its own individual traits and personalities, there is no difference in character or ability among Labradors depending on their color.
The chocolate lab is one of those dogs you may not so often see being used as a guide dog, even though they can be seen as such. Most people consider Labrador retrievers to be the best breed to use as guides. Nonetheless, there is a rarity of a chocolate lab serving in the role, which can raise questions regarding their suitability for such an important task.
As a breed, chocolate Labradors are genetically less common than black or yellow Labradors. Together with the breeding practices for guide dogs, this leads to a simple explanation as to why there are so few chocolate lab service dogs throughout the world.
Labrador Retrievers, who constitute about 60 percent of these working dogs, have proven to be the most successful guide worldwide, mainly because there is enough variation within the breed to meet blind students’ myriad needs.
The answer to “are Labs good guard dogs” is not really. Labs have been bred to be unaggressive, friendly, and slow to bite – all traits that are not suitable for guard dogs. If you get a lab, you should not expect him or her to be a very good guard dog.
Service dogs should possess many traits, including intelligence, obedience, good memory, attention to surroundings, willingness to learn, and ability to concentrate. If a dog exhibits signs of aggression, nervousness or reacts negatively to other animals, the dog will be cut from the program.