What is a Dilute Labrador Gene ?

What is a Dilute Labrador Gene ?

A dilute Labrador has all the same wonderful qualities as any other Labrador Retriever. They are not watered down with another breed They excel as well-rounded family pets, hunting partners, search and rescue workers, scent dogs, therapy dogs, agility competitors, dock diving fanatics, couch patatos and much much more.

The only difference between a dilute labrador Retriever and the more typical "traditional" Labrador Retriever is their coat color.

Coat color in dogs is determined genetically and there are several genes involved. At its most basic, Labrador Retrievers can be Black, Chocolate or Yellow.

In dogs, as in humans, genes occur in pairs. One gene is contributed by each parent. The resulting combination of genes, with some being dominant and some being recessive, determine what color the dog will be.

The two main players when it comes to the color of a Labrador Retriever are the "B" and the "E" genes. Parents contribute a dominant (expressed as a capital letter "B" or "E") or recessive (expressed as the littel letter "b" or "e") version of each of these genes to their offspring. Depending on what the dog inherits from both parents will determine its coat color.

  • The "B" determines weather the dog will be black or chocolate. Dogs that inherit a dominant version of this gene ("B") from either one or both parents will be black. If a dog inherits two recessive versions of this gene ("bb"), it will be chocolate.
  • The "E" gene determines weather the dog will be yellow. The only time this gene has an effect is when the dog inherits two recessive versions ("ee") from its parents. When this occurs, the coat color of the dog will be yellow, regardless of the "B" gene.

There are other genes, some yet to be isolated from the DNA strand, that impact the shades of the base colors allowing the chocolate coat color to vary from light to dark and the yellow coat color to vary from creamy white to deep fox red.

But the gene that comes into play with dilute Labradors is another gene alltogether called the "D" gene (or more officially, the Melanophilin or MLPH gene).

Like the yellow color gene, the only time "D" gene has an effect is when the dog inherits two ressive versions ("dd") from its parents. When this occurs, the coat color of the dog appears diluted:

  • Black appears charcoal or dusty black
  • Chocolate appears silver or taupe
  • Yellow appears champagne

So what is really happening? Are Charcoal, Silver and Champagne three OTHER colors of the Labrador Retriever?

No the "D" gene does not change the color of the Labrador. A dilute Labrador is still a Black, Chocolate or Yellow Labrador Retriever (depending on what it inherited for the other genes).

Whats really happened can only be seen under a microscope. When a Labrador inherits two recessive versions of the "D" gene ("d"), its base color (Black, Chocolate, or Yellow) ends up being SCATTERED along the hair shafts instead of being laid down uniformly and solidly. to our less-than-perceptive eyes, what we see is a diluted base color!

Because dilute Labradors are genetically Black, Chocolate or Yellow. The American Kennel Club registers them as their TRUE color, instead of the color we preceive them to be.

Their are many genes involved in determining a Labradors coat color. All dogs have the exact same genes. Here is a fairly simple explanation for these genes & how they work in Labradors & how we get each color.

  • "A" this gene is a solid color.
  • "EE" this is a masking gene or epistatic gene so coat color is determined by the "B" gene.
  • "Ee" is the same as "EE" except the yellow gene is present.
  • "ee" if this gene is present the coat color is always yellow. 

Unless "ee" is present the other genes below determine coat color.

  • "BB" If this is the determining then the coat color will be Black.
  • "Bb" If this gene is present the coat color will be Black but will also have be chocolate.
  • "bb" If this is the determining gene then the coloe coat will be chocolate.
  • "dd" This is the recessive dilute gene. When this gene is present in both parents the coat color can be Silver, Charcoal or Champagne.

Depending on which genes above are present or are turned on or working.

Here is a gene chart explaining the 3 common colors, Black, Yellow & Chocolate.

Their are 81 possible crosses between parents for coat color in the litter outcome.

Black:

  • EE BB Black only                                                                                                      
  • Ee BB Black / Yellow carrier
  • EE Bb Black / Chocolate carrier
  • Ee Be Black / Yellow & chocolate carrier

Yellow:

  • ee BB Yellow / Black carrier
  • ee Be Yellow / Black & Chocolate carrier
  • ee bb Yellow/ Chocolate carrier

Chocolate:

  • EEbb Chocolate only
  • Ee bb Chocolate / Yellow carrier

When "dd" (dilute gene) is involved & both parents are a dilute color. Their are 81 possible crosses between parents for coat color in the litter outcome. Here is a gene chart explaining the 3 Dilute colors in Labradors.

Charcoal: 

  • EE BB dd Charcoal only
  • Ee bb dd Charcoal / Champagne carrier
  • EEbb dd Charcoal / Champagne carrier                         

Champagne:

  • ee BB dd Champagne / Charcaol carrier
  • ee Bb dd Champagne / Charcoal & Silver carrier
  • ee Bb dd Champagne / Silver carrier

Silver:

  • EE bb dd Silver only
  • Ee bb dd Silver / Champagne carrier

If both parents have the "dd" (dilute gene) & one or both are not a dilute color there are 162 possible crosses between parents for coat color in the litter outcome. If this is the case their is a possibility of all 6 colors in a single litter.