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Can Purebred Labradors Have White on Them?

Labrador Retrievers are a highly popular dog breed of which the American Kennel Club officially recognizes three coat colors: chocolate, yellow, and black. But what about white? Can purebred Labradors have white on them?

Purebred Labs can have white on them, such as white patches in their coat. The white fur results from a genetic variation known as “white spotting” and is not an indication of mixed breeding. White spots will often disappear when they get their first adult coat, but sometimes, they will remain. 

In this article, we’ll discuss the following:

  • Can purebred Labs have white on them?
  • Which types of Labs have white markings?
  • What is a mismarked Labrador?
  • How to tell a purebred Labrador
Can Purebred Labs Have White on Them?
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To learn all about pedigree Labradors with white on them, read on!

Can Purebred Labs Have White On Their Chest? 

Purebred Labs can have white on their chest, and this is not uncommon. It may be due to inherited genes from the extinct St. John’s Water Dog. Labradors may also have white markings on their legs, feet, and tail, and these are known as mismarks. 

The St. John’s Water Dog, the Labrador’s predecessor, was known to have white markings on the chest, paws, and muzzle. These markings were carried down through the generations of the first Labradors bred in England before ultimately being bred out of the line.

While it does happen occasionally, it does not mean that your dog is not purebred. You may, however, not be able to register your dog as a show dog because of the markings. According to the AKC official standard for the Labrador breed, this is acceptable, though not ideal. 

My dog had white chest markings as a pup. However, these soon faded and blended into her adult coat. I was gutted, really, as I liked them as I thought they gave her some individuality and made her easily recognizable!

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Can Purebred Labs Have White Spots? 

White spots or sporadic markings are also fairly common among purebred Labradors. White spots are usually determined by the genes on the S locus and are caused when the dog’s skin cells can’t produce any pigment, so the fur becomes white.

In fact, spots of almost any color can occur, including specs of black, red, or both on brown fur, known as brindling. Sometimes white spots and brindling can occur together.

Though these don’t indicate that your Lab is not purebred, it can affect where they qualify as show dogs. Labs with white spots or brindling, for example, cannot be shown according to the AKC. 

Learn More About “White Spotting” in This YouTube Video…

Dog Colour Genetics: Part 6 - White Spotting, Ticking and Roan

Can Purebred Labradors Have White Markings? 

Purebred Labs can have white markings, and this is no reflection of their pedigree. White markings tend to occur on the dog’s extremities, such as the tips of the paws, muzzle, chest, and tail. They occur when the cell’s pigment doesn’t migrate fully in the developing embryo.

This is referred to as residual white and can sometimes be caused by a minor illness in the mother. These dogs are often called mismarked Labradors. Despite the moniker, however, this can affect Labs of any type, not just mixes. 

As mentioned above, white spotting in Labrador’s coats is linked to the locus S gene – located near the MITF gene. White spotting on the paws can appear on one, all four, or any combination of them.

Can I Get a Black Lab with White Markings? 

Many black Labs – even purebreds – may have white markings. There are several types of mark patterns. These might indicate mixed parentage, or they might simply mean that your dog inherited specific genes

Can Purebred Labs Have White on Their Chest?

Types of markings generally fall into one of a few categories: Bolo spots, black and tan marks, brindling, Honcho rings, and mosaic markings. Of these, Bolo spots, rings, and mosaic marks may be white. 

Bolo Spots

Bolo spots are inherited from a champion Labrador sire named Banchory Bolo, who lived in England from 1917 to 1925. Bolo spots are small patches of white hair that may appear sporadically on the feet. They are usually behind the front feet (specifically, behind the metacarpal/metatarsal pads) of some dogs.

If you hope to show your Labrador, don’t worry too much about Bolo spots docking them points as they aren’t considered a mismark. Judges usually disregard these markings since they are widespread among purebreds. 

It is not uncommon for puppies to be born with Bolo spots that either fade as they age or eventually disappear under black or brown fur.

Honcho Rings

Rings of white may appear around the tail of some Labs, particularly the black variety. This indicates that their ancestry includes San Joaquin Honcho, a Lab in the United States in the 1980s. 

While Honcho himself did not have the distinctive tail ring, he passed the trait on to many of his children. It is still seen frequently among purebred Labradors to this day.

Mosaic Marks

A mosaic or chimera fur pattern means that a Labrador has a coat consisting of various colors. Some people say that it looks like the coat is stitched together from the coats of other dogs. 

This trait is rare. It is striking and may include yellow, white, red, brown, or red. Mosaic coats are the result of certain recessive genes. 

Can I Get a Yellow Lab with White Markings? 

Yellow Labradors may also have white markings in a similar pattern. The main difference is that these are a bit more difficult to distinguish, thanks to the light color of their coat. However, yellow Labs, just like any other color, can be mismarked. 

Can I Get a Chocolate Lab with a White Spot on Its Chest? 

Chocolate Lab with White Spot on Chest

Like other colors of Labradors, chocolate Labs may have white spots on their chest, paws, tails, or other parts of their body. As with the other types, they are classified by the AKC as permissible but not desirable. 

So if you have been wondering, “Why does my chocolate Lab puppy have white hair?” you should know that white spots on dogs, even purebreds, are completely normal. 

You may also notice your Labrador of any color developing more white patches as he gets older. This should not be surprising since dogs, just like people, get white hair as they age! 

What is a Mismarked Labrador? 

A mismarked Labrador is one with any variation of color outside of the standard coat colors of chocolate, black, and yellow. Despite this, it is important to remember that Labradors naturally have mismarkings, although they are rare. They do not mean that your dog has mixed ancestry. 

Not every mismark will keep you from showing your Labrador. Some, such as the white spots mentioned above, are permissible and will be overlooked by judges. 

If you don’t plan on showing your dog, mismarks can be beneficial. Breeders often sell mismarked puppies for a lower price than their unicolored siblings, and they are just as friendly, smart, and loving as any other Labrador Retriever.

Can I Show My Lab If It Has White Patches?

Not every variation in fur color is considered a mismark. Some smaller marks, such as on the chest, still allow you to show your dog in competitions. 

However, you can likely expect your Labrador to be marked down in its final score because the patches are considered less ideal than a pure coat. Despite this, breeders and judges generally understand that a mismarked coat is not an indication of mixed parentage. 

It’s a similar situation in purebred long-haired Labs which are also heavily penalized in conformation for their fluffy coats.

How to Tell a Purebred Labrador

You might have found this article if you were wondering if your Lab is a true pedigree. The best way to tell is by checking your dog’s papers. But what if you don’t have any pedigree papers or you don’t know the dog’s history if you got him from the local shelter? In that case, how do you tell if your Labrador is purebred?

To tell a purebred Labrador (without pedigree papers), compare your dog to the official breed standard or consult an expert such as a vet, breeder, or dog behaviorist. You can also compare the dog’s temperament and behavior to see if it conforms to the breed or arrange a DNA test.

The quickest and easiest way to tell a purebred Lab is to get a dog DNA kit, such as the Embark Breed Identification Dog DNA Test from Amazon. Vets have developed this cool piece of kit. It screens over 350 breeds, and you can even see a family tree and connect with other doggos that share your dog’s DNA. They claim to be more than twice as accurate as their competitors, and with over 7000 positive reviews on Amazon, the majority of these are 5 stars which makes me trust their claims.

Final Thoughts

White marks and patches are common on Labradors of all colors, even those with purebred ancestry. The reasons for this are varied and complex, depending on genetics and parentage. 

The only real reason ever to avoid getting a puppy with white patches is if you plan to show it. However, if you want a purebred Lab as a pet, don’t rule out one with brindling or other fur variations. These dogs still make wonderful pets, regardless of the color of their fur.

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  • Sharon Waddington

    Sharon Waddington is the founder of World of Dogz. With over 30 years of experience working with dogs, this former Police Officer has seen it all. But it’s her trusty German Shepherd, Willow, who steals the show as the inspiration behind this website. As Sharon’s constant companion Willow has played a pivotal role in shaping her passion for dogs. Find her on Linkedin!