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Brindle Lab – Essential Breed Information (2023 Edition)

Brindle Labrador | Discover The Breed

The brindle coloration in dogs is a beautiful coat with alternating light and dark stripes in a variety of color combinations. Brindles are common in breeds such as Boxers, Bulldogs and Greyhounds.

This color pattern can be very striking! 

Sara Ochoa

Dr. Sara Redding Ochoa | Doctor Of Veterinary Medicine

Sara is PuppyDogger’s Veterinarian Adviser and helped compose this article to ensure the information is up to date and accurate. For more information on Sara click here

However, it is not a color pattern that is traditional for Labs, leading some to believe that a brindled Labrador Retriever can’t be a true Lab. This article will explore that controversy as well share some other interesting information on this beautiful coloration.

What About Labrador Retrievers?

The Labrador Retriever has been ranked the most popular dog in the United States by the AKC for nearly three decades. They have fantastic personalities: kid savvy, dog friendly, smart, and eager to please! What else could you want in a dog?

Labrador Retrievers with brindle coats are usually quite attractive and unique looking. Some owners want to know if the brindle coloration in Labs is a sign of poor breeding or breed impurity.

The AKC breed standard for Labrador Retrievers includes only the colors Black, Yellow and Chocolate. In fact, brindle coloration in Labradors is an explicit disqualification for the show ring. This means that if a Lab has a brindle coat, they cannot compete to represent the breed.

This has led some to believe that if a Labrador Retriever does not have one of those three color variations, it cannot be purebred Lab, however this is not true. Brindle Labrador Retrievers can, in fact, come from very solid purebred bloodlines.

What About a Reverse Brindle Lab?

There are two types of brindle that can occur, although the difference is more about aesthetics than genetics. A brindle coloration is dark stripes on a lighter coat, and a reverse brindle is the opposite. Labs come in both variations.

Reverse brindle Labs usually appear darker, in some cases, almost black or dark brown. In the summertime, they may lighten up from the sun and the lighter stripes may pop a bit more against the dark background fur.

Where Does The Brindle Lab Color Come From?

Brindle coloration comes from genetics, specifically the part of the genome called the K-locus. For any dog to be a brindle, they need to have a recessive k gene passed on from both parents. This is the same for other lab types such as the Champagne Lab.

In breeds that commonly have brindle coats, the odds of the recessive gene for brindle to occur are much higher because many of the dogs in those breeds carry the gene. However, in Labs the recessive gene is rare, and so brindle colored labs are also quite rare.

Because the breed standard disqualifies the brindle coloration, it has historically been an undesirable trait, and thus, breeders would try to avoid coupling dogs that produced brindled puppies.

Such puppies were culled (that is, killed) or simply neutered to keep them from adding their genes to champion blood lines in the breed. Over time, this selective breeding has worked to keep the brindle recessive gene a rarely occurring gene in the breed.

Since brindle Labradors are not able to compete in competitions, top of the line breeders may still avoid pairing dogs that produce brindle puppies because they want to produce as many show champions in their bloodline as possible. Hence, the coloration remains rare.

Brindle Labrador Puppy

Are Brindle Coated Labradors Different In Other Ways?

Some people have contributed to rumors that brindle Labradors are somehow genetically inferior, more prone to sickness, or in-bred. These rumors aren’t true.

Very reputable breeders of Labrador Retrievers sometimes produce these gorgeous puppies who are every bit as pure bred as their Chocolate, Yellow and Black litter-mates.

The only difference between a Labrador Retriever with this color variation and solid colored Labs, is the color of the coat. You can expect the same great temperament and overall health of the breed to present in any responsibly bred brindle coated Lab.

Some people actually appreciate the rare beauty of these dogs, going out of their way to seek them out. If you are interested in a show dog, then a brindle coat lab is definitely not a good choice for you since the AKC and most other national kennel clubs will disqualify your dog for this coloration.

As long as you are not planning on showing your pedigreed dog, then these striped Labs are a perfectly fine choice!

Brindle Labradors & Responsible Breeding.

Because rare colorations can create special interest from buyers and boost sale prices, there is sometimes an incentive for unscrupulous breeders to try to create the color by mixing Labs with common brindle coated breeds such as Boxers.

Rare colorations and trends, such as brindle Labs, are a favorite target for puppy mills as well. When profit motives are in play, often the dogs being bred suffer cramped and unclean conditions as well as various forms of abuse and neglect. No one wants to support such practices, but if you don’t know where your puppy comes from, you just might be handing your dollars over to support these unethical breeders.

Use a little extra caution with breeders that are going out of their way to produce brindle coated Labs. Not all of them are bad seeds, but it is worth the extra effort to make sure.

As always, the best way to avoid poor breeding is to check the reputation of your breeder, make sure they have a line of dogs that include champions in the show ring, and ask for references from other customers.

In addition, insist on an on-site visit at your breeder’s home or kennel. No reputable breeder will ever deny you access to where they breed and raise their puppies!

Don’t be put off if they ask you to sign a contract to maintain certain conditions or promise to give your dog back if you have to rehome your dog at some point in the future. These are the signs of responsible breeders that have a lifetime commitment to the puppies they are breeding.

If you do your homework to make sure you are dealing with a reputable breeder, then you can buy a brindle Lab with absolute confidence and expect them to have all of the great qualities of the most popular breed in the U.S.

Sharon Elber (M.S. in Science & Technology) – Professional Dog Trainer

Sharon is a professional dog trainer with over 10 years experience. She is also a professional writer that received her M.S. in Science & Technology Studies from Virginia Tech.For more info on Sharon click here

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    1. Hi Ashley,

      I don’t own a brindle lab, just did a lot of research into it! I doubt many people would specifically aim to breed brindle colored Labradors which would add to their rarity. Checkout shelters etc.

    2. I have one if you want her. She is only aroynd 5 months old so to young to spay. But she’s had her shots is hoyse broke and kennel trained. And for some reason under the impression she is a lap dog… itsmiki123@gmail.com

  1. I’ve never seen a brindle lab.but now i have one,she was the only one in a family of black labs.i love her markings.she is the friendliest dog i ever had,she loves kids,and other dogs.and was easy to train,i wouldn’t trade her or give her up for nothing

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