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Chocolate Labrador's temperament and behaviour - Truebred Labradors

Over the years I have read numerous articles etc about chocolate Labrador Retrievers. Some have suggested that the behaviour of chocolate Labradors is different, say, to black or yellow Labs.

I have had numerous Labradors over the many years of breeding them, including all three colours i.e. yellow, black, and chocolate. And at the moment of writing this, I do have all three colours.

A number of years ago, having purchased two chocolate Labrador puppies from a breeder, I eventually returned them to the breeder. Mainly because they had an eye condition known as ectropion, which is believed to be hereditary and/or genetic. Hence, I did not want to breed any puppies from them that may also have this condition.

However, during the time that I did have them, I did indeed notice a very different behaviour of them compared to the various Lab puppies that I have had previously and since.

To me, their behaviour seemed more like, say, a Kelpie. They seemed much more active or excitable than the other Lab puppies I have had. They also chased some of my livestock, which none of my past Labradors had ever done.

Because of this, I have spoken to a number of Labrador breeders and Vets about the behaviour of chocolate Labradors. Some breeders suggested that the different behaviour may be attributable to the smaller gene pool for chocolate Labs. Some Vets have commented that they too have observed that chocolate Labs behave poorly compared to the other coloured Labs.

There still seems to be very mixed views or opinions about the behaviour of chocolate Labradors. I note that there seems to be a number of people that are outspoken about how good chocolate Labs are. However, I also notice that most (if not all) of these seem to be people that either breed chocolate Labradors or that have one. So, maybe there is some degree of bias?

chocolate Labrador Retriever

In trying to clarify this argument somewhat, I have found an interesting research article "Management and Personality in Labrador Retriever dogs" by researchers at the University of Nottingham. The research involved 2,200 Labrador dogs. It is a lengthy research paper and can be accessed online. Here is an interesting abstract though:

"Chocolate Labrador Retrievers were different from Black and Yellow dogs for several traits." This included that Chocolate dogs had lower trainability, and exhibited more unusual behaviour than yellow or black dogs. They were also more agitated when ignored, more excitable, and had lower fetching than black dogs."

To me, this certainly seems to support some of the various theories or opinions about chocolate Labradors. However, please bear in mind that I consider this to be a generalisation, and bit like saying, for example, people with brown eyes are more likely to commit crime.

As a generalisation, I would consider that the results of this research may suggest that chocolate Labradors may have a higher risk of having these types of reported behaviour. But I don't believe that you could argue that ALL chocolate Labs have those types of behaviour. So, from a breeding perspective, it also seems to suggest or support the theory that chocolate Labradors used for breeding need to be suitably screened from a behavioural point of view or perspective. So as to try and reduce the risk or likelihood of their pups having negative behavioural characteristics.

Also, what degree genetics or their environment impacted on these results would be interesting to be able to clearly establish. The report does seem to indicate that environmental factors may also be possibly involved.

I am pleased to report that the chocolate Labradors that I have, they do not exhibit the negative behavioural characteristics mentioned above.

Hopefully, this article is of interest and helps to at least clarify some details of Chocolate Labrador's temperament and behaviour.

The is also an article here about chocolate Labradors and their health problems.

Below is an infographic that may also be helpful and is easy to share:

chocolate Labrador Retriever traits infographic


E. Lofgren, Sarah & Wiener, Pamela & Blott, Sarah & Sanchez-Molano, Enrique & A. Woolliams, John & N. Clements, Dylan & Haskell, Marie. (2014). Management and Personality in Labrador Retriever dogs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 156. . 10.1016/j.applanim.2014.04.006. Available at Researchgate, Webcitation, and Waybackmachine.

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