Which Lab Color is the Smartest?

October 01, 2016

By, Julie Morrill

This is another of our most frequently asked questions. Is there a Lab coloration that determines how smart a dog will be? The short answer is no. A dog’s intelligence is based on breeding, not coat color.

If people have been exposed to a gray matter-challenged dog of any color they tend to think that dogs of that particular color have less intelligence than those of other colors. Almost weekly someone tells us that chocolates are dumber than blacks and yellows, yellow Labs are smarter than black Labs, chocolate Labs are smarter than black Labs, etc. It's clearly based on people's individual experiences. If you follow field trial hunting dogs, you might tend to think black Labs are higher in intelligence than other colors, because there are simply more black Labs in that world. If you spend more time with therapy and service dogs, you might think that yellow Labs are the highest intelligence of any other color Lab. However, when it comes to chocolates, many tend to think that they are less intelligent than Labrador Retrievers of other colors...and there's actually a legitimate reason for that.

If you have noticed that chocolate Labs are less intelligent, less well-behaved, and more spastic than Labs of other colors, it may not be your imagination. This is because most chocolate breedings in the United States are what we call "backyard" or irresponsible breedings.* Unfortunately, many breeders have focused more effort on getting the chocolate coat color than intelligence or temperament. I'm not saying that intelligent chocolate Labs don't exist outside of responsible kennels like ours, but an intelligent chocolate Lab is certainly less common than other colors. We have been working hard (and successfully, I might add) to change that trend here at Marble Mountain Kennels. You will not find a dumb chocolate Lab in any of our breedings, because we only breed calmer, more even-tempered dogs with a higher intelligence. Look at our dogs’ pedigrees. Having champion hunting dogs in your dog’s pedigree may not seem all that important, but it is an indicator of intelligence and how easily a dog can be trained. Do you see all the red lettering in our dogs’ pedigrees? It reveals higher levels of training and championship awards, which can only be achieved by highly intelligent dogs, and that higher intelligence is clearly manifested in our dogs’ offspring.

Thankfully, the color of the dog makes no difference whatsoever at Marble Mountain Kennels. Any dog you get from us, regardless of color, will be intelligent, so it's a non-issue. After people buy a dog from us, we always hear, "We've never seen such a smart dog!"

*Please note that we have nothing against many families who choose to breed their dogs at home and experience the whelping process. If we had not first gained the knowledge and joy of breeding and birthing puppies in our own home we wouldn't be where we are today. We do, however, oppose the unplanned, haphazard, irresponsible manner in which many dogs are bred, due to a lack of neutering/spaying.

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