Rebuttals to the
Pheasants Forever Magazine
published an article on the "silvers" so full of inaccuracies
that we asked Sharon A. Wagner, a geneticist and breeder of Labrador
Retrievers, to comment. Here is her letter to the editors of Pheasants
Dear Pheasants Forever,
I was absolutely shocked and dismayed
by the poor journalism presented in your publication. The author
clearly did not research the subject matter whatsoever and aside
from presenting information that is factual incorrect, he states
his biased and inexperienced opinion as fact. Isn’t it common
practice to research both sides of a debate?
I would like to discredit the “facts”
the author stated. The authors words are in italics.
“Unique dogs with striking
good looks, silver Labs evolved as the product of a recessive gene
combination in chocolate Labs. Subsequent breedings have proven
the silver color to be a replicable genetic trait with silver/silver
breedings producing litters of all silver pups. The spike in availability
of silver Labs dovetails with the growth in the number of chocolate
No silver (more appropriately deemed
dilute) Labradors evolved in a very small population of field type
Labradors in the United States and were first recognized in the
late 1980’s and early 1990’s. The dilute gene is a separate
gene from the black/chocolate gene. In its homozygous recessive
form it can dilute any coat color equally. Chocolate Labradors have
increased, however there are no dilute Labradors in show or pet
type Labradors. Only those with ancestors and pedigrees tracing
back to those first discovered are dilute.
“The silver Labrador shows
up in three variations – light silver (similar in color to
a Weimeraner), charcoal silver (best described as a dusty or smoky
black, and silver factored chocolate.”
This is just absolutely wrong and
any silver breeder worth anything will correct this misinformation
as well. The dilute Labrador can be three colors – dilute
yellow (Champagne), dilute chocolate (Silver), and dilute black
(Charcoal). A dog may carry one copy of the dilute gene and be “silver
factored” and be any of the three correct colors of yellow,
chocolate, or black.
“A few breeders on the
lunatic fringe decry the advancement of the silver Lab as a detrimental
to the breed. Canine historians will tell you they made the same
argument against yellow Labs earlier in the last century and again
against chocolates when they started showing up more frequently
after World War II.”
Lunatic fringe? A few breeders?
How about the entire national parent club to the AKC - the Labrador
Retriever Club, Inc. On their website they clearly state their negative
opinion of the color combination: http://www.thelabradorclub.com/subpages/show_detail_news.php?nid=3
Yellow and chocolate Labradors were always present alongside of
black during the origins of the breed in the UK. Never has a silver
or dilute dog been mentioned or produced anywhere else in the world
aside from the United States. The Labrador gained popularity in
the UK prior to being imported here and chocolate Labradors are
produced there today as well without a single silver.
“Detrimental to the breed?
Hardly. DNA testing on silver Labs by investigators from AKC several
years back concluded 'There was no reason to doubt that the dogs
were pure bred Labrador retrievers.'”
No absolutely incorrect. This is
very easy to research. THERE HAS NEVER BEEN DNA TESTING ON SILVER
DOGS TO PROVE THEY ARE PUREBRED OR NOT! First of all “DNA
testing” by the AKC is to check parentage only. They do not
apply such methods to prove a dog is “purebred”.
In 1987 a representative from the AKC and the LRC visited Culo Kennels
and inspected their facility and record keeping. The color was just
identified at that time and the investigators were satisfied with
the inspection and directed the owner to register the dogs as chocolate.
The dilute color is a disqualification
per the LRC AND the AKC and thus purposefully breeding for a disqualification
IS in fact detrimental to a breed. All breeds have a standard to
which breeders should adhere to as much as possible – it is
the goal of reputable breeders and the reason for purebred dog registries.
Breeding a trait that a small population deems “unique”
or “pretty” is detrimental to keeping the qualities
of a particular breed.
Aside from all of these facts presented
it is also widely known that silver Labrador breeders are in general
irresponsible breeders due to the lack of any health clearances
run and the lack of participation in competitions to deem their
breeding stock worthy of reproducing. They are in it to make money
and blatantly lie about the origin and importance of their dogs.
Sharon A. Wagner