This dog, Buccleuch Avon (1855) is considered by most to be the founding sire of what is today’s Chocolate Labrador. As you can see, he is black himself.
There are three official colours of Labrador, Black, Yellow, Chocolate – but as we know, many shades, particularly of the yellows.
There’s quite a lot of debate in Lab circles about the ‘missing link’; the dog who brought the chocolate in.
Some people say there have always been Chocolate labs, but that they were just never registered so can’t really be traced.
Others suggest the missing link is not a Labrador, but a Chesapeake Bay retriever bringing the colour. That would be my theory too.
This is why the whole notion of ‘purebred’ has to be taken with a big pinch of salt.
Lots of different breeds and selective breeding goes in to the creation of a breed in the first place and then, for some reason, it stops and lines get narrower – which is bad.
Ever wonder how a totally new dog breed gets created? Crossbreeding! We have the breeds we have because of crossbreeding. Purebred, pedigree dogs only came in to existence because breeders crossed and selectively bred to get them here.
One of the reasons why dogs have suffered such terrible health problems is A) Breeding for exaggerated traits that directly hinder health, such as short muzzles or excessively wrinkly skin and B Breeders working with a closed registry system.
Personally, I think the other problem that is less discussed is the public. Public desire/demand for dogs that are inherently unhealthy and in many cases, outright disabled.
As with puppy farming, whilst a demand exists to reward bad breeding, bad breeders can thrive.
Encouraging people to want the healthiest dog rather than the on-trend dog du jour seems like a really tough nut to crack but we must continue to try.
Educating the public on the need to demand health over all should be the highest priority as well as legislating against breeders who deliberately create dogs doomed to a life of ill health.