Last Updated on November 11, 2023 by Linda Richard
Champagne Labrador Retrievers are as gorgeous as they are controversial – what are the main Champagne Lab vs Yellow Lab differences you need to know? Is there anything wrong with this breed? Is this the reason why they aren’t as common as yellow, black, and chocolate labs? Or are Champagne Labs as awesome as their yellow counterparts? We’ll look into all this below.
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What Are The Main Champagne Lab vs Yellow Lab Differences?
While yellow Labs are the “gold standard” for the breed, pun intended, Champagne Labs are much rarer. Still, chances are that you’ve seen a Champagne Lab at least once in your life and you’ve just thought of it as a lighter yellow Lab.
And that’s pretty much what Champagne Labs are – they are a color variation of the yellow lab that has a light yellow or almost white coat as well as a lighter nose. The reason Champagne labs aren’t as common isn’t that they don’t look good, however, to the contrary – most Champagne Labs are stunningly beautiful. However, their unique color variation simply doesn’t occur very often.
Champagne Lab vs Yellow Lab – Genetics
The answer to why Champagne Labs look how they look is hidden in their genetic makeup. More specifically – in their “D” gene. For a yellow Lab to be born with a Champagne – or “dilute yellow” – coat, the pup must have two parents with a recessive “d” gene instead of a dominant “D” gene. Here’s an easy way to visualize this:
- A standard yellow Lab has DD gene alleles
- Yellow Labs can also have Dd gene alleles
- Champagne Labs can only have the rare dd gene allele combination
Because this recessive “d” gene is rare and because both parents have to have it, Champagne Labs simply aren’t born that often. Unless, of course, a breeder tries to breed them specifically.
What’s The Cause Of The Unique Champagne Labrador Retriever Genetic Makeup?
The exact reason for the presence of the recessive “d” gene in Champagne Labs isn’t clear. There are three theories, however:
- It has always been there – Labradors were officially recognized as a breed by the AKC in 1917 so we have little record of this breed from before this point. However, it’s entirely possible that this gene was always there.
- Dog breeders introduced the “d” gene by mixing Labradors with Weimaraner. The “d” gene is common in the Weimaraner breed and we know that these dogs were mixed with Labradors quite often in the past.
- The “d” gene was introduced in the Labrador gene pool accidentally by crosses with Weimaraners before the Labrador breed was standardized.
Whichever of the three theories is correct, the fact is that the “d” gene is now present in the Labrador gene pool and Champagne Labradors are here to stay.
Champagne Lab vs Yellow Lab – Price
Because Champagne Labs are both gorgeous and rarer than standard yellow Labs, their price is also quite a bit higher. The exact price of either color type can vary greatly from state to state and from country to country, of course.
However, for a quick comparison, the average price of a purebred yellow Lab puppy in the US is typically between $800 and $1,200. For Champagne Lab puppies this isn’t the average but the bare minimum. Instead, these dogs are often sold for as much as $2,000, $3,000, or more.
Whether you find that to be worth it or not is entirely up to you. After all, the main cost for owning a dog is still in the repeating food and vet bills not so much in the initial price.
Champagne Lab vs Yellow Lab – Health
So, the main difference between the Champagne and yellow Lab is in their coat’s and nose’s color. Are there any other differences, however, specifically in the health area?
Yes and no.
Strictly speaking, the only difference between Champagne Labs and yellow Labs is their coat color- nothing else. In fact, that’s why a lot of kennel clubs don’t even recognize Champagne Labs – they view them as just yellow Labs with a lighter, diluted color. So, if you’re getting a Champagne Lab you shouldn’t need to worry about any extra health risks or concerns.
However, because Champagne Labs are rarer and pricier, they are also often subjected to inadequate breeding practices. There are a lot of disreputable dog breeders out there who happily turn their back on the recommended breeding practices just so they can breed as many puppies as possible.
- Hip and elbow dysplasia
- Hereditary eye diseases
- Heart problems
- GDV – Gastric Dilation-Volvus or Bloating
So, while a Champagne Lab doesn’t inherently have increased health risks, many Champagne Lab puppies end up with more pronounced problems than standard yellow Labs.
That’s why it’s important to never purchase Champagne Labrador puppies from pet stores, puppy mills, or from untrustworthy breeders. If you do so, you’ll risk getting a pup with certain unfavorable genetic predispositions and health problems. Moreover, you’ll also finance and promote a breeder who’ll continue breeding such pups and sell them to people.
Champagne Lab vs Yellow Lab – Size, Training, Sociability, and Other Characteristics
There are no discernable differences between Champagne and yellow Labs in any other area. This includes training, size, energy levels, sociability, or others. For all intents and purposes, these two Labrador types are identical. It’s only the slight color difference that puts them apart.
Other Similar Lab Variants
The yellow Lab isn’t the only Labrador that can have a diluted color variation. Just like the Champagne Lab is the diluted color variant of the yellow Lab, Silver Labs are diluted chocolate Labs and Charcoal Labs are diluted black Labs. In all three cases, the cause for the different coat and nose colors is the presence of the recessive “d” gene.
Learn more about: How Fast Can A Lab Run and Do These Dogs Make For Good Running Buddies?
Champagne Lab vs Yellow Lab – Which Should You Choose?
All in all, Champagne Labs are just lighter yellow Labs. If you like the champagne color and you find a healthy puppy, there’s no reason not to get such a dog. As long as you’re fine with the increased price tag and you only work with reputable breeders, there’s no drawback to Champagne Labs.