Other Attacks

      When it comes to those few that have taken a very public stand against Silver Labradors, there is no question that the biased positions espoused by WigWag have played a significant role in their postings and websites. Some even directly quote WigWag...or at least claim to, since the quotes don't always match up with other statements made by WigWag. With this recognition, the vast majority of the claims made by the other vocal Silver Lab haters have already been addressed in the rebuttals to WigWag's Diatribe. As you review the comments made by these others, refer to the WigWag Diatribe for concise and factual rebuttals. There are, however, a couple different assertions made by these breeders, which will be addressed here.
      Of interest to note is that all these breeders, 5 or so counting WigWag, are Show Lab breeders. One does not find anything equal to these horrible attacks from the Field Lab community, nor does the vast, innumerable cohort of hobby breeders produce such venomous hatred. To say the Labrador Retriever Community is represented by these couple kennels, hell-bent on discrediting the Silver Labrador, would be a far-fetched stretch. No doubt there are some in each of these circles that oppose Silver Labs, but in truth, their opposition has been based on the outlandish claims of the 5 or so hard-core haters. The overwhelming majority of Labrador enthusiasts likely are indifferent, if not supportive of the Silver Labrador...most have never even seen one in person due to their comparative rarity.
      If you have previously opposed Silver Labs, you would do yourself a favor to carefully research the rebuttals made here and refocus your efforts to form your own personally informed opinion, rather than accepting the prejudiced claims of those with a personal vendetta against Silver Labs. Hear both sides, seek out the facts for yourself. If you do this honestly with yourself, you may be surprised as you discover that the Silver Lab Truth is much different than the haters want you to believe. 

The Rest of the Pack

      This page is almost, in its entirety, a republication of WigWag's diatribes and it is cited as her production. 
      One thing that this and the other sites do, in addition, is to quote comments made by supposed Silver Lab breeders.  Though most of the comments used by these others cannot be independently verified as authentic, this provides an opportune moment to address the disparity among Silver Lab breeders.  Just as these sites claim, there are many Silver Lab breeders that are doing their dogs a disservice by not caring about much of anything in their breeding practices other than the color of their Labs.  This is unfortunate for the puppies they produce as much as it is for the new owners that buy the puppies.  So, it would be little surprise if the quotes used by "the rest of the pack" are authentic as there are obviously people breeding Silver Labs that have such minimal knowledge of breeding and the breed that they have no business breeding.  Fortunately, there are more and more Silver Labrador breeders that are breeding to Improve their Labs.  They breed in titled non-silver lines, do health checks, train and title their Silvers, and stand behind their puppies.  They understand breeding, the Labrador breed, and most have a more profound knowledge of genetics than the other Labrador breeder circles.  It is these Improvement breeders that are successfully carrying the Silver Lab forward.  It is these Improvement breeders that one should seek out if they desire a sound Labrador puppy, Silver or not.  

Blue Knight
      This site echos many of the claims made by WigWag but includes significant commentary that merits further examination.  

      It starts out discussing "White" Labs and how they are really just Yellow Labs.  This is correct the same way that a Silver is a light shade of Chocolate.  The terms "Silver" and "White" are only adjectives that are commonly used to describe the shade of acceptable color, Chocolate and Yellow, respectively.  If one were to be totally technical, then no one would use the terms Silver or White when talking about Labrador colors, but Chocolate and Yellow instead.  However, the reality is that these adjectives best describe the appearance of the coat of these Labs, and as such, they are both commonly used.  Additionally, and importantly, both Silver and White shades are the result of modifying genes.  These are genes that alter the expression of another.  In Silver it is the "d" gene, in White Labs it is believed to be the "c" gene or "i" gene.  Some people argue that genes that alter the appearance of a standard color are not allowable in the breed.  Nothing could be more contrary to the truth, were that so, the Yellow Lab would be in a sore state being ostracized from the breed!

      The site states that there is no "d/d locus" in Labrador Retrievers.  This is incorrect from a genetic stand point.  There is no such thing as a "d/d locus!"  The term "Locus" is used by geneticists to identify "Locations" on chromosomes where certain alleles can be found.  In the case of Labradors, and in reality, most mammals, there is always a D locus (D means "Dilution").  What this site was apparently meaning to say is that it is their belief that there is no d allele in purebred Labradors.  A claim that can never  be substantiated in that "d" is recessive and can be carried (Dd) indefinitely with no one knowing it is there.

      Laughable is the link to the vetgen website to suggest that there are no color charts for the dilution gene.  But if you go there, guess what, sure enough, a chart for the d gene...d also being a gene to test for in Labradors.  The site claims that Silver breeders do not DNA test their dogs for parentage or color, again a gross fallacy.  They suggest that since DNA testing, as we know it today, was not available in the mid 1980's that there is no way to prove Silvers are not the product of crossbreeding.  Fortunately, there are newer Silver Lab lines that do have their DNA testing in order, proving parentage is correct, disproving the crossbreeding claims.

      A commonly used assertion is that "since I breed chocolate Labs (for # amount of years) and have never produced a Silver Lab, this means the d gene is not in Labradors."  The only thing that such a statement, if truthful, actually proves is that the dogs they have used do not have the d gene themselves.  More importantly is the completely incorrect assertion that one must have Chocolate lines to have the dilution gene, nothing could be further form the truth!  The lines that have produced dilutes (silver, charcoal or champagne), have come from lines that have Yellow Labs immediately behind them in their pedigrees.  This little discussed fact is critical in the Silver Lab debate.  Why?  Dilution is near impossible to see in Yellow Labs with black noses, particularly considering that black noses in Yellow Labs commonly fade to lighter, gray shades, sometimes even turning mostly pink (snow nose).  Before the end of the twentieth century, no one would even think to question if a Yellow was dilute or not.  Once the Chocolate Lab produced a dilute shade (Silver), making it apparent that the Labrador Retriever breed carried the d gene, would the question even be asked of a Yellow.  Chocolates were uncommon until the 1970-1980s, it was not until they took off in numbers that the dilution become obvious.  With the d gene being harbored in the Yellow lines, not obvious to the eye, carriers of the trait were continually bred and the gene preserved.  Pedigree research into the Silver lines (backed by Yellow lines) is now telling us that the gene appears to have remained hidden in plain sight!              

      The payment to obtain pedigree copies did apparently happen with the Culo kennel for a time.  Once the internet became common, websites and email, their pedigrees were freely provided.   Today, many Silver breeders post their pedigrees on their websites and if they do not, they are usually willing to provide them through email.  This is a seriously out of date claim that is inappropriately applied to all silver breeders.  

      The Silver Labrador Registry.  This "registry" apparently existed for a short time in the 1990's and was developed by a handful of silver breeders as a means to track the Labrador lines that carried the dilution gene.  It is obvious the effort failed as one rarely finds even mention of it today, even from Silver Labrador breeders.  Silver Labradors remain unquestionably American Kennel Club (AKC) registered!  So too have they been registered internationally under the purview of their respective country Kennel Clubs.

      This site concludes with photos of overdone show Labs compared to Weimaraners and selections from their breed standards.  It is worth revisiting the rebuttal to WigWag's Diatribe #4 for a more objective approach to this.  The author does point out that they have recently retracted the Kellogg Weim claim from their website in that its truthfulness has been put into serious question.  It makes one wonder what other details these silver hating breeders have lied about.

Wind Dreamer
      Much of the attacks here are addressed in the WigWag and Blue Knight rebuttals.  To say the site is outdated is a serious understatement.  This site goes to great length to villainize the breeders of Silvers Labradors, taking the purported actions of a few and applying them to all.  A gross misrepresentation, particularly of those breeders that are diligently improving their lines by utilizing the top non-silver lines, titling, obtaining health clearances, etc.  Reading this aggressive attack, one not willing to actually look deeper into Silver Labs, would no doubt believe that those who support the Silver Lab are a kin to the devil himself!  
      This site rehashes the idea that DNA was not ever collected from the early Silver Lab lines.  It uses half-truths and a lot of word play to imply that the Culo kennel lied.  Let's look as that early statement make by the Culo Kennel. 
"DNA testing and mapping of CCK's "Silver" Labs was done during the close of the Twentieth Century and meticulous investigations of each CCK "Silver" Lab's ancestry was conducted by investigators from AKC. All conclusions were the same, i.e., "there was no reason to doubt that the dogs were pure bred Labrador Retrievers." 
There is reference to two different occurrences there, it is even grammatically accurate by separating the different events by the coordinating conjunction "and."  For the sake of clarification, DNA was collected and analyzed, independently,  by Dr. Neff who was researching the gene responsible for dilution.  This was done in the 1990's (i.e., the close of the twentieth century).  The AKC did conduct onsite investigations into the Culo Silver Labs, which included tracking down all the progeny of the Labs that produced Silvers.  Interviews, photographs, and anything else available was used to determine if, in fact, a crossbreeding had occurred, as the Silver haters had so adamantly claimed.  The assumption that this site, and so many others then regurgitate, is that the AKC did the DNA studies and that it was supposedly done in 1987.   Completely incorrect, not part of the Culo statement, and really, a lie used by silver haters to try to convince anyone that will listen, that Culo Kennel's supposed claims were impossible.  One must now ask, who is really telling the "LIE?" 
      To finish off this section of this site, they state that Culo was known to have owned and bred both Labs and Weimaraners.  Let's look at the facts.  Culo Kennel has publicly stated in every imaginable way that they never bred, let alone owned Weimaraners.  There are no stud book entries for this breeder ever breeding Weimaraners.  There are no advertisements from this breeder ever selling Weimaraners, not even from before his first Silver Labs were born.  Absolutely zero evidence has ever been produced that Culo ever owned or bred Weimaraners.  Just baseless accusations from those who hate him and the Silver Labs.  Now here is the clincher that should help end this insidious rumor once and for all.  After the investigations into the Culo Kennel and their Silver Labs, the LRC and AKC jointly stated that "there was no reason to doubt that the dogs were pure bred Labrador Retrievers."  If Culo Kennel had bred Weimeraners, or even owned them as pets, ever, do you think that these two organizations would make such a conclusive public statement?  Wouldn't the owner of Silver Labs, also possessing Weimaraners, be a reason to "doubt"...especially considering the claims of crossbreeding to Weimaraners?  Think on that some.  Fortunately, there have been other Silver Labs born from lines that do not tie back to Culo's dogs, substantiating that the dilution gene is naturally part of the Labrador breed, corroborating the statements make by the LRC, AKC and Culo.  Silver Labradors are purebred Labradors.

      This site moves to attack those that have titled their silver Labradors and belittles their accomplishments.   Fortunately, Silver Labs are now titled in nearly all venues available to them.  Obedience, Hunt Tests, Agility, Tracking, and yes, even Conformation.  Dilute Blacks and Yellows have now successfully obtained conformation Champion titles!  Additionally, there are Silver Labs winning at dock jumping and upland field trials, as well as serving as therapy, police, and Search and Rescue dogs.  In short they are excelling at what Labradors do best, as they should, being Labradors.  

      There are links to photos of fieldy looking Silver Labradors, used to again suggest crossbreeding.  Either this site author does not understand the wide variability in physical type of the Labrador breed, or they are hoping to mislead you into believing that all Labs should look like theirs, overdone Show Labs.  If needed, see the rebuttal and links to WigWag's Diatribe #4 for a refresher on this matter.  If you are interested in overdone Labradors, you can find them in silver as well.

      This attack wraps up with questioning the rarity and value of Silver Labradors.  An offensive against the very tenant of supply & demand of the capitalistic system that has made free nations great!  If anyone believes that a Silver, or any other color Lab is too expensive, they have the right and power as a consumer to not purchase.  It is demand for a rare trait that drives the value, not "greedy unscrupulous breeders" trying to squeeze every last penny out of would be puppy buyers, like some suggest.  

      The site then addresses the acceptable variation of shade within the Yellow Lab color while disparaging the adjectives used to describe those shades, an interesting move.  Let us take a moment and look at the extremes of the Yellow Lab shades, "White" and "Fox Red."  Are these Labs really the same "color?"  No doubt they are both "ee" at the E locus, but why the disparity in expression of 
that yellow color?  Most breeders will suggest that both have the same pigment, just a variation in shade.  Taking a micro look at the hairs of white and red Labs tells a strikingly different story. There is no pigment in the white hair at all, none!  What has caused one "ee" Yellow Lab to have pigment so dark and intense that it is barely recognizable as "Yellow," while another "ee" Yellow Lab has no discernible pigment at all?  Present genetic science tells us that this disparity in shade is the result of modifying genes, which affect the expression of another gene.  The problem in this instance is that there is no pigment left in the white hair.  This White Lab is only "Yellow" because it is genetically "ee," its pigment, or lack thereof, does not actually corroborate. Now, consider how the dilution gene affects Labrador hairs.  Note that at the micro level the pigment (the actual color of the hair) in the Silver, Charcoal, and Dilute Yellow hairs is the same as the typical Chocolate, Black, and Yellow hairs!  The dilution gene modifies the arrangement of the pigment, it does not change the pigment.  In Yellows however, the pigment is changed by different modifying genes.  If these self-proclaimed "breed conservators" want to attack a color of Labrador for being out of standard, they should set their sights on Yellow Labs since they do have actual different "colors"...or, just perhaps, they could simply recognize that modifying genes that affect the appearance of the standard whole colors are normal and completely acceptable in the Labrador breed.   

      This site is by all accounts the most impartial of the rest of the pack. Though the implication of crossbreeding is explored, the site never actually names the Weimaraner as a suspect source like so many others do. A wise move considering there is not any shred of evidence to back up such an implication.

      There are errors, however, that need to be addressed for one to obtain a clearer picture of the information provided. Just as with most of the other sites, this one is seriously outdated. There is a reference to no scientific data relating to the gene that causes Silver in Labs. This is completely false. The gene, "mlph," is not only mapped, but also identified as the gene responsible for Silver in Labs "d!" Also, it is fact that this gene is a different gene than that which can cause some other breeds to appear Silver. That other gene is "agouti." The agouti gene is what one sees in breeds such as the Norwegian Elkhound. It causes the hair to be banded, with light and dark areas, which at a distance makes the hair appear gray. Important to recognize is that the Elkhound does not have the dilution causing gene, mlph. The theory of the historic introduction of Elkhound genes into the Labrador gene pool actually resulting in the appearance of the Silver Lab is genetically not possible, so much for that theory.

      Another very significant error is the claim that a recessive gene would more likely be expressed in a small population.  They base their assertion on the premise that when the Labrador breed began, there were only a few individuals and that they would have been inbred to increase the size of the Labrador population.  The inbreeding would then most likely cause recessive traits to be expressed as recessive genes met up with other recessive genes from related individuals.  Seems logical.  However, in the case of Labradors, this "well established principle of genetics" does not hold as there are other well established principles of genetics that completely confound it.  For one to really understand this rebuttal, a background understanding of genetics is important.  Rather than simply skimming over what is written here, you are encouraged to look into it yourself.  Take the time to increase your understanding of genetics, it will not only give you a more accurate perspective on this discussion, but may be an asset in other areas as well. 
      First, the dogs that made up the original population did not exist all at one time.  If they did, and rampant inbreeding occurred, one could see recessive traits more readily as the population homogenized.  Instead, by tracing the pedigrees back to the original dogs that are the foundation of the Labrador breed, one finds that these pedigrees dead-end across a significantly varying time span.  The earliest are from the mid 1800’s, the latest from the early 1900’s.  For more than 50 years new unrelated dogs were entering the Labrador breed as foundation individuals.  This is significant as it allows for “gene flow” (gene migration).  This genetic principle keeps the effects of inbreeding at bay, reduces its necessity; subsequently it increases the genetic diversity of the population.  A healthy phenomenon.  A review of the earliest Labrador Retriever pedigrees, primarily from with writings of Scott and Middleton, indicates that there were at least 73 of these origin dogs documented.  Some were St’ John’s Dogs directly imported from Newfoundland, some were descended from imported dogs and kept as pure as one could, others are known to be of mixed breed parentage, and there are a few that have no record other than the name of their owner.  In breed development, this is actually quite a significantly diverse foundation upon which the population developed.  Of course not all these dogs had all the traits that were desired in the Labrador breed and breeders made conscientious decisions as to which animals in the following generations were bred and whhic were culled from breeding.  Essentially, when a breed is deliberately created from a limited number of founders, the breeders generally concentrate first on inbreeding and selection to define the qualities they are after, rather than increasing the initial population.  This means there was some inbreeding with purpose, rather than random matings one would expect in a natural population.  That purpose was to set the traits that defined the breed (e.g., retrieving, soft mouth, otter tail, Black coat, etc).  Traits that were disliked were selected against, such as we all know occurred with Yellow and Chocolate colors.  This type of selection is not “natural,” but instead is “Directional Selection” and is quite artificial.  This is important to recognize as Directional Selection can eliminate traits at one extreme of a population in favor of another extreme (e.g., Black selected over any other color).  This reflects what is called “Positive frequency-dependent selection,” giving advantage to more common phenotypes over rare phenotypes, as being rare is not an advantage for survival and results in being culled from the gene pool (e.g., Black Labs over non-blacks). 
      The next principle to consider is “Genetic Drift.”  Genetic Drift refers to random changes in a population that can significantly alter the allele frequency over time. In the case of Labs, were one of the founding dogs of the breed to have carried the recessive "d" in a heterozygous form, Dd, Mendelian genetics suggest that 50% of its offspring will inherit its "d" gene. But, this is a probability, not a guarantee. If the early Dd Lab only gave its "d" gene to 10% of its offspring then the next generation would have a lower frequency of that allele and the chances for a Dd Lab to meet up with another Dd Lab to produce a dilute would be significantly reduced, even in the presence of inbreeding. Integral to Genetic Drift is that the allele that is already more frequent will have a higher probability of becoming “fixed” in the population as it expands, "D" in the case of the Labrador, not the significantly less common "d." This makes the occurrence of dilute Labs being of a very low probability in a small population. Genetic Drift is normal in small populations such as the original Labrador population.  In a larger population, an individual that passes on a gene only 10% of the time is typically offset by another individual that may pass on the same gene 90% of the time, making Genetic Drift less likely to affect the overall gene pool, but that is for large populations like today’s Labrador population.
      With the effects of Genetic Drift coupled with highly selective breeding for and against certain traits, the likelihood of a rare recessive gene to be expressed, in a real world population, such as the small early Labrador, becomes quite low.  How low?  An exercise in probabilities will illustrate this quite well.  Let’s assume that all 73 original Labradors entered the gene pool at the very same time.  Now let’s say two of them were carriers of the d gene “Dd.”  What are the odds those two carriers would actually meet up?  Since these two represent just under 3% of the total population their chances for meeting up are 0.09% (.03 x.03).  The probability of having a “dd” then show up is then 0.02% (.0009/4), “4” representing the 25% chance of dd in a Dd X Dd breeding).  This is basically a 1 in 5000 chance for a “dd” Lab to have shown up in that first generation.  In contrast, we do know, without argument, there were Yellows and Chocolates in that early 50 year time span.  Again, assuming all 73 originators existed at one time; following the steps above, 20% of the population would have been Bb or Ee for 1 individual of these colors to show up.  This illustrates that the recessive Chocolate and Yellow colors were indeed much more common than any dilute colors, and it clearly shows how the production of a rare dilute color in the early small Labrador population was very unlikely.
      How then does a rare recessive gene even survive to later be expressed if so many genetic principals and breeding efforts are working against it?  In a counter intuitive fashion, it is simply the very nature of the gene’s recessivness.  They can persist in the presence of dominate genes in the heterozygous form, "Dd" in this case, indefinitely.  Without DNA testing abilities, the breeder is unable to ascertain if a Black Lab is DD or Dd; the Lab is bred and its "d" is passed on, unknowingly hidden behind the dominate gene.  Finally, at some future point as the population adequately expands in size, one Dd Lab is bred to another Dd Lab and a couple pups in the litter are full dilutes.  If the base color was Yellow, the dilution, though complete "dd," remains unidentifiable to the observer. In Blacks the pups are gray but soon darken, a phenomenon actually recorded in the early days of the Labrador breed, resulting in Black coats being described as "slate," "pewter," or even "gray" (this occurrence suggests that there were likely more than just the two Dd Labs used in the probability example previously).  In Chocolate Labs, the pup is Silver, the dilution remaining obvious to the observer.  All then that needs to happen is for someone to begin breeding with preserving that trait in mind and it can be actively managed within a breeding program and its frequency amplified in the population.

      The comparison of the Black and Tan trait in Labradors, though also a recessive characteristic, is not really a good one in that it is fully exhibited in the full presence of the dominant genes for coat color, Black.  Also, the tan is completely obvious in Black coated Labs, not to mention that the original Labrador population was all Black in phenotype.  Comparing the early appearance of Black and Tan to that of Silver is Apples to Oranges.

      The site addresses the idea that the dilution could have originated from a spontaneous gene mutation, or a mid-history interbreeding. They base the mid-history interbreeding on the idea that there are no historic records of Silver Labs pre-1948. See the rebuttal to WigWag's Diatribe #2 for historic references to Silver Labs. The curious item on this claim that seems to usually be overlooked, is the year of 1948. Why that year? The author indicated that one could not find silver or gray in the studbooks until that date. So, according to this author, there were Labs registered as silver or gray in 1948, a good 4 decades before Culo's Silver Labs showed up, 5 decades before Beavercreek's, and nearly 6 decades before the other lines such as Husker began emerging. The site tries to write off this early recorded Silver Lab as a result of the out-cross to the Norwegian Elkhound that is said to have happened in the 1940's. Problem is, as was discussed above, the Elkhound has no dilution gene! Can't help be see a trend of evidence, historic and genetic, that support the truth about Silver Labradors; the dilution gene is native to the breed!