WigWag Part-2

Continued from WigWag's Diatribe Part-1 (rebuttals to claims 1-4)

5. Are they purebred?
Yes they are purebreds. Their parents and grandparents, etc are all AKC registered Labradors. They are a result of mixed breeding way back when but our dogs are as well - mine included yes. Mixed breeding in show Labradors occurred as late as the 40's and maybe 50's in Europe bringing in Flat Coats to improve coat and Rottwielers to give muscle and bulk.

      Finally some truth!  Silver Labrador are indeed purebred Labrador Retrievers.  Of course she does state she still thinks that they are the result of a mix "way back when," but she correctly points out that ALL Labs have non-Lab blood in them.  As mentioned in a previous rebuttal, the majority of the known intentional outcrosses that have occurred in Labrador lines are from breeds known to carry the dilution gene.  So this brings back up the question: If there are so many reported outcrosses with other breeds that carry the dilution gene, why is it then assumed that the Silver Lab came from a Weim? Why not the obvious, being from one of these accepted out-crosses?  Additionally, as already mentioned, the Lab's two closest relations carry the dilution gene, the Newfie and the Chessie. Why not suppose it came from there? Why the claim of a Weim with all these other known sources?
      WigWag is smart enough not to really argue Silver Lab purity directly, however, most are not. They see grey and they assume Weim, not much in the way of actual thought, just a knee-jerk reaction.

6. Will AKC ever accept them?
No AKC does not change breed standards at all. They are simply a registering body and will accept anyone's money! The breed clubs set up standards and abide by them and they don't change standards that often and I have not known one standard that has included a previously disqualified color. Standards are steeped in history and breed enthusiasts want to keep it that way - why change what works? The Labrador standard calls for three colors and three colors only.

      There is a lot of playing on words in # 6. “No”, the AKC won’t accept them "as silver" is presently correct in that the LRC doesn’t call them "Silver."  If the LRC designated a new color, such as “Silver,” then the AKC would accept them as “Silver”.  So, will the AKC ever accept them "as Silver" is not a hard fast “no”, as it is not their call, that call belongs to the LRC.  However, as a point of interest, there were once AKC accepted, and registered, Labradors whose color was listed as "Silver!"  This happened when, for a time, the registration papers provided by the AKC had a line called "Other" under the color choices for a breed, the owner could write in the color, and as such several were registered as “Silver.”  It was these registered Silvers that brought about the first AKC and LRC investigation into the purity of Silver Labradors.  The investigations found that there was no reason to question the purity of the Silver Labradors and that they would be more correctly registered as Chocolate since they were dilute chocolates.
      It is true that breed clubs, such as the LRC, do set up the breed standards, however the frequency of altering the standard is all relative, and "abiding by them," well, that is really a messy topic (see the end of the LRC & AKC discussion).  When is the last time you saw a scale or wicket at a specialty to ensure that the Labs shown were not too tall/short or heavy/light?  
      To understand what a change to a standard means to a breed, it must be understood that a breed standard is the blueprint upon which the breed is constructed.  Just as with any blueprint, any alteration in the blueprint alters the finished product.  The Labrador breed standard has been changed several times since its original creation in 1916.  The first Labrador Retriever breed standard read: 
"Colour: The coat is generally black, free from any rustiness and any white markings, except possibly a small spot on the chest. Other whole colours are permissible."
Wow, no mention of Yellow or Chocolate anywhere!  "Other whole colours" could mean Yellow and Chocolate and indeed any solid “shade” (like Silver).  That is right, under the first blueprint of the breed, Labradors of any whole color were perfectly within the standard, Silvers!  Interestingly, though, just prior to the publishing of the original breed standard, the Yellow color was highly criticized, so much so that breeders who produced Yellow Labs were asked by the “Breed purists” to show in the Golden Retriever ring...i.e., Yellow was an effective Labrador “disqualification.”  So, in response, Yellow enthusiasts eventually started a Club specifically for Yellow Labs, The Yellow Labrador Club, which still exists today in the UK.  More recently, Chocolate Labs, as their popularity rapidly grew, came under much criticism with the usual accusations of crossbreeding to get the color.  Fortunately, the Chocolates gained better acceptance and there was no near-split in the breed like what almost happened with the Yellow Lab.  
 At this juncture, an astute individual might ask:  
Why would some fight against specific colors (Yellow, Chocolate, Silver, etc) when the original blueprint of the breed completely allowed for any whole color?  
The next question must then be:  
Why alter the blueprint of the breed to disallow for previously acceptable "whole colors" instead allowing Black, Yellow, and Chocolate only?" 
Why in the world is the LRC the only major Labrador breed club in the world that does not follow the FCI (UK) standard for the Labrador?  
I guess they (the breeders of the LRC) really aren’t steeped in history after all, but by all appearances, perhaps steeped in their own Black, Yellow, and Chocolate self-interest.

7. What's wrong with breeding silvers?
Well it's "wrong" to select for any disqualification in a breed. What's next different sizes of Labradors? Spotted Labradors? A Labrador is a Labrador because of the standard.

     Nowhere is “silver” specifically identified as a disqualification. And in reality, the “any other color” being a listed disqualification does not apply to Silvers since "Silvers” are genetically Chocolate, their pigment is Chocolate, the AKC registers them correctly as Chocolate, and Chocolate is not a disqualification.  The use of color descriptors in Labradors, such as Silver, Charcoal, and Champagne, is to make clear to the observer that the Lab possesses two dilution alleles (dd) that lighten the shade pf the colors Chocolate, Black, and Yellow, respectively.  All three being acceptable per the current breed standard.  
      Of interest here is that the LRC breed standard is the only standard for Labradors that has disqualifications.  The rest of the world, following the FCI standard, has only "faults" that are to be regarded "in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog, and on the dog’s ability to perform its traditional work." The dilute colors do not negatively affect the health, welfare, nor ability of the dog, in fact it could be argued that the gray shades are an improvement, improving the dogs ability to better blend with its surroundings, an asset for a hunting retriever.  Surely an international breed judge would fault a silver for its controversial color, but there could not be a disqualification like in the AKC circuit.  Knowing how much power the breed elitiests have the world over, it would be no surprise if the FCI standard soon changes to include disqualifications that would then affect Silvers, time will tell.

8. Why shouldn't someone purchase one?
The vast majority of silver breeders do not perform necessary health clearances (OFA hip AND elbow, CERF on eyes, heart exams) and they don't compete in anything to obtain an objective opinion on whether or not their dogs are breeding quality. They also charge a lot of money simply because of the color.
Any time someone breeds based on one quality (in this case color) they are not properly selecting breeding stock and not producing superior puppies.

      WigWag does get this mostly right. There are way too many poor specimens being bred by people with no more interest in their Labradors other than the potential for profit.  More money for a trait like color is a matter of supply and demand economics, which is driven by the consumer, not the breeder.  Fortunately there are breeders that are now doing full health clearances, in some cases more than some of the breeders who claim to be more ethical than Silver breeders.  A prospective puppy buyer would do themselves a great favor to seek out breeders that are improving the Silver lines and doing health clearences.  Not only will the puppy be sound, but it will reduce the demand for poorly bred silvers and increase demand for improved Silvers, forcing all silver breeders to do clearances and improve if they wish to continue breeding.  A simple way to find an improvement breeder is by looking at the color of their Labs.  If only dilutes, from inbred lines, they are not.  If they have Blacks, Yellows, and/or Chocolates, along with their dilutes, then you can know you are working with a breeder that breeds based on more qualities that just color.
      The error here is that she says "they don't compete in anything."  This is just a flat out lie.  Silvers are actively competing an many events, AKC events such as Hunt Tests, Field Trails, Obedience, Agility, Tracking, and some dilutes even in conformation now.  Additionally, they are competing in HRC hunt events and Splash Dog events.  Silvers are also being used as therapy dogs, Search and Rescue dogs, and drug detection dogs.   

9. Can I show my silver?
In conformation - no since they are disqualification.

      Again, Chocolate is not a disqualification, “Silver” Labs are genetically a light shade of Chocolate, which can be proven though DNA and pigment.  According to the LRC breed standard, the Chocolate color allows for "light" shades.  Were a Silver Lab actually disqualified due to its light shade of Chocolate, the AKC opens itself to a potential class-action lawsuit, one that it would lose since silver enthusiasts have AKC documents proving their Labs' purity, an official AKC position statement backing their purity and registration as Chocolate, not to mention that coat color genetics are also on their side.  Fortunately, there are now dilutes being shown and winning too.  There are several Champagnes (dilute Yellow Labs) that are doing well in the US and Canada.  Additionally, there are Charcoals that have obtained championship tiles in the IABCA circuit, under AKC judges.  There are now a hand full of CH titled Silver-factored Labs as well.  The course has been opened now for dilute Chocolates (Silver) to enter the conformation ring.  No doubt we will soon learn of the first Silver to do so.

10. Did UC Berkely or AKC run DNA tests on silver?
NO NO NO. This is a common LIE that some silver breeders boast. There was a Mark Davis at UC Berkely researching the dilution gene as part of his phD thesis but at no point did he conduct DNA mapping on silvers or "prove" they are purebred. AKC does not run "breed tests". They can keep on record a sequence of DNA from dogs to prove parentage only (sire and dam).
Back in 1987 the AKC and LRC visited Culo kennels and inspected his breeding records and instructed him to register the dogs as chocolate. Why? Because they thought they were small potatoes and would just go away. They dropped the ball big time in my opinion right then and there. What's done and is done and silvers are now here to stay.

      Well, here we are on WigWags last point.  If she hadn't already give us enough shoddy research  and outright lies to discredit her, she provides this gem.  
      It is grossly evident that she has not done good research; I'm guessing she has never even corresponded with Dr. Neff by her comments. First, the geneticist she is talking about is Dr. Mark Neff.  Dr. Neff did conduct DNA tests in effort to map the mlph gene that is responsible for canine dilution (his PhD).  The owners of the Beavercreek and Culo lines have each stated that he came to them to collect DNA samples from their surprise silvers and learn as much as he could about them. Beavercreek claims he did confirm parentage for the sampled dogs though DNA testing. Wigwag is correct that his intent was not to “prove” they were purebred though, his purpose rested in the mapping of the mlph gene in canines.  She uses a play on words to attempt to discredit a completely valid event, going as far as calling it a lie!  Dr.Neff finished his PhD at UC Berkley and went on to become the Director of the Genetics Labs at UC Davis (this is where Wigwag confuses things with the name).  He, and his research team, have since left UC Davis to pursue other canine research endeavors at a renowned upper Midwest laboratory.  
     The AKC does keep DNA that can be used to prove parentage as WigWag states.  Fortunately, the newer lines of silvers have their DNA parentage tests in order, proving conclusively through AKC DNA testing that the surprise Silvers are not the product of crossbreeding.  
      There is a very good reason why the AKC and LRC directed Culo Kennels to register his Labs as Chocolate after their inspections, they are in fact a shade of Chocolate!  This fact can be proven every which way, pedigree, genetics, pigment, policy, etc.  The LRC and AKC also jointly stated "Both parties were satisfied that there was no reason to doubt that the dogs were purebred Labrador Retrievers." Just like anyone, she is free to have her opinion that the Silvers should not have been allowed to be registered as Chocolate in the AKC, but the fact that silvers are here to stay cannot be denied indeed!

But buyer beware the dilute coat is highly associated with allergies and other skin disorders (in any dilute breed not just Labradors) and many silvers have other health and behavior problems due to poor breeding practices. There are a few newer silver breeders that are running health screens on all their dogs and they are trying to breed in a "show type" look. If you really want a silver I would recommend finding one of them instead of the "run of the mill" silver breeder doing nothing but breed to sell puppies.

This final comment is somewhat correct. This part, “(in any dilute breed not just Labradors),” is faulty.  Some dilute breeds have a coat problem called color dilution alopecia.  However there has not been any independently verified case of CDA in Silver Labradors to date.  That is not to say that it cannot happen, but in cases where CDA was suspected, the coat regrew with treatment for another malady such as thyroid.  CDA is chronic, the coat will not regrow.  The health issues that can be found in Silver Labrador lines are the same that are routinely found in the general Labrador Retriever population, thyroid, joints, allergies, etc.  The problem is that there are many "silver-only" breeders that have poor breeding practices and are perpetuation issues instead of breeding them out.  WigWag is right in that if you are looking for the best Silvers, seek out an improvement breeder that is breeding in non-silver titled and proven lines and doing health clearances.  The “run of the mill” breeders who inbreed only for color should be avoided.