Posts Categorised: Labs

Bolo was the first-ever Dual Champion Labrador Retriever.

His is an interesting story. Not just rags to riches, but riches to rags and back to riches. Pull up a chair and learn about the dog who still has an influence on Labradors over one hundred years after his birth.


Bolo was two years old when Mrs. Quintin Dick (later Lorna, Countess Howe) entered his life. She had owned his sire, Scandal of Glynn, who was “a charming and beloved companion and a great game-finder.”

When Scandal died she wanted to find a dog to replace him. Unfortunately none of the other dogs she owned could fill the gap his passing caused.

Her husband suggested a son by Scandal. However during the first World War, breeding was restricted and Scandal had only sired one litter. In it there were 13 puppies of which 12 were females.

The only male – originally named Caerhowell Bully – had been given away by his breeder. When Lorna (1) found him, he was given to her with the advice that if she didn’t want to keep him to have him put to sleep. He told her the dog was “hopeless” and had “an evil temper.”

When she picked him up at the train station, she realized what she’d been told was true. The dog was not only unkempt, but had sores on his ears and he growled at her through the heavy muzzle he wore. Although he had a wonderful pedigree, she debated: Should she keep him or put him to sleep as she’d been advised?

She must have had a kind heart as she took him home with her. After taking off the muzzle and chain, she turned him loose in a spacious room, but he was distrustful and surly. He wouldn’t come to anyone and it took quite awhile to catch him.

Something must have happened to him in his earlier life. Heavy handed trainer? Malicious kennel help?

He avoided people. When turned out for exercise, he was hard to catch. How could he be trained when he was so distrustful of people? What could soothe the savage beast?

It turns out it wasn’t music, but Lorna’s gentle care. When he became seriously ill, she nursed him back to health. During that time, he realized she was someone he could trust. When he recovered he became devoted to her and was always at her side.

Perhaps this is when she renamed him Banchory Bolo. Banchory for the kennel that would house many famous Labradors and also other breeds, including Pointers, Springer Spaniels and Griffons.


When he started in training, Lorna found he had “a natural love of retrieving, an excellent nose, and a perfect mouth.” However he also had two failings: he loved chasing rabbits and was terrified of cracking whips. One day when a stable boy happened to crack a whip near him, the fear took over and Bolo blindly sought escape. A tall, spiked gate didn’t stop him from running.

He returned early the next morning, covered in blood. “He had two very deep wounds on his chest, a tear three inches long in his groin and his hind leg and hock torn so badly that the bone was visible.” Because a veterinarian was too far away, Lorna stitched his wounds as he lay still for her.

Her doctoring and the training after was well done as the next fall he won a field trial prize. Afterward he quickly won two field trials and became a field champion. Two years later he also finished his show championship and thus was the first Labrador to become a Dual Champion.

Lorna said, “He had quite the best nose I have ever seen in a dog and with apparently the greatest ease he would collect runner after runner after several other dogs had failed. I have never had a dog with such great natural ability or one so anxious to please me in every possible way.”

Pictured: Lorna with Bolo


The genes from several great dogs came together in Banchory Bolo. We have Lord Malmesbury, the Dukes of Buccleuch and Lord Knutsford (Munden kennels) to thank for their breeding insight and the dogs they produced.

Bolo’s pedigree:

Scandal of Glynn English FTCh Peter of Faskally Waterdale Gamester
Birkhill Juliet
English FTW Shelagh of Glynn English FTW Scamp of Glynn
Shelagh of Danesbury
Caerhowell Nettle Foxley Kennett Hirsch’s Ranger
Bendysh Bess
Baker’s Nora unknown

Extended pedigree

Looking backward in time, Bolo’s sire, Scandal of Glynn, was a son of English FTCh Peter of Faskally. Peter won the International Gundog League’s Championship Stake for retrievers in 1911, but what set him apart from the other retrievers was his partnership with his handler, Archie Butter. Butter realized that if a dog could be guided by his handler, the quicker he would be able to find and retrieve game. To do this, he adapted the methods used by shepherds when handling their dogs using whistles and hand signals. We still use a form of this method today.

Peter of Faskally’s pedigree is filled with dogs from the Munden and Buccleuch kennels. Munden Sixty (born 1897) appears three times in Peter’s pedigree and once more in Scandal of Glynn’s maternal line.

Sixty’s paternal grandfather, Buccleuch Avon (born 1885), was a gift from the third Earl of Malmesbury to the sixth Duke of Buccleuch.

Avon was sired by Malmesbury Tramp (born 1878) and out of Malmesbury Juno (born 1878). Another male, Buccleuch Ned (born 1882), was also a gift. These dogs were bred to bitches that descended from dogs imported originally by the fifth Duke of Buccleuch.

Pictured: Buccleuch Avon, born 1885

Another great in Peter of Faskally’s pedigree is Munden Single (born 1899). She was sired by Munden Sixty and descended from Munden, Buccleuch and Malmesbury dogs. She’s best known for being the first Labrador to win a Challenge Certificate and the first Labrador to run in a field trial.

Less is known about Scandal of Glynn’s maternal side. His maternal grandfather, Scamp of Glynn FTW, traces to Buccleuch Ned, the other male gifted by Lord Malmesbury. And his maternal grandmother, Shelagh of Danesbury, is mostly Munden dogs that trace back to Buccleuch and Malmesbury dogs.

Even less is known about Banchory Bolo’s mother, Caerhowell Nettle, although her father traces back to Peter of Faskally as well.


With all the good genes passed down from his ancestors, it’s not surprising that he also produced well. He sired both show champions and field trial champions.

In 1921, he was bred to Brocklehirst Nell (owned by Mrs Dinwoodie) and sired English Ch Banchory Bluff, English FTCh Nith of Halleaths and Brocklehirst Daisy FTW. Bluff was the maternal grandsire of English FTCh Balmuto Hewildo. Bluff was owned by Lorna.

Also in 1921, he was bred to Murrayfield Bett (owned by Mr Dinwoodie) and sired English Ch Brocklehirst Donner. This dog was also owned by Lorna.

Bolo was bred to Kirkmahoe Dinah FTW for another litter in 1921. This one included the littermates English National FTCh Kirkmahoe Rover, Banchory Corbie FTW and Choice Of Kirkmahoe FTW.

Banchory Corbie won one Challenge Certificate (show points) and won the 1923 International Gundog League Nomination Stake. Then he “broke his shoulder by galloping into a guard post” thus ending his show and field trial career. Lorna described him, “Corbie was in character and temperament all that a Labrador should be. He was highly intelligent, very faithful, a wonderful watch-dog and guard, yet very gentle with children. He had the great game-finding ability which goes with good nose and the brains to use it.”

Pictured: Bolo with his son, Corbie

Yet another litter in 1921, produced English Ch Beningbrough Tangle. He finished his show championship, including winning the CC at Crufts in 1930 and he also won a field trial. So close to being another Dual Champion! He was bred by The Earl of Chesterfield and owned by Lorna. His mother was Thyme, a daughter of English Ch Ilderton Ben.

In 1922, Bolo was bred to a granddaughter of English Ch Ilderton Ben. Her name was Malta of Lunn and was owned by the Earl of Clarendon. In this litter was a female named English Ch Banchory Kelpie, owned by Lorna.

Another Bolo son was born in 1923, Banchory Roger FTW. He was linebred on English National Ch Peter of Faskally and on Munden Sentry.

“During the years of the 1914-1918 war the Labrador Kennel at Munden became practically extinct. It was after this war that [Lorna] gave Lord Knutsford a puppy on the condition that he should eventually breed her with Dual Champion Banchory Bolo.”

He registered this puppy as Munden Scarcity. Her sire was English Ch Banchory Lucky and her dam was Banchory Betty. In Scarcity’s litter by Bolo, she produced both English Ch Banchory Danilo FTW and English Ch Munden Solo FTW. Lord Knutsford also kept Singer, a bitch, and another bitch was given to His Majesty the King.

Danilo won 33 Challenge Certificates in the show ring and won best exhibit in the Kennel Club Show in 1925. He went on to also win two field trial honors in 1924, handled by Lorna. Danilo sired English Ch Drinkstone Pons of Wingan (sire of American Ch Echo of Arden), English Ch Drinkstone Dan and Haylers Danilo (sire of English Ch Poppleton Black Lancer).

When Danilo’s grandson, Hiwood Risk, was bred to Peggy of Shipton we see some of the Arden dogs, including American National Field Champion Tar of Arden and her offspring – American FC Firelei of Deer Creek, American NFC Black Magic of Audlon, American Dual Ch CFC Little Pierre of Deer Creek.

Pictured: Banchory Danilo

Danilo’s brother, Munden Solo, also did well at shows. At Crufts in 1927 he competed in ten classes, won six and placed in three more. The judge wrote of him, ‘if there had been a little more of him in size, I think he would have been very near perfection.’

Bolo sired another English show champion, Banchory Bolo’s Trust, in 1926. His mother was Beaulieu Nance (daughter of English DUAL Ch Banchory Sunspeck).

English DUAL Ch Bramshaw Bob, double-bred on Bolo, won Best in Show at Crufts twice – 1932 and 1933. Lorna bought him from Sir George Thursby and when she took him to Crufts in 1932, Bob won all the classes he was entered in and won Best in Show on the second day.

Lorna said, “Cruft’s Show was, and still is, a great meeting place for gamekeepers. I shall never forget the overwhelming reception they gave Bob when the award was announced; it was so kind of them. They were pleased that a working gundog should receive this much-coveted award. I took Bob to the Scottish Gundog and Terrier Show at Edinburgh shortly afterwards, where he was again Best in Show, and soon afterwards to Manchester, where he again won Best in Show and so became a Show Bench Champion. At Cruft’s Show in 1933 he was again awarded Best in Show, an honour he won at Championship Shows thirteen times, a good record for a genuine working gundog. He was always used for his legitimate work and he worked equally well for either Gaunt or myself. ”

Another male, English FTCh Balmuto Hewildo, was also double-bred on Bolo. Instead of winning in the show ring, he won the IGL Retriever Championship in 1936. This is comparable to the National Retriever Championship in the US.

In short, Bolo was a great producer.

Author C. Mackay Sanderson wrote, “Bolo’s coming may be said to have breathed a spirit of new life into the breed, the prestige enjoyed by this dog as a competitive and stud force giving lasting impetus to Labrador fortunes and subsequently his name runs like a golden thread through all the vital streams of progress.”

“The Field wrote of Bolo: ‘If ever evidence were needed of the character of a great dog, and of his influence on the generations following him, it was to be found at the Retriever Championship Trial held at Idsworth last week [December, 1932]. Out of fourteen dogs that won prizes, eight were descended from Banchory Bolo.'”

But Bolo also had another legacy – he tended to throw white hairs on the feet. These ‘Bolo marks’ or ‘Bolo pads’ are still seen sometimes on the bottom of the front feet and/or on the back of the front pasterns.

Bolo died in July of 1927. It was ten years before Lorna was able to give her heart to another dog.

English Dual Champion Banchory Bolo

Whelped: December 29, 1915
Died:  July 10, 1927
Owner:  Lorna, Countess Howe
Breeder:  Sir John S Harmood-Banner
Original name:  Caerhowell Bully
Registration:  KC SB 218AA

1. Although she became Lorna, Countess Howe because of her second marriage, she was known as Mrs Quintin Dick during Bolo’s lifetime. However for the sake of ease, I’ve used her first name here as it’s how she’s known by Lab enthusiasts worldwide.


Ch – Show champion
CC – Challenge Certificate (show points)
FCh – Field trial champion
NFCh – National field trial champion
FTW – Field trial winner (not a title)
CFC – Canadian field champion
IGL – International Gundog League

What Is CNM In Labradors?

(Originally posted October 25, 2012 – Updated November 18, 2022)

Centronuclear Myopathy (CNM) is an inherited congenital disorder that causes muscle dysfunction.


In a nutshell, CNM in Labradors causes muscle wasting which makes moving normally difficult. Some dogs have severe symptoms while other dogs are only mildly affected.

In the past, it’s been called generalized muscle weakness, polyneuropathy, muscular myopathy, muscular dystrophy, hereditary myopathy.

Breeds affected are Labrador Retrievers, plus doodles and other Lab mixes.

Here is a video of a Labrador suffering from acute CNM.

To develop a genetic test, researchers collected samples from 7,426 Labradors living in 18 countries. They found 80 dogs from various countries had two copies of the mutated gene. These dogs all showed muscle wasting symptoms. Of the 1,172 dogs that had one copy of the mutated gene, none showed symptoms which showed that CNM in Labradors is caused by a simple recessive gene.

Dogs with two normal genes are normal. Dogs with one normal gene appear normal, but could pass the mutated gene to their puppies. Dogs with two mutated gene are affected and will develop muscle wasting.

Currently researchers believe the mutated gene is the result of a single mutation. Also that the gene spread rapidly through the Labrador population because many people bred to a small group of popular sires about 60 years ago.

CNM also affects people. Locating the mutated gene in Labradors is helping scientists study the disorder in people.


Symptoms generally develop between two to five months of age and include gait abnormalities, generalized weakness, tiring easily and muscle wasting. CNM can affect both sexes and all three recognized colors.

Puppies seem normal at first, but as they grow they develop generalized muscle weakness and abnormal postures. Another sign is an odd “bunny hop” with the rear legs. Often they can’t exercise much and may collapse in colder weather.

Here is a video of another Lab having a particularly tough day although she’s determined to get her bumper.

Affected dogs will never develop normal muscles. You can see the difference most clearly in the chest and rear legs.

There is no cure. However some dogs, with their owner’s help, have learned how to overcome most symptoms. This dog is doing quite well.

According to his owners, “As a puppy, he couldn’t hold his head up, control his tongue, hold a tug toy, walk for more than a few feet without having to crawl, or climb stairs.”


CNM is caused by a recessive gene which means a dog can have one copy of the gene and appear normal. If that dog is bred to another dog that appears normal, but has the same recessive gene, some of the puppies may be affected with CNM.

CNM affected dogs should not be bred as all of their puppies will carry the gene. Because of the muscle dysfunction, it may be difficult for a male to breed naturally and even harder for a female to carry and whelp puppies.

Genetic testing is the best way to prevent producing a dog with CNM. Many laboratories offer the testing, but my favorite is DDC. They are available to answer questions, can help order the correct tests and are reasonably priced. They can also provide the swabs needed to collect DNA.

To collect your dog’s DNA, make sure he hasn’t eaten or had anything to drink for at least an hour. You may need to put a leash on your dog and/or have a helper handy to keep him still. The collection doesn’t hurt, but some dogs may object anyway.

Wash your hands and pull out one swab at a time. Lift your dog’s lip on the side of his muzzle and insert the swab between his lip and gums. Swirl several times and remove. Place the swab back in the plastic wrap. Repeat on the other side of his muzzle and then a third time on one side or the other.

Write your name, your dog’s name, breed and registration number on an envelope and place the swabs inside. Seal and place the envelope inside another envelope, seal, address and mail.

If you are collecting samples from more than one dog, be sure to keep their swabs separate and wash your hands between collections.

And, no, CNM is not the same as Exercise Induced Collapse (EIC), although both disorders are genetic. CNM is a muscle weakness whereas EIC is a neurologic dysfunction.

Halloween Costumes For Dogs

A costume contest for pets in 2006 got me thinking about what costumes I could make for my dogs. Yes, it had to be for more than one. I had three dogs that were my constant companions – Chip, Tory and Arwen.

So, one for all and all for one! They became the Three Musketeers.

Designing the costumes was interesting because they had to be instantly recognizable, but my dogs also had to walk in costume. After a quick Google image search, I decided on hats with feather plumes and the signature musketeer tunic. I also bought plastic swords for all of them, but could only convince one dog that they weren’t chew toys.

Off to the store for blue felt fabric, gold braid trim and fabric paint, black cowboy hats, fluffy white feathers and three plastic swords. The tunic/cape was cut and stitched at the top corners of the tunics then decorated with the gold braid and painted crosses. Next were the hats that had to be reshaped and adorned with the white feathers. They also needed some thin elastic as chin straps to keep the hats on their heads.

Luckily Labs are usually willing to play silly games like dress up! They did spectacular and even won the costume contest at the local Labrador club. I was hooked!

Three Musketeers Halloween costume
3 Labs dress up as ghosts and carry their own Jack O Latern

The next year was a test of their obedience skills because I decided to dress them up as ghosts and have them carry plastic jack-o-lantern buckets.

Off to the store for three flat sheets and three jack-o-lanterns! That was the easy part. Next came draping a sheet over each dog and trying to determine the best place to cut holes in brand new sheets. It took some trial and error – with each dog – to find the perfect place and sizes for the holes.

Because they were hunting dogs they were all taught to fetch on command, but it took a bit to convince them that fetch also applied to the thin bucket handles that are nothing like a bird or a bumper. Then they had to learn that I wanted them to sit, with a sheet draped over them AND hold the bucket. And they had to do it at the same time and for long enough to get pictures.

They did it and got plenty of treats!

The next year had to be something simple because I didn’t have time to make elaborate costumes for Halloween. So I dug out some hunting clothes – ball caps, camo shirts, duck calls, whistles, etc. But something just didn’t look right. Off I went to the nearest thrift store where I found three pairs of kid’s pants in tan and green.

Getting all three dogs to wear the hats, shirts, whistles and duck calls was easy. Putting pants on them took a bit more work.

When they were (somewhat) dressed and sitting with the bird vest containing their two ducks hanging on the fence post, I took the picture. Just as the shotgun fell over. No, it wasn’t loaded, but it got their attention and as they moved hats fell off, pant cuffs were stepped on and general mayhem ensued. Good thing that one photo turn out so well!

Labradors dress up as duck hunters of Halloween
Follow the yellow brick road! The tin man, scarecrow and cowardly lion costumes

As Halloween 2009 drew nearer, I was trying to come up with a theme so each dog would have a unique costume but be recognizable as a trio. Pairs are easy, threesomes take more work!

Meet the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion.

Good thing Tory the Tin Man had learned the Stand for Exam obedience exercise because otherwise that aluminum foil covered box would fall off. The metal funnel stayed put with a thin piece of elastic under his chin.

Arwen’s scarecrow costume took some sewing and several fittings to come close to fitting her. And by now she was used to having to wear a hat of some sort.

What took the longest to make was Chip’s lion mane. It took a whole skein of tan yarn sewn piece by piece to a stretchy piece of fabric.

I’m not sure if they were starting to enjoy Halloween dress up or if they were just resigned to my shenanigans. After all, I was the one who fed them!

In early October 2010 I found myself wandering the Halloween aisle in the local store, trying to come up with another trio of costumes. Checking a bit of this and a bit of that and I came upon a red bustier (corset) that was sized for a child. There were also cowboy hats and six guns nearby. Hmmm.

In addition to the bustier, I wound up buying a black wig, two cowboy hats, two sets of six-guns with belts and holsters, a sheriff’s badge, a red bandana and some fabric pieces in black and tan.

Tory and Chip were perfect in their roles – the black-wearing outlaw and the sleepy sheriff. Arwen was not pleased though. I don’t think she liked having to wear a girly outfit with a wig AND sit up. She would have made a good outlaw, but for this year she was the dance hall gal.

The things my dogs have to do!

Labs dress up in western costumes - an outlaw, a sheriff and a dance hall gal
Harry, Ron and Hermoine as portrayed by three Labrador Retrievers
Labs dressed as Harry Potter and friends pose with Professor McGonagall

For Halloween 2011, I decided to show them that dressing up isn’t all that bad. So I joined them.

Another trio – Harry, Hermione and Ron – plus one – Professor McGonagall. And yet another trip to the store where I found three white shirts, three men’s ties, red and yellow fabric paint, a black witch’s hat, two pairs of reading glasses, white chalk and black fabric. Whew!

Starting with the ties, I turned them into Gryffindor ties with several coats of the red and yellow paint. Notice how one turned out a bit wrinkly? That was Ron’s tie. His shirt didn’t tuck in well either.

Next was sweet talking Tory into wearing glasses and Arwen into wearing the wig again. It didn’t look quite right though, so I took the lenses out of one pair of glasses and painted them white to show up better on a black dog.

I also sewed the black fabric into robes (kinda) for all four of us. Got us all dressed, added a lightning bolt on Tory’s forehead and told them to say ‘cheese’! And, yes, they smiled! They also got to go to the Halloween party and schmooze everyone for tasty treats.

Since we were overdue for another Star Wars movie, Halloween 2012 became an homage to the series, but which three characters should it be? Darth Vader, of course. And when you have bad, you need good. Luke, Leia or Yoda? Costume-wise, Luke was boring and I didn’t want to try hanging cinnamon rolls on my dog’s head, so Yoda was it. And, of course, you need the iconic R2D2.

Next was figuring out which parts of the characters were needed for people to recognize the costumes: Yoda’s ears and light saber, Darth’s light saber, cape, chest plate and helmet (well, most of it because the mask wouldn’t fit) and R2D2’s shape and coloring.

Back again to the store to get a round, plastic bowl, white fabric, blue, white, green, red, silver and black paint, black, green and light tan fabric pieces plus some fusible interfacing. I also had to dig around in the Christmas wrapping paper to find two cardboard cores.

Do you have any idea how long it takes to paint a bowl and fabric to look like R2D2? And that was just the start. Darth’s helmet and Yoda’s ears both took several fittings, plenty of sewing and LOTS of interfacing to make them stiff enough to look right. Then more sewing to make Yoda’s robe plus painting two light sabres. Luckily last year’s Gryffindor robe worked great for Darth too.

It was worth it though because I think this was one of the most popular sets of costumes. They were dubbed R2-Dog2, Dog Vader and Yo Dawg.

Labradors in costume as R2D2, Darth Vader and Yoda
Chevy Chase, Martin Short and Steve Martin as portrayed by Labrador Retrievers

If you can’t tell, I choose characters that are usually a bit over the top to make interesting costumes. So it should be no surprise that Chevy Chase, Martin Short and Steve Martin made an appearance for Halloween 2013 as the Three Amigos!

With a bit of silver paint, the Gryffindor robes became sparkly jackets. The white shirts were reused too. So I only needed to buy three more hats and some red fabric for the ties and cumberbunds.

And then paint. And paint some more. I think Arwen finally liked her costume though.

Liking her costume was short-lived. For Halloween 2014 I put Arwen in a pink Cheshire cat costume and had her lay down on a bench. If looks could kill…

This was a tough set to get right, especially a black Labrador as the white rabbit! Ears, tie, jacket and a clock kinda worked. The Mad Hatter was a little easier with the tall green hat even though you can’t really see the playing card stuck in the brim.

There was a fourth player too, but it wasn’t me this year. In the story, there is a Dormouse who pops out of a teapot. I tried James the rat as a stand-in, but he never got his cue right…

Down the rabbit hole! Halloween costumes for dogs
Labs can wear traditional costumes for kids

By Halloween 2015 we were winding down. Chip was nearly 17 and slept a lot. Tory had been diagnosed with cancer. And I was heart sick. I felt I needed to do one more Halloween photo, but it would have to be simple.

Off to the store again where I found some ready-made costumes – a devil, a witch and a ninja turtle.

I lost Tory just a few days later and Chip that December.

In 2016 Arwen was still willing, so back to the store I went. This time I needed some felt in brown and tan, a girls plastic headband and some wire.

I cut a big piece of cardboard into a shield shape and added some ‘wood grain’ with a Sharpie. Next I cut the felt into some oval shapes and rolled and glued them to make ears. Then I attached the ears and a couple bits from a tree to the headband.

With a little persuasion, Arwen sat with this contraption on her head. Isn’t she cute?

Labrador in costume as a trophy deer head
Labs can wear traditional costumes for kids

After ten years of Halloween costumes, it was a time of change. More dogs went to the Bridge, but eventually young dogs “volunteered” to carry on the tradition.

In the spring of 2018 I had a litter of puppies who were ready for their 7-week evaluations. A good friend came over, we evaluated puppies, took lots of pictures and decided to give costuming another try. I already had a bag of small, sparkly green party favor hats. After poking small holes on each side of the hats, I threaded thin black elastic to help hold them on the puppies’ heads. Luckily they’d run off some energy, but weren’t quite ready for a nap. Perfect!

We tried two puppies at a time with lots of giggling as we took pictures. My friend stood to one side or the other, but the background was still too busy. Bless her heart! She let me throw a white blanket over her head while she stood behind the puppies, keeping one hand on each puppy’s hip.

It took a little Photoshopping to blur the background and add a St. Patrick’s Day wish, but the final photo was worth the effort!

In 2019 I was finally ready to try Halloween costumes again. However they had to be fairly simple as the two dogs I’d chosen had never worn costumes before. Tisket and Wynk were both obedience trained, so although skeptical, they were willing to sit as I fussed.

For the hats, I rolled some black construction paper into cones with glue to hold it. Then I cut a couple donut shapes for the brims and glued those to the base of the cones. After adding a couple pieces of black elastic to keep the hats in place, they were done. But they were kinda boring. Hmmm. Hot glue gun to the rescue! I added several stripes of glue to the cones and brim to give the hats a little sparkle.

The broomsticks were fairly easy, although a bit messy. I bought two 1/2 inch dowels and a bag of raffia ribbon. Grabbing some raffia, I wound it into two bundles about 10 inches long and wrapped rubber bands near one end. After sticking the dowels into that end, I cut apart the other end and skrunched until it looked right. To hide the rubber bands, I wrapped some raffia over them and tacked it in place with hot glue. Voila!

I hoped to take the photos in front of some small trees that had already lost their leaves, but it was too cold and windy. Back inside, I taped a gray sheet on the wall as a background and started taking pictures. Although the girls were good sports, after awhile they were getting tired. So costumes came off, treats were served and I checked the pictures. After looking, I decided the background just wasn’t right so we’d try again. Nope. They’d already had their treats and were done for the day!

Photoshop to the rescue. After removing the background, the pictures looked better, but not great. Luckily it was a snap to change the background to transparent, then decide what I wanted instead. Off to check Pixabay which has lots of free images to download. I found a colorful sunset that looked great, added a bit of text and my signature. Done!

What do you think of my pretty witches?

Labs can wear traditional costumes for kids

“Girls, sit. Good!”

“No, no. Head up or your helmet will fall off.”

“Sketch, stop stepping on your tutu.”

“Splash. Yeah, you, Splash. You need to look this way.”

I had an idea I wanted to try for Halloween 2020, but it’s a good thing I started early.

Off to the store where I bought two stretchy pullover shirts, some yellow and orange tissue paper, a bag of big pipe cleaners, a bag of blow up balloons, lots of duct tape and two really cute tutus in sparkly red and purple!

First task was testing the concept. I blew up a round balloon and covered it with criss crossing duct tape, leaving a large hole on one side. It took a lot of tape. When I thought it had enough tape to hold it’s shape, I popped the balloon. Nope, it needed more tape.

Before adding more tape, I decided to test fit it. Splash thought I was certifiable, but consented to having the contraption put on her head. I made a few modifications and continued adding tape. I also added the pipe cleaner antennas. Then duplicate the process for Sketch’s helmet.

Next were the power packs. I had a few plastic soda bottles and painted them silver. While I was at it, I also painted both stretchy shirts. When the bottles were dry, I taped them together. I added Velcro to the bottles and backs of the shirts. Then I added some tissue paper to the ends of the bottles to simulate flames.

Now the test. Would they wear all this stuff AND sit still? Obedience training sure helps, but it was hilarious watching them step on the tutus.

Introducing Space Cadets Sketch and Splash from the Department of Intergalactic Security and Information ( ready for service.

By the way, their great grandmama Arwen would be proud!

For Christmas 2020, Sketch, Splash and Tisket got their party on!

I bought a Santa hat, some green, tan and red felt, two plastic headbands, some tiny decorations, more glue sticks, and black elastic. I also mangled a couple of old wire hangers.

Starting with the easy outfit, I added a piece of black elastic to the Santa hat to hold it on. After test fitting, I also added a stitch to hold the pompom in the right place.

Next up was Sketch’s Christmas tree. I cut two pieces of the green felt into a Christmas tree shape. Using the old hanger, I cut and shaped it into an upside down V shape. With the hanger ends sticking out of the bottom about an inch, I hot glued the hanger to the felt. I bent the ends and left them long for support at the back of the tree. Then I glued the front to the back and to the hanger and added the small decorations. It did take a bit of tweaking to keep the tree from falling over.

Splash’s antlers were made similarly to the tree. I made the red nose from a circle of red felt stuffed with cotton balls. It weighed nothing, but Splash thought she should hold it in her mouth instead of balancing it on her nose. Tiny black elastic to the rescue.

I love that in this photo Splash trying hard to balance that thing on her nose!

Costumes for July 4, 2021 were a snap! I bought three red, white and blue bandanas, three decorated headbands and a small fireworks sticker for the wall.

Wynk, Sketch and Splash really got in the spirit this time!

Halloween 2021 was supposed to be two canine skeletons. Alas, there was only time enough for one.

I tried white chalk, but it didn’t cover well enough on a black dog. Instead I used nearly a bottle of white acrylic paint. It took quite awhile to paint and Splash needed several breaks. She was carefully supervised so she didn’t spread the paint around the house.

Even a first year veterinary student would probably laugh at the bone placement, but I think she turned out cute. Especially when Splash thought she saw a “ghost” popping out from behind the couch.

Splash got to model her costume for another day, then needed a bath to look like herself again.

Halloween 2022 brought a new player to the lineup. This is 5-month old Boo, a chocolate Lab. I think he was born for the limelight!

To prepare, I went to the store looking for items to capture the essence of Cap’n Jack Sparrow. I bought a skein of brown yarn, some small strings of craft beads, a couple pieces of cloth on sale and a toy sword.

The first task was cutting and gluing the fabric into a vest shape. It needed a color boost and a bit of craft paint worked just fine.

Next was cutting yarn into 24 inch pieces, folding them in half and gluing together into clumps. I also braided a couple pieces of yarn.

In the movies, Cap’n Jack often wears a dirty red bandana around his head. However the difference in anatomy between human and canine presented a bit of a problem. To solve it, I first tied the bandana like it was on a head. Next I glued all the yarn clumps, plus the braid and a string of beads to the inside of the bandana. I also added a string of beads to the top of the bandana.

It wound up looking like a fez, but at least the whole shebang didn’t need elastic to stay put. I should mention it got mouthed a bit, but I think that added to the authenticity.

Next we had some rehearsals. Wear the hat and wig while sitting? Check. Wear the blue vest and a white shirt while sitting? Check. Wear all of it plus the sword while sitting? Check. Added a smudge of mascara under his eyes and on his lip. AND WE ARE READY!

Boo did a great job as the dashing, yet goofy, Cap’n Jack.

This post was originally published on October 31, 2019. Edited and updated with new content on October 31, 2022.

Origin of Chocolate Labs

Studying the pedigrees of chocolate Labrador Retrievers, you often wonder where the chocs are coming from. All of a sudden they are there, out of the blue. I studied the files in the LabradorNet database, which contains the pedigrees of more than 90,000 Labradors, and came to the conclusion that there are roughly 8 routes to the origin of chocolate Labs.

One of the reasons that you’ll find no chocolate Labs in the older files, is that they weren’t in fashion for many decades, so they just weren’t registered. However, the blacks and the yellows carrying the choc gene kept reproducing, and that’s why we’re able to trace them all the way back to the late 1800s.

Note: This article was written by Jack Vanderwyk. After his death his domain name was usurped by someone else. Fortunately I had a copy of his work and it’s shared here in a tribute to the research he did on Labrador Retriever pedigrees.


According to the studbook of Buccleuch Kennels, the chocolates in that kennel came through FTW Peter of Faskally (1908). However, Peter of Faskally was a descendant of Buccleuch Avon (1885).

Peter of Faskally

Buccleuch Avon

The Earl of Feversham had some typical specimen of chocolates, his Nawton Pruna (who produced yellow offspring) did well at field trials in the years preceding the First World War.

One of the chief supporters of chocolates was the Hon. Lady Ward of Chiltonfoliat, near Hungerford, the dogs from her kennel being very typical with particularly good tails and coats. Her chocolate bitch FTW Darry of Chiltonfoliat (Braeroy Darkie) (1930) was sired by an unregistered chocolate dog called Jimmy, while her dam descended from the chocolate Flatcoat Clyde (see further down).

Mr. J.G. Severn of Tibshelf Kennels wrote: “My first experience of the chocolate Labradors was in February, 1938, when I visited Dr. Montgomery of Sutton Ashfield, about three miles from Tibshelf. We had mated his black bitch Shelagh of Brasidonia to my black dog Danilo of Tibshelf. Result: 4 blacks, 2 chocolate dogs, 1 cream bitch. I later bought Shelagh and mated her again to Danilo. Result just the same.”

Miss Wills of Metesford Kennels produced several chocolates in the late 1940s, early 1950s, but their descendance is not known.



Further more we should keep in mind that there are a lot of missing links in our database, and sometimes the reasons for this are rather obvious. I found 21 interbred or fullbred Flatcoats or Chesapeake Bay retrievers in our Labrador retriever database, all born in the U.K. between 1914 and 1933.

Of all the 21 interbred or fullbred Flatcoats or Chesapeake Bay retrievers, most of them being Field Trial champions, we could only track the ancestors for more than two generations of two dogs. The information about the ancestors of the other 19 interbred dogs was simply removed from the files in the 1930s. It seems that some well known Labrador breeders didn’t want the public to know that their successful dogs were partly the offspring of interbred dogs.

Two well known Chesapeake Bay retrievers were a dog called Jolly, who sired the male Labrador retriever Jolly Sam, born before 1933, and the bitch Corydalys, who was the dam of the female Labrador retriever Micklefield Juno, born before 1925.

Clyde, born before 1923, was the “liver” (chocolate) Flatcoat retriever who sired the male yellow Labrador FTW Folkingham Bexter (1925), who in turn sired the yellow bitch FTW Limekiln Rhoda (1927). She and the yellow dog FTW Golden Morn (1926) had a litter that was registered as “half Golden Retriever and half Labradors”. The separation was by coat length, because all puppies were yellow. Apparently the third generation showed some traits of the original breed involved.

The chocolate Labrador may not have been very popular prior to the 1960s, but they were mentioned as early as 1927, in The Book of Dogs, published by the National Geographic Society in 1927: “This Labrador dog, crossed probably with the English setter, and perhaps with other breeds, produced the Retriever, which may be either black or liver-brown.” (The yellow Labrador was organized in The Yellow Labrador Retriever Club, in 1924.)



Route 1 (version 1):

– Morningtown Tobla (f, choc, < 1976)
– Brentville Ebony (f, black, <1974)
– Knavery Mistress Meg (f, black < 1972)
Sandylands Mark (m, black, 1965)
– Reanacre Mallardhurn Thunder (m, black, 1960)
– Mallardhurn Pat (f, yellow, < 1958)
– Poppleton Lieutenant (m, yellow, 1949)
– Poppleton Golden Sunray (f, yellow, < 1947)
– Poppleton Golden Major (m, yellow, < 1940)
– Poppleton Black Lancer (m, black, 1934)
– Haylers Danilo (m, black < 1932)
– Banchory Danilo (m, black, 1923)
Banchory Bolo (m, black, 1915)
– Scandal of Glynn (m, black, < 1913)
– Shelag of Glynn (f, black, < 1911)
– Shelag (f, colour unknown, < 1909)
– Munden Sentry (m, black, 1900)
– Munden Sixty (m, black, 1897)
– Buccleuch Nith (m, black, 1891)
– Buccleuch Avon (m, black, 1885)
– Malmesbury Tramp (m, black, 1878).

Sandylands Mark

Route 1 (version 2):

– Morningtown Tobla (f, choc, < 1976)
– Brentville Ebony (f, black, <1974)
– Knavery Mistress Meg (f, black < 1972)
– Sandylands Mark (m, black, 1965)
Reanacre Mallardhurn Thunder (m, black, 1960)
– Mallardhurn Pat (f, yellow, < 1958)
– Poppleton Lieutenant (m, yellow, 1949)
– Poppleton Golden Sunray (f, yellow, < 1947)
– Poppleton Golden Major (m, yellow, < 1940)
– Poppleton Black Lancer (m, black, 1934)
– Haylers Danilo (m, black < 1932)
– Boris de Main (f, yellow, < 1930), child of:
Sceptre (m, colour unknown, not registered, < 1928) and
Countess (f, colour unknown, not registered, < 1928).

However, Buccleuch Avon, born in 1885, so almost 40 years before, is known to have produced some chocolate offspring, so it’s more likely that either his sire Malmesbury Tramp, or his dam Malmesbury June (f, black, 1880), or both, already carried the chocolate gene.

Reanacre Mallardhurn Thunder

Route 2:

Follytower Merrybrook Black Stormer (m, black, 1969)
– Sandylands Tandy (m, yellow, 1961)
– Sandylands Shadow (f, black, 1959)
– Diant Pride (f, yellow, < 1957)
– Poppleton Lieutenant (m, yellow, 1949)
– Poppleton Golden Sunray (f, yellow, < 1947)
– Poppleton Golden Major (m, yellow, < 1940)
– Poppleton Black Lancer (m, black, 1934)
– Haylers Danilo (m, black < 1932)
– Banchory Danilo (m, black, 1923)
– Banchory Bolo (m, black, 1915)
– Scandal of Glynn (m, black, < 1913)
– Shelag of Glynn (f, black, < 1911)
– Shelag (f, colour unknown, < 1909)
– Munden Sentry (m, black, 1900)
– Munden Sixty (m, black, 1897)
– Buccleuch Nith (m, black, 1891)
– Buccleuch Avon (m, black, 1885)
– Malmesbury Tramp (m, black, 1878).

Follytower Merrybrook Black Stormer

Route 3:

Fabracken Comedy Star (m, black, 1979)
Martin of Mardas (m, black, 1975)
– Ballyduff Marketeer (m, black, 1974)
– Sandylands Mark (m, black, 1965)
– Reanacre Mallardhurn Thunder (m, black, 1960)
– Mallardhurn Pat (f, yellow, < 1958)
– Poppleton Lieutenant (m, yellow, 1949)
– Poppleton Golden Sunray (f, yellow, < 1947)
– Poppleton Golden Major (m, yellow, < 1940)
– Poppleton Black Lancer (m, black, 1934)
– Haylers Danilo (m, black < 1932)
– Banchory Danilo (m, black, 1923)
– Banchory Bolo (m, black, 1915)
– Scandal of Glynn (m, black, < 1913)
– Shelag of Glynn (f, black, < 1911)
– Shelag (f, colour unknown, < 1909)
– Munden Sentry (m, black, 1900)
– Munden Sixty (m, black, 1897)
– Buccleuch Nith (m, black, 1891)
– Buccleuch Avon (m, black, 1885)
– Malmesbury Tramp (m, black, 1878).

Fabracken Comedy Star

Route 4:

– Olivia of Blaircourt (f, black, < 1954)
– Lawrie of Blaircourt (m, black, < 1952)
– Fiona of Blaircourt (f, black, < 1950)
– Treesholme Thunder (m, black, < 1948)
– Triumph of Treesholme (m, yellow, < 1946)
– Poppleton Golden Sherry (f, yellow, < 1944)
– Poppleton Golden Gleam (f, yellow, < 1942)
– Poppleton Golden Major (m, yellow, < 1940)
– Poppleton Black Lancer (m, black, 1934)
– Haylers Danilo (m, black < 1932)
– Banchory Danilo (m, black, 1923)
– Banchory Bolo (m, black, 1915)
– Scandal of Glynn (m, black, < 1913)
– Shelag of Glynn (f, black, < 1911)
– Shelag (f, colour unknown, < 1909)
– Munden Sentry (m, black, 1900)
– Munden Sixty (m, black, 1897)
– Buccleuch Nith (m, black, 1891)
– Buccleuch Avon (m, black, 1885)
– Malmesbury Tramp (m, black, 1878).

Martin of Mardas

Route 5:

– Pride of Craigavon (m, chocolate, < 1974)
– Taffy of Keithray (m, black, 1965)
Sandylands Tweed of Blaircourt (m, black, 1958)
– Ruler of Blaircourt (m, black, 1956)
– Olivia of Blaircourt (f, black, < 1954)
– Lawrie of Blaircourt (m, black, < 1952)
– Fiona of Blaircourt (f, black, < 1950)
– Treesholme Thunder (m, black, < 1948)
– Triumph of Treesholme (m, yellow, < 1946)
– Poppleton Golden Sherry (f, yellow, < 1944)
– Poppleton Golden Gleam (f, yellow, < 1942)
– Poppleton Golden Major (m, yellow, < 1940)
– Poppleton Black Lancer (m, black, 1934)
– Haylers Danilo (m, black < 1932)
– Banchory Danilo (m, black, 1923)
– Banchory Bolo (m, black, 1915)
– Scandal of Glynn (m, black, < 1913)
– Shelag of Glynn (f, black, < 1911)
– Shelag (f, colour unknown, < 1909)
– Munden Sentry (m, black, 1900)
– Munden Sixty (m, black, 1897)
– Buccleuch Nith (m, black, 1891)
– Buccleuch Avon (m, black, 1885)
– Malmesbury Tramp (m, black, 1878).

Sandylands Tweed of Blaircourt

Route 6:

– Cookridge Oscar (m, chocolate, < 1960)
– Bickerton Salmon Prince (m, yellow, < 1958)
– Blondie of Gloamin (f, yellow, < 1956)
– Raider of Gloamin (m, colour unknown, < 1954)
– Marquis of Gloamin (m, yellow, < 1944)
– Poppleton Golden Major (m, yellow, < 1940)
– Poppleton Black Lancer (m, black, 1934)
– Haylers Danilo (m, black < 1932)
– Banchory Danilo (m, black, 1923)
– Banchory Bolo (m, black, 1915)
– Scandal of Glynn (m, black, < 1913)
– Shelag of Glynn (f, black, < 1911)
– Shelag (f, colour unknown, < 1909)
Munden Sentry (m, black, 1900)
– Munden Sixty (m, black, 1897)
– Buccleuch Nith (m, black, 1891)
– Buccleuch Avon (m, black, 1885)
– Malmesbury Tramp (m, black, 1878).

Munden Sentry

Route 7:

– Chocolate Lady (f, chocolate, < 1954)
– Harehope Bliss (m, black, 1936)
– Weston Bunty (f, black, < 1934)
– Adderley Tyke (m, black, 1929)
– Adderley Trim (f, black, 1927)
– Beningbrough Tanco (m, black, 1924)
– Banchory Corbie (m, black, 1921)
– Banchory Bolo (m, black, 1915)
– Scandal of Glynn (m, black, < 1913)
– Shelag of Glynn (f, black, < 1911)
– Shelag (f, colour unknown, < 1909)
– Munden Sentry (m, black, 1900)
– Munden Sixty (m, black, 1897)
– Buccleuch Nith (m, black, 1891)
– Buccleuch Avon (m, black, 1885)
– Malmesbury Tramp (m, black, 1878).

Route 8:

– Hiwood Mike (m, black, 1935), via Pettistree Dan (m, black, 1934)
– Quest of Wilbury (f, black, 1930)
– Muntham Raven (f, black, 1924)
– Banchory Corbie (m, black, 1921)
– Banchory Bolo (m, black, 1915)
– Scandal of Glynn (m, black, < 1913)
– Shelag of Glynn (f, black, < 1911)
– Shelag (f, colour unknown, < 1909)
– Munden Sentry (m, black, 1900)
– Munden Sixty (m, black, 1897)
– Buccleuch Nith (m, black, 1891)
– Buccleuch Avon (m, black, 1885)
– Malmesbury Tramp (m, black, 1878),

via Pettistree Poppet (f, colour unknown, < 1933)
– Cransford Flapper (f, colour unknown, < 1931)
– Peter of Bircham (m, colour unknown, < 1930)
– Banchory Danilo (m, black, 1923)
– Banchory Bolo (m, black, 1915)
– Scandal of Glynn (m, black, < 1913)
– Shelag of Glynn (f, black, < 1911)
– Shelag (f, colour unknown, < 1909)
– Munden Sentry (m, black, 1900)
– Munden Sixty (m, black, 1897)
– Buccleuch Nith (m, black, 1891)
– Buccleuch Avon (m, black, 1885)
– Malmesbury Tramp (m, black, 1878).


I researched some 30 well known chocolate Labrador Retrievers without any known chocolate ancestors, and their pedigrees all fit in with one (or several) of the routes above. Please keep in mind that famous Labradors like Boothgates Headliner, Lindall Mollie Malone, Morningtown Stormette etc all descend from Morningtown Tobla (route 1).

Aroscas Chocolate Surprise: route 1, via Sandylands Mark.
Bradking Cassandra: route 2, directly and via Ardmargha Mad Hatter and Sandylands Mark.
Brendale Brown Betty: route 2 and 5.
Brentwoods Sweet Molly Brown: route 2, via Mardas Brandlesholme Sam’s Song.
Captain Kirk of Rangeways: route 1 and 2.

Castlemore Bramble: route 1 via Sandylands Mark, route 5 via Pride of Craigavon.
Charway Mattie Brown: route 3.
Charway Sally Brown: route 2.
Chocolate Lady: route 7, via Harehope Bliss.
Cookridge Oscar: route 6, via Bickerton Salmon Price.
Cookridge Tango: route 5, via Sandylands Tweed of Blaircourt.
Could Be’s Chestnut Wrangler: route 4, via Could Be’s Rusty Rock, Could Be’s Haven Rock, Indian Valley Rob Roy, Bart of Blaircourt and Rush of Blaircourt.
Follytower Brownthorn: route 2, via Charway Blackthorn of Follytower.

Castlemore Bramble

Gunfield’s Super Charger: route 8, via Shamrock Acres Super Drive, Super Chief, Paha Sapa Chief II, Freehaven Muscles, Grangemead Sharon.
Gunotter’s Chocolate Nip: route 5, via Harris Tweed of Ide and Sandylands Tweed of Blaircourt.
Haverhill’s Brown Belle: route 1, via Dickendall Flip Flop, Sandylands Midas and Reanacre Mallardhurn Thunder.
Ironwood Cocoa Mocha: route 8, via Del Tone Colvin, Cork of Oakwood Lane, Coastal Charger of Deer Creek, Little Pierre of Deer Creek.
Lawnwoods Chocolate Fudge: directly via route 2, and route 1 via Lawnwoods Tapestry and Reanacre Mallardhurn Thunder.

Gunfield’s Super Charger

Lawnwoods Hot Chocolate: route 2.
Lenches Chocolate Liquor: Route 1 via Lasgarn Ludovic and Sandylands Mark.
Loughderg Fiona: route 4, via Ruler of Blaircourt.
Marbra Leprechaun: route 2.
Pride of Craigavon: route 5.

Lawnwoods Hot Chocolate

Pumerang Connection With Stormley: route 2, the easy way via Harrop Black Jack, or take the detour via Stormley Lynx with Pumerang, Ravenshall Charmer at Stormley, Clayford Music At Midnight At Stormley, Lawnwoods Midnight Folly and Lawnwoods Fandango.
Roydwood Rowntree at Ravenshall: route 1 and 2, via Keithray Lucinda, Contessa of Keithray and Sandylands Tandy.
Simandem Sam Browne of Balrion: route 2, via Charway Blackthorn of Follytower.
Sorbus Brown Jay: route 5, via Alvgardens Sam, Alvgardens Jet, Alvgardens Flap, Sandylands Twanah and Sandylands Tweed of Blaircourt.
Tracers Sweet Georgia Brown: route 2, via Follytower Chevalier of Ranfurly and Follytower Augusta.
Waltham Galaxy of Condor: route 1, via Jayncourt Stormer and Sandylands Mark.
Whisky Creek Brown Buina: route 4, via Indian Valley Raed Wulf and Bart of Blaircourt.

Pumerang Connection With Stormley

Williston Brown Smith: route 1, via Sebastian of Anderscroft, Sandylands Midas and Reanacre Mallardhurn Thunder.

Williston Brown Smith

I’m pretty sure that at least 99% of all chocolate Labradors can be categorized using one of the 8 routes above.

Several routes can be taken to track the origin of chocolate Labs.

Wetherlam Nutcracker, ancestor of most of my chocs.

Jack Vanderwyk,
May 5, 2003

The first championship stake was held in Southampton, Long Island on November 20-21, 1938. Twenty-two of the best retrievers in the US came to compete. They retrieved pheasants shot in the field and ducks shot over water. The dogs saw some birds shot while other birds were planted out of sight. Dogs had to be guided by their handlers to find these birds.

In the header image, you can see the judges, owners, handlers, spectators and dogs trudging across the field trial grounds.



One dog, Field Champion (FC) Blind of Arden did the work without a mistake. He clinched the win with the final blind retrieve described as follows:

“…a dead duck, unseen by the dogs, was planted on an island. At a signal from his handler, Blind jumped into the water and swam to the island. There he scented the bird, looked back only twice to the handler, who with his arm waved him in the right direction. Quickly finding the duck, Blind picked it up with a firm mouth, started swimming back to his handler.”

Blind of Arden retrieving a duck

Blind retrieving a duck to his handler, Jasper Briggs.

Life Magazine featured Blind on the magazine’s cover on December 12, 1938. This was the first time a dog had ever been on the cover. (Note: You can see a copy of the cover here.)



The Labrador Retriever breed was just getting started in the United States and had only been officially recognized by the America Kennel Club five years earlier.

The first retriever field trial was held in 1931. In 1935, Field and Stream Magazine provided a perpetual trophy that would be awarded each year to the dog that earned the most points in Open All-Age stakes. Blind of Arden won it the first year and his half-sister, FC Tar of Arden, won it a few years later. It was 1941 before the National Retriever Field Trial Club was formed.

(left) A handler controls the dog using whistle and arm signals.
(center) Three retriever breeds – a Curly coated retriever, a Labrador and a Chesapeake Bay retriever.
(right) Judges inspect a retrieved bird. Dogs must hold them firmly, but gently so as not to break the skin or crush the bird. After the trial, the birds are sold.

Images from the first retriever championship stake

At that time, retriever trials were the realm of the very rich. Owners imported dogs from England, enticed dog trainers from Scotland and set up amazing hunting estates on the east coast. To have a chance of winning the Field and Stream trophy, dogs had to run in many trials throughout the East and Mid West.

Blind’s owner was W. Averell Harriman of New York. He was the son of a railroad baron and, in his own career, he served as Secretary of Commerce under President Truman, served as a diplomat in relations with the Soviet Union during World War II and later served as governor of New York.

Blind of Arden training with a live pheasant

Blind of Arden training with a live pheasant.




Odds On FTW The Favorite FTW The Limit
Cache Of The Rhins FTW
Jest Mansel’s Timothy
Peggy of Shipton FTW Ronald of Candahar Eng FTCh Rag Tag
Gehta of Sigeforda Eng FTCh Banchory Bluff
Eng CH Balbeardie FTW

Extended pedigree

Although Blind didn’t seem to produce any titled dogs himself, he did pass on his genetics to future generations. Some dogs that descend from him include:

  • CNFC FC AFC Ardyn’s Ace of Merwalfin
  • FTC AFTC Slo-Poke Smokey Of Dairy Hill
  • FC AFC Jet of Zenith
  • CNFC FC Rip of Holly Hill

Jet of Zenith’s pedigree is interesting.

Coming down from Blind, his daughter, Graysmarsh Middy, was bred to her cousin, 3xNFC CFC DUAL CH Shed of Arden, thus doubling up on Peggy of Shipton.

A female from that litter, Graysmarsh Christmas, was bred to CNFC FC Rip of Holly Hill. Rip was a great great grandson of Blind through Okanagan Molly, thus doubling up on Blind.

A female from the Rip x Christmas litter, Thornwood Rhea, was bred to NFC AFC Massie’s Sassy Boots. Boot’s mother, Penney of Wingan, had several lines back to Eng DUAL CH Banchory Bolo and other dogs owned or bred by Lorna, Countess Howe.

Then there’s Blind’s full sister – FC Decoy of Arden – who was an outstanding producer. She was the mother of:

  • 3xNFC CFC DUAL CH Shed of Arden,
  • DUAL CH Braes of Arden,
  • DUAL CH Gorse of Arden,
  • CH Earlsmoor Moor of Arden,
  • CH Earlsmoor Marlin of Arden (all by CH Raffles of Earlsmoor) and
  • FC Gun of Arden (by Toff of Hamyax FTW)

And Blind’s half-sister – NFC Tar of Arden (by Hiwood Risk) – who was the mother of Dual CH CFC Little Pierre Of Deer Creek.

(Click for help understanding the various titles dogs have earned)

Bringing your new puppy home is such an exciting time, but are you ready? Puppies need care and a lot of attention. It’s up to you to provide a safe environment. Check your house and buy your supplies before you bring your puppy home.

Here’s a checklist to help you get started!



Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian for a day or so after you’re scheduled to pick up your puppy.

Identify an emergency veterinarian as not all vets are available at night or on weekends.

If needed, find a reputable day care, puppy class and/or trainer.

Determine where the puppy will sleep, preferably in a crate to start.

Determine who will be primarily responsible for feeding and caring for the puppy. As the puppy starts to learn commands, be sure everyone uses the same command to not confuse the puppy.



Safety first! Get down at your puppy’s level and search for everything that could be potentially dangerous and for anything you don’t want chewed. Also be aware of anything your puppy could jump or climb on to reach higher.

Check every room in your house plus the yard, garage and any other buildings your puppy might be able to access.


In the house:

Check behind any furniture where your puppy could hide and block it off. Block access to under beds.

Protect electrical cords, TV and computer cables and electrical outlets. It’s very common for puppies to chew on wires, but it can be deadly. Don’t forget about remote controls.

Keep shoes and clothing picked up or behind closed closet doors.

Place all medication and supplements inside a cupboard well out of reach of your puppy’s best efforts. Those bottles might be “child proof”, but they won’t last long against puppy teeth.

Store all cleaning supplies in a cabinet secured with a cable or in a high cabinet that the puppy can’t climb. Don’t forget to put bars of soap, bottles of shampoo, makeup, razors, cotton balls, tissues, aftershave, perfume, etc out of reach.

Secure all trash containers with a puppy-proof lid or inside a cabinet.

Store decorations, candles, plug-in scented sprays out of reach or in a secured cabinet.

Store office supplies such as rubber bands, staples and paperclips in drawers or a secure cupboard.

Keep cigarettes, cigars and loose tobacco out of reach of puppies.

Check for toxic plants inside – and outside – of the house. Move them safely out of the puppy’s reach. Check for plants are poisonous for dogs.

If you have cats or other pets, move the litter box where the puppy can’t get to it.

Don’t forget to check every closet or cubbyhole.

If there is an area that just can’t be puppy proofed, use a quality baby gate and/or an exercise pen to keep him out.

Be vigilant about keeping everything put away, out of puppy’s reach.


Garage and yard:

Check for holes in or under your fencing and anything your puppy could climb in, on or under.

If you have a deck, place a barrier so the puppy can’t fall off or down the stairs.

Move all paint, pesticides, rodent poisons, cleaners, chemicals, bug spray, fertilizers, etc out of puppy’s reach – at least five feet off the floor – or in a secured cabinet.

Store tools and power equipment out of puppy’s reach.

Do the same with antifreeze, fuel and other car fluids. These may taste sweet to a puppy, but they are deadly.

If any trash cans don’t have a secure lid, place the can in a secure cupboard or out of puppy’s reach.

Check for plants that could be potentially toxic to your puppy using the link above. These items are also toxic:

  • pit fruits such as apricots, cherries, peaches, plums and avocados
  • garlic, onion and chives
  • grapes and currants
  • chili peppers
  • lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruit
  • potatoes and tomatoes
  • rhubarb
  • tobacco
  • coffee grounds and tea bags

Move or place a puppy-proof barrier around any toxic plants.

Check everything a second time a day or so before you welcome your puppy home.



Now that you’ve found potential trouble spots, here are some products that might help.



For some reason, puppies are attracted to power cords. They’re small enough to fit in their mouths, easy to chew and potentially deadly.

Clear Electrical Wire Protector (Total 30 Feet)

Wire Loom Tubing To Protect Wires from Pets

Outlet Covers 38-Pack White Child Proof Electrical Plug Covers

Electrical Outlet Cover Box Childproof Large Plug Cover (Transparent)

Dual Fit Outlet Plug Cover White 2 Count


Securing cabinets and other areas:

Child Safety Strap Locks (10 Pack) White/Gray

Under Bed Couch Blocker for Pets 8 Pack 4.7″ High 126″ Long

Mom’s Choice Award – Metal Baby Gate, 29-48″ Extra Wide Pressure Mounted

Banister Guard Child Safety Net – 15ft x 3ft tall (white)

Outdoor Deck Rail Safety Net – 16ft x 38″ tall (black)



Now that your house is safe, what do you need for puppy?



Pet Thermometer Waterproof Fast and Accurate Measurements

Disposable Probe Covers for Thermometer, 50 Count

Pet Infrared Ear Thermometer for Dogs and Cats, Rechargeable ℃/℉


Collars and leashes:

If you must add tags to your puppy’s collar, tape them flat to the collar. Dangling tags can be caught in heat/AC vents, openings in crates and many other narrow openings. When that happens dogs will often fight against it and may twist to the point of strangulation.

Also, if you have more than one dog and they like to play – especially if they grab each other by the neck – remove the collars. Too many dogs have died of strangulation when they caught their lower jaw in another dog’s collar. Both will struggle and twist. And it happens fast. I had it happen. Both dogs wore quick-release collars, but one twist and one dog was choking while the other dog fought to get free. Had I not been 15 feet away when it happened, at least one dog would probably have died. My dogs no longer wear collars except when competing, however they are all microchipped.

Unless you have a short nose dog like a Pug or a dog with a slender head like a Greyhound, avoid using a harness. Harnesses can be hard to fit and a poorly-fitted harness can cause chafing or allow the dog to slip out. It should also be taken off when the dog doesn’t need to be on leash.

Reflective Multi-Colored Stripe Adjustable Dog Collar, Violet and River Blue, Medium, Neck 14.5″-20″

Avoid retractable leashes – “flexi-leads” – especially for puppies. More accidents seem to happen with these leashes. Even a small dog running toward an attraction can hit the end of the cord and snap the clasp or collar. When that happens the cord will quickly retract and possibly hit you or bystanders causing “broken teeth, due to the collar or metal clasp breaking and swinging back into your face.” Grabbing the cord or having it wrap around a hand or leg can lead to deep cuts and even amputation.

Reflective Multi-Colored Stripe Dog Leash with Soft & Comfortable Handle, 5 ft x 3/4″, Violet & River Blue

This is a better option than a flexi-lead. It adjusts to 3 lengths: 4, 5 and 7-1/2 feet. Clip it around your chest, waist or shoulder to free your hands. It’s available in a variety of colors.

Adjustable Dog Training Leash | Secure & Non-Slip Rubberized Nylon Grip Hands Free Dog Leash (Black)



I have some of these bowls. They’re almost indestructible, dishwasher safe and don’t move around like regular stainless steel bowls.

Deep Stainless Steel Anti-Slip Dog Bowls, Set of 2, Each Holds Up to 6 Cups

Another option if you have a fast eater is this slow feeder bowl. There are several design, color and size choices.

Outward Hound Fun Feeder Slo Bowl, Slow Feeder Dog Bowl, Medium/Mini, Orange



Reasonably priced washable dog beds, sized to fit in crates. Medium for puppies and smaller Labs 30x20x3″. Large for an adult Lab 36x24x3″. Extra Large for a big, adult male Lab 48x24x3″.

Waterproof Dog Bed, Reversible, Removable Washable Cover & Waterproof Inner Lining – Medium

Probably best to wait on introducing a quality dog bed until your puppy is house-trained and past the teething stage. Otherwise these are outstanding dog beds.

Best Friends by Sheri The Original Calming Donut Cat and Dog Bed in Shag Fur Taupe, Extra Large 45×45 – big enough for adult dog



This is my go-to brush for Labs. It’s great for removing dirt and dead hair and the dogs love the attention.

Zoom Groom Dog Brush, Groom and Massage While Removing Loose Hair and Dead Skin – Blue

If your dog grows a thicker coat than the Zoom Groom can get through, this rake can go deeper to remove dead hair. Just use it gently.

Ergonomic Undercoat Pets Rake, Dog Dematting Brush

For young puppies you can use fingernail clippers to just cut the sharp hook off the end of each nail. Remember to do this every couple of weeks. Be careful of cutting too deep and making the nail bleed. As your puppy matures, switch to a dog nail clipper.

Dog Nail Clippers Safety Guard and Nail File

For some dogs who have learned to fear nail trimming, here is a smooth and quiet clipper.

Dog Nail Trimmer for Anxiety Sensitive Dog, Quiet Sharpest Smoothest Dog Nail Clippers

4 Pack Dog Toothbrush for Dog Teeth Cleaning Dog Finger Toothbrush

The cleanest teeth I’ve ever seen belonged to dogs fed a raw meat and bones diet. This is likely due to the chewing involved, but also because of the enzymes in the meat. Another option is brushing their teeth with an enzymatic toothpaste.

Enzymatic Toothpaste for Dogs and Cats (Poultry)

Burt’s Bees for Puppies Natural Tearless 2 in 1 Shampoo and Conditioner



Don’t skip crate training! It makes house training easier and will help in an emergency, such as a fire, tornado or flooding especially if you have to transport your dog or place him in a boarding kennel.

For a puppy, set up a wire crate with the divider panel positioned so he can stand up, lie down, turn around, and stretch. Don’t make it any bigger because he will likely potty in one end and sleep in the other. Gradually move the divider to give the puppy more space as he grows.

To help with crate training, place the crate close enough so the puppy can see you, but not in a busy area. Watch for when he’s starting to tire and place him in the crate so there’s less resistance. Add a puppy blanket and a toy in the crate with him.

Double Door Dog Crate, Includes 2 Doors, Leak-Proof Pan, Floor Protecting Feet and Divider Panel – 36″

You can get a plastic airline-type crate instead, but they don’t generally have a divider. Instead you will have to block off part of a bigger crate or buy a few crates in different sizes. There are generally used ones for sale on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace, just be sure to clean a used crate well.

For people who cannot take their new puppy out to potty every 2-3 hours, you can set up an area with access to the outside or to a litter box or doggy lawn. Surround the area with an exercise pen and clip it to a crate to help keep it from moving around. Or use a baby gate to partition a room.

This is an excellent exercise pen for occasional use such as while traveling or attending competitions. However it’s probably not suitable for a puppy without supervision as it can be tipped over. It folds to about 24 x 30 x 3″

Foldable Metal Dog Exercise Pen / Pet Playpen, 24″W x 30″H

After a bit of training, this pen could be used for a puppy left alone for awhile. It is made of heavier construction with additional features:

  • automatic gravity lock design ensures you can open and close the door smoothly and reduce the chance of your dog unlocking it
  • Muffler Tube installed on the rings can minimize any noise caused by the rattling of the rods or panels
  • Anti-slip silicone pads installed on the stakes and the bottom of the panels provide friction to reduce the possibility of the pen being pushed down and can prevent the stakes from scratching your floors

HomePlus Playpen Designed for Indoor Use 32″H 8 panels

Here’s a waterproof tarp for under an exercise pen – indoors or outdoors.

Heavy Duty Poly Tarp – 8′ x 10′ – 10 Mil Thick Waterproof

Puppies seem to like these grass mats more than pee pads, however they require cleaning while the pee pads can be thrown away.

Grass Mat with Tray, Complete Potty System for Indoor/Outdoor Puppy Training, Reusable Pet Litter Box 23×19″

Puppy Pad Holder Tray – Silicone, 24 x 24″

Super Absorbent Pee Pads for Dogs, Leak-Proof


Clean up:

Time-tested style of pooper scooper. Metal. Requires two hands – one to hold the tray and one to use the scraper or rake.

Pooper Scooper, Extra Large with Long Handle, Metal Poop Tray and Rake Set

Newer style with one-handed operation and spring-loaded clam shell pickup. Handle folds in half.

Pet Pooper Scooper for Dogs and Cats with Long Handle

Zero Odor – Pet Odor Eliminator – Permanently Eliminate Air & Surface Odors

Go Here Attractant Indoor and Outdoor Dog Training Spray

Amazon Basics Unscented Standard Dog Poop Bags with Dispenser and Leash Clip, 13 x 9 Inches, Black – 20 Rolls (300 Bags)



First off, here are several treats and toys to avoid:

  • Rope toys can be dangerous – if they’re too small, the dog might swallow it whole, ropes labeled as indestructible or cotton-blend likely contain indigestible nylon and/or polyester and, unlike other things puppies might swallow, long strands of rope can get tangled in your dog’s stomach or intestines.
  • Toys small enough to get stuck in their throat are a choking hazard.
  • Rawhide treats are not digestible and, if your dog swallows a large piece whole it could cause choking or an obstruction. Also they are often coated with toxic chemicals.
  • Cooked bones are usually very hard and brittle. They can cause a broken tooth, cuts or obstructions in the dog’s mouth, throat and digestive system, and round bones can get stuck around the lower jaw.
  • Although some people swear by Greenies, they do pose a risk of intestinal blockage and possible death despite the claim of being “highly digestible.” Instead you might try a single-ingredient chew such as pig, cow or lamb ears, duck or chicken feet, beef trachea or tendon or bullysticks. Because of their natural origins, you may want to give them as outdoor treats.
  • Avoid tennis balls as the fuzz will wear down teeth, they can get stuck in your dog’s throat and strong chewers may swallow the fuzz and/or parts of a split ball which can lead to an obstruction. It’s better to give your dog a ball specifically designed for dogs and big enough to prevent a choking hazard.

Here are a few treats and chews we like:

N-Bone Puppy Teething Rings Chicken Flavor Dog Treat, 6 count bag, 7.2-oz

SPOFLY Puppy Teething Chew Toys, Freezable Puppy Teething Toy, 1 Teething Ring 1 Teething Bone Freezable Dog Chew Toys Set (Blue)

KONG – Puppy Toy Natural Teething Rubber – Fun to Chew, Chase and Fetch – for Medium Puppies – Pink

Best Pet Supplies Crinkle Dog Toy for Small, Medium, and Large Breeds, Cute No Stuffing Duck with Soft Squeaker

Multipet Plush Dog Toy, Lambchop, 10″, White/Tan, Small

iHeartDogs Heartbeat Puppy Toy – Comfort Cuddler Pillow – Dog Anxiety Toy

HOUNDGAMES Puppy Toy Mat with Teething Chew Toys (20” x 20”) Ropes, Squeaker, Plush Foam Bed, Durable

BoniVet Bully Stick Holder for Dogs, Chew Holder, Prevent Choking Safety Device



Several years ago, factories in China added wheat gluten adulterated with melamine to pet food and treats as a cheap way to boost the protein percent. Many animals died after eating these foods. Since then other products from China, including milk, ice cream and canned coffee drinks, have tested positive for melamine. It’s probably best to avoid any food products made in China.

For other things to avoid, check out People Foods Dogs Shouldn’t Eat.

We feed Dynamite Super Premium dog food.

From their website at
“A superior kibble free of the common allergens corn and wheat is made with fresh, hand-trimmed USDA chicken. It also contains chicken cartilage that is rich in natural glucosamine. On top of that our Super Premium contains prebiotics and probiotics to aid digestion.

“Made with minimal processing to help preserve the natural goodness of the ingredients, our small-batch recipe is not baked. Instead, we use state-of-the-art technology that utilizes a low-temperature, high-moisture extrusion. This method assures all starch is cooked and minimal damage occurs to the proteins.”

We also give DynaPro:
“Canine health depends on a thriving population of beneficial gut microbes. Factors such as stress, diet changes, chemical wormers, vaccinations, and antibiotics will cause a dog’s gut to become an unfriendly environment and will force microbes to go dormant. Dyna Pro is designed to create the ideal conditions for good microbes to come out of dormancy, multiply, and thrive so your dog gets optimal utilization of food and supplements, resulting in a vibrant animal!”

An alternative food is Purina Pro Plan High Protein Puppy Food.



Kasa Indoor Pan/Tilt Smart Security Camera, 1080p HD Dog Camera 2.4GHz with Night Vision, Motion Detection for Baby and Pet Monitor, Cloud & SD Card Storage, Works with Alexa & Google Home (EC70)

Petcube Cam Indoor Wi-Fi Pet and Security Camera with Phone App, Pet Monitor with 2-Way Audio and Video, Night Vision, 1080p HD Video and Smart Alerts for Ultimate Home Security



Take a towel or a small blanket to wrap puppy in for the drive home. Also a roll of paper towels, a plastic bag and a spray cleaner for any accidents on the way.

Take puppy’s new collar and leash. Buy them before going to pick up your puppy. You shouldn’t be taking him into any stores or to any parks or other public places until he has at least his second set of vaccines. Check with the breeder for correct size.

Put out a fresh bowl of water. Feed your puppy three times a day for the first couple of months. Pick up the food bowl after 15 minutes, whether he’s finished eating or not. Allowing your puppy to nibble any time of day will start a bad habit. One cup of food at each meal should be about the right amount for a Labrador or similar size dog. Check with your breeder if you have questions.

Keep the toilet lid closed if you use any cleaners.

Don’t use a flea collar, sprays or any other pesticides except on your veterinarian’s advice and preferably not until your puppy is at least four months old.

Don’t have other dogs over to meet your puppy until his vaccinations are completed.

Lastly, be sure to have your veterinarian’s phone number posted by the phone!

What Is PRA In Labradors?

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is an inherited disease that affects eyesight in Labrador Retrievers and several other breeds. It causes a gradual degeneration of the retina which is where light is changed into electrical signals and sent to the brain. PRA is not painful but affected dogs will lose their vision.



PRA is a preventable genetic problem.

There are several forms of PRA in dogs, and Labs have the prcd-PRA form. The PRCD part stands for progressive rod-cone degeneration and is caused by a mutation in the PRCD gene.

Affected puppies are born with normal retinas, but over time the cells break down which causes the blindness. When that happens varies however it often starts when they’re about three to five years old.

The rod cells – helpful with night vision and motion detection – generally break down first. The cone cells – helpful with color detection – will break down next, ending with complete blindness.

You may not notice it right away because dogs adjust very well. It is more noticeable after dark or when the dog is away from home. Some signs include:

  •  bumping into things
  •  hesitating to use stairs
  •  seeming disoriented
  •  reluctant to go outside after dark
  •  dilated pupils


Annual eye exams by a veterinary ophthalmologist can detect a variety of eye problems. Early detection may make a difference in some diseases.

However, you can have your dog tested with a simple test. Get a few sterile swabs (they look like a long q-tip). Wait at least an hour after your dog has eaten, then wash your hands and position the swab between his cheek and gums. Swirl it ten times then place the swab back in the packaging. Repeat with another swab inside the other cheek. Package and mail the swabs to a laboratory that does genetic testing for dogs.

I use DDC and like that they’re polite, fast, and reasonably priced. They offer a variety of genetic tests, and you can do several tests or just one at a time. They’ll also send you a packet of swabs if needed.

About two weeks later, you’ll get an email with the results. Labs that are clear of the mutated gene are not at risk and will only pass clear genes to their puppies. Labs having one copy of the mutated gene are not at risk but may pass that gene to puppies. Labs having two copies of the mutated gene will gradually go blind, and all of their puppies will have at least one copy of that gene. There is no cure.

If you plan to breed your dog, this is one of the tests you should do. Finding out whether your dog is clear, a carrier, or affected will help avoid producing puppies with prcd-PRA. An exception would be if both of your dog’s parents were tested clear AND you have copies of those results.

Prevention is as easy as choosing at least one parent tested clear of PRA.


If your dog has two copies of the mutated gene, he will gradually go blind. Dogs generally accept it much better than people do, but you’ll want to help him cope anyway.

Be aware that blind dogs may become disoriented and anxious. Losing sight can also reduce his quality of life if he can’t do some of the things he enjoyed doing.

Start helping him by fencing off potentially dangerous areas, such as:

  •  long flights of stairs, indoors and outdoors
  •  holes and steep slopes
  •  cactus and other similar plants

If you have any remodeling plans, try to finish that while your dog can still see. Do the same with rearranging furniture.

You may notice he doesn’t see as well in dim light. Provide additional lighting if you can.

Keep your dog’s bowls and crate or bed in the same spots.

Add tactile and/or scent clues so he can find his way. For example, add throw rugs in front of furniture and gravel or wood chips in front of bushes. Spray a particular scent near his bowls and another scent on his bed. Always use those same scents in each location.

If he likes toys, get some that make sounds. A giggle ball can be particularly fun.

And best of all, talk to your dog. He may jump if he doesn’t know you’re about to touch him, so talk or make some noise first. When calling him to come to you, don’t just say it once, continue speaking so he can find you. He can also learn cue words, such as “watch out” and “step”, to help him navigate.



Even if your dog has been tested for PRA, an annual eye exam is a good idea. Other conditions can affect vision and overall eye health.

Some of the most common eye problems in Labs include:

  •  Cataracts: a clouding of the lens in the eye, which can cause vision problems or blindness. Labs are prone to developing juvenile cataracts, which appear before the dog is a year old.
  •  Retinal Dysplasia: a developmental disorder that affects the retina, and can cause vision problems or blindness. This is another hereditary condition in Labs.
  •  Corneal Dystrophy: a group of genetic disorders that affect the cornea, which can cause vision problems or corneal ulcers. Labs can be affected by epithelial/stromal corneal dystrophy.
  •  Glaucoma: a condition that causes increased pressure within the eye, which can damage the optic nerve and cause blindness. Labs are prone to developing glaucoma.
  •  Entropion: a condition where the eyelashes rub against the eye and cause irritation. Labs are prone to developing entropion.

Dr. Becker Discusses Blindness in Pets


PRA is a significant health concern in Labs. There is currently no cure for PRA, but genetic testing is quick and easy.

If you’re planning to breed your dog, have him or her tested. Ensure at least one potential parent is clear of PRA.

If you’re considering buying a puppy, check if the parents have been tested clear. Check for proof, not just that they’ve been cleared by the local vet.

No dog should go blind because of PRA.

The Silver Labrador Myth

Can you tell which is a purebred Weimaraner and which is a ‘Silver Lab’?

Years ago it was really hard to tell a silver from a Weimaraner. Unless you looked at the tail. In the US, Weimaraners have their tails docked to six inches. Some other countries have outlawed cropping ears and docking tails, so looking at the tail in those locations may not be helpful.

Over time, silver breeders have been able to breed their dogs to more purebred Labs so the silvers are looking more Lab-like. However they are still prone to color dilution alopecia. (Learn more about this problem in the Health Issues section below.)



The Labrador Retriever originated in Newfoundland and the early dogs were black. Some had white markings from the St John’s dog.

Several of these dogs were imported to England and Scotland during 1800s. Impressed by their retrieving desire and overall work in the field, wealthy sportsmen imported more dogs and began breeding them.

The majority of these dogs were black, but breeders documented an occasional brown or yellow puppy. But black was – and still is – the most common color.



According to the Factual Review by Margaret Wilson, “There was never any mention in the meticulous and exhaustive breeding records, whelping logs, descriptions of markings colors, etc., and stud books kept by gentlemen of unimpeachable integrity of any dog being produced that was, in fact or in fantasy, a dilute. Not in ANY of the retriever breeds developed from the St. John’s dog during that time in Great Britain. The dilute allele was introduced after the establishment of the recognized breeds. In the case of the Labrador this introduction occurred in the USA during the latter part of the 20th century.”

Because of the variety of breeds that were crossed with Labs early in their history, occasionally a mismark will pop up. Some have tan markings like a Doberman, some are brindle like a Great Dane, some are splashed with white. These mismarks are rare, but they do still occur. Unlike the ‘silver Labs’ these dogs are considered purebred Labs.

Interestingly there was no mention of ‘silver Labs’ until the mid-1900s. And for years after that they were only found in the US. There were none in the United Kingdom until 2006 when some silvers were exported from the US. If these dogs really were purebred Labradors they should have appeared a long time ago in the breed’s home country.

So where did this color come from?

Most likely from the Weimaraner which comes “in shades of mouse-gray to silver-gray” per the breed standard. Every dog of this breed has two copies of the recessive dilution gene (“dd”) which gives them the silvery color.

Labs, however, do not have the dilution gene. A purebred Lab is “DD” which means they have two copies of the dominant, non-dilute gene.

Crossing a Lab with a Weimaraner will produce dogs with normal Lab colors, however they will all carry a copy of the dilute gene (“Dd”). Crossing these dogs together can produce dogs that do not carry the dilute gene (“DD”) and dogs that carry one copy of the dilute gene (“Dd”). These dogs will have normal Lab colors. However that cross can also produce dogs that have two copies of the dilute gene (“dd”) and the normal Lab colors will be diluted.

The dilute colors have been named “charcoal”, “silver” and “champagne.” These dogs often have a lavender cast to the coat and light greenish eyes, both traits from the Weimaraner.

When and how did ‘silver Labs’ appear?

Just about every ‘silver Lab’ can be traced back to two breeders – Crist Culo Kennels and Beaver Creek Labradors. They gained notoriety in the mid-1980s. Neither has a current website. There is also mention of a magazine advertisement for “rare gray Labradors” that appeared sometime in the 1950s. Although it’s mentioned over and over again, no one has been able to produce a copy of it and they can’t even even agree on which magazine it appeared in. Perhaps it’s just a legend like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster.

In 1987 the American Kennel Club (“AKC”) investigated a litter of silver puppies. Genetic testing was not yet available, so after looking at the puppies and their paperwork they decided “there was no reason to doubt that the dogs were purebred Labrador Retrievers.” That statement is not the same as saying the dogs were purebred, but rather it meant they had no proof the dogs were of mixed parentage. Genetic testing would likely have proven the records were falsified, but without it they could only rely on the breeder’s word. Read on to learn about his veracity.

Crist Culo Kennels

Dean Crist appears to be the first person to market ‘silver Labs’ and was adamant that they were purebred Labs. He even boasted that he “offered $100,000 to anyone who could simply prove” he was cross-breeding to produce ‘silver Labs.’ It was a safe bet as DNA testing wasn’t available yet and, when it did become available, it could only show whether a particular dog was a parent of a specific puppy and not back to the first cross-breeding.

The dogs at Crist Culo Kennels were intensely inbred – mother to son, father to daughter, brother to sister. Rather than trying to improve the breed, this was most likely done to increase the number of dogs that carried the dilute gene and thus his profit margin.

Half-truths, at best

On his website this breeder claimed “… there is also little doubt AKC will eventually have to concede to the growing public pressure to make Silver a recognized color for Labs in America.” I guess he didn’t know that AKC doesn’t have the power to make silver a recognized color of Labradors. The Labrador Retriever Club (“LRC”), as the parent club for Labs in the US, is in control of the breed standard and does not recognize any dog with a dilute color as a purebred Lab.

He also claimed that “…kennel clubs around the world (who do not have the political pressure from mercenary American breeders of ‘normal’ color Labs) already accept Silver Labs without all the political fuss and pressure being applied to AKC.” The truth is, except for AKC, no kennel club, anywhere, accepts “silver Labs” as purebred.

And despite numerous breedings of ‘silver Labs’, he claimed “Genetically speaking, Charcoal Labs are silver factored Yellow Labs.” When in fact dilute yellow Labs are a pale yellow with a lavender cast to their coat and “charcoal Labs” are diluted black Labs.

In more hyperbole, he claimed “Chocolate Labs were both controversial and rare in the U.S. in the early ‘80s.” Although not as common as black Labs, they were not controversial nor rare and many champions were chocolate:

  • Am Mex CH Gunfields Super Charger CD WC (born 1969),
  • CH Wingmasters Cobe of Mandigo CD (born 1972),
  • CH Shamrock Acres Coco Bo (born 1974),
  • CH Mallards Brown Spinner (born 1974, great great grandmother of NFC AFC Storm’s Riptide Star),
  • CH Shamrock Acres Pot of Fudge CDX (born 1975),
  • CH Wingmaster’s Swiss Ms CD (born 1977),
  • CH Wingmasters Chisim Trail (born 1979),
  • FC Mueller’s Stormy Canada (born 1980),
  • CH Marshview’s Danick Big Bang CD (born 1980),
  • CH Simerdowns Charley Brown CD (born 1980),
  • CH Fantasy’s O’Malley CD (born 1983).

Saddest of all is that he claimed “sensitive skin or allergies … occur at the same frequency in Silver Labs as they occur in Chocolate Labs” and blamed puppy buyers for feeding a poor diet. In fact ‘silver Labs’ are commonly afflicted with color dilution alopecia, a genetic disorder in which the dog loses most or all of its hair. It’s not curable and is associated with the dilute color.

Although he has retired from breeding, other breeders of ‘silver Labs’ continue to spread his false information.

Beaver Creek Labradors

This kennel showed up in the 1990s – about 10 years after Crist Culo. They practiced less intense line breeding – using distant relatives – compared with the inbreeding done at Crist Culo Kennels. According to Crist, this kennel culled silver puppies until they saw him advertising ‘silver Labs’ for sale. He volunteered to sell the puppies for them so they could, apparently, avoid the backlash of cross breeding. Eventually they chose to market their own puppies.

Other breeders fell to the shiny object syndrome and started breeding their own ‘silver Labs.’ Some sourced their first dogs from early breeders, while others decided to breed their own ‘silver Labs.’ At least one was caught falsifying records and was suspended from AKC.



There are a variety of stories told to explain the sudden appearance of “silver Labs” in the 1980s.

Some silver breeders point to gray puppies noted by Mary Roslin-Williams, however they only included the part that makes it seem like ‘silver Labs’ have been around for many years. What they didn’t share is that when those puppies shed their puppy coat they were black. Not silver, not charcoal.

A Dutch researcher created a database of Labs and traced most silver pedigrees back to two dogs from a large mid-western kennel. However he failed to mention that to register Labrador x Weimaraner puppies with the AKC, a false name and registration number from a Lab had to be used in place of the actual Weimaraner parent as noted in the recipe below. The dogs he pointed to were likely the “parents” only on paper.

Another oft-repeated myth is that the level of inbreeding at the Culo kennel resulted in the silver color. Rather the tremendous amount of inbreeding in these early silvers suggests producing the silver color was deliberate.

It only took one fraudulent breeding to introduce the dilution gene to the Lab breed and then lots of inbreeding to develop a line of ‘silver Labs.’ Since then there have been many more fraudulent registrations of Labrador x Weimaraner crosses registered as purebred Labs.

Interesting how there were no ‘silver Labs’ until the mid-1900s. And for years after that they were only found in the US. There were none in the UK until many years later. The silvers there were all imported from the US or descended from imports. You would think if these dogs really are purebred Labradors that they would have shown up a long time ago in the breed’s home country.



It’s not hard to make your own ‘silver Lab’ bloodline, but it will take at least three dogs and two generations. Oh, and if the AKC catches you, plan on at least a lengthy suspension.

Step One:

If you have full registration for a Lab male and a Lab female plus access to a male Weimaraner, you could breed the Weimaraner to the Lab female and fraudulently claim the puppies’ father is the Lab male. With millions of puppies registered every year, AKC can’t check each and every litter.

Every puppy in this litter will carry the dilute gene, but won’t have the dilute-colored coat.

Step Two:

When the puppies are old enough, breed them together. Yes, brother to sister. Just like the Crist Culo Kennels did. Statistically, their litters should be about 25% dd (dilute color), 25% DD (non-dilute) and 50% Dd (dilute carriers). The colors you get will depend on the color of the Lab grandmother. If she was a chocolate, you should have some ‘silvers.’

Step Three:

To “prove” these dogs are purebred Labs, buy AKC DNA kits and test the parents and puppies of this second generation. AKC is a registration body and will register any puppy when both parents are AKC registered and of the same breed. They don’t care if the puppy is pink with purple polka dots. The DNA is only to check whether a particular puppy could have been sired by a particular male and out of a particular female. They don’t check any farther back.

Congratulations! You have now committed fraud and potentially introduced additional health issues to the Labrador Retriever breed.

* Note: I do not condone fraud. This “recipe” is only to show how easy it is for crossbred dogs to contaminate a breed. And it is happening in many breeds, not just the Labrador Retriever.

However, not all crossbreeding is bad. In the Dalmation there is a problem with high levels of uric acid in their urine which can cause an obstruction. This problem is called hyperuricosuria (HU). Dalmations around the world were tested and all had HU, although it is rare in other breeds.

The Dalmatian/Pointer Backcross Project started by crossbreeding to a Pointer, a breed that does not have HU. After several generations of breeding back into Dalmations, the AKC accepted these dogs into the registry as Dalmatians. However it was another 30 years before a genetic test was available to determine which dogs carried the recessive HU gene and which were clear.

Why provide such a recipe?

To prove a point. Many people rely on the findings of that Dutch man who collected Labrador pedigrees. Developing the database was a wonderful undertaking. Tracing the dilute gene in his database and claiming it came from two dogs that were bred by a mid-western kennel was not.

As in the recipe above, the Lab males contributed NO genes to the puppies and grandpuppies. They were only listed as the fathers so the first-generation puppies could be AKC registered as purebred Labs. The male Weimaraner actually provided the genes.

By claiming those two dogs were the source of the dilute gene has cast doubt on the hundreds of actual descendants of those dogs.



‘Silver Labs’ are prone to color dilution alopecia which is a painful and chronic condition linked to the dilute gene. Dogs appear normal as puppies, but at about six months begin to lose their hair. Some dogs may only have bald spots while others may lose all of their hair. Affected dogs may develop infections and granulomas which are the body’s attempt to wall off foreign bodies. There is no cure.

Read about a lady who believed the hype that the dilute gene was “inherent in the Lab gene pool” and that silvers didn’t have any health issues. Sadly her experience (and the experience of many others) was very different from what she was told. Her dog didn’t lose some hair; she was hairless. Not knowing any better back then, the lady bred her silver and produced puppies with allergy and coat problems.



“The overwhelming consensus among breed experts from legitimate Labrador clubs, the position of these accredited Labrador clubs, and a growing number of recognized purebred dog registries, is that the dilutes are the result of a cross breeding, with Weimaraner being the source of the dilute allele, and are therefore not registerable in a purebred registry.” LRC_News_Spring2018.pdf

In addition, the breed standards for Labrador Retrievers around the world only recognize the colors of black, chocolate and yellow. AKC lists any other color as a disqualification. Labs with the diluted color cannot be shown. Some countries do not allow them to be bred.

The Labrador Retriever Club (US)

The Labrador Retriever Club Inc is the parent club for the breed in the US and they are the liaison to the AKC. They do not condone the breeding of ‘silver Labs’ and have “good evidence in scientific literature indicating that the Labrador has never been identified as carrying the dilute gene…”

In other words, these dogs are not purebred Labradors.

The United Kennel Club and Hunting Retriever Club

The UKC standard is clear. Any color or combination of colors other than yellow, black, or chocolate is a disqualification. UKC does not recognize any form of silver coloration as a variation of the chocolate color and UKC does not and has not knowingly accepted registrations for Labradors that have a silver coat coloring.

Further they are not eligible to run in HRC hunt tests because the tests are only open to ‘gun dog’ breeds and dilutes are not considered purebred Labradors. They can participate in other UKC performance events, but must be neutered.

Great Britain

Dilute colors in Labradors are not recognized


Not a breed standard recognized color for Labrador Retrievers

The Netherlands

Dilute colors are not naturally occurring in Labradors. Breeding dilute Labs is banned.

New Zealand

At least one parent must be clear of the dilute allele.


Dilute Labradors may not be registered.

American Kennel Club

On the other hand, the AKC is a registration body. It’s position is if two dogs have full registration and are registered as the same breed, they will register their puppies.



Had the early silver breeders been truthful about what they were doing there would probably have been some backlash, but not to the extent caused by the lies. What I – and most Labrador breeders – object to is calling these dogs ‘silver Labradors’ when they clearly have Weimaraner characteristics above and beyond the silver color. It’s particularly noticeable in the head and ear shape and eye color. Many ‘silver Lab’ breeders are now trying to breed to better quality Labradors to improve the look of their dogs. I sincerely hope that doesn’t happen.

Too many lies have been told and too much false information has been spread by these ‘silver Lab’ breeders. It’s time to ferret out every one of these cross bred dogs and stop calling them Labrador Retrievers. The LRC has offered to help them set up their own breed, but they have refused. If they don’t want to have their own breed, so be it. Strip the AKC registration of every one of these crossbred dogs and see the breeders’ profits plummet.

As the name suggests, dogs with Exercise Induced Collapse (EIC) may collapse after several minutes of strenuous exercise.



It is found mainly in Labrador, Chesapeake Bay and Curly Coated Retrievers, and Boykin Spaniels. Similar genes occur in other breeds – Cocker spaniels, German wire-haired pointers, Old English Sheepdogs, Bouvier des Flandres, Pembroke Welsh Corgis and Clumber Spaniels.

Originally the disease seemed to be limited to field-bred Labradors, however, it is also in conformation, service and pet bloodlines. It can affect both males and females and, in Labs, all three colors.

It can also occur in mixed breeds, such as doodles and dilutes, that have genetics from one of the affected breeds.

Collapsing due to EIC is most often seen in excitable, very fit dogs with lots of drive. It usually only takes a few minutes of strenuous exercise to cause a collapse which starts in the rear legs – wobbling and often crossing before they stop working. The dog will try to continue running with its front legs while dragging the rear legs.

Some dogs have died while exercising or while resting immediately after an EIC episode. Therefore it’s important to stop all exercise and cool the dog down at the first sign of an episode.

Other EIC affected dogs have never experienced a collapse. This might be because they are not an excitable dog or don’t participate in strenuous activities.

Here is a video from the University of Minnesota where they are researching EIC.


Symptoms may not be triggered until young dogs – about seven months to two years – start heavy training.

Common triggers, especially when combined:

  • excessive excitability
  • strenuous exercise such as repetitive retrieving, intense play, upland bird hunting, long-distance running
  • higher temperatures and humidity than the dog is used to

Often the first signs are a rocking gait, followed by weakness in the back legs, sometimes to the point of dragging their legs. Dogs may stand with their feet further apart or pick them up higher than normal.

As the collapse progresses, the dog may drag their back legs while running with the front legs. Or they might fall over while trying to run.

Most dogs are alert, but may seem confused. Some dogs may still try to run and their front legs might be stiff. Or they may not be able to move their head and legs. They don’t seem to be in pain. Body temperature is often high.

Symptoms may worsen for a few minutes, but after 10-20 minutes the dog should start returning to normal. It may take longer for their body temperature to return to normal.

In extreme cases, there could be seizures and even death.



Researchers found a gene that appears to be the main cause of EIC. If a dog has two copies of the affected gene, it is at risk of collapsing. These dogs are called ‘affected.’ If a dog has two copies of the normal gene, they are not at risk of collapsing due to EIC. They are called ‘clear.’ If a dog has one copy of the affected gene and one copy of the normal gene, they are called ‘carriers.’

A carrier is not at risk of collapsing due to EIC, however, they may pass the affected gene to their puppies. Therefore it’s important to never breed a carrier with an affected or to another carrier. Doing so will likely produce some affected puppies.

However this may not be the entire story. There are some dogs with two copies of the affected gene that have never collapsed. Some dogs may be just more laid back and don’t reach the level of excitement to trigger a collapse.

Or there may be another gene that modifies the affected gene. If such a gene exists, it may cause some dogs to collapse more often than other dogs. Or it may help protect some dogs from collapsing at all.

Or there may be something in how the dog is fed, exercised, or trained that changes their susceptibility.



A genetic test is available to identify the gene that causes exercise induced collapse.

Because EIC is caused by a recessive gene, both of a dog’s parents must carry at least one copy of the gene for a dog to be affected. About 30% of tested Labradors carry the gene.

If you’re buying a puppy or dog, make sure at least one parent is clear of EIC. Or you can have the puppy itself tested. The test is simple – just three swabs between the cheek and gum. Make sure the dog hasn’t eaten anything for at least an hour. Wash your hands and keep the dog separated from other dogs until you’ve finished swabbing – twice on one side and once on the other side. Place the swabs back into the packaging and into an envelope to send to the lab. There are more extensive directions and a link to the lab I use on the CNM page.

Provided one parent is clear, the worst the puppy can be is a carrier (one copy of the gene). Carriers won’t suffer EIC collapses, make fine pets and even competition dogs. However if they are bred, it should only be to a dog that has been tested clear of EIC.

Many top competition dogs carry one copy of the EIC gene, so don’t let that stop you from choosing the best dog for you.

Better conditioning and avoiding strenuous exercise during warmer weather may help prevent collapsing. Many affected dogs can tolerate mild to moderate exercise. The high-energy, excitable dogs may need to be removed from training.



The best treatment for most dogs affected by EIC is avoiding known trigger activities, especially when they are combined with extreme excitement and warmer-than-normal weather.

Most dogs that are retired from activities that trigger collapsing can live out their lives without problems. However, it’s still a good idea to be aware and stop all of the dog’s activity at the first sign of weakness. If the dog seems overheated, you can also lightly spray it with cool water to bring down its temperature.

Keep your veterinarian informed if your dog does have an episode. She may want to do some tests to confirm your dog is otherwise fine.



Overheating (this can be an emergency)

  • frantic panting, increased heart rate, extreme drooling, labored breathing, bright red membranes
  • may be dizzy and appear confused
  • may collapse and/or experience seizures
  • may vomit and/or have diarrhea

CNM (learn more)

  • gait abnormalities
  • generalized weakness
  • tires easily
  • muscle wasting
  • symptoms usually develop as a puppy (2-5 months old)
  • once the symptoms develop they are almost constant

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