Labradors are immensely popular dogs and only seem to be growing in popularity as time passes and people fall ever more in love with this beautiful breed. People who keep them as pets may not care very much what their Lab looks like, as long as it is happy and healthy, but if you are breeding Labs for showing, you need to know about and recognize mismarked Labs and understand how this can happen. Mismarkings could disqualify your dog from the show ring, so you must pay attention to this if you intend to participate in shows with your dog.
Labs come in a whole variety of different colors, and often show different markings on their bodies – this is part of the charm of these beautiful dogs. Any of them can have mismarkings, and no color is completely free from this risk when being bred, so if you are about to buy a Lab from a breeder, you should look out for mismarks. They are worth noting and being aware of even if you do not intend to show the dog.
There are enormous numbers of Labs in our world, as they are kept as pets, working dogs, and show dogs, and their loyalty and fun-loving nature has won the hearts of many. For most people, mismarks make no difference, but it is a good idea to know what counts as a mismark, especially when you are thinking of adding a Lab to your family unit.
What Is A Mismarked Lab?
A mismarked Lab is a dog that has color markings that are outside the standard markings set for that particular breed, usually by an association such as the American Kennel Club. Although Labs are permitted to have certain markings, the AKC sets standards for each color of Lab, and dogs that fall outside of this standard may not be accepted as show dogs, even if they conform in every other way. There is no difference between a mismarked Lab and a normal Lab besides the markings that the dog bears.
Mismarkings can be anything that doesn’t conform to the standard, and they can include things like brindle points (in chocolate or black Labs), tan points (chocolate or black Labs), too much white or white anywhere but the chest (any Labs), improper colors (e.g. a yellow Lab with a liver nose), and the blue dilution, sometimes known as silver. If you are getting a puppy, you may want to look out for these things, and it is always a good idea to view puppies before committing to buying one, as this will give you a better idea of what you are buying.
Mismarkings don’t have any negative effect on the dog and a mismarked Lab will be as loving and fun to own as a normally marked lab. Many people adore their mismarked dogs and feel they are more beautiful than the standard. Unless you want to show your dog, mismarkings are nothing to worry about.
How Common Are Mismarked Labs?
Mismarkings are relatively rare among purebred labs, but are quite common among those that have been mixed with other breeds, as this is more likely to introduce unusual genes that can change the coloration. There is nothing to say that a mismarked Lab cannot be born to two parents that bear the proper markings. Some mismarkings are more common than others.
There is no real way to determine how common mismarking is; unless all Lab owners registered their dogs with the AKC and registered whether they were mismarked or properly marked, it isn’t possible to access this information. It seems that mismarkings are relatively rare, but there are plenty of them overall, and some breeders deliberately sell mismarked puppies. Many members of the public, who are not interested in showing the dogs, prefer them as they are more unusual than the dogs that carry standard markings.
The mismarking categories are also thought to be somewhat arbitrary, and many breeders and enthusiasts are not interested in them, or actively ignore them because they are frustrated by the rulings. Indeed, some people find mismarked Labs more attractive, so it really comes down to personal preference unless you want to show the dog.
Can Purebred Labs Be Mismarked?
Yes, it is perfectly possible for a purebred Lab to have mismarks, which is one of the reasons that people argue against the AKC’s rulings. Two purebred Lab parents can easily produce puppies that don’t have the desired markings, and while this is somewhat rare, it is definitely not unheard of. If you wish to buy a puppy with the correct markings, do make sure you view it first, because you might end up disappointed otherwise.
It is thought that the mismarkings in purebred Labs appear when a recessive gene from the ancestors of this breed appears, and this is perfectly possible, as many of the dogs that Labradors were originally bred from would have had different markings to the markings we look for today. As long as your dog is healthy and you are not interested in showing it, mismarks are nothing to worry about.
You should note that you can still register a mismarked Lab with the AKC as long as it is a purebred Lab, but you will not be able to take it to the showroom, because it will be disqualified by its markings. Many people feel this is a poor decision, because the important parts of the Labrador breed – its soft mouth, its working capacity, etc. – are being ignored in favor of trivial facts such as the color. However, it is currently the standard and if you want your Lab to be suitable for showing, it must have the proper markings.
Mismarked Labs are very common in today’s world, and many people actually prefer them, as they offer more color variation and uniqueness. If you are thinking of getting a Lab puppy from a breeder, see the dogs in person and the parents before you buy one, even if you are not worried about any mismarks. It is always a good idea to check the dog’s conditions and see its Dam and Sire before you buy to avoid problems in the future.