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One thing that puzzled me about this study…yellow is recessive too, and at least in the population studied, not that much more common than chocolate (27.8% yellow vs. 23.8% chocolate), so it’s not particularly obvious to me why they only report two median longevity figures–one for chocolates and one for “non-chocolates”–rather than breaking down blacks and yellows separately? They do suggest that “[t]he significantly shorter lifespan of chocolate dogs compared with non-chocolate dogs may reflect differences in lifetime burden of disease, notably disorders of the integument…that may create differences in accumulated immune response,” for which they cite as evidence that chocolates had the highest rates of one specific ear disease and one specific skin disease. Okay, but…why can’t you tell me first what the longevity difference between blacks and yellows is? lol. Maybe I’m missing something here?

Anyway, while I know little about Labs personally, I do know a few people who are active in various sports with field-bred Labs (blacks and yellows), and am told by them that you “never” see chocolates among the high-ranking field or sport dogs, and only rarely in service work. I find it hard to believe that serious field, sport and service breeders (as opposed to show breeders) would avoid chocolates simply because they don’t want that “Dudley look,” IF there were lots of chocolates with great working potential available for them to use in their breeding programs. (Although maybe I’m being naive there!) So…I’m also wondering if perhaps chocolate (but not yellow) was originally a highly uncommon color in the breed, and only later became (relatively) popularized, through the show ring? or, perhaps was subject from a very early stage in the breed’s development to some (now-forgotten?) prejudice a bit more insidious than fear of the Dudley look??