What is a “Dudley” Labrador? (What’s up with the PINK NOSE?)
Over the years I have asked many times what a “Dudley” means. I’ve been sent pictures of dogs from owners wanting to know if their dog would meet this description.
Let me say, first of all, that just because I am describing the facts here does not make your Labrador (who may meet this description) is any less of a Labrador, or your beloved pet. Before you sent me any hate mail, be assured, the name itself is not really nice “sounding,” yet is the only word that the breed has used to describe this condition. I am not belittling your fur friend, only answering a question that has been posed many times to me.
A Dudley Lab is a Labrador retriever that lacks pigmentation on the eyes, eye rims, muzzle, and nose. This is a genetic trait that is very rare and affects only the Labrador Retriever. The color can be liver, brown or pink.
To understand where these come from and the differences between them, we need to look at their genetics.
If you’d love to dig into Labrador genetics, see our blog: A Lesson on Coat Color Inheritance
Labrador Pigmentation Genetics:
All puppies are born with bright pink noses, which usually become darker in color over the first few weeks of their lives.
The pink nose most commonly occurs when two chocolates are bred that carry yellow in their background. Or it can occur if a chocolate lab is bred to a yellow. The first NO-NO in lab breeding and often occurs with inexperienced breeders.
For a thorough lesson in Labrador Genetics, see Blue Knight Labradors “Coat Color Inheritance” chart.
Also, a chocolate with very LIGHT coat can come out of a chocolate to yellow breeding or a BYC to BYC if yellow is strong in both parent’s background. Chocolate should have a medium to dark brown eye as well…NEVER green or yellow–as this is not the AKC breed standard–and something you won’t see in the show ring. Avoid breeders who breed chocolate to yellow. Its the first sign they do not know the #1 “no-no” of Lab breeding, so it would make you assume they are skimping on the other important things necessary to produce a healthy labrador. Most times, you’ll notice they also avoid health clearances too. Stay away. But if their 14 year old senior dogs has a light nose, read on…
Black Labrador Nose Turning Pink. The pigment in your Lab’s nose is produced by an enzyme called tyrosinase that makes melanin. Tyrosinase becomes less available as your dog gets older, so you may see the nose lightening as he ages.
There is also a phenomenon is known as ‘snow nose’ (or “Winter Nose”). Obviously, from the name–you see it more in colder temperatures, which makes me wonder if body temperature affects pigment.
Also, quite strangely, I notice that as my girls get closer and closer to birthing a litter, their nose gets lighter. Then once the pups are weaned, it gets darker again. I’ve never heard an official explanation of this. Its just an observation, and may be associated with the reason we see “snow nose’—perhaps due to body temperature.
AND…something I have personally observed, is when I cross a yellow line with another yellow line and I see black freckles on the puppies’ bellies…I KNOW I have good pigment. I’ve never heard another breeder comment on this, but I have found it to be true over the past 20 years that I have observed this!
Should You Buy A Dudley Labrador Puppy?
If you are going to buy a Dudley Lab puppy then you will need to know of a couple of things.
The first is that they have been known to get from sunburn more easily on their noses. Be careful to keep them out of the sun.
The show ring penalizes yellow Labradors for their pink noses, light eye rims and any other place that pigment is missing. So if you want a yellow Lab to be a show dog, it would be important that this is NOT in your dog’s lines nor apparent in the dog you are purchasing.
(below is an example of proper pigmentation)