In a study conducted by Professor Paul McGreevy, from the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Science they found that chocolate Labrador Retrievers have a shorter lifespan, have a greater tendency to be overweight, more likely to have ear inflammation (otitis externa) (twice as high in chocolate Labs), and were four times more likely to have suffered from pyo-traumatic dermatitis (also known as hot-spot) than yellow or black Labrador Retrievers.
The researchers studied more than 33,000 United Kingdom-based Labrador retrievers. They determined that in order to produce chocolate Labs, breeders used chocolate Labs for both the sire and dam. Because the chocolate color is a recessive gene it may increase the health issues associated with it.
It has long been known that the merle, piebald and harlequin color in dogs poses a greater risk of deafness. This is evident in the many breeds of dogs that have this coloration and have a higher number of deaf individuals. Therefore it is not surprising that the chocolate color in Labrador Retrievers can have a greater risk of health issues.
There is a solution to the deafness and Labrador health issues. Do not create this coloration in breeds that are not normally this color. For the breeds with deafness, only breed dogs that are not deaf and spay or neuter the puppies in a litter that are deaf. In all dogs, only breed for better health and temperament instead of for color. A dog’s health and temperament are what makes a great dog. Color on the other hand is purely for aesthetic reasons with no viable function.