What is a “Dudley” Labrador? (What’s up with the pink nose?)

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.

Because some people believe that any Labradors with reduced nose pigmentation are also Dudley Labradors.

There are three types of noses that a yellow Lab can have. Black, brown or pink.

Labradors are always referred to as Dudley if they have a pink nose, but some people refer to those with brown noses (or liver) as Dudleys as well.

If you’d love to dig into Labrador genetics to see where the pigment issues comes from, see our blog: A Lesson on Coat Color Inheritance

Labrador Pigmentation Genetics:


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.

Black Labrador Nose Turning Pink. A Dudley Labrador will have a pink nose throughout its life. But many Labrador noses turn pink when they get older. This process is known as depigmentation and is quite common. When a yellow Lab is younger it may have a black nose and dark rims around his eyes. But as he ages and his coat begins to turn a little white in places, he may also lose pigment in his nose. The pigment in your Lab’s nose is produced by an enzyme called tyrosinase which makes melanin. Tyrosinase becomes less effective as your dog grows old.

You may find that the fading of his nose is less noticeable in the warmer weather as the pigment producing enzyme works better in the heat. This phenomenon is known as ‘snow nose’ (or “Winter Nose”).

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 I Buy A Dudley Labrador Puppy?

If you choose to buy a Dudley Lab puppy then you will need to be aware of a couple of things.

The first is that they they may suffer from sunburn on their noses.

The second is only relevant if you want to show your dog. The show ring penalizes yellow Labradors for their pale noses, eye rims and feet. So if you want to show your yellow lab a Dudley is best avoided.

(below is an example of proper pigmentation)

yellow male pup- Endless Mt. Labradors



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