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Red Fox Lab: Characteristics, Temperament, and Care - PawSafe

Red Fox Lab: Characteristics, Temperament, and Care

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

red fox Lab

The Red Fox Lab is a stunning and unique variation of Labrador Retriever. As the name suggests, this breed has a reddish coat that sets it apart from other Labradors. While the color of their coat may be different, they still possess all the same wonderful qualities with typical Labs.

Red Fox Labs are known for their friendly and outgoing personalities that make Labs so popular. They’re also known for Labrador health issues like ear infections. So, using vet-approved ear wipes to leave the ears squeaky and infection-free is vital. 

Before you look for Red Fox Labradors for sale, you must know their temperament, health, and all care requirements. Drawing from professional Labrador Guide Books, let’s get into all about this unique dog to prepare in case you are looking to add a red fox Lab puppy to your home.

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The Red fox is specifically mentioned in the FCI breed standards that says:

yellows range from light cream to fox red, livers/chocolates range from light to dark.” This means that the red fox is a completely normal variation of the yellow Lab.

Likewise, in the American Kennel Club breed standard stipulates that: 

Yellows may range in color from fox-red to light cream, with variations in shading on the ears, back, and underparts of the dog

So, while a red Lab or red fox lab is allowed by the AKC, you still have to register them as yellow Labradors.

Some unusual Labradors like long-coated Labs,  Silver Labs,  and Dudley Labrador Retrievers are more controversial. And there is certainly some controversy around the dark red coloring, which we will explain in a bit.

Red Fox Lab History & Origin

The Red Fox Labrador Retriever, also known as the Fox Red Labrador, is a relatively new color variation of the Labrador Retriever breed. 

The Labrador breed originated in the United Kingdom in the 19th century, where breeders. Things get interesting because experts believe that a deeper yellow, almost red, was the initial Labrador color before a brighter yellow became more popular. 

In fact, sources show if you look at an 1899 picture of the first yellow Lab puppy’s parents (“Neptune” and “Duchess”, they were more of a rich mahogany rather than black. So, you can say that Red Fox Lab is the original and rightful breed color, but trends and light-shade popularity caused people to lose sight of that.

Two breeders, John and Glenda Crook (Balrion) and Mac Bedford (Wynfaul), dedicated to keeping the true, deep yellow/ red Labrador color alive. One of Crook’s litter produced Ch Wynfaul Tabasco, largely considered the father of all modern Red Fox Labs.

Since the genes responsible for the typical yellow Labradors are also involved in Red Fox Labs, they’re slowly gaining acceptance. You can see this from their recognition by the UKC and CKC, both allowing red to yellow Labradors. 

Back in the 1970s, Labrador coat trends took a turn toward lighter, paler colors, particularly among the dog show circles. For quite a few decades, these lighter Labs were in the limelight. 

But thanks to the working sporting dog enthusiasts, the dark yellow, or fox red Labradors, maintained their popularity. It’s worth noting that having a bright, pale yellow dog out on a hunting trip isn’t ideal since wildfowl can spot them pretty easily. Darker pups? Not so much. This is important because it means a lot of red labradors are from working lines rather than pet lines. We will discuss what this means below if you are looking for a red fox Labrador puppy.

Nowadays, there are primarily two categories of Labradors: the work-ready American Lab and the show-stopping English Lab.

American Labradors:

  • Generally have a leaner build, presenting a less stocky frame and a somewhat sleeker head and chest.
  • Possess a vigorous prey drive, being not quite as sociable and playful.
  • Often serve as the basis for the modern fox red Labrador.

English Labradors:

  • Typically, you’ll find these buddies to be bulkier with a robust chest and a blocky head.
  • While super friendly, they’re not as commonly seen in the rich, fox red color.
  • Mostly absent in the lineage of Red Labradors nowadays.

Here’s a kicker: if you come across a dog being promoted as an English fox red Labrador, their lineage probably includes a mix of both American and English Labs. It’s largely from those working, often American, Labradors that today’s eye-catching fox red Labrador Retrievers have emerged. 

These pups, frequently showcasing that athletic build and taller stance, create a vivid contrast to their paler yellow Labrador cousins, don’t they? And that’s the colorful journey from field to family for the red fox Labrador!

Genetics Responsible for Fox Red Labs

The Red Fox is simply a deeper shade of yellow. This breed’s unique coat color is caused by a recessive gene that is carried by both parents. 

The recessive gene responsible for red labs is the “e” gene of “e” loci. This gene in the recessive form stops the production of eumelanin (black pigment) and allows the expression of pheomelanin (red pigment). WHen there is also a gene that dilutes the dark red coloring, you get dogs that are shades of yellow or cream.

Interestingly, this gene is also responsible for yellow Labs, and even cream dogs like Cream Dachshunds and Frenchies. Breeders are yet to determine the exact conditions that determine whether an e/e will be darker and reddish or lighter and cream. 

Red Fox Labrador Controversy

The controversy surrounding the Red Fox Labrador centers mostly on some people not recognizing the color as purebred Lab color, with some people arguing that these are mixed breed dogs, such a mixed with a Vizsla or another red dog. However, there is no evidence for this that a red Fox is not purebred. 

In fact, there is plenty of evidence that is nothing more than a dark yellow Labrador that is preferable as a working  hunting dog because it is harder to see the dark color in the brush than a light-colored dog. However, light yellow Labs are preferred in the show ring, where judges may turn their nose up a red Labrador.

Opponents of the Red Fox Labrador argue that it is simply a different yellow and should not be recognized as a separate variation. They argue that the breed standard for the Labrador Retriever already includes this particular variation in coat color.

So, the main argument comes in when people start to breed for color rather than temperament and health, and some people argue that red fox Lab breeders are breeding for color. This is slightly ironic, since yellow Labs were such a preferred color in the show ring that many breeders bred for it over black Labs.

However, as we’ve seen above, Red Fox Labs were the original Labradors, so allowing their recognition is most sensible. 

What Does A Red Fox Labrador Retriever Look Like?

The Red Fox Labrador Retriever is a beautiful breed of dog with a unique coat red color These dogs are medium to large in size and have a muscular build. They have a broad head, strong jaw, and a friendly expression.

Red Fox Labs have a reddish-yellow coat with a white underbelly, while traditional Labs have a solid black, yellow, or chocolate coat. The red fox coloration is caused by a recessive gene that can be passed down from both parents.

The eyes of a Red Fox Labrador are usually brown or amber in color, and they have a friendly and intelligent expression. The ears are medium-sized and hang close to the head. The nose is black, and the jaws are strong and powerful.

How Big Does A Full Grown Red Fox Labrador Get?

Red Fox Labradors are a medium to large breed of dog. They typically stand at 21.5 to 24.5 inches (55 to 62 cm) at the shoulder and weigh between 55 to 80 pounds (25 to 36 kg).

Coat and Color

One of the most striking features of the Red Fox Labrador is their coat. The fur is short and dense, with a soft undercoat that provides insulation. 

The coat color ranges from a deep red to a light golden color, with some dogs having white markings on their chest and feet. The fur is water-resistant, which makes them excellent swimmers.

Personality and Temperament

Red Fox Labradors are known for their friendly, outgoing, affectionate, loyal, intelligent, and adaptable temperament. They are highly intelligent and have an eager-to-please attitude, which makes them easy to train. These dogs are also very social and love to be around people, making them great family pets.

In terms of behavior, Red Fox Labradors are very active and require plenty of exercise. They love to play and will often engage in games of fetch or tug-of-war with their owners. They are also natural swimmers and enjoy spending time in the water. In fact, surveys show that Labs may even pick swimming over socializing. 

Suitability with Kids & Animals

Red Fox Labradors are typically very friendly with other dogs and animals. They are also great with children and make excellent family pets. However, it’s important to socialize them early on to ensure that they develop good behavior around other animals and people. Also, always supervise interactions between dogs and kids to prevent accidents.

Health and Lifespan

Like all dog breeds, the Red Fox Labrador is prone to certain health issues. Labrador research of the most common health issues that may affect this breed include cancer, heart issues, and ear infections.

  • Hip and elbow dysplasia which are abnormal joint development. 
  • Ear infections: researchers at The University of Sydney, Australia along with Royal Veterinary College, London found that ear infections were one of the most common Labrador health issues.
  • Obesity is another common concern for this breed, which can lead to a range of health problems, including joint issues, heart disease, and diabetes.
  • Joint issues such as arthritis.
  • Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (Bloat): Bloat is a life-threatening condition in which the stomach fills with gas and twists on itself. 
  • Heart Conditions: Labradors may be prone to certain heart conditions, such as dilated cardiomyopathy.
  • Canine Cancer: Like many dog breeds, Labradors can be susceptible to various forms of cancer.
  • Eye problems such as cataracts, glaucoma, and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA).
  • Allergies are also a common concern for this breed, which can manifest as skin rashes, itching, fever, and other symptoms.
  • Moderate issues like dental problems, stomach issues, and skin conditions

How long does the Red Fox Labrador Live?

The Red Fox Labrador has an average lifespan of 10-12 years. However, with proper care and attention, some dogs of this breed have been known to live up to 14 years or more. To ensure a long and healthy life for your Red Fox Labrador, it is important to provide them with regular exercise, a balanced diet, and routine veterinary care.

Care and Maintenance

Since red Fox Labrador Retrievers are often from working bloodlines, they need some extra care and attention in specific areas.

Diet Requirements

Red Fox Labradors have a high metabolism and require a balanced diet to maintain their health. A healthy diet for a Red Fox Labrador should consist of high-quality protein (25 to 30%), healthy fats, and carbohydrates. It is recommended to feed them twice a day and avoid overfeeding to prevent obesity.

Labs are known for their endless appetite and hunger. Research shows that over 60% of Labs alone are obese, possibly due to genetics, so checking out their food intake is crucial. Research and studies also show that Labradors can be prone to taurine deficiencies that can cause heart disease, so they may need extra taurine in their diets, and they sometimes have a condition called liver shunts, that may also require a special diet, specifically regarding what proteins they eat. 

Exercise Needs

Red Fox Labradors are active dogs that require regular exercise to stay healthy and happy. They need at least1  of exercise per day, but they will benefit from more if possible. Exercise can include walks, runs, playing fetch, or other activities that get them moving.

In addition to physical exercise, Red Fox Labradors also need mental stimulation to prevent boredom and destructive behavior like paw chewing. Interactive toys, puzzle feeders, and training sessions are great ways to keep them mentally stimulated.

Grooming a Red Fox Labrador: A Breezy How-To Guide

Grooming your red fox Labrador isn’t merely about maintaining their striking coat; it’s a fabulous way to strengthen your bond while ensuring they’re clean, comfortable, and healthy. Let’s delve into a simplified grooming routine with our friendly Lab, embracing some delightful products that make the process even more of a breeze!

Bathing Bliss with 5-in-1 Shampoo

Begin with a soothing bath using the 5-in-1 Dog Shampoo. This product is a marvel, combining shampoo, conditioner, deodorizer, detangler, and shine agent all in one bottle. Gently massage it through your Lab’s coat, indulging them in a luxurious lather that not only cleanses but also nourishes their fur. Don’t forget to praise and reward your pup for their stellar behavior during the bath!

Flash Those Pearly Whites

Dental health is paramount, and you can simplify this care step with Dog Mouthwash. It’s an effortless way to promote oral hygiene, just add it to their water, and voilà! Your Lab’s breath is freshened, and oral health is being actively improved without a fuss.

Eyes and Ears – Keeping Them Clear

No grooming session is complete without addressing the sensitive areas. Utilize the Dog Eye Wipes to gently remove any debris or staining around their eyes. Simultaneously, Dog Ear Cleaning Wipes will effortlessly clear any build-up in the ears, ensuring they’re squeaky clean and trouble-free. Both products are designed to be gentle yet effective, ensuring your Lab remains comfortable throughout the grooming process.

Nail Time

Trimming your Labrador’s nails can be a relaxed affair with the Pet Nail Clipper. Ensure their nails are kept at a comfortable length to support their adventurous endeavors, whether it’s a run in the park or a cozy snooze on your couch. Pro tip: If your Lab is a little nail-trim shy, introducing them gradually with plenty of treats and positive reinforcement can make all the difference!

Engaging in a grooming routine not only elevates your Labrador’s physical well-being but also deepens your connection with them. So, next time you’re immersed in grooming, observe their reactions, praise them, and make it a joyous event to look forward to! Happy Grooming!”

Note: It’s always crucial to ensure products are suitable for your pet and to consult with a veterinarian for any specific concerns or guidance related to your Lab’s health and wellbeing.

Training a Red Fox Labrador

Training a Red Fox Labrador can be a rewarding experience for both the owner and the dog. These dogs are intelligent and eager to please, making them relatively easy to train. However, it is important to use positive reinforcement techniques to ensure that the dog is motivated to learn and prevent anxiety-related behavior like whining, whale eye, and tucked tails.

One effective training technique is clicker training. This involves using a clicker to mark desired behaviors, followed by a reward such as a treat or praise. This method helps the dog associate the click with positive reinforcement, making it easier for them to understand what is expected of them.

Another useful technique is leash training. Red Fox Labradors are energetic dogs, and leash training can help them learn to walk calmly on a leash. It is important to start leash training early and to use positive reinforcement to encourage good behavior.

Socialization Needs

Socialization is an important part of training a Red Fox Labrador. These dogs are social animals and need to learn how to interact with people and other dogs. It is important to expose the dog to a variety of situations and people from a young age to help them develop good social skills.

One effective way to socialize a Red Fox Labrador is to take them to a puppy socialization class. These classes provide a safe and controlled environment for puppies to interact with other dogs and people, helping them learn important social skills.

It is also important to expose the dog to different environments and experiences. Taking the dog for walks in different locations, such as parks or busy streets, can help them learn to adapt to new situations.

Red Fox Labrador vs Other Labradors

Red Fox Labradors are a variation of the Labrador Retriever breed, known for their distinctive reddish coat. While they share many physical characteristics with other Labradors, there are some notable differences.

One of the most obvious differences is their coat color. Red Fox Labradors have a deep, rich red coat that sets them apart from the traditional yellow, black, and chocolate Labradors. They also tend to have longer hair on their tails and legs, giving them a more luxurious appearance.

Beyond coat color, there isn’t a significant difference between traditional and Red Labradors. They all have the lab-typical “otter” tail, short, weather-resistant coat, and strong, broad head. 

Temperamental Differences

While Red Fox Labradors share many personality traits with other Labradors, there are some differences in temperament that are worth noting.

One of the most notable differences is that Red Fox Labradors tend to be more hard-working than other Labradors, due to their working-line roots. This means they want a job to do and can grow bored if they are just kept as pets. They are still friendly and affectionate, but they may be less likely to constantly seek out attention from their owners.

Red Fox Labradors also tend to be more energetic than other Labradors, which can make them a good fit for active families. They love to run and play, and they have a lot of stamina for long walks or hikes. Ideally, these dogs will be used in field trials or activities that channel their need to work.

What It Means When We Say A Red Fox Lab is A Working Lab: Work Pups and Couch Pals

Alright, let’s dive into the vibrant world of Labradors, focusing on those striking Red Fox Labradors you might have seen with folks like Lt-Gen Sir Barney White-Spunner over in England. He, like many, doesn’t just keep them as cute companions but also as trusty buddies during shooting activities.

1. The Energizer Bunnies: Working Labradors

Working Red Fox Labradors are the high-energy, always-on-the-go pups of the bunch. They’re not just here for the treats and belly rubs; they’ve got a powerful hunting instinct and can keep running and playing for what seems like forever! These labs aren’t just great as family dogs but are also accustomed to having a job to do, like being part of hunting and shooting activities. So, if you bring one of these labbies into your home, be prepared to keep them busy with lots of activities, a strict training routine, and ideally, some work that lets them use those natural instincts.

2. The Chill Buddies: Pet and Show Labradors

On the flip side, if you see a lab chilling at a dog show or calmly hanging with family, they’re likely from pet or show bloodlines. These fur-buddies are generally bred with an aim to be cool, calm, and, of course, to fit the ‘look’ that makes them stars in the show ring. They might not have the same zest for constant work and play as the working labs but offer a more relaxed vibe for families or individuals who want a slightly more chilled-out furry friend.

Choosing your Labrador buddy should be all about matching their energy with your lifestyle. Knowing the difference between a work-driven lab and a couch-loving pup will ensure you, and your four-legged friend, get the most out of your adorable partnership. Whether in a cozy bed, the show ring, or the great outdoors, each lab deserves a life that suits their unique spirit!

Adopting a Red Fox Lab: Labrador Rescue Organizations

If you’re interested in adopting a Red Fox Labrador, there are several Labrador rescue organizations that can help you find your perfect furry friend. These organizations are dedicated to rescuing, rehabilitating, and rehoming Labradors that have been abandoned, surrendered, or neglected.

Here are a few Labrador rescue organizations that you can reach out to:

  • Labrador Retriever Rescue, Inc.: This organization is a nationwide network of volunteers that rescues and rehomes Labradors. They have a comprehensive adoption process that includes an application, home visit, and reference checks. They also provide support to adopters after the adoption.
  • Labs4Rescue: Labs4Rescue is a volunteer-driven organization that rescues, fosters, and finds new homes for Labradors in need. They primarily operate in the New England and Northeastern United States.
  • Southern California Labrador Retriever Rescue (SCLRR): SCLRR serves the Southern California area and is dedicated to rescuing and rehoming Labradors.

When adopting a Red Fox Labrador from a rescue organization, it’s important to keep in mind that these dogs may have had a difficult past. They may require additional training, socialization, or medical care. However, with patience and love, these dogs can make wonderful companions.

It’s also important to note that adoption fees and requirements may vary between organizations. Be sure to do your research and find an organization that aligns with your values and goals for pet ownership.

Best Names For A Red Fox Lab

CategoryMale NamesFemale Names
Classic Dog NamesMaxBella
Playful & FunBingoTizzy

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the price of a red fox Lab Puppy?

The price of a red fox Labrador puppy for sale can vary depending on the breeder, location, and demand. On average, a red fox Labrador puppy can cost anywhere between $800 to $2,500.

What is the temperament of a Fox Red Labrador?

Fox Red Labradors are known to be friendly, loyal, and energetic dogs. They are intelligent and easy to train, making them great family pets. They are also known to be great with children.

Where can I find Fox Red Lab puppies for sale?

Fox Red Lab puppies can be found for sale through reputable breeders, rescue organizations, and online marketplaces. It is important to do research and choose a reputable breeder to ensure the health and well-being of the puppy.

Are Fox Red Labs rare?

Fox Red Labs are relatively rare as they are less common than other colors of Labrador Retrievers. They are a variation of the yellow Labrador Retriever and were once considered a fault in the breed standard.

What were Fox Red Labradors bred for?

Fox Red Labradors were originally bred for hunting and retrieving game. They were also used as working dogs in the field and as assistance dogs for people with disabilities.

Are Fox Red Labs good dogs?

Fox Red Labs are great dogs for families, hunters, and active people. They are loyal, friendly, and easy to train. They have a strong work ethic and are always eager to please their owners.

What breed is a Red Fox Labrador?

A red fox Labrador is simply a variation of the yellow Labrador Retriever. They have a reddish coat that ranges from a dark red to a light yellow color.

What is the rarest color of Labrador?

The rarest color of Labrador is the pure white or albino Lab, followed by silver or charcoal color. This color is not recognized by the American Kennel Club and is considered a fault in the breed standard.

Which Labrador color lives the longest?

According to the Royal Veterinary College, the Chocolate Labrador has an average lifespan of only 10.7 years, while black and yellow Labs live an average of 12.8 years. This means that black and yellow labs have the longest lifespan.

What is the healthiest color of Labrador?

Chocolate Labradors are more prone to ear infections (23.4%) compared to their yellow (17%) and black (12.8%) counterparts. Overall, 10.4% of Labradors encounter ear issues. Additionally, 8.8% of Labradors are overweight and 5.5% experience osteoarthritis, while musculoskeletal disorders are the leading cause of death, affecting 24.5% of the breed.

Can you breed a red fox Lab with a Black Lab?

Yes, a red fox Labrador can be bred with a black Labrador Retriever. The color of the puppies will depend on their parent’s genetics (genotypes), but the litter will likely be a mix of yellow, red, black and even chocolate. 

Final Thoughts

The red fox Labrador is a unique and beautiful breed that is gaining popularity among dog lovers. While they may not be recognized by major kennel clubs, their distinctive red-coat appearance and friendly personality make them a great choice for families and individuals alike.

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe


Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.