Bolos: Does Your Lab Have Them?

Behind the front feet (specifically, behind the metacarpal/metatarsal pads) of some Labrador Retrievers are white spots or “thumbprints” called “bolo marks.” They’re named after the bolo,coat,color,marking,labrador retriever,feet,metacarpal/metatarsal padsEnglish Dual Champion Banchory Bolo (1915 – 1927), the first dog to earn a dual championship by winning both a bench championship as well as a Field Trial Championship in England.  Some of today’s Labradors have them, and most breeder-judges are aware of the marks and ignore them (depending upon their size). As an aside, not only did many of Bolo’s pups carry the mark, but each of Bolo’s litters produced either a Field Champion or a Show Champion. Bolo had a tough start in life which you may find a compelling read.

Bolo mark on paw image found on Pinterest and happily credited upon receipt of information. Painting of Dual Ch. Banchory Bolo (1922) by Reuben Ward Binks


83 thoughts on “Bolos: Does Your Lab Have Them?”

  1. Yes our Labrador has bolo marks on each front paw. He is the most beautiful Lab and a temperament to go with it.

    • If you have a picture, Priscila, we’d love to see your dogs!

      • My 6year old boy has big Bolo’s on all four paws. A dark chocolate, his coat has a bit of wave and is very thick. He was donated to our family as a service dog- he has been a dream for our family. But I have no idea what lone he comes from.

        • Marvelous bolos, Pammelah! Thanks for sharing your boy’s paws!

  2. We have just had a litter of AKC pure bred Labradors and one of the pups has white tips on his toes and faint ones on the underside of feet, are these bolo marks? Also one of his pads are pink instead of black what causes this? His linage traces back to Lean Mac which is known for the bolo marks but I can’t find anything saying that can be on the toes also:/ TIA

    • Amber, we believe they are bolo marks, while the pink pad is a lack of pigmentation due to simple genetics. It’s possible the pad will darken with maturity…let us know? We’re always learning!

    • Us, too! Just one of our pups has this and on just one foot. It’s on the tips, too. Our pups trace back to the beginning of the breed through Buccleuch Nell I. At this site, it says that this is a genetic throw back to the now extinct St. John’s dog which provided breed stock that eventually became labrador retrievers. They had white tips on all their feet. Here’s the link:

    • Mel, the short answer is no. “Bolo marks” refer specifically to white marks found on the Lab’s feet right behind their metacarpal/metatarsal pads. They’re named “Bolo marks” after English Dual Ch. Banchory Bolo because he produced these in his puppies. That said,the Labrador Retriever standard states that a small white spot on the chest is “permissible but not desirable.”

    • The original Labradors from Newfoundland had white markings on the chest, feet and chin.

  3. Our pup has two of them, one on his front paw and one on his back paw. We think it’s the cutest thing ever. So cool that this genetic trade has been passed on to so many generations after!

  4. Belle Has Bolo pads on her feet, she is getting ready to have her first litter of pups the last part of December 2017. We are so very excited for her. My daughter shows her and she placed as Champion in the Agility class and received a top purple in advanced obedience.

    • Congratulations, Chastity, we love hearing about this! Let us know if Belle’s puppies also have any bolo marks?

  5. Just had a litter of all black puppies and every one of them had bolos behind each front paw.

  6. Hi from NZ. our boy Hamish has Bolo marks on his front paws . we are v proud of him.

    • Mick, how wonderful! Thank you for sharing a really helpful picture!

  7. My 2 year old black lab has em both on the front paws. Her, 2-week old singleton female puppy has them too. I’m from the Philippines just to give you an idea of the geographic distribution of this trait.

    • Thanks for writing, Jesu! And wow, the trait really HAS gotten around, hasn’t it?

  8. My 2yr old black lab Rufus has them behind each of his front paws. Devon in UK

  9. My Rosie has a bolo on one of her front paws and the other three are what 8 call her “secret paws” they’re white between the toes and youve got to get in there to see them. She has a few strand of white on her chin which are hard to spot. She’s a black lab from black mum and fox red dad and although she appears black when the light hits her she has a choccy sheen!

    • Her secret paws? Emily we LOVE this! She has darling feet and we bet the rest of her is just as cute.

    • I have just had a litter with my fox red girl and a black sire. She produces 4 dark yellow/fox and 3 black. One of the black girls has the chocolatey sheen to her coat and little whit hairs in her pads.

    • Congratulations, Susan, on Jasper’s title. He had wonderful bolo puppy feet!!

  10. Thank you for this interesting information. Our 13 week old black lab pup has two bolos, one on each front paw. We love her dots!

    • Thank YOU for writing, Don! “Dots” is a wonderful way of looking at bolo marks. Perhaps it’s nature’s way of telling us where to give foot massages?

    • Isn’t that something, Chas? Thanks for sharing Tucker’s photo with us, he’s a looker!

    • How special is that, Courtney (to say nothing of adorable)? Bolo marks live on!!

  11. My Daisy has white in between her toes on her fronts. Are these related to Bolo spots? She is not 100% Lab…but she is precious!!

    • Could be, Sandy, the bolo spots seem to be a prepotent gene in the breed

  12. My 4 month old Charcoal Lab has a bolo paw (1) front paw….She is super smart and currently is in training. Molly

  13. Can dogs have brown bolo spots? My black has a brown pad and hair on his hind foot.

    • Not being Lab experts, we shouldn’t venture a guess – but someone well versed in genetics might have the answer!

  14. Are these bolo marks

    She is 3 weeks old both parents purebreds! We are trying to decide on keeping our 4th lab to also share the bed with us lol or if we should just go ahead and find good homes for the whole litter? Had not ever heard of bolo marks until now due to not ever seeing any sporting!?!?

    • Both of her back feet have those markings on the toes and underneath…

  15. Would this be considered bolo? She has them in front and behind each pad and they are long.

    • As we are not Lab experts, we toss the question to our readers. What say you all?

  16. Our Callie has Bolo markings. She is. 3 year old chocolate lab. Her sister, a black lab, does not have the markings

    • Wendi, Callie has spectacular Bobo marks! Thanks for sharing her photo with us.

      • My dog Ash (solid black) is out of stonewalls in South Georgia, and my new female (solid black) from upstate South Carolina just threw a litter and 3 out of 6 has white marks. Other 3 are all black. So 2 of them have white spots on both front feet on heel, 3rd one has spot on its chest as well his heels. Was curious if this makes my litter worth more or what exactly BOLO means in my litter. New to this seeing the puppies made me do some research. Ash is a excellent dog all round! This is the reason I was breeding in the first place he is 11 and I want another JUST like him.

  17. Our 10 week old chocolate June Carter has them on both front paws. Also has 2 white tipped toes on back left paw.

    • Puppy paws, so soft and sweet!! Thanks for sharing June Carter’s paw picture, Jenny!

  18. My pupp has white dots between the pads. Are these bolo markings?

    • Your puppy’s bolos are distinctive, Agnieszka! Thank you for sharing his or her photo!

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