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Dog Colors and Coat Patterns

By: PetPlace Staff

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Today's Colors and Patterns

The mixing and matching of genes gives us the many color and pattern combinations we see in dogs today. In addition to genes, the color of the dog often is related to the dog's purpose in life. Dogs used to protect sheep are often selectively bred to be white in order to blend into the flock. Dogs bred to herd sheep are selectively bred not to be white. This allows the rancher to identify the dog easily among the sheep and snow.
Solid. In dogs, a solid-colored dog is any dog that is one solid color without recognizable stripes, spots, ticking, patches of white or shading. In some breeds, a splash of white is acceptable.

Common solid colors are:

  • Black – solid ebony black to the roots. Solid black dogs can be found in many breeds such as the Labrador, Newfoundland and Scottish terrier.

  • Blue – a soft gray color. Solid blue breeds include the Kerry blue terrier, Doberman and the Bedlington terrier.

  • Brown – a rich chocolate brown color seen in breeds such as the Labrador.

  • Red – there are a wide variety shades of red seen in breeds such as the Irish setter and Rhodesian ridgeback.

  • White – solid white to the roots. This color can be found in many breeds such as the Great Pyrenees, Samoyed and West Highland white terrier.

  • Fawn – a warm pink or buff color. This color is found in many breeds such as the shar-pei.

  • Chocolate – a rich medium brown coat color, found in the Labrador and shar-pei.

  • Cream – a light warm beige color. A dilute of red, this color can be found in many breeds.

    Patterns. There are many different coat patterns that are produced by a combination of colors. Some common patterns include:

  • Merle – this pattern involves streaks or patches of black on a blue-gray background.

  • Brindle – this pattern results when there is a layering of black pigment in areas where there is light color. It produces a somewhat tiger-striped pattern.

  • Dapple – this is a dominant pattern and is a mottled mix of colors.

  • Grizzle – this pattern is a mix of black or red with white.

  • Roan – this pattern is the dilute version of grizzle and the black is replaced with bluish gray or iron gray.

    Particolor. Depending upon the breed, a particolor is a dog that has patches of two or more colors, or that has any color or pattern combined with white. Some particolor patterns include:

  • Piebald (Harlequin, Boston, Pied) – mostly white with patches of color usually on the extremities

  • Bicolor – approximately half white and half another color

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