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N E B K C 

How to identify & inscribe coat colors

As it is not always easy to identify colors, we have established a color chart and a picture gallery. We will briefly present on this page the different colors and how to identify them to register them correctly on the pedigree, without going into detail in the genetics which is very complex and sometimes breed specific.

Please consult the standard for your breed as some of the same colors are named differently for each breed.

A dog will be inscribed for example as black & white when black is more present on the coat, and white & black when it's a mostly white dog patched with black, or as black piebald depending the amount of coloring (see below piebald).

We inscribe always first the color for example: Blue merle tricolor or & tan. Merle is a dominant gene and is inscribed before tricolor or & tan. These are recessive genes, as well as brindle. Some registries inscribe Tricolor before merle: Blue tricolor merle. 


BLACK (DNA BBDD) BB/bb: chocolate carrier, BBdd: blue carrier,  BbDd: Chocolate & Blue carrier

Solid black is black without any nuance, it is a pure black that can get grizzled as the dog ages, especially on the muzzle. A mostly black coat absorbs all wavelengths of light and converts them into heat, so the dog gets warm. Avoid mostly black dogs if you live in a hot climate. Black and dark dogs acclimatize well to cold climates.



It is rarely seen, but an all black Doberman can occur. This is known as a melanistic Doberman. These are black Dobermans without the usual rust markings, they are present but hardly visible.These black Dobermans are not part of the standard for the breed. 

BLACK SEAL BBDD (faulty K allele?)

What does seal look like? The black appears black until bright sunlight hits the coat, and then it has a reddish cast to it making it look almost brown. That said (and as far as we know), a black seal dog will always have a black nose, regardless of how brownish its coat appears. As coat color “seal” seems to be a mystery. It makes some black dogs appear brown, and some dogs look liver colored To our knowledge, little genetic research has been conducted into it. Consequently, our knowledge of how it’s caused or which locus is responsible for it is less than what is known about other patterns and colors.  Genetics theories include suspicions that seal is either an allele on the A locus, an allele on the K locus (recessive to K, potentially something like a faulty K allele that works in a similar way to brindle), or a modifier on an unknown locus that causes the A locus to partly show through on Kk dogs. 


White can come in different shades. Dogs with pure white coats can rarely be deaf due to the lack of pigment inside the ear.  White coats reflects all wavelengths of light, so the light is not converted into heat and the temperature of the dog does not increase noticeably. White and clear dogs acclimatize well to hot climates. 

CHOCOLATE  Dilute black (DNA bb/bb)

The chocolate coat come in many different shades. Chocolate-fawn, clear chocolate, dark chocolate, red chocolate. Animal Genetics currently offers a test for the B-Locus to determine how many copies of the recessive "b" allele a dog carries. In French Bulldogs, the chocolate gene (bb) is not testable. 

BLUE  Dilute black (DNA dd/dd)

It is a cool-toned, metallic grey. It typically means a d/d dilution of black pigment, a grey coloration that is grey from birth, but has a wide range of breed-specific meanings and can come in different shades from dark to clear. The dilution gene occurs on the D locus. It is recessive, so d is dilute and D is non-dilute, and in order for a dog to be dilute it must have the genotype dd. A dog that is Dd or DD will have normal (non-dilute) black pigment. The dilution gene affects eumelanin (black and liver)although phaeomelanin (red) may be lightened as well. When a dog has two copies of the d allele, a black dog will become blue (aka slate) and a liver (chocolate) dog becomes isabella (aka lilac). A blue or isabella can have any coat pattern, but whatever they have, any black or liver in the coat will be turned to blue or isabella. It is genetically impossible for a blue dog to have any black in its coat, or for an isabella to have liver. The main giveaway that a dog is a dilute is generally its nose colour. The coat may be entirely sable or recessive red for example, but if the dog has a blue nose, it is genetically blue-pigmented. The gene causing dilution in dogs is known as MLPH (Melanophilin).

If this gene is defective, the rare skin condition Color Dilution Alopecia may delevop. More information on our HEALTH page, sub-menu CDA.

BLUE SEAL Dilute black (DNA dd/dd), faulty K allele?)

What does blue seal look like? The blue appears blue until bright sunlight hits the coat, and then it has a reddish or brownish cast to it making it look almost brownish. The gene causing dilution in dogs is known as MLPH (Melanophilin). If this gene is defective, the rare skin condition Color Dilution Alopecia may delevop. More information on our HEALTH page, sub-menu CDA.


LILAC "ISABELLA"  (DNA bb/dd) Genetic combination of chocolate x blue gene

A liver dilute is a light grey/brown and is generally known as an isabella or lilac. This is the colour of the Weimaraner, they are exclusively bred in lilac and rarely in blue. The gene causing dilution in dogs is known as MLPH (Melanophilin). In French Bulldogs, lilac is inscribed as Isabella. To produce lilac coats, both parents must carry the black dilute chocolate gene bb (that can not be tested at the time in French Bulldogs) and the black dilute blue gene dd. Lilacs come in many different shades, from clear to dark or very intense as purple lilac. If the dilute gene MLPH is defective, the rare skin condition Color Dilution Alopecia may delevop. More information on our HEALTH page, sub-menu CDA.



Typically refers to a yellow, fawn, light brown, the dog can also have a dark mask. Red-fawn (refered as Apricot for pugs) Lilac-fawn, chocolate-fawn, blue-fawn are other varieties.


Cream refers to a pale yellowish or tannish colour which can be almost white.


For brindle coats, it's always the color of the brindle itself that is inscribed, inscribing only brindle without the color of it is not accurate. Example: Black/Chocolate/Blue/Lilac brindle. 


When the brindeling appear to be clear over a darker coat, it's inscribed as "reverse brindle".


When the brindeling is sparse, then it is inscribed as "tiger brindle"


A piebald or pied dog is one that has a pattern of unpigmented spots (white) on a pigmented background of hairs. Thus a piebald black and white dog is a black dog with white spots. The animal's skin under the white background is not pigmented.

TRICOLOR  A-Locus, allele at/at (Agouti)

Three clearly defined colors, usually either black, liver, or blue on the dog's upper parts, white underneath, with a tan border between and tan highlights and the classic tan patches pattern on the belly , under the tail and rear, inner thighs, fore legs, chest, cheeks and eyebrows.


If the markings are difficult to see, very clear, but still visible, they are inscribed as Phantom (Color) Tricolor. 

TRINDLE   Trindle is a word composed of the prefix of the word TRIcolor and the suffixe of the                              word brindle briNDLE.

Three clearly defined colors, usually either black, liver, or blue on the dog's upper parts, white underneath, with a tan brindle border between and tan brindle highlights and the classic tan brindle patches pattern on the belly , under the tail and rear, inner thighs, fore legs, chest, cheeks and eyebrows. They have white on the forelegs and feet. 

BLACK - CHOCOLATE - BLUE - LILAC & TAN  (A-Locus, allele at/at (Agouti)

Black & tan, chocolate & tan, blue & tan, lilac & tan: This pattern has two colors, with a solid color on most of the body and tan patches on the belly, under the tail and rear, inner thighs, fore legs, chest, cheeks and eyebrows. Small amount of white on the chest is possible. No white on the forelegs. 

TAN  (Rust for Dobermans)

Tan colored coats are common in several breeds. It is sometimes referred as "rust" and comes in several shades from light tan to reddish tan. The loci (location) of genes on the chromosomes determines coat color in dogs. The D locus alters the intensity of color.

TANDLE  Tandle is a word composed of the word TAN and the suffix of the word briDLE.

Tandle is when there is brindle in the tan markings of a dog. Offten dogs with tan marking with brindle in it are inaccurately registered as trindle even if they have no white, therefore we have created the new denomination TANDLE. 


Red is a redish fawn usually seen in English Bulldogs and Boxers. They should not be confused with red chocolate. The red dog has usually a black nose. 


Solid color black, blue chocolate, lilac with a white patch (shirt front) on the chest and chin, and white on some or all of the feet (spats.) The tuxedo pattern is common in dogs that carry only one piebald gene (a heterozygous carrier).



This pattern happens when a dog has black tips on its fur, or other color, chocolate, blue. Sable tricolor is when the tricolor marking still appear on a sable. Some pups are born sable but  some dogs it tends to fade out as the dogs gets adult and finally he looks just fawn. 



The silver pug looks gray with some darker variations of shade, it is in fact dark sable on fawn coat. 


Merle is a genetic pattern that can be in a dog's coat. Merle comes in different colors and patterns and can affect all coat colors. The merle gene creates mottled patches of color in a solid or piebald coat. The eye color can be "husky" blue, odd-colored "heterochromia" or the iris can also be 2 colors and it can affect skin pigment as well. There are two general types of colored patches that will appear in a merle coat. This genetic trait should be taken seriously when breeding merles. Health issues are more typical and more severe when two merles are bred together, so it is recommended that a merle be bred to a dog with a solid coat color only. The darkest color of the merle pattern will be inscribed as color. 

CRYPTIC  (PHANTOM) MERLE  (Red - Fawn - Sable - White) or hidden merle on Brindle 

Merle can be hidden by other genes. A recessive red dog will not display any merle because it is unable to make eumelanin in its coat, and the merle gene only affects eumelanin (black, liver, blue and isabella). A clear sable ( dog with a red coat due to the sable gene, but no visible black sabling) will also not show any merling because there is no eumelanin to be merled, unless it also has a mask (which does show merling). Shaded sables will often show merle at birth, but it tends to fade as the dog grows up, so all that remains on an adult is usually a few darker brownish patches on the coat (which can be hidden very easily by long fur). The greying gene can also make it very difficult to see merle markings, as can the dilution gene (dd), because it dilutes the patches to roughly the same colour as the base. Merle can be very difficult to see on a brindle too, due to the stripes. Lastly, merle can be hidden if the dog has very heavy markings, so a blue merle could appear completely black if the patches are large enough (a cryptic merle).All of these mean that anyone who breeds merles must be very careful to avoid breeding double merle puppies. Sometimes the hidden merles described above have a blue eye or a butterfly nose, which give away their merle gene, but often there is no sign  at all that they are merle. If such a dog is accidentally bred to another merle, some of the puppies will be double merle (MM). You should DNA test to be sure that your dog is not a cryptic merle or a brindle hiding merle if you dog has a merle parent if you want to mate this dog to a merle. Always check on your pedigree the color of both parents. 


This is when a dog has very small spots of one color mixed in with its main color.


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