Colour Terms

There is a vast array of different names given to the same colours in different breeds. For example, genetically recessive red Labradors are "yellow" but Golden Retrievers are "golden". You can't have a golden Labrador or a yellow Golden Retriever, yet they're genetically the same colour! This can be a bit of a barrier when it comes to working out the genetics of particular breeds, so to make things easier, here's a list of some of the terms you'll find (either on breed standards or being used by breeders), and what they actually mean in terms of the genetics we've studied on this site.

Term

Breeds

What it means

Albino

Dobermann

A dog with very, very diluted pigment. Not a full albino, but a form of partial albinism.

ASCOB

American Cocker Spaniel

Any solid colour other than black

Ash

Various - general term

Isabella (liver dilute, bbdd) or very washed-out red

Badger

Sealyham Terrier

Greyish patches, most likely black or dark sable with greying gene

Banding

Various - general term

When hairs have bands of more than one colour. Associated with agouti (aw)

Beauty spot

Various, but mainly Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and King Charles Spaniel (English Toy Spaniel)

Coloured spot in the middle of the forehead blaze on a piebald dog

Belge

Affenpinscher

Sable with black tipping

Belton

English Setter

Roan or heavy ticking in any colour

Bi-black

Shetland Sheepdog

Black and white with no tan markings

Bi-blue

Shetland Sheepdog

Blue merle and white with no tan markings

Biscuit

Samoyed, American Eskimo

Cream (light red), appearing either as patches or on the whole of the dog

Black and silver

Various - general term

Black with tan points (atat) which have been diluted to off-white by the Intensity gene

Black brindle

Various - general term

Heavily brindled dog (i.e. with thick black stripes, so very little red shows through)

Blenheim

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and King Charles Spaniel (English Toy Spaniel)

Deep, clear red (recessive red, ee) with white markings in the piebald pattern. The same colour as the Red and White Setter

Blue fawn

Basenji, Rat Terrier

Sable with blue (diluted black, dd) pigment, or sable with isabella (diluted liver, bbdd) pigment, giving a grey/blue cast to the coat

Blue roan

Various - general term

Black-pigmented dog with roaned white, which appears a bluish colour

Boston

Great Dane, Boston Terrier

Black (or brindle) dog with white markings in the irish spotting pattern

Brindlequin

Great Dane

Harlequin with brindle patches

Bronzing

Various - general term

A brownish cast to the coat of a longhaired black dog, usually caused by sun bleaching

Butterfly nose

Various - general term

Partly pink nose on a merle

Charcoal

Various - general term

Very dark blue dilute (dd), often appearing almost black

Check

Boxer

Brindle or fawn (sable) boxer with the piebald white pattern

Chocolate

Various, but particularly the Labrador

Liver (bb)

Clear-coloured

Various - general term

One solid colour all over (i.e. no sabling on a red dog). Clear-coloured dogs may still have white markings (white is not a colour)

Copper

Siberian Husky

Reddish liver (bb)

Creeping tan

Various - general term

Pattern inbetween traditional tan points and saddle. Generally the tan covers the whole of the muzzle and eyebrows, most of the legs, and the front of the chest. Probably caused by a modifier that extends the normal tan points

Cryptic merle

Various - general term

Merle dog with little or no visible merling, i.e. one which appears solid black (or liver, etc)

Dapple

Dachshund

Merle

Dark merle

Various - general term

A merle dog with a dark grey base coat (rather than the usual light grey). This is caused by intermingled black hairs

Deadgrass

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Light liver-pigmented red. A duller shade than sedge.

Dilute spot

Various - general term

Patch on a merle which is lighter than the other dark patches

Domino

Afghan Hound

Usually a dog with a greyish/brown back and cream/white underparts, caused by the grizzle gene (Eg)

Dorsal stripe

Various - general term

Dark line along the back, often caused by sabling

Dudley nose

Various - general term

Pink or liver nose

Fawn

Various - general term

Clear sable, usually with a black mask

Fawn

Dobermann

Isabella (dilute liver) with tan points

Fawnequin

Great Dane

Harlequin Great Dane with sable (fawn) patches rather than black. Black patches may still appear on the muzzle, where most Danes have black masks

Fawn merle

Various - general term

Sable merle. In clear sables, merle may only be visible on the mask (if present)

Flashy

Various - general term

A dog with more white than normal for its breed, or a dog with clear white (no ticking)

Flecking

Various - general term

Ticking

Flowered

Shar Pei

Piebald

Formentino

Cane Corso

Fawn/sable with a blue mask

Ginger merle

Cardigan Welsh Corgi

Brindle merle with an orangey base coat

Grizzle

Saluki

Black/brown with tan points/underparts. Caused by grizzle gene Eg, as in domino Afghan Hounds

Grizzle

Terriers

Intermingled brown and black hairs (usually on a saddle)

Harlequin

Australian Shepherd

Merle dog with white patches in its merling (caused by an unidentified modifier - probably the same as tweed)

Harlequin

Beauceron

Blue merle with tan points

Harlequin

Great Dane

Merle modifier which dilutes the grey parts on a merle to white, leaving jet black patches on a white base. Overall appearance is similar to a Holstein cow

Havana Brown

Havanese

Black brindle (brindle with very thick black stripes). When the coat grows in, such dogs can appear to be a brownish colour, like liver but without liver pigment

Isabella

Various - general term

Dilute liver (bb on the B locus and dd on the D locus)

Isabella

Shar Pei

A light, dullish red dog with a blue mask and blue sabling (so a blue dilute sable, dd)

Isabella

Siberian Husky

Off-white (light cream), caused by dilution of phaeomelanin (red). May have a black or liver saddle.

Ivory

Various - general term

A solid white dog with a slight cream sheen

King Charles

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and King Charles Spaniel (English Toy Spaniel)

Black with traditional tan markings (atat)

Lavender

Shar Pei

Light purplish tongue colour on a dilute Shar Pei

Light red (and red)

Siberian Husky

Light reddish liver (bb). Dark liver is called copper in this breed.

Lilac

Shar Pei

Isabella

Lion

Ibizan Hound

Light red

Maltese blue

Various - general term

Blue (diluted black, dd)

Mantle

Great Dane

White markings in the irish spotting pattern (muzzle, neck, chest, lower legs and tail tip)

Mask

Various - general term

Black (or liver, isabella, or blue) on the muzzle area (may include the eyebrows and the ears), caused by the Em gene

Merlequin (aka merlekin, merlikin)

Great Dane

Double merle. The double merle causes broken patches of merle on a white base, giving a pattern similar to harlequin (but more regular)

Minimal merle

Various - general term

Merle dog with very little visible merling. In effect, an almost completely black (or liver, etc) dog with just a small patch of diluted fur

Mosaic

Various - general term

Generally a red dog with random black sections on its coat, caused by a very rare somatic mutation

Mosaic spot

Dalmatian

A red or tan spot on an otherwise black-spotted Dalmatian. Caused by a mutation

Muddy merle

Various - general term

Blue merle with a brownish sheen to the grey parts of the coat

Mustard

Dandie Dinmont Terrier

Light tan (probably sable) with white furnishings and head

Onyx brindle

Various - general term

Black brindle (thick black stripes)

Particolour

Various - general term

Any dog with two distinct colours in its coat

Pearl

Rat Terrier

Isabella (diluted liver, bbdd)

Pencilling

Various - general term

Black lines on the toes of a tan-pointed dog

Pepper

Dandie Dinmont Terrier

Black with tan points (atat) diluted to white by the Intensity gene. The black is diluted to silver by the progressive greying gene (G). Appearance is of a light grey dog with white underparts.

Phantom merle

Various - general term

Dog that has the merle gene, but is solid red because of the recessive red gene (ee) or clear sable. As there is no visible merling, it can be impossible to tell the dog is a merle

Pinto

Akita

Piebald

Pips

Various - general term

Tan markings above the eyebrows and on the cheeks on a tan-pointed dog

Platinum

Various - general term

Silvery white, usually caused by extreme dilution of phaeomelanin (red), but can also refer to a partial albino

Plattenhunde

Great Dane

Piebald

Points

Various - general term

Markings (usually tan, or a variant of) on the sides of the muzzle, the neck, chest, eyebrows, lower legs and vent

Points

Poodle

Nose colour

Porcelaine

Great Dane

Harlequin with patches of any colour other than black

Powder merle

Various - general term

Pale-coloured merle with only a few dark patches

Prince Charles

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and King Charles Spaniel (English Toy Spaniel)

Tricolour (black with tan points and white markings)

Red speckle

Australian Cattle Dog

Red roan

Reverse brindle

Various - general term

Black brindle (very heavy black striping)

Ruby

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and King Charles Spaniel (English Toy Spaniel)

Deep, clear red (recessive red, ee)

Sable

German Shepherd Dog

Agouti or wolf grey (aw)

Salt and pepper

Schnauzer

Wolf grey (agouti, aw, with very strong dilution of phaeomelanin, turning the red to white). Appears as a grey dog with white points in the traditional tan point pattern. On longer fur, banded hairs are visible

Seal

Various - general term

Appears black with a brownish tinge. Genetic basis is unknown.

Sedge

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Liver-pigmented sable, sometimes with a liver mask

Sesame

Shiba Inu

Shaded red sable with urajiro markings

Silver brindle

Various - general term

Brindle with greyish stripes (but not a blue brindle - silver brindles are not dilutes)

Slate

Various - general term

Dark blue (which is diluted black, dd)

Slate merle

Various - general term

Merle with diluted pigment, dd (i.e. a proper 'blue' merle!)

Sooty

Various - general term

Sable with black sabling "muddying" the red. Sometimes called a sabled fawn.

Spectacles

Keeshond

Cream colour around the eyes on a wolf grey dog

Splash coat

Siberian Husky

Piebald

Tiger brindle

Various - general term

Light brindle with sparse stripes

Tricolour (tri)

Various - general term

Literally "three colours". Usually a black and tan-pointed dog with white markings (to any extent), although liver, blue and isabella tris occur too

Tricolour

Terriers and hounds

Tan dog with a black saddle and white markings (to any extent)

Trim

Various - general term

A small amount of white on the chest, muzzle, toes and/or tail tip

Trindle

Various - general term

Brindle tricolour (i.e. black with brindle points and white markings. Brindle never appears as the main colour on a tan-pointed dog)

Tweed (tweed merle)

Various - general term

Modified merle, causing patches of brown and tan to appear on a blue merle. May also refer to a merle with a muddy base

Urajiro

Shiba Inu and others

White markings on the underside, roughly following the same pattern as tan points. Urajiro is caused by a specific gene and affects only phaeomelanin (red)

Vent marking

Various - general term

Tan patch under the tail on a tan-pointed dog

White collar

Various - general term

White reaching all the way around the neck

Widow's peak

Various - general term

Brown or black marking running down the middle of the forehead on a shaded sable dog

Wolf grey

Various - general term

Agouti (aw) with phaeomelanin dilution turning the base coat to grey and the points to cream, leaving some black on the back. This is the colour of the Keeshond and Norwegian Elkhound.

Apricot
Buff
Chestnut
Cinnamon
Cream
Deer
Fawn
Fallow
Gold
Lemon
Mahogany
Orange
Red
Russet
Rust
Sandy
Stag
Tan
Tawny
Wheaten
Yellow

Various

Used to describe various shades of red, from the lightest (cream) to the darkest (mahogany)

Parts of the Body

Just a diagram with some of the main terms used to describe body parts in dogs. This may help if you're trying to interpret breed standards.