What are the different colors of mixed breed dogs?
Genetically, the different colors of the different purebreds work together to produce some pretty interesting and somewhat predictable color variations. But, sometimes it’s not so predictable.
Here are the different colors and patterns of mixed breed dogs:
Basic colors – White, black, brown (chocolate), apricot, red, tan, creme – colors can also vary within this coloring group for example light tan, deep red, dark brown to light brown, etc.
Parti colors – “Parti colors” are easiest described as patterned like a holstein cow. Black and white is quite common. The base color of a parti is always white, and the darker color can range from a small area to larger areas. And, the darker color can vary – black, chocolate, brindle (described below), gold, and silver are all colors that can occur in a parti colored dog. The pup pictured to the left is an example of a chocolate parti colored puppy.
Ticking – There is also a gene responsible for Ticking on Parti colored dogs. Ticking is not evident on the pups when they are born. The ticking develops starting at about 6 weeks of age. Ticking is small spots of color in a white background (like a dalmation.)
Brindle – Brindle is a mixture of colors, in a striped or swirled pattern. You can have a solid colored brindle, where the brindle coloring is covering the whole dog. Or, you can have a brindle parti, where white is the base color, and the brindle coloring is in patches. Brindles have a light base color, like gold or silver, and the striping is generally either black or chocolate. The pattern is most visible when the pup is born, or when the dog is clippered short. When the coat is grown out, you really don’t see the pattern, but the brindles do have more depth of color than the lighter solid colors (like gold).
Sable – Sable is a pattern, rather than a color. The pattern is somewhat like the pattern of a doberman pinscher, yorkie, or german shepherd. Usually, the legs tummy, chest, beard, and eyebrows are red, apricot, cream or white. The other areas are darker in color, usually grey, or brown. As the puppy matures, the lighter areas AND the darker areas continue to lighten.
Phantom – The pattern is like the sable pattern, but the dark color does not fade. The distinction between the light areas and the dark areas are very clear and clean, patterned just like a doberman pinscher.
As puppies grow into adult dogs, how can colors change?
The mature color of a puppy can differ very much from the newborn color. Just like a child who is born with blonde hair, as they get older their hair color may change to brown. Puppies are born with a “puppy coat” and the more often you get him groomed, the more the puppy coat hair color will come off and the new growth from underneath with come in. Puppies are sometimes born with rather faint phantom markings. The hair is often so short on the face and legs of a newborn puppy to really show off the markings. As the pup matures, these areas intensify.
There’s a gene responsible for diluting mature color. Dogs with this gene begin to lighten, generally at about 6 weeks of age. This gene is responsible for the colors of blue, silver, silver beige, and cafe-au-lait. Pups with this gene are born dark. Silvers and blues are born black. Silver beiges and cafe-au-laits are born chocolate. Whether the pup gets one dose of the dilution gene (from one parent) or two doses (from both parents) is the deciding factor of how much the pup will lighten. Silvers receive two doses and blues receive one dose, along with the black gene. Cafe-au-laits (literally, coffee with milk) receive one dose, and silver beiges receive two doses. We can sometimes tell if a pup is going to lighten, right from birth. These pups have lots of white hair on the bottom of their feet, rather than their natural color. But just like our children, you really never can totally predict how your puppies coat will grow once they reach adult age.