Color Genetics of Dog Coats
Dogs come in all kinds of colors. Some have solid coats, some have coats with spots, and some have coats with stripes. Some coats are even made up of more than one color. What color coat a dog ends up with all depends on genetics and genetics in dogs is every bit as complicated as it is in humans.
Causes of Coat Color
The great diversity in dog coat colors is almost entirely human-influenced. The ancestors of dogs and wolves, are almost all the same colors. Yet, dog coat colors vary greatly. There are dogs with brown coats, which is the most common color. Some dogs have red coats and that color actually derives from the gene that causes dogs to have black coats. Some have yellow and gold coats. Some even have blue coats, often a result of metallic gray or speckled black coloring in the genes. There are gray coat variants as well that are connected to blue coats. Cream coats can be mistaken for yellow coats because blond cream is a color which is very close to yellow. Then there are the white and albino coats. Albino coats are tied to albino dogs with pink skin and blue eyes. It’s all in the genes.
- Canine Color Genetics: Discusses dominant genes in dogs that result in coat colors.
- Standard Coats: Provides information on the genetic makeup of standard color coats on dogs.
- Canine Genetics Primer: A program to help you understand genetics.
- Genetics of Coat Color and Type in Dogs: Excellent guide to dog coat colors with explanation on how they come out the way they do.
Causes of Coat Patterns and Markings
Dog coats have different patterns and markings because of genetics. Genes not only determine a dog’s “base coat” color but also the markings and patterns. There are many different types of patterns and markings. Brindle dogs have coats that are usually black and brown, then striped with the other colors. For instance, black striped with brown, brown striped with black, and so on. In a tan and black dog with a brindle gene, only the tan markings actually show. Merle coats are coats that have one base color with parts that are diluted with random patches of colors. The German Shepherd is a good example.
- Canine Coat Color Tests: Discusses breed coat colors and the variations.
- Color Chart: Chart that lists a variety of possible coat colors in dogs.
- Canine Genetic Resources: Provides links to multiple sites that have information about genetics in dogs.
- Coat Color Patterns: Discusses coat colors in general.
Dogs have been bred specifically with certain traits in mind. Some are bred to be strong enough to pull sleds and some are bred to be small enough to be carried in a purse. Many breeders also choose to breed dogs to get a specific color. Dogs that possess a certain color are bred with a dog that has a desired colored coat as well and then their puppies usually end up being born with those colors. This can be bad for dogs because after a while, the breeds start to suffer from health issues, especially if they are not bred carefully.
- Dog Gene Variants: Shows how three genes mostly determine coat colors and patterns.
- Coat Color Inheritance: Discusses why dogs inherit certain markings.
Breed Specific Dog Color Information
When it comes to specific dog colors, the dogs that immediately come to mind are breeds like the Dalmatian, whose spotted coat is extremely distinctive and not present most other breeds. Shetland Sheepdogs have a very specific coat pattern, where they have large areas of white on their chest, shoulders, and feet, and are either black or brown all over the rest of their bodies.
- Siberian Husky Colors: Comprehensive guide on the colors of various Siberian Husky breeds.
- Italian Greyhound Colors: This page describles the possible coat colors found in Italian Greyhounds and the genes that influence these colors.
- Cocker Spaniel Coloring: Discusses a specific breed’s genetic influences.
- Chihuahua Colors: Shows the colors of different Chihuahua breeds with AKC Color Codes.
- Greyhound Color Chart: The official color chart of the American Greyhound Track Operators.
- German Shepherd Coat Colorings: Shows why a German Shepherd inherits its coat colors.
- Dog of Different Color: Discusses the color genetics of the white Border Collie.
- English Cocker Spaniel: Comprehensive color chart of the English Cocker Spaniel.
- Boxer Colors: Discusses the colors of different boxers.
Additional Facts and Resources
Here are links to pages with more information about dogs and genetics.
- Dog Color Glossary: Glossary of terms related to dog coat colors.
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