Eurasier Coat Color DNA Study

Eurasier Coat Color DNA Study

This page was mounted January 6, 2011 and was last updated January 25, 2011 by Dayna Dreger, M.Sc. The linked pages in this series by Sheila Schmutz ( may have been updated more recently.

Eurasier Colors

The Eurasier is a relatively new breed, formed in the 1960's by careful breedings between Keeshonds (Wolfspitz) and Chow Chows. The Samoyed was introduced into the breed at a later date. The Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) standard for the Eurasier says that the breed can be "all colors and color combinations - with the exception of pure white, white patches or liver color". Breed enthusiasts that have contributed DNA samples from their dogs for this study have reported dogs colored "fawn", "red", "wolf sable", "black and tan", "black and silver", and "solid black".

A Locus (ASIP)

The A locus is responsible for almost all of the variation in the color patterns seen in Eurasiers. There are 4 alleles of ASIP: ay, aw, at, and a.

Eurasiers are the only breed currently identified to have all 4 A locus alleles.

The ay allele produces a fawn coat color that is mostly red with some black hairs spread throughout. Some of the hairs of dogs with the ay allele can be banded or tipped, with alternating bands of black and red pigment along the hair shaft. Within the Eurasier breed, this color is termed "fawn" or "red". A dog termed "red" should not be confused with the e/e red phenotype of the E locus.

Brycee on the left, and Archer on the right, are both ay/at. Notice that Archer has much more black pigment than Brycee. The amount of black present with the ay allele can vary greatly.

The aw allele produces a wolf sable or wild-type banded coat pattern. Hairs of these dogs are banded along the hair shaft, alternating between red and black pigments. Ajona, to the right, is wolf sable and carries the recessive black allele. aw/a

The at allele produces a black-and-tan phenotype. The torso of the dog is solid black, and the points of the legs, cheeks, eyebrows, chest spots, and under the tail are red. Aruna to the left is at/at. Her tan points are diluted to silver, though deeper tan points can also be present in Eurasiers.

The a allele produces a solid black color. This allele is mainly found in herding breeds, with solid black in other breeds due to the KB allele of the K locus. Samoyeds are one of the few non-herding breeds that have the a allele, so when the Samoyed was introduced into the Eurasier breed, so was the a allele. Teesha, to the right, is a/a.

A Locus Genotype Coat Color
ay/ay Fawn
ay/aw Fawn
ay/at Fawn
ay/a Fawn
aw/aw Wolf Sable
aw/at Wolf Sable
aw/a Wolf Sable
at/at Black and tan
at/a Black and tan
a/a Solid Black

Phaeomelanin Dilution

Eurasiers can exhibit a dilution of the red (phaeomelanin) pigment. This is often referred to as "silver" or "cream". While the I locus (Intense) that would dilute red pigment has been postulated by Sponenberg and Rothschild, it has not yet been mapped or characterized in dogs.

The above dogs are both at black-and-tan, but Akira (left) has darker tan points where the tan points of Dante (right) have been diluted to silver.

Phaeomelanin dilution can be seen in ay fawn and aw wolf sable as well. Jarouk (above left) is a wolf sable Eurasier with very pale phaeomelanin. Beau (above right) is a fawn Eurasier with more vibrant undiluted phaeomelanin pigment.

E Locus (MC1R)

The E locus has 4 common alleles in dogs: EM, EG, E, and e.

The EM, E and e alleles are present in the Eurasier breed. The EM allele produces a melanistic (black) mask on the face that covers the muzzle and can extend up around the eyes and onto the ears. The mask can be present on all color patterns, though is most noticeable with fawn and wolf sable patterns.

Maple is a fawn Eurasier with a melaninstic mask. Her MC1R genotype is EM/E.

The E allele, like the EM allele, allows for the expression of black and red pigment in a variety of patterns, dictated by the A locus. A black mask is not present on the face with this allele.

While no Eurasiers used in this study were e/e, a number of them were heterozygous for the e allele, indicating that it is present in the breed. The presence of the e allele in Eurasiers is likely due to the inclusion of the Samoyed during breed development, as all Samoyeds are e/e at MC1R and a/a at ASIP. A e/e genotype results in a solid red phenotype with no black hairs at all.

back to Dog Coat Color Main Page