Genetics of Coat Color in Newfoundland Dogs

a summary of our studies in Newfoundlands

This webpage was mounted on December 25, 2006 and last updated on September 24, 2014 by Sheila Schmutz

The coat colors allowed in the show ring for Newfoundlands vary among countries. However Newfs occur in black, brown, grey, and all of these with random white spotting.


The traditional coat color in Newfs is black. Newfs are black because they are KB/KB. They are also all E/E. Black that is inherited as a dominant is caused by having at least one copy of the KB allele plus at least one copy of the E or EM allele. Ariel is the daughter of a Landseer Newfoundland but has no white markings.

Brown, B Locus Genotypes

Tyrosinase Related Protein 1 (TYRP1) is the gene responsible for brown coat colors in dogs (and mice and cattle and cats). Three different mutations in this gene can produce brown. Based on the brown Newfs we've tested, such as Sebastian, the bc allele, is the typical brown allele in this breed.

The Newf from South America above is brown (b/b) and dilute (d/d) and therefore a pale brown.

Blue, D Locus Genotypes

"Grey" is used as the name for diluted black in Newfoundlands. The locus causing grey or "dilute" is classically known as the D locus. Grey dogs, such as Semana, the pup at the right,are d/d in genotype at this locus.

Many grey Newfoundlands experience hair loss and the other associated symptoms of Black Hair Follicular Dysplasia or Color Dilution Alopecia.

Landseer Pattern and White Spotting

Fraulein, at the left, is an example of a Landseer Newfoundland. Landseers are so named after the painter Landseer who depicted Newfs of this coloration in several of his paintings. Although white spotting can occur in black, brown, or grey (see the photo at the right) Newfs, only the black and white ones are known as Landseers.

The gene causing white spotting in Newfoundlands is MITF. DNA testing is now available for detecting this recessive allele at HealthGene.

Some Newfoundlands that are carriers of spotting (S/sp), have white markings on their feet or even chest, such as MacNewf on the left or Jerome on the right. Many have a white toe or two and some are pure black, such as Ariel above. Therefore white on the feet is likely an indication that the dog is a Landseer carrier. However not all heterozygotes (S/sp) show white.


Dog Coat Color Genetics Main Page

HealthGene Dog Coat Color DNA Testing

Sheila M. Schmutz, Ph.D.

Department of Animal and Poultry Science

University of Saskatchewan

Saskatoon, Canada S7N 5A8

phone: (306)966-4153 fax: (306)966-4151