Coat Color Alleles in Dogs
an updated list of coat color alleles in dogs found using DNA, and postulated from breeding data
This webpage is part of a series on Dog Coat Color Genetics and was last updated on March 19, 2016 by Sheila Schmutz
This list will differ from most others in published texts, which are based on hypothetical alleles proposed to explain actual breeding data. C.C. Little's classic work suggested some alleles not mentioned here and conversely a few new alleles that he did not predict have since been discovered. The list is not meant to be complete because research by our group and others continues.
Alleles known to exist at the 9 genes mapped in dogs, using DNA.
- A (agouti) = agouti signalling protein (ASIP) Examples with photos
- ay = fawn (cream to yellow to red with darker tips)
sable (some solid black hairs intermingled amongst reddish hiars)
- aw = wild color of sable (black tips on cream to red hairs)
- at = black-and-tan or brown-and-tan
- a = recessive black
- Note although as for saddle tan has been shown as an allele of this locus, it is actually a modification of at.
- B (brown) = tyrosinase related protein 1 (TYRP1) Examples with photos
- B = black eumelanin
- b, including (bs,b d,bc) = brown eumelanin
- C (Colored) = (SLC45A2) Examples with photos
- C = full pigmentation
- caZ = albinism of Doberman Pinschers
- caL = albinism of small, long-haired dogs
- Note that there may or may not be another allele at this locus causing albinism. Not all albino dogs have either of the two albinism alleles discovered thus far.
- Note: the cch allele, hypothesized by C. C. Little to cause paleness is not an allele of this gene (series), based on DNA testing.
- E (extension) = melanocortin receptor 1 (MC1R) Examples with photos
- EM = melanistic mask Examples with photos
- EG = grizzle in Salukis, domino in Afghans
- E = eumelanin or phaeomelanin can be produced in hair
- e = only phaeomelanin produced in hair
- D (dilutes or pales eumelanin pigment to blue, and phaeomelanin subtly) = (MLPH) Examples with photos
- D = not diluted
- d = diluted pigmentation
- K (from black, "dominant black") = Beta-defensin 103 Examples with photos. Note that there is no commercially available DNA test available yet to differentiate black dogs that carry brindle from those that carry the ky allele.
- KB = solid black, brown or blue (eumelanin pigmentation only)
- kbr = brindle (on body region that would be phaeomelanin pigmented otherwise)
- ky = expression of agouti alleles that express phaeomelanin possible
- M (Merle) = (PMEL) Examples with photos
- M = Merle apparent on dogs that are not e/e
- m = wild type, no merle
- S (Spotting) = (MITF) Examples with photos Note that this gene is certainly involved in piebald spotting, but may or may not be involved in Irish spotting. There is no evidence for a separate sw allele, proposed by C. C. Little.
- S = Solid, or more correctly, minimal to no white markings
- sp = piebald or random spotting, also called particolor
- H (Harlequin) = (20S proteasome B2) Examples with photos Note that for the Harlequin pattern to occur, at least one H allele and one M allele must be present. H/H causes death in utero.
- H = Harlequin pattern of Great Danes
- h = wild type, no Harlequin pattern
Additional alleles postulated to exist based on breeding data
- G (Progressive Greying) = (gene not yet identified) Examples with photos This gene causes gradual greying of black or brown hair and paling of red hair, prior to geriatric age.
- G = Progressive greying
- g = wild type, no premature greying
- I (Intense) = (gene not yet identified) Affects only phaeomelanin pigment
- I = intense red, not diluted
- i = co-dominant, so i/i dogs are paler than I/i dogs
- T (Ticked) = (trait mapped to a chromosomal region) Ticks are small pigmented flecks of color in white spots. Ticking is not visible on a solid colored dog. It is possible that there is a second gene causing Roaning, but that is not clear at this time.
- T = ticked
- t = not ticked
back to Dog Coat Color Main Page
for further information contact:
Sheila M. Schmutz, Ph.D., Professor
Department of Animal and Poultry Science
College of Agriculture
University of Saskatchewan
Saskatoon, Canada S7N 5A8
phone: (306)966-4153 fax: (306)966-4151