A Complete Guide to Dog Coat Colors

Merle. Tricolor. Pied. Find out more about the wild and wonderful world of dog coat colors and so much more!

Apr 1, 2024By Nikita Hillier
complete guide to dog coat colors

Today, we are going to explore the wide world of canine aesthetics! That’s right! This blog is a big breakdown of some nuanced dog coat colors. We aren’t looking at classic black and tan colors.

This blog has a huge focus on the rare, the wild, and the wonderful colors, such as merle, Blenheim, liver, blue, apricot, brindle, and so much more! Discover the breeds often associated with these colors, the advantages of them, and more as you read through!


cavalier king charles spaniel looking at camera
Image Credit: Pixabay on Pexels

Blenheim isn’t your usual mix of white and brown in large spots or patches. In fact, it's actually a completely different and very interesting pattern. Blenheim is a distinct mix of a chestnut and white coat pattern. The gorgeous chestnut color is dominant, with the white appearing usually just on the chest, face, and paws. Most commonly, this color is found on the very beloved Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

The word “Blenheim” refers to Blenheim Palace, the residence of John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough. It was here that Churchill and a few other breed enthusiasts developed the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Blenheim is generally only used in the context of these small dogs, although other breeds can also sport white and chestnut coloring.


liver colored labrador retriever puppy
Image Credit: Fernando Gago on Unsplash

Liver coats showcase beautiful deep chocolate and reddish-brown tones with a sleek and dramatic shine. This color is usually seen on breeds like the Irish Setter and is a very distinct and striking feature of the breed.

Other dogs with this coat color include:


german shepherd laying down in forest
Image Credit: Anna Dudkova on Unsplash

Sable coats are an absolutely mesmerizing blend of both light and dark shades on a dog’s coat, creating a beautiful visual mix on breeds such as the German Shepherd. Sable can range from a base of honey gold or even red!

The sable pattern is more than just for looks, however. It’s believed the breeders aimed for this color because it helped working dogs with natural camouflage.

Aside from German Shepherds, other dogs with this coat color include:


cute blue staffy close up
Image Credit: Anelale Najera on Unsplash

If elegant is what you want, elegant is exactly what you get with this stunning coat color. The term “blue” in dog coats refers to a diluted black color with a steel-grey shine. Blue is a fairly uncommon coat color because it relies on genetic mutations to occur.

Unfortunately, this has led to some backyard breeders prioritizing coat color over litters’ health. So, if you want to get a blue dog, be sure to only conduct business with ethical breeders. A responsible breeder will have checked for any health concerns between the parents before breeding puppies.

Some dogs, like Great Danes and the Weimaraner, sport blue coats. This color variation can also be found in:


pied french bulldog laying on grass in park
Image Credit: Freestocks.org on Pexels

Pied or piebald coats are generally black spots against a predominantly white coat. This coat color adds a cute little touch of charm to breeds such as the French Bulldog. It creates a stunning and endearing pattern that is not only striking but enhances the dog’s overall charm.

This coat color is not commonly seen in any other pure breeds. Some breeders will attempt to mate French Bulldogs with Boston Terriers to get this color—then pass them off as purebreds. French Bulldogs who naturally sport this variation are relatively rare.


cute beagle standing in long grass
Image Credit: Jaspal Kahlon on Unsplash

Tricolor coats are a timeless blend of three solid coat colors turned into patches! Usually, the three colors will be a mix of black, tan, and white, but may branch out to other colors depending on the breed. This coat pattern contributes to super cute and elegant breeds much like the beloved Beagle.

Other dogs with this coat color include:


merle australian shepherd close up
Image Credit: IIona Frey on Unsplash

If rare and eye-catching is the thing you’re looking for, that is exactly what you get with this gorgeous coat color. Merle coats feature a mottled or marbled pattern that creates a gorgeous visual on various breeds, such as the Australian Shepherd. This coat color is often associated with athletic working dogs or hunting dogs.

Other dogs with this coat color include:


apricot colored poodle sitting on grass
Image Credit: Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Apricot coats are so simple yet so insanely beautiful. They can range from a pale peach to a rich, deep gold. This coat color adds a true touch of warmth, glow, and radiance to many breeds, including the Poodle.

This gorgeous coloration not only enhances overall appearance but is often seen on dogs that exude friendliness and charm. It is a defining feature of many pups and adds a true touch of sunshine to the canine world. Sometimes, apricot coats can be less prone to showing dirt than other light-colored coats, which is a huge advantage of the color.

This coat color is not commonly seen in pure breeds. So, if your Poodle is apricot, it could be mixed with a Golden Retriever or another dog with a light gold coat.


brindle colored dog looking off camera
Image Credit: Anthony Roberts on Unsplash

Brindle coats, while not extremely rare, are undeniably cool. These coats are characterized by deep, dark stripes that sit atop a lighter background. They offer a unique and bold aesthetic to breeds, such as the Boxer.

This distinct color pattern is not only visually appealing but also serves a functional purpose in certain environments. In fact, in nature, it becomes a natural form of camouflage that blends in seamlessly with the dog’s surroundings. Many hounds have brindle coats that add to their hunting prowess.

Some dogs with brindle coats include:

Nikita Hillier
By Nikita Hillier

Nikita is a huge animal lover who has grown up on a farm with many different animals, from dogs and cats to horses and cows! She has a lot of experience in the equine industry and is even in the process of studying for an internationally accredited Equine Sports Massage Certificate! In her spare time, she enjoys writing and spending time with her beloved animals!