There are hundreds of dog breeds out there, and they come in any and all color variations imaginable. They are classified based on the solid base color and the diverse coat patterns.
All these wonderful colors and patterns result from the presence or absence of specific genes. It all starts with no more than two basic pigments or melanins: eumelanin (the black pigment) and phaeomelanin (the red pigment that produces yellow and golden coats).
Melanins are responsible for coat coloration — the more melanin present, the darker the coat color. Production of this melanin does not always happen at the same rate, which results in some parts of a dog’s coat being darker or lighter than others. Sometimes, there are genetic mutations that modify or ‘dilute’ the basic pigments. Dilution of the eumelanin will lead to coat colors like gray, blue, liver, and isabella.
Such modifications to eumelanin and phaeomelanin are at the root of all the colors and patterns listed here:
Most major kennel clubs register the following coat colors, with breeders using them to breed and crossbreed dogs.
One thing to note is that the same term may apply to different colors in different breeds, while the same color may be referred to using different terms.
Numerous other unique coat colors exist, like blonde and orange, but these are not registered by any kennel clubs.
Here are the diverse coat patterns seen in most dog breeds. All these patterns result from certain genetic mutations.