Bentley, our current dog of the month, inspired me to do a post on some of the lesser known colors in various dog breeds. Of course, it's important to remember that just because a particular color is advertised as "rare" does not make it anymore valuable. Many backyard breeders use this tactic to gain interest in their puppies and raise the prices on them too. But truthfully, the term "rare color" starts and ends there. It simply states that a certain color is less common. And beware; some breeders will even use the word "rare" when it is really not rare at all.
Some colors of dogs may be in higher demand than others. Take the English cream Dachshund for instance. Right now, English creams go for anywhere from $800 - $2000. The color English cream is unique to the longhair Dachshund. A true English cream can only be a longhair. But many Dachshund breeders will coin their dilute reds (lighter than normal red) as creams in hopes of getting more money from them, even if they are smooth or wirehair varieties. These people are either being deceptive or they are naive to the facts about their chosen breed, which is another reason why it's important to do your research before buying a dog. Many people get ripped off big time by the false marketing of an irresponsible breeder.
There may not be anything wrong with pricing a particular color higher if that's the going price. Still, be wary. The bottom line is, you are really only paying a higher price for looks. If you are comfortable paying more for a look you love, that is your preference. But don't buy a certain colored puppy just because you're talked into believing it's a gem.
Color trends in dogs come and go. Another thing to keep in mind is an ethical breeder will not breed their dogs for profit. Their priorities should be health, temperament, conformation (the way the dog is built and moves), and then color.
All that said, it is still interesting to me that some breeds will occasionally produce colors that you aren't used to seeing. So, here are a few of those!
Albino Doberman Pinscher
The first recorded albino Doberman was born in 1976. All albino Dobermans registered since then are descendants from this single dog. As most people know, albino is not the same as white. Dobermans that are born albino lack any pigment, whereas white Boxers for instance usually have pigment on the face as well as spots somewhere on the body. The genes that control white and albino are separate. Albinism is always associated with eye problems and skin problems. Albino Dobermans are susceptible to sun burns and may be sensitive to bright light. There are many in depth articles to be read on the albino Doberman Pinscher, so if you are interested in acquiring one of your own, I suggest doing as much reading as possible!
Silver Labrador Retriever
Some rare colors of breeds have a lot of controversy surrounding them, and silver Labs are one of them. Occasionally, a color will start popping up in excess when history shows no sign of that color being present. This gets people wondering if there is something fishy going on. Are they really purebreds? Some Lab fanciers believe that silver Labs are a product of introducing a Weimeraner (known for their light gray coats) to the gene pool. After extensive DNA testing performed by investigators from the AKC, they concluded that "there was no reason to doubt that the dogs were purebred Labrador Retrievers". Even so, this is still a highly debated topic among Lab people. There is no telling when or if anyone will come to a solid agreement, as there seems to be evidence supporting both sides. Regardless, silver labs, whether they are truly purebred or not, are gaining in popularity.
White German Shepherd Dog or American White Shepherd
Most people know that German Shepherds come in white. But white is a disqualifying fault in the sport of AKC conformation. That is, they cannot be shown. This hasn't stopped fans of the color from breeding them however, and they are beginning to be known as a separate breed. The American White Shepherd is a purebred white German Shepherd, but by making them into a distinct breed, they could eventually be accepted into the AKC. Yes, politics definitely exist in the dog world as well! See the American White Shepherd Association website for more information.
The existence of white pugs dates back to the 1800's. White pugs are not the same as albino pugs, which lack pigment. And a true white pug will only show fawn coloring where black is shown on fawn colored dogs. Also, the only two colors recognized by AKC are fawn and black. Any other color is a disqualification. Still, pugs are also seen in brindle, blue, silver fawn and silver gray.
Red & White Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
Greater Swiss Mountain dogs are only accepted in one color pattern, as demonstrated in the dog on the right. But occasionally, red & white puppies pop up in purebred litters. GSM's are not all that common to begin with, so the number of red & white Swissies is scarce, making them all the more unique.
The color "blue" in the Beagle is nothing more than a recessive dilute gene, causing the normal black markings you see on a hound to come out looking paler. Although beautiful, unfortunately dilute coats are prone to skin problems such as alopecia, a skin disorder that causes bald patches, dry skin and thinning hair. If you buy a dilute color of any breed (isabella or blue are most common), it's important to know the health of the puppy's parents or of other dilute relatives.
Red Boston Terrier
Boston Terriers come in a color called "seal" which is defined as "black with some brown hairs visible in sunlight." To be a true seal, the dog must have black pigment on the eyes, lips, nose, paw pads, and ears. The dog shown above is a more clear chocolate/red color and also has blue eyes, which is a disqualification in the AKC's breed standard. Still, these incorrect colors can and do show up in purebred Boston Terrier litters...and are undeniably cute!
Black & White Bulldog
The AKC recognizes many colors in the Bulldog, with a specific order to preference. Black isn't exactly on the list of preferred colors. The standard states: "Solid black is very undesirable, but not so objectionable if occurring to a moderate degree in piebald patches." Surprisingly, black & white was one of the original colors seen in Bulldogs. It wasn't until the AKC standard stated that the color was undesirable that they started to diminish in popularity. Some say black & white seems to be healthier than other more common colors of Bulldog as they have less skin and immune system disorders. Black & white bulldogs are no exception to what I said in the introduction of this post about rare colors sometimes being sought after. This color typically goes at a much higher price than their already expensive "normal" colored relatives. Right now, it is nearly impossible to buy a Bulldog puppy for less than $1,000, with some going as high as $3500!
Like the Silver Lab, the merle Chihuahua has stirred up quite the controversy within the breed. Not only did this pattern experience sort of a "boom" in popularity some 10 ten years ago, a good majority of merle Chi's are slightly larger and bigger boned than Chihuahuas are supposed to be. This has caused breeders of the more traditional coat colors question if they were recently mixed with Miniature Australian Shepherd or some other commonly merle breed to achieve this color. On the contrary, merle Chihuahua breeders argue that this color has been present in the genes for the last 50 years or so and even if another breed was introduced into the gene pool at one time, by now they are breeding true. Even more interesting, the AKC breed standard states that Chihuahuas can be "any color - solid, marked or splashed". So, merle Chi's can be shown. The reason you don't see them in the show ring very often is mostly due to their poor conformation. However, the size of them is also improving. I've noticed they are getting smaller and more refined than they were 10 years ago. Even so, I don't see the general contention over this subject ending anytime soon!
Blond Schipperke and Brown Schipperke
In the US, the Schipperke is recognized best by its prick ears, docked tail and of course, its solid black coat. But the original Schipperke came in brown and blond (sometimes called cream or white). Still, today's standard only accepts black dogs. The American Kennel Club states "The outercoat must be black. Any color other than a natural black is a disqualification." In England however, they aren't quite as strict regarding color. The Kennel Club's (UK) standard says, "Usually black but other whole colours permissible".
The brown Schipperke pictured above also has a "natural" tail, meaning it was not docked. To be shown in the AKC, Schipperkes must be "tailless" but in the UK, tail docking and ear cropping are banned for cosmetic purposes and only allowed on some working dogs.
Everyone recognizes a Yorkie by it's long blue & tan hair, the ony color accepted by the AKC. Well, the "Biewer Yorkie" or "Biewer Terrier" is actually a separate breed from the Yorkshire Terrier. The white, black and tan color is said to be a piebald recessive gene that showed up in a litter of purebred Yorkies only 26 years ago. From there, a selective breeding program was started to create a new breed. Still, as far as I know, no new breeds have been introduced to the Biewer gene pool. So color is still what truly separates them from a purebred Yorkie. That being said, a test was done on over 30 different lineages and Biewer fanciers claim that "we have been able to show that the Biewer Terrier is a distinct breed of its own."
Some say that calling these little dogs "Biewer Yorkie" is incorrect, because it suggests they were bred back to a Yorkshire Terrier and breeders of this new breed only want them bred to other Biewers. (Wow, that's a lot of B's in one sentence!) Whatever the case, I have a feeling they will grow quickly in popularity. I am already seeing plenty of them advertised in the local newspaper!
Some people prefer the classic colors, others may enjoy looking at something a little more unique. Either way, a dog doesn't know or care about the color or pattern of his coat. He'll spend his entire life never recognizing himself in a mirror, and never knowing what he missed. Aren't we dog owners thankful for that, in a world where the superficial is often emphasized over character?
(Hot Diggity does not own the rights to any of the photos used in this post)