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Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

This article was written by TOBALIE in cooperation with Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

Over the centuries, various dog and cat breeds have been bred. Particularly with the dogs, the different races vary in size and appearance. Some are small, have big ears and are shaggy, others again are big, have smooth fur and small ears. But also some cat breeds are very different in appearance from others. Just imagine the comparison with a Maine Coon and a Sphinx. Variability is the product of evolution. And that’s a good thing, because how boring would our world , if everything looked the same? That’s why TOBALIE would like to show the various fur colours and patterns today to our beloved pets. Originally, the fur-colors served as camouflage and as signal.

Origin of the fur colors

The colour(s) of the fur of a dog or a cat is determined by the genes that have been inherited from the parent animals. The genetics behind it is a very complex topic and it would go beyond the scope, if here exactly on it would be entered into. The fact is, however, that the different distribution of two pigments found in the fur that control the fur colors of dogs and cats. On the one hand there is the black pigment eumelanin and on the other hand, the red pigment pheomelanin. The interaction of these two pigments thus produces a wide range of fur colours, depending on which pigment  the cells produce.

A small example: If your dog or cat has predominantly black fur, then the cells will increasingly produce the pigment eumelanin. Also various grey- and/or brown tones are possible. Does the fur have a reddish to yellowish colour, increased production of pheomelanin. Both are produced from tyrosine (essential amino acid) via intermediate steps. White fur is created by mutation and is characterized by the absence or reduction of these substances. The fur contains thus no or only few color pigments. All common colours (black, brown, red, white… and mixtures) are produced this way. The fur of the animal can be either one, two or three colored (tricolor). The colours black or red do not have to be explained here, but there are many  special colors and patterns, which are now more extensively used in the can be described.

Special fur colours in dogs


Pale yellow to light-grey-brown, like blonde humans.


Light reddish brown. Very light tan colours are called Isabell.
Based on a genetic mutation and can lead to health problems. Blue-Merle (black and grey spots) and Red-Merle (red and brown spots).
Grey- black patches on a white ground colour, the puppy has the harlequin gene homozygous (inherited from both parent animals) he dies even as an embryo in the womb.

Pepper & Salt

Parts of the hair are alternately pigmented and not pigmented. The dark top fur has light tips.


Mix of two colours.


Gold colours in different nuances, with more or less black hair ends.


Grey tones, originating from the term ash.


Blue-grey fur.

Beside the listed fur colors there are also various patterns:


Skin and over it lying fur is white in places, coat in marks distributed.


Fur has a white ground color with smaller, blurred marks.


(Usually) horizontal or vertical stripes, in the alternating colors (often brown and black, dark stripes on lighter ones) stripes can be of different thickness and can sometimes look like marks.


Isolated white hair on dark fur


(Un)regular, different coloured, roundish marks.


Mostly irregular and in different colours.


Usually large, differently coloured marks.


Big dark spot on the back of the dog.


Similar to a saddle, marks lies like a blanket on the back.


Head and/or snout is darker pigmented (mostly black).


Lighter (often white) pattern in dark coat.


Lighter markings on the snout and eyes.


Hair ends are darker, as if you coat over the dog’s back with a muddy hand.


White stripe on forehead.

Special coat colours for cats:


White/grey tone, which is due to the different shading of the hair.

Wild Colours/Agouti

Colour based on eumelanin, remindsof wildcats/Predators, Brown-Grey tones.


Warm cinnamon brown plus reddish fur.


Blue and grey fur.


Deer colors, mostly beige fur throughout.


Warm brown tones, chocolate brown.


Warm cinnamon brown.


Cream with lavender ticking, greyish tone, light pink.


Hair is bicoloured, hair base is mostly white and above it a smoky tint.


Gold and brown colours in different nuances, with more or less black hair tips.


Matt nougat brown.


Very light brown/orange, beige to almost white.

Also with the cat there are different patterns and drawings:


Two-coloured fur, points are differently coloured.

Tiger fur

Irregular, differently coloured, tiger-like marks and stripes.


Typical fur pattern if cat is not monochrome or monochrome plus is white. This includes tabby, ticked and spotted.


Multicolored, different colored mostly white areas of the body.


Fur has a slight shimmer and appears almost monochromatic, due to the hair banding (one hair has different tones) up to 12 rings.


Strips interrupted and shaped like dots. If the dots are dark bordered you calls this rosette pattern.


Face darker, sometimes also the tail.


Mainly regions such as face, ears, legs, tail are darker colored.


Usually a lighter keynote, points darker, usually a darker mask.

Tortoise shell

Two-colored fur from red and black stains. Is additionally a tabby pattern exists, it is called a
Torbie pattern.


Our beloved dogs and cats are available in every imaginable colour combination. Only two dyes in the cells and its mixture result in this colorful pet world. With some colour definitions it is often tricky to know what is meant.