Let the fun begin:
Lets take a look at coat colors and the genetics that are behind them:A rainbow of colors....
One of the wonderful things about the Havanese is the rainbow of colors the dogs come in and how they can change over the years. Their colors help reflect the great diversity in the breed and how wonderfully adaptable they are in general. Of course we are a bit more than partial about the Havanese, but we find them to be absolutely perfect in almost every way. Their charming ways are enhanced by their beautiful, silky yet tossled coats and the wide array of colors they come in.
Below are some of the colors Havanese can come in. We love the diversity of the Havanese and attempt to keep the color diversity in our lines as well as overall genetic diversity to enhance the health of the breed. What isn't to love about a Havanese in any color?
Genetically there are many color markers that can be tested for, which can help a breeder determine what colors may be produced in a litter based on the genetics of the parents. While breeding for a specific color is not recommended, knowing what may be produced can be helpful in selecting a pairing if you are looking for something specific from a breeding and want to optimize your chances of getting what you desire for your next show/breeding potential puppy.
A brief course in color genetics:
Many people are very curious about the wide variety of colors and patterns the Havanese come in. Phenotype is used to refer to what the dog looks like, it is the physical expression of the genotype, meaning the sequence of genes which cause the dog to look as it does. While there is still a LOT we do not know about canine genetics, when it comes to colors we have a pretty good idea of the basics and are even able to test a dog to determine what colors and patterns the dog carries for and thus could potentially produce given any particular mating. Mostly this is just for fun, but it can also be useful if a breeder is interested in maintaining color diversity in their lines or is interested in their next show dog having a specific color phenotype. Obviously there should be many more critical elements including health testing and structural soundess as well as breed type before color considerations are brought into the picture. However, color is always fun!
Dominant genes require only one copy for expression, recessive genes require two copies for expression. Among the dominant and recessive genes, there are those that cannot be expressed without the expression of other recessive genes... thus making things more interesting! So, color genetics in dogs does not always boil down to a simple dominant or recessive, but it certainly starts there. Each layer build on the next and what the dog ultimately looks like is dependent on many different factors.
Different types of pigment - all coat colors and patterns in dogs are created by two different types of pigment, which are both forms of melanin and can be modified by other genes. Just like melanin affect the color of human skin, it also affects the color of a dogs coat.
Eumelanin is by default BLACK, but can be altered by various other genes to create Liver (chocolate/brown), blue (grey) or isabella (pale brown). Blue and Isabella are considered 'dilutes'because the production of eumelinin is reduced and not represented in full capacity. There are often health issues related to 'dilute', resulting in alopecia, or hair loss along with changes in hair texture and skin legions.
Eumelanin is also found in the pigment of the nose, paw pads, lips and eyes, thus the these colors will also be changed with the color moodifiers and often the dilutes will have lighter eyes such as amber, hazel or gold instead of the very dark brown eyes the breed is known for, as well as lighter pigment. You can tell what type of eumelanin a dog has by the color of its nose: black, brown, blue or isabella. The color of the coat may or may not contain eumalanin, but it is always possible to determine the eumelanin type by looking at nose pigment. Eumelanin is represented as 'E' genetically, and is the dominant pigment.
Phaeomelanin is the second type of pigment and is only produced in the coat, not the pigment of the nose or eyes. This pigment is considered 'red' but can appear anywhere from deep red (Irish Setter red) to a very light cream. This pigment is also responsible for freckles in humans.
Some dogs can have both Eumelanin and Phaeomelanin in their coats, such as the black/tan or sable dog.
White is the complete lack of pigment of both eumelanin and phaeomelanin in the coat. In Havanese this is not typically exhibited as albino, but rather is exhibited as a spotting pattern most typically known as the 'parti' color dog, with patches of color combined with areas of white. Occassionally an extreme parti can create all white, or, a white dog may actually be phaeomelanin with very light coat color but you will see a very slight cream around the ears to distinguish it from the lack of pigment.
The various combinations of colors and color patterns can be tested for and are represented by the following:
K locus: represents BLACK and affects eumelanin
K - dominant, black
ky - recessive, allows for the expression of A locus
kbr - brindle
A locus: represents expression of sable, b/t, recessive black
ayay or ayat - sable
atat - black/tan
a - recessive black (not known to be present in Havanese)
E locus: represents extension series.
EE, Ee - represents normal extension
there are no effects to either pigment type
pattern is determined by K and A locus
Em - mask
top dominant, one copy will give black mask over A locus
e- recessive red
requires two copies, blocks emeulin production in the coat thus the dog
will have NO black hairs.
ee does not have an effect on pigment
depending on modifiers, the recessive red dog will appear as
any shade from very light cream to gold to irish setter red
D locus: represents dilution of coat and nose pigment
DD - non-dilute pigment color
Dd - non-dilute pigment color, carries for dilute
dd - dilute pigment color
dd affects all pigment including BB, Bb and bb.
BB and Bb will have 'blue' pigment, also known as grey or slate
bb will have 'isabella' pigment, also known as lilac or cafe au late
eye color will also be lighter in pigment, often grey, green or hazel
** dilution of pigment represented by the genetic 'dd' is associated with color dilute alopecia, CDA, a skin/coat condition that affects the dilute hairs and causes them to fall out. The skin can also become irritated, scaly or scab. There is a test to determine if a dog carries for dilute, thus it is possible to breed away from dilute and thus have no risk of a puppy developing CDA. CDA is found in Havanese as well as other breeds with dilute coat color. While many think the color dilution is cute, however it is also associated with hair loss and skin issues. Color dilution is not allowed for in the AKC standard, the standard only allows black or dark chocolate pigment.
S locus- affects white spotting, from parti color, extreme parti color, and irish pied markings (white feet, chest, facial markings, tail tip and full or partial collar)
T locus- ticking, expresses as colored spots in the white spotted portion of the coat. This develops over time, but is often seen starting in puppies under 8 weeks old. Typically it can be seen on the feet or legs first and spreads to other parts of the body as the puppy matures.
Greying is also a factor in the Havanese, where a genetically black dog will at a young age begin to grey or silver. This is often called blue, but is different from blue dilute, as the pigment of the nose is pitch black. Dilute blue dogs are born blue in both coat and nose pigment.
These are the basic markers that affect the Havanese coat color, but there are others that are prevalent in other breeds such as meryl, harlequin, etc. There are also several modifiers, many of which are still unknown which can alter any give coat color or pattern.
Please be aware, there are so many different color combinations and patterns found in the Havanese and some of these seem to take on popularity and unethical breeders begin breeding for color rather than health and soundness and charge extra for certain colors. This just should NOT be. There are no 'genetically rare' colors, some are dominant and some are recessive, however, none are genetically rare and worthy of additional cost. Often unethical breeders charge extra for these puppies, who according to the standard are disqualifications, but they know pet buyers will pay extra for it. Sad, but true. Here at Selah, each and every puppy is loved and adored, color is fun, but it is never a determination of value. Each of our puppies come with the same care and love, sex and color are just part of the fun, not part of the price. We will never charge extra for certain colors or sex. Our companions are all valued and loved, regardless of color.
White chocolate is not a rare color, it is a cream puppy with a brown nose, meaning the puppy would have a chocolate coat if it were not cream, thus it still has chocolate pigment on nose/eyes/lips/pads. Blue dilute is not rare, it is recessive, just like chocolate, sable and black/tan and cream. However, you will never have a Selah puppy that is dilute, as there are health risks associated and we specifically breed away from this and test our dogs to assure we do not produce this. We do not breed for chocolate, though there are no health risks, we just prefer black pigment. We love color and think it is fun to see the variety in each litter, however, we do not specifically breed for any color. In fact, we love the variety and would hate to loose the variety and end up with a single colored breed. Embrace the variety and don't get caught up in the newest trendy color. Regardless of color, your Havanese will be a sweetheart and fill your heart with love.
Black:: KK or Kky, EE or Ee, DD or Dd,
Dominant black will be expressed and the A locus will be hidden.
The S locus is the only dominant factor over K, allowing for the expression of white, which is actually the absence of color in the pattern area. The pattern can be extremely varied.
Recessive Red: ee
There will be a complete absence of black in the coat. Pigment may be black, brown, blue or isabella. According to the AKC standard, only black pigment is allowed on a recessive red dog.
The presence of ee will cover any other coat pattern expressed by the A locus or the K locus. However, it is possible for a recessive red dog to still have white spotting of the S locus, as is visible on the golden puppy to the left with his white chest, feet and tail tip.
A recessive red dog may appear as a very light cream (nearly white), golden, or deeper red. There will be no black hairs anywhere on the body, head, ears or tail of the dog.
Sable: ayay or ayat; kyky; and on the E locus would be Ee or EE.
Sable puppies can be many shades of silver, gold or red, but will always have black/silver tipping on the ears, even if only a few hairs.
The two puppies above appear to be clear reds but with closer observation you can see there is black tipping on the ears of each puppy, thus they are red sables rather than recessive (clear) reds.
Next are two red sables who have much more black on them. Both of these dogs have also retained their color pretty closely.
Color changes of sables:
Left is the newborn and right at 8 months old. Notice she has kept the black mask but the rest of her body has really changed and will continue to change.
Left is newborn and right is 3 years old. She has modifiers which have caused her darker tones to fade to a light cream. Without careful observation one might think she is a cream dog, but the silver tips on her ears give evidence that she is indeed a sable who has faded.
Black and Tan: kyky atat
Black/tan is a color pattern specific with tan markings on the eyebrows, tan around the mouth/chin, tan legs, and tan up the tail. All these dogs are considered black/tan though the 'tan' can have modifiers that make the tan appear more cream, silver or redish.
Black/tan is a double recessive, requiring the dog to have the recessive kyky and also the recessive atat. This does NOT make it a dilute, only recessive in the manner in which it is inherited.
White markings can be on all coat colors and patterns. White markings can be just tips of toes and chin or can be of a parti pattern, with any combination of white and colored markings.
On the left a black parti color puppy. On the right, a black/tan parti color puppy. Notice the eyebrows! The rest of her tan is covered by the white markings.
On the left black Irish pied, on the right, black/tan Irish pied. The eyebrows are covered by the white markings on the head and white leg/paw markings but with careful observation the tan stripe up the tail can be seen.
An Irish pied has specific markings with white on the face/head, feet/legs, chest and may have a full or partial ring around the neck and white tip on the tail.
Left is sable irish pied. On the right sable parti (extreme/mostly white)
Left is a sable parti color. Right is a black Irish pied with a full thick collar.
It is also possible to have a cream parti or cream irish pied, however, once the coat grows out you typically cannot see the markings.