Heavenly Colors in the Havanese

In the dog world, there are a few breeds that come in a huge array of colors, all of them acceptable according to their breed standards, and the Havanese is one of them. From its AKC standard: “Color: All colors and marking patterns are permissible and are of equal merit. The skin may be any color.”

At least ten different genes control color in this breed, different genes regulating different parts of the coat color. Some genes make the color pigments, others arrange the distribution of the pigments in the individual hairs and over the whole body. Interestingly, some colors, such as cream, fawn, and silver will predictably change over a puppy’s lifetime, but black will never change, and gold and red won’t lose their color, but likely lighten. Other colors may or may not change.

Nor should we forget markings. They can be irregular patches, small patches, color found only on the coat’s trim, or flecks. They can be parti-colored, extreme parti colored, extreme piebald, or Irish pied. This makes owning, let alone breeding a Havanese, an adventure. A puppy born black brindle may easily be a silver adult, and then darken again with time!

We always defer to breed experts, but our homework suggests that with an understanding of genetics in the breed, predicting colors is possible, something that a registry would love since they like puppies to be listed with the color of the anticipated adult coat.  Sometimes, however, there can be surprises.  

Image: Havanese by Victoria Newton is available for purchase here.

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