Understanding Dog Coat Markings

Keeping your pet's dog coat as healthy and lustrous as possible is the goal of many a pet owner. Like all other parts of your dog's body, the coat and fur will be reliant upon a healthy diet and a varied balance of nutrients in order to be fully up to the level of quality and appearance that they are able to be. Additionally, regular hygiene will help to maintain the quality of the coat. Changes and abnormalities to a pet's coat markings and color can be a surprise for many pet owners. They often signal a particular type of condition that may be affecting your dog, so it's important to watch out for them.

Dog Coat Color Overview

Dog coat color is fully influenced by genetics. While it's easy to oversimplify the process of genetics that dictate the color of your pet's coat, one look at several dogs from the same breed will reveal that simply being of the same family of dog does not necessarily mean that any two animals will have even remotely similar coat colors.

There are two primary coloring chemicals in your pet's fur. These are present in a wide array of different colors, and the exact amounts of those chemicals, where they are located, and how they present (i.e., what color they show) is dependent upon genetic factors. Thus, breeding two pets with coat characteristics that you like is often more likely to result in an offspring with a coat that you prefer. However, because of the differences between dominant and recessive qualities in the genes that dictate coat coloring, it's difficult to even predict that much.

Coloration Types

There are a number of different color types, all of which are perfectly normal and healthy. Dogs generally range in colors from black to white and include various shades of tan, yellow, orange and red. Individual markings on the coat indicate areas in which the pigments that dictate the coat colors are different. It's not unusual for a black dog to have grey or white markings, or for a white dog to have brindle or yellowish markings.

When Color Is an Indicator

If your dog's coat color seems to shift suddenly, or if you notice patches of different colors on his body that you haven't seen before, keep an eye on his coat. Take note if the quality of the fur or hair seems to be diminishing, or if he's losing more hair to shedding than he normally does. These signs may be symptoms of a skin condition that influences his coat. If you do notice these things and you're concerned about your pet's overall coat health and skin health, take him in to a vet. It's not uncommon for puppies to change their coat coloring slightly as they get older, however.

For more information, speak with a vet or a breeder with expertise on coat coloring.