A basic guide to the world of dog colours


Grizzle is the pattern of a wolf and known under many names, such as agouti, wolf grey, black sesame, game and badger to name a few. It is a banded coat pattern (where each hair may be several colours). There are lighter markings on the muzzle, above the eyes, inside the ears, on the throat, on the underside, on the lower legs and on their insides, and around the vent. There is usually a light stripe right behind the shoulder, sometimes referred to as the 'harness marking'. There are darker hairs on the back of the neck, upper body and tailtip and often the head too. The amount of black tipping varies greatly, as does the distribution of lighter markings, so a dog can appear lighter or darker. In a dog with heavy tipping the black hairtips can be seen almost all over the entire dog.

Grizzle is the 2nd most dominant pattern on the A-locus. It is referred to as aw and is recessive only to sable. To express grizzle, a dog will however also need kk on the K-locus.
Depending on the shade of the phaeomelanin, a grizzle dog can appear in any shade from a pale grey to a dark red-black.

In some breeds, like the german shepherds, the term sable is used to describe a dog that is actually a grizzle. So if you see a german shepherd dog listed as 'grey sable' you will see that the dog is actually a grizzle, usually in a pattern similar to that of the wolf.

Grizzle coat up close. Each hair is banded in several colours.

Grizzle siberian husky. This dog has a very light base colour which gives an overall light look.

This alaskan malamute has a redder base colour than the husky above, which gives a dark appearance. The light markings are probably caused by the urajiro gene (which may also be causing the husky's lighest areas).

Grizzle dachshund. This dog has a pattern very similar to the malamute, but lacks the pale urajiro markings, and the different coat texture gives the dog a slightly different overall appearance.

Grizzle German shepherd cross