The Cocker Spaniel Club


Very rare but not recognised solid colours may include: -

  • Sable, sometimes classified for show/breeding purposes with particolours in some parts of the world (on account of its mixed colour hair shafts)
    NB: Since this article was written in 2000, the sable pattern has become popular with some breeders and can no longer be described as rare - it is however an undesirable colour pattern under the UK Kennel Club Breed Standard and puppies of this colour pattern are required to be registered as "NBS" (Non Breed Standard Colour)
  • Silver~ash, associated with the Weimaraner breed of dog (A dilute black)
  • White with black/brown pigmentation (belongs to the particolours)

As far as I know, the colour silver~ash has as yet to be recorded in our breed. It is however within the colour spectrum genetically possible for our breed and should be recognised for what it is, in the event that it does appear in a litter in the future, even if it is not recognised in the show ring. In the meantime it will be referred to as a "theoretical" colour.

There is another "solid" pattern of marking which carries "hailstorm" marks distributed throughout the coat. A black or red for instance would look as if snowflakes had drifted down and stuck on his jacket. This type of marking is very rare but if the hair is turned back it is seen that the small circular areas of pink skin from which the white hairs grow are surrounded by normal skin pigmentation. This colour, although "solid" pattern, would like sable, probably be classified with particolours for show/breeding purposes in some countries.

This should not be confused with damaged areas of skin (from thorns, cuts etc). These damaged areas of skin are often replaced by scar tissue which gives rise to white hairs only where hairshafts regrow. Their shape will be irregular and follow the damaged area of the skin. Although some gundog breed standards carry the directive that "honourable scars sustained in the field should not be penalised", the Cocker Spaniel, being comparatively well clothed, has no such exceptions in the breed standard.

Tiger Striping , that is bands of black and red or golden sometimes occur as isolated "mistakes" in the message translated between the gene for colour to the colour actually distributed throughout the dog's skin and body coat. This pattern cannot reproduce itself and so cannot be recognised as a colour that can be selectively bred for by even by inbreeding. It would not be regarded as an acceptable colour in the show ring. Tiger striping is quite different to the tan masking and trim gene expressed in the black and tan, for example. It is also different to the brindle pattern expressed in some breeds. It occurs as areas of black and red/golden contained within the main body colour of the dog. It is in effect a fluke of nature.

Tan Mask & Trim

All of the solid colours, except sable (which has its own distinctive mask pattern) may have the tan mask and trim if both parents carry the gene for this pattern trait to give us the following variations: -

  • Black and tan
  • Liver and tan (sometimes referred to as chocolate and tan)
  • Red/Golden and tan (not usually visible to the eye)
  • "Theoretical" Silver~ash and tan (in dilute variant)

The tan in the masking and trim can vary from bright chestnut to a pale straw colour. Brightness has to be bred for, as do markings that flatter and compliment the properties of the head and trim areas. "Pencil" marks or streaks of black over the toes and along the under jaw are usually accepted. In some countries, a tan bar immediately behind the top aspect of the nose is faulted as this can give the optical illusion of a foreshortening of the muzzle.

The normal location for tan mask and trim is as two clear spots above the eyes (usually about ½ inch in diameter), on the sides of the muzzle, tan not reaching above the base of the nose but extending to the edge of the lips, a smaller area of tan on the flashes of the cheeks and on the inside of the ear leathers. Tan extends upwards from the chin and underjaw over the throat. Two areas of tan between the upper arms and either side of the forechest. On the forelegs: tan from toe to knees or just a little above on the front of the legs and from heel to just above the elbow behind the leg. On the hindleg: tan from toes to stifle at the front and from hock to vent behind the leg. Balanced markings are desirable, although there is nothing in the breed standard to say how the markings should appear. In general, the tan mask and trim areas should not take up more than 10% approximately of the overall colour of the dog. Nature provides for a degree of variation/absence in markings and technically, it is not wrong for markings to be more or less than the more usual, just less visually pleasing to the eye. >> Next Page

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