A Field Guide To Coloration of Australian Shepherds

The Australian Shepherd breed shows a unique kaleidoscope of color variety in the coats and eyes. This field guide presents both the common standard colors listed in the ASCA breed standard as well as the common nonstandard colors we see and gives the genetics of each, when known. The Technical section includes a color breeding FAQ, a list of of known loci and their actions, a chart of color nomenclature, and a glossary of genetic terms. The Markings section shows the many interesting markings, modifying genes, patterns of iris pigmentation of the eyes, and some fascinating series of 2 puppies changing colors as they mature, as well as two adults changing color. There is a section on the birth of a pair of identical twin blue merle puppies. There is also a section on visible eye defects. A true self merle is pictured on the red merle page, and some phantom (cryptic) merles have been added. There is also a page showing several dogs that are two colors at once - a somatic mutation. Genetics is a rapidly developing field, and updates will be made as new information and photos become available.

Reader submissions are always very much appreciated - without them some of the harder to find colors and patterns would not be here.

If you grant permission to use your photo I will only identify the kennel name, dog's name, or owner's name of the dog in the photo if the owner asks me to. Otherwise my policy is complete confidentiality for those who submit photos.


Red tricolor Dewmoor Manape Merrythought "Wish" and blue merle Darwin's Black River Justice "Jessie" get ready to make their debuts in the 9-12 month old puppy class.

I wish to express my thanks to the breeders, owners, and Aussie rescue friends who have supplied some of the photographs used. Many thanks to C.A. Sharp for reviewing the content of the site, and thanks also to Phil Sponenberg, DVM, Ph.D. for his information on tweeds and harlequins. Many thanks to the late Betty Nelson, former head of the ASCA Genetics Committee, who supplied considerable information on test breedings and inheritance patterns of tweed. I also want to thank Barry Brachman for his technical expertise and Jenni Gallichan for her inspiration and creativity.

Site Map
standard Nonstandard Tech FAQ
Color Twinning Sometic Tough Calls
Dilute Spots Eye Ano Split Faces Tongue
Muzzle E Mask Lozenges Tongue Spots
Muzzle Silvering E Mask Lozenges Ticking


© 1999-2009 Lisa McDonald Comments