Dachshund Colors, Patterns, and Markings

Combining the different hair types, colors, and patterns gives us a massive variety of appearances within the dachshund breed. However, some colors and patterns have related health concerns. We’ll take a closer look.

If you’re just curious what the different colors are – keep scrolling down or skip to the galleries.

Dachshund coats are categorized as:

Coat Types

1. Smooth

The most recognized coat among dachshunds is the smooth-coated. A healthy smooth coat should maintain a sleek and shiny appearance.  However, there’s still some fur density that should feel soft and plush.

2. Long Haired

In the exact opposite fashion from the smooth; long-coated dachshunds have long flowing hair. Their coat is usually sleek and slightly wavy, with feathering extending from their ears and legs. Of course, this coat requires more daily maintenance to keep them groomed and tangle-free.

3. Wire Haired

While the smooth and long-coat variations have existed for centuries, the wire coat is a somewhat newer addition. Wire haired dachshunds (thought to be a crossbreed with a Terrier) were designed to be more resistant to extreme conditions.

Their surface coat is bristly and rough to the touch. Breed standard dictates they are groomed short throughout the body while maintaining a distinct beard and eyebrows.

Dachshund Colors and Patterns

AKC breaks down dachshund colors into three categories

  • One Colored
  • Two Colored
  • Patterns

Patterns are two or more colors but with distinct differences that help us further categorize their appearance.

For example: If a dachshund is predominantly Chocolate with Tan markings on the eyebrows, muzzle, and legs, we would classify that simply as Chocolate and Tan.

However, if their coat appears spotted, patched, striped with those same colors we call that a Chocolate Piebald, Dapple, or Brindle.

Stating the self color first, followed by the pattern or secondary color.

Comparing Two-Colored Coat to Pattern Coat
Chocolate and Tan
Chocolate Dapple

One-Colored Dachshund

One-colored are classified as Red or Cream.

Red dachshunds can vary from a deep brownish-red to an almost yellow shade.
Cream dachshunds maintains a pure, light blonde with no reddish tint whatsoever.

Cream Dachshund courtesy of @Finnegan_daisyduke

Shading is the presence of solid black hairs down the back, ears, and tail that produces a slightly dark shaded effect. This is sometimes referred to as Overlay (and is not to be confused with the Sable pattern).

There is also the possibility of Diluted Red, referred to as Fawn, Isabella, or mistakenly identified as Chocolate-Red (which is not a legitimate color).

There may be health-related side effects with dilution – which we discuss further.  See: Diluted Colors.

Two-Colored Dachsunds

A combination of two colors, which begins with a prominent base color throughout the body and cream, tan, or chocolate markings on the legs, face, chest, or ears. Black and Tan being the most common combination.

Blue and Tan image courtesy of Luna’s owners

Two-colored coats will be a combination of:

  • Black
  • Tan
  • Chocolate
  • Cream
  • White
  • Fawn (Isabella)
  • Grey (Blue)

Wild Boar & Chocolate Boar

Wild Boar is an unusual color combination but still considered two-colored by default (found only on wire-haired coats).

It’s a blend of shades that range from light tan, to reddish-brown, to nearly black. Characterized by banded “agouti” hairs with several different colors on each individual hair.

Chocolate

What defines a chocolate two-colored coat is actually based on the color of their nose. If their nose appearance is a shade of brown rather than black (resembling a shade of chocolate) then the color of their coat is also considered chocolate.

Common Two-Colored Combinations:

  • Black and Tan
  • Black and Cream
  • Blue and Tan
  • Isabella and Tan
  • Chocolate and Cream
  • Chocolate and Tan
  • Wild Boar

Diluted Colors

Dilution occurs when a litter or adult dog is a dilution gene carrier (Color Dilution Alopecia, or CDA), although it does not affect every dog.

Color Dilution Alopecia is a genetic defect that affects pigment, creating unusual coloration in the hair shaft. Typically this is used to produce:

  • Isabella / Fawn  (Diluted Red)
  • Blue / Grey  (Diluted Chocolate)

Blue and Tan image courtesy of Luna’s owners

For some puppies Color Alopecia affects hair follicles below the skin, which may cause permanent damage and inhibit new hair growth.

Puppies will appear healthy and with a full coat, however, affected dogs will begin to experience hair loss at 6 months to 3 years. Unable to grow new hair adult dogs may appear patchy or completely bald.

Adult dogs may be carriers of Color Alopecia but have no diluted coat themselves.

Patterns

While pattern coats can be any combination of color, their unique markings help us further classify their coat type.

Image Credits:

As you may have noticed, patterns can involve multiple colors, markings, and even multiple other patterns.

Additional markings are sometimes described as Overlay, Ticking, or Striped.

In some cases, there may be no visible pattern, though they can be pattern carriers and have patterned puppies. This is especially important to remember when it comes to breeding Dapples (See: Double Dapple). 

Pattern Coats Consist Of:

  • Dapple
  • Double Dapple
  • Brindle
  • Sable
  • Piebald

Other Terms:

Ticking is a term used to describe colored freckles or spots among any of the patterns.

Striped refers to a specific brindle pattern that resembles tiger stripes (usually in black and red shades)

Dapple (Merle)

Dapple is a pattern of irregular patches or splotches of dark pigment overlaying a lighter color. Most often you’ll find a white, grey, or brownish background and patches of brown, black, or tan over top. 

You can also have a mix of Dapple patterns with Piebald, Sable, and Brindle, as well as ‘Ticking’ and shading throughout the body.

Dappled Dachshunds –The dapple (merle) pattern is expressed as lighter-colored areas contrasting with the darker base color, which may be any acceptable color. Neither the light nor the dark color should predominate.

AKC Standard

Quick Quiz

Which Of These Dachshunds Might Be Considered Merle (Dapple)?

  • A dachshund that is near completely red, with some barely visible patches on its body.
  • A puppy that began its life with merle patches, however, grows into a completely solid color as an adult.
  • A dog that has a single small patch of merle on one ear that is barely noticeable.

Answer: All Three Are Possible Merle Carriers

Dapple may or may not be completely apparent, and may not be appear anything more than a miscolored patch of hair. They may also appear as a solid color but have dapple parents.

In either case, the dog is considered dapple.

This is an important distinction because in no situation should you breed two merle carriers, otherwise you get what is called a Double Dapple (or Double Merle).

Hidden Dapple

Image courtesy of prairiedox.weebly.com

Believe or not this dog is a dapple. His direct parents were dapple, making this puppy a carrier. Also, look closely at the small (barely visible) patch of black hair located on the ear.

Double Dapple (Double Merle)

Image courtesy of Just chaos / CC BY

When two merle (dapple) carriers are bred their litter then becomes known as “double dapple” and are at a much greater risk of health issues. Often being born deaf, blind, or both.

Therefore, breeding two merle gene carriers is forbidden and considered inhumane.

Merle carriers should only be bred to solid colored mates that are known non-merle.

Double Dapples appear mostly white, or very light in color, with a few merle patches. One or both eyes may be blue. Pigmentation on the nose and paw pads may mottled or completely brown or pink.

Mistaken Identity

Not all dachshund colors that appear mostly white are double dapple. This could be the result of the dilution gene, piebald pattern, or very light cream color.

Double dapples may have other signs, such as blue eyes, pink eye rims, pink nose, or pink paw pads.

Brindle

Image courtesy of Misspells wrods/ CC BY

For many breeds (and animals) Brindle is described as “tiger stripes” for it’s vaguely similar marked red-shaded and black stripes.

Dachshunds can be Black and Tan Brindle and Red Brindle, the latter being far more visually apparent.

Although brindle should not be confused with Wildboar. Wildboar has similar shading but is notably lighter, while Brindle consists of more stripes.

Brindle is not officially recognized by the AKC, but it’s still a favorite among pet owners.

Sable

Sable is black-tipped hairs while the rest of hair transitions into (most commonly) red.  By examining the undercoat carefully you will see lighter hair closer to the skin.

Not to be confused with shading, which is the presence of pure black hairs intermingling with red or cream hairs.

Sable is multi-colored single hairs, Shading is multiple solid color hairs on the same coat.

Sable does not occur on smooth or wire haired coats.

Piebald

Piebald or Pied by definition is: composed of incongruous parts or of different colors.

When it comes to animals it’s the presence of white spots over top of a darker hair, fur, or feathers. Many owners get this backward, assuming the dark spots are laid over top of white. Usually, because the white is much more prevalent.

Piebald is the result of a common (and harmless) mutated gene that appears in many different animals and reptiles. For Dachshunds, it results in a spotted, multicolor coat that can be combined with any other color or pattern.

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