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Are brown dogs rare?

Dogs come in a wide variety of colors, from common black and brown coats to more unusual shades like blue or pink. But when it comes to brown dogs, many dog lovers wonder – just how common are they compared to other coat colors? In this article, we’ll explore whether brown truly is a rare dog coat color and look at some of the most popular brown dog breeds.

What Determines a Dog’s Coat Color?

A dog’s coat color is determined by the genetic makeup they inherit from their parents. There are two genes that play the biggest role:

  • The B locus gene controls the production of brown, chocolate, or liver pigment.
  • The E locus gene controls the production of black pigment.

The combination of these two genes is what creates different coat colors in dogs. For example:

  • Dogs with bb on the B locus and EE on the E locus will have a brown or chocolate coat.
  • Dogs with BB or Bb on the B locus and ee on the E locus will have a brown coat.

Other genes can also modify the coat color. For example, the A locus gene controls how much white spotting a dog will have. So while genetics are the baseline for determining color, other factors can influence the final appearance.

How Common Are Brown Dogs Compared to Other Colors?

Brown coats are definitely not rare in the overall dog population. Here are some statistics on the frequency of different coat colors:

Coat Color Frequency
Black 22%
Brown 18%
Golden 17%
White 14%
Tan 10%
Red 8%
Cream 6%
Brindle 5%

As you can see, brown is the second most common coat color in dogs behind black. Nearly 1 in 5 dogs has a brown coat. So while brown isn’t as common as black, it’s definitely not a rare or unusual color.

Brown Dog Breeds

While brown dogs span many different breeds, some breeds are especially known for their gorgeous chocolate, liver, or brown coats. Here are some of the most popular brown dog breeds:

Labrador Retriever

The Labrador Retriever is one of the most popular dog breeds in the world. And brown is one of the three recognized and classic Lab colors, along with black and yellow. Chocolate Labs have a rich, warm brown coat that can range from light to dark chocolate.


Dachshunds are famous for their long, low bodies and short little legs. They come in three different coat varieties – smooth, longhaired, and wirehaired. Brown is a common color seen in all three types. In fact, chocolate and tan Dachshunds are one of the most popular color combinations.

Cocker Spaniel

The cheerful, silky-coated Cocker Spaniel can also have a brown coat. While black is the more common Cocker color, brown and brown roan (mixed with white) coats are recognized by breed standards. The brown is a rich chocolate or cafe-au-lait shade.


This fluffy little companion breed hails from Cuba. The Havanese can have a variety of different markings and colors. Chocolate brown, ranging from warm brown to milk chocolate, is one of the common Havanese colors seen in the breed.


Pugs have become incredibly popular thanks to their squished faces, outgoing personalities, and cute wrinkles. While black is the most common Pug color, fawn pugs with tan, brown, or apricot coats are also very common. The brown coats can range from light tan to a deeper reddish-brown.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

This rugged, water-loving retriever breed originated in the Chesapeake Bay area. Brown is one of the approved Chesapeake colors, ranging from a light deadgrass to a deeper, rich sedge. They also commonly have a brown head with a lighter brown body.


Weimaraners are best known for their distinctive “blue” gray coat that gives them the nickname “The Gray Ghost.” But some Weimaraners can also have brown, tan, or taupe coats. This is considered a fault in the breed standard, but it does naturally occur.


The Vizsla is a Hungarian hunting dog bred to work closely with people. While golden rust is the most common color, some Vizsla lines do carry the recessive genes for brown coats. So occasionally deep brown or chocolate Vizslas can be born in litters.

Australian Shepherd

No list of brown dogs would be complete without the Australian Shepherd! While Aussies come in a variety of different colors, brown is one of the most common and recognized coat colors in the breed. They can have shades of light brown all the way to a deep, rich chocolate brown.

Are Brown Dogs More Prone to Health Issues?

In some breeds, certain coat colors may be linked with higher incidences of health problems. However, when it comes to brown dogs, there is no evidence that a brown coat is associated with any health risks or issues.

For example, in Dobermans and Rottweilers, studies have shown that blues and blues tend to have more skin problems than black and brown dogs. But the brown dogs do not have any higher health risks.

So there is no reason to believe brown dogs are any less healthy than dogs of other colors. As long as you get your dog from a reputable breeder who does health testing, coat color should not affect the dog’s lifespan or susceptibility to disease.

Caring for a Brown Dog’s Coat

When it comes to grooming, brown dogs don’t have any special needs compared to dogs of other colors. Here are some general tips for keeping a brown dog’s coat looking its best:

  • Brush regularly to prevent matting or tangles.
  • Use a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner to keep the coat from drying out.
  • Bathe when dirty, but not too often as to strip the coat oils.
  • Trim hair around the eyes to prevent stains from tears.
  • Clean facial wrinkles, skin folds, and ears to prevent infections.
  • Trim nails regularly to maintain good foot health.

Make sure to match your grooming routine to your particular dog’s coat length and texture. Some short-haired brown dogs only require weekly brushing while long-haired breeds like Havanese need daily brushing.

Fun Facts About Brown Dogs

To wrap up, here are a few fun facts about our brown four-legged friends:

  • The rich brown coat color is caused by a recessive gene mutation that inhibits black pigment.
  • Chocolate Labradors were relatively rare until the late 1900s when breeders deliberately bred for more brown Labs.
  • Dogs can have brown noses that match their brown coats, unlike some other animals where nose/coat colors don’t always match.
  • Puppies with brown coats are often born with blue eyes that change to brown as they mature.
  • “Liver” is another term sometimes used to describe brown coats, as the color resembles liver.
  • In some breed standards, brown coats are described as cafe-au-lait, chocolate, cinnamon, or sedge.
  • Contrary to the myth, brown dogs are not more hyper or excitable than other colors.


Brown is a beautiful and classic dog coat color that is common across many popular breeds. From chocolate Labradors to coffee-colored Havanese, brown dogs have a special warmth and richness to their coloring. While not as common as black dogs, brown is nevertheless a very typical color seen in almost 1 out of 5 dogs.

So if you’re looking for an adorable brown canine companion, you have lots of breeds to choose from. And you can rest assured that a brown coat poses no extra health or temperament concerns. With a brown dog by your side, you’ll have a loyal friend who adds a bit of richness and dimension to your life!