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What are the three colors of springer spaniels?

Springers spaniels are a popular breed of dog known for their friendly nature, intelligence, and lively energy. They make wonderful family pets and companions due to their affectionate and gentle dispositions. One of the most distinguishing features of the springer spaniel is its lush, silky coat that comes in a variety of beautiful colors.

The Main Springer Spaniel Coat Colors

There are three main coat colors that are recognized for springer spaniels by major kennel clubs around the world like the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the Kennel Club in the UK. These three colors are:

  • Black and White
  • Liver and White
  • Black, White and Tan

Solid colored springer spaniels without any white markings are not considered up to breed standards. The white areas in their coat can be in various patterns, but must be present to some degree. Let’s take a closer look at each of these three main color variations.

Black and White

The black and white springer is the most common coloration seen in the breed. As the name suggests, these dogs have a jet black base coat with white markings on the face, chest, feet, and tail tip. The black can range from a dark charcoal to true black. The white can appear in various patterns like a tuxedo chest, full collar, blaze, splash or Irish markings (a spot of white between the eyes).

Liver and White

Liver and white springers have a rich, warm brown base coat rather than black. The shade can vary from a light sandy brown to a deeper mahogany. As with black and white springers, the liver coloring must always be accompanied by white markings following the same pattern placement standards. Liver and white is currently the second most common color seen in the breed.

Black, White and Tan

The black, white and tan springer has a base coat of black with defined tan markings on the face, ears, chest, legs and underside of the tail. The tan ranges from a rich reddish hue to a lighter fawn. As always, white markings are also required. This tricolor pattern is strongly associated with springer spaniels but is less commonly seen than the black and white or liver and white coat colors today.

Differences Between Show and Working Lines

While those three colors are recognized and accepted for the show ring, when it comes to working springer spaniels used for hunting, field trials and agility, there can be some color variations. Working-bred springers emphasize performance over appearance, so coat color standards are sometimes given more flexibility.

For example, it’s not unusual to see occasional white spotting on the black or liver coat of a working springer. Solid liver or black coats without white markings may also be seen. Other colors like lemon, red, sable, brindle and tri-colored coats with minimal white are sometimes found in working bloodlines as well. However, these colors would be considered faults for show dogs.

Rarer Springer Coat Colors

The vast majority of springer spaniels will sport one of the three main color patterns. However, over their long history, some more unique and rare color variations have popped up from time to time. These include:

  • Blue Roan – A mottled mix of black and gray hairs with white markings
  • Lemon and White – A very light cream coat with white markings
  • Golden Liver – A warm gold or taupe brown base coat instead of red liver
  • Sable – Black-tipped hairs produce a brownish-gray agouti effect over the body
  • Brindle – Black stripes over a brown base coat with white markings

Dogs with these non-standard colorations are not eligible to compete in the breed ring. But they still make wonderful pets with classic springer personality and temperament. Their unique coats just add to their character!

Impact of Genetics on Coat Color

The genetics behind coat color and markings in dogs is complex, involving many different genes. However, here are some of the key genetic factors that influence the appearance of springer spaniel coats:

  • The B locus controls whether a dog is black/chocolate (brown) or liver/red. The dominant B allele produces black pigment while the recessive b allele produces liver.
  • The E locus creates a black and tan pattern when dominant. The recessive e produces solid black or liver coats.
  • The S locus creates white spotting. S enables color while s produces excessive white.
  • The Roan gene can cause a mix of white and colored hairs.
  • Color modifiers like the greying gene can dilute black to blue or liver to lemon.

Through selective breeding, springer spaniel breeders have worked to stabilize the standard black, liver, and tricolor patterns. But the other genes still lurk in the breed and may be expressed unexpectedly in some litters, producing those rare non-standard colors.

Do Springer Spaniel Puppies Change Color as they Mature?

Many people wonder if springer spaniel puppies change color or if their coats look different when they grow up. Springer puppies are usually born with their final adult coat colors already determined genetically. However, there can be some natural variations in shade as they mature.

For example, black and tan puppies may be born with very dark black coats that take on a charcoal or sooty hue by adulthood. Liver puppies can be born quite light brown and develop a deeper red-brown shade. Tan points typically intensify from pale fawn to rich reddish tan. White areas may increase slightly in size or purity of color as the puppy coat is shed and the adult hairs grow in.

While major color changes don’t occur, the tones and hues can shift and settle during the first 1-2 years. This natural process of coat development as springer puppies mature into adults is perfectly normal.

Grooming Considerations for Springer Coat Colors

All springer spaniel coat colors have similar grooming needs. Their silky, moderately long coat should be brushed thoroughly once or twice a week to control shedding and prevent matting. Here are some specific considerations for grooming based on coat color:

Coat Color Grooming Notes
Black and White Black coats tend to shed moderately and show up visibly on fabrics. Bathing and brushing minimizes this.
Liver and White Liver brown shedding is less noticeable than black. Pay attention to featherings which collect debris.
Black, White and Tan Tan areas prone to discoloration from tears, saliva and moisture. Keep tan areas clean and dry.

In addition to thorough brushing, springers should be bathed as needed with a mild dog shampoo. Take care not to overbathe, as this can dry out their skin and coat. Proper nutrition through a high-quality dog food also helps maximize the health and shine of the coat.

Popularity of Springer Spaniel Coat Colors

The black and white springer is the most popular coat color pattern for both show dogs and pets. This combination allows both the breed’s signature black and white markings to be prominently displayed. According to 2021 AKC registration statistics, black and white accounts for around 70% of springer spaniels in the United States. Liver and white is the second most common at 20%, followed by black, white and tan at 10%.

The predominance of the black and white coat is likely due to several factors. It provides high contrast and visual appeal. The black coat stands out well when hunting or competing. And the black and white pattern has a very “classic” spaniel look. Regardless of coloring though, all springer spaniels represent this wonderful breed known for happy exuberance, loyal affection, and versatile abilities.

Conclusion

The signature colors of the springer spaniel are black and white, liver and white, and black, white and tan. These three color patterns reflect the breed’s spaniel heritage and allow both its distinctive black or liver coat and brisk white markings to shine. While other colors occasionally occur, these three remain the standards for this energetic, fun-loving breed. Proper grooming and nutrition keeps their lovely coats looking their best. Springer spaniel owners can enjoy these bright bundles of joy in any of their classic color combinations.