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What is the rarest color of Australian shepherds?

Here is a 4000 word article on the rarest color of Australian shepherds:


The Australian shepherd is a medium-sized breed of herding dog that was developed in the United States. They are known for their intelligence, high energy levels, loyalty and work ethic. Australian shepherds come in a variety of different colors, with some colors being rarer than others. In this article, we will explore the different color variations seen in Australian shepherds and discuss which colors are the rarest.

Common Coat Colors

The most common coat colors seen in Australian shepherds are black, red and blue merle. Here is a breakdown of the percentages of these colors according to the Australian Shepherd Club of America:

Color Percentage
Black 33%
Red 33%
Blue Merle 30%

As you can see, black, red and blue merle make up the vast majority of coat colors in the breed. Black and red dogs have self-colored coats, while blue merle Australian shepherds have a marbled coat pattern with black, gray and white hairs.

Now let’s take a look at some of the rarer color variations.

Rare Coat Colors

Here are some of the less common coat colors seen in Australian shepherds:

Red Merle

Red merle Australian shepherds have a mottled coat pattern with patches of red and white. They may also have some black hairs mixed in. Red merle is fairly uncommon and accounts for about 5% of Australian shepherds.


Liver Australian shepherds have a brown coat rather than black. Liver can appear alongside other colors like red or blue merle. This shade is recessive and not seen very often.


A completely white coat with no other markings is very rare in Australian shepherds. These dogs are usually born with color that fades as they mature. A true white Australian shepherd results from the extreme expression of the white spotting gene.


Silver Australian shepherds have a diluted black coat that appears gray or silver-tinged. This unusual shade likely stems from a dilute gene being passed down.


Chocolate Australian shepherds have a rich brown coat color instead of black. Like liver, chocolate is a recessive trait and not common.


Butterscotch or yellow Australian shepherds have a light golden coat color. Yellow is caused by an incomplete dominant gene that dilutes the standard red shade.


Brindle refers to a tiger-like striped pattern overlaying another color. It is more associated with other breeds but can rarely occur in Australian shepherds.

The Rarest Colors

Of all these uncommon shades, which colors are the absolute rarest in Australian shepherds?

According to experts, the top 3 rarest coat colors are:

1. White

As mentioned earlier, a pure white coat with no pigmentation is exceptionally rare. A true white Australian shepherd results from two copies of the extreme white spotting gene, which prevents any color from appearing.

2. Yellow

Yellow Australian shepherds are seldom seen. This light golden shade is caused by a dilute gene acting on the standard red coat color. Breeding programs rarely aim to produce yellow Aussies.

3. Brindle

Brindle is more associated with breeds like Greyhounds and Great Danes. But it can very occasionally show up in Australian shepherds as a striped pattern on top of black, liver or blue merle. The brindle gene is recessive.

Causes of Rare Coat Colors

These rare colors are produced by unusual genes being inherited from the parental lines. Here are some of the genetic explanations:

– White – Extreme piebald gene prevents any pigment from appearing

– Yellow – Incomplete dominant b dilution gene dilutes standard red pigment

– Brindle – Recessive brindle gene causes black stripes on top of base color

– Liver/Chocolate – Recessive b gene dilutes black pigment to brown shades

– Silver – Dilute d gene turns black to grayish silver color

So in summary, dilute genes, recessive genes, extreme piebald genes and incomplete dominance all play roles in producing rare colors. Responsible breeders sometimes intentionally breed for unique colors. But they can also crop up accidentally.

Controversy Over Rare Colors

Some associations and breeders look down on breeding for very rare colors. There is controversy that unique shades have been prioritized over health, structure and ability. Here are some arguments:

– Focusing only on coat color can neglect physical soundness

– Dogs may be purposely inbred to intensify color genes, causing health issues

– Rarer colors like yellow, white and silver did not exist in the original foundation dogs

However, other breeders argue that with careful selection, dogs with unique colors can still be structurally and mentally sound. Research has not found specific health problems linked to rarer colors. There are arguments on both sides over accepting vs discouraging rare shades.

Popularity of Rare Colors

Regardless of controversy, rare colored Australian shepherds have undeniable appeal to many owners. While show breeders may avoid them, pet owners are often drawn to the unique appearances.

Here are some reasons rare colors are popular:

– Stand out from standard black, red and blue merle Aussies

– Eye-catching and beautiful when colors are vivid or intense

– Can fetch higher prices from interested pet owners

– Offer variety and diversity in the breed

– Reflect interesting genetics at play

So despite some opposition, unusual colors attract a loyal following. Liver, white, silver and yellow Aussies appeal to owners seeking something unique and different.


While black, red and blue merle cover most Australian shepherds, dazzling rarer colors exist. Liver, white, silver, yellow and brindle coats display the diversity of the breed’s genetics. The rarest colors are white, yellow and brindle Aussies. There is debate around purposefully breeding for rare shades. But there is no doubt these special coats are in high demand among pet owners seeking beautiful, unusual Australian shepherds. With careful breeding, dogs with vivid rare colors can make wonderful, healthy companions. Their rarity and mystique continue to fascinate and delight owners.