Australian Shepherds are amazing dogs built for hard work, training, and ranch life. As the chosen breed for Cowboys, Aussies are used to spending much of their day herding almost anything (including their family members and children).
So, which Australian Shepherd colors are accepted by the kennel clubs? Which is the rarest? And are there any health concerns with particular coat colors? Find out everything you need to know here!
The Standard Colors of Australian Shepherds
- Blue Merle
- Red Merle
Each dog color can have white markings, tan points, or both with no preference over any combination.
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The combinations of any of the standard colors with white or tan markings are how there are so many colors for Australian Shepherds!
Solid Australian Shepherd Colors
There are 4 solid coat colors for Australian Shepherds for you to choose from. Solid colors are the result of a recessive gene in Australian Shepherds, so it’s fairly rare to see some colors as solid. These pups are considered to have no points or markings (or very faint ones) on their bodies.
It’s rare to find a totally solid black Australian Shepherd – but it’s not impossible. You may find these dogs in ranches or other more remote areas.
Some solid black Aussies have small white markings on their chest. Experts will either consider these dogs solid black or black and white depending on their personal preference.
Possibly because it’s such a rare color or because most of us associate Aussie with patches of tan and white too, it’s not a particularly popular color for these dogs.
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Red is such a stunning color for almost any dog, but especially the Australian Shepherd. The exact tone of red can range from a very light, almost golden shade to a much deeper, mahogany color.
Red is a recessive gene, so it’s only possible for dogs to have this coat color if there is no black gene present. Then combine that with the recessive solid gene, and you’ve got yourself a very rare Australian Shepherd coat color. It is extremely beautiful though, so you’d be very lucky to see one of these pups!
Solid Blue Merle
It’s a little difficult to understand how merle dog breeds are considered solid-colored dogs (when they’re clearly not!) but it’s actually because it’s a coat pattern rather than a coat that has white or tan markings.
Unlike solid red and solid black coats, merle is a dominant gene in Australian Shepherds so it’s a little more common. In fact, many of us associate this breed with this coat pattern.
The beautiful blue marbled coat occurs when an Aussie has the black gene and the merle gene. The black is diluted to look almost blue and combined with different shades of gray.
More on this in a bit, but blue merle dogs can also have white patches and be tri-colored, which can sometimes be hard to distinguish from a solid merle pup.
Solid Red Merle
Solid red merle Australian Shepherds are particularly stunning. They have a beautiful marbled coat of different shades of red, amber, and copper.
As with blue merle Australian Shepherds, red merles have a dominant merle gene. But, as obvious as it is, they have a red gene rather than a black one.
It’s common for red merle Aussies to also have lighter or mottled eyes which, when combined with their stunning coat color, is very impressive.
Bicolored Australian Shepherds
Because both white markings and tan points are accepted by the various kennel clubs, there are lots of color combinations that result in bicolored pooches.
Black and White
Black and white Australian Shepherds look a lot like Border Collies, and actually, these dogs are very similar.
These pups usually have white markings on their faces, down the front of their chests, and sometimes on their paws. The rest of their body is usually fully black, although they may have white eyebrows too.
Black and Tan
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This is a beautiful combination for an Australian Shepherd. Similarly to black and white dogs, the majority of their coat will be black. They will, however, have tan markings on their face, chest, throat, or legs.
These dogs can have both brown or blue eyes or one of each!
Blue Merle and White
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Usually, blue merle and white dogs have the stunning merle coat pattern on the majority of their body and white patches down the front of their chest. It may also spread to their paws and their middle.
It’s fairly common to see these dogs with blue eyes.
Blue Merle and Tan
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Blue merle and tan Australian Shepherds will have a primarily merle coat with small patches of tan. These may be in the form of eyebrows, markings on their cheeks, or larger patches down the front of the chest.
Red and White
Red and white dogs are really beautiful and very unique. They can have any shade of red coat (as dark as mahogany or a lighter, golden shade) and will have white patches on their chest, face, paws, and middle. It’s not common, but they can also have white patches on other parts of their bodies.
Red Merle and White
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Not to be biased, but red merle and white is probably my favorite Australian Shepherd dog color. The combination is just so unique in the dog world and so beautiful. These dogs will have the wonderful merle coat and patches of white on their faces, paws, chest, and middle. They may have white hairs on the back of their neck.
They may also have white throughout the merle pattern.
It’s very unusual for red merles to have just tan points with no white on them either. It’s so rare and unlikely, that the AKC doesn’t count it as its own shade for Australian Shepherds.
Tricolored Australian Shepherds
Tricolored Australian Shepherds have a base coat of one of the solid colors, with white patches and tan points/patches. All the combinations are really beautiful and the different coat patterns make each dog look totally unique.
These amazing tricolored dogs have white and tan markings on an otherwise black coat. The black tri Australian Shepherd usually has white markings on its face, chest, middle, and paws. The tan markings are most common on its cheeks and legs. They may also have tan eyebrows.
Blue Merle Tricolor
Ok, I know I said red merle and white was my favorite color for Australian Shepherd dogs, but maybe this combination actually is. It’s just so beautiful!
And I’m not the only one who thinks so, as these dogs are one of the most popular color combinations. In all likelihood, these dogs will have white markings on their chest, with tan cheeks, and the iconic marbled pattern running down their back and rump.
Blue merle Australian Shepherds can have light brown or blue eyes, partially colored eyes, and even one of each. Their eyes can also be marbled like the merle patches on their coat.
A red tri Australian Shepherd has a red base coat (any of the possible shades) with white markings on its neck, chest, middle, and face. They will also have tan points on their face which can be hard to fully identify.
Red Merle Tricolor
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This is another, really beautiful color combination for these herding dogs. The white patches manage to make the merle patches look even lighter than they may first appear.
That, combined with tan/copper markings above their eyes and on their paws makes this coat color really attractive. This is another popular color for Australian Shepherd owners.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the rarest color for an Australian Shepherd?
There are quite a few rare Australian Shepherd colors but the rarest is a red dog. Red Australian Shepherds need to inherit the red gene from both parents as it’s recessive, which makes it even more difficult for a pup to have this coat color.
Are black Australian Shepherds rare?
Yes, solid black Australian Shepherds are quite rare. It’s much more common to find these dogs with some white patches on them too.
What’s the difference between a tricolored and merle Australian Shepherd?
Tricolored dogs have three different colored markings on them. Merle dogs, on the other hand, can just have the merle pattern. It often looks like merle dogs have white amongst the blue/gray shades or red/copper shades. These aren’t considered separate white patches.
A tricolored dog can also have tan patches. These can be large down the chest or legs, or on their face or paws. They can also have very cute tan eyebrows.
Do white Australian Shepherds exist?
White Australian Shepherds do exist, but it’s not a good idea to adopt one. White Aussies are often the result of breeding two merle dogs together. A double merle pup can suffer from many health issues, so they should always be avoided for the health of future dogs too.
Be wary of any breeder offering you a white Australian Shepherd dog. They’re likely to be unethically breeding for appearance, which can really affect the health and well-being of the dog.
Always ask for health certificates and avoid places such as puppy farms.
What’s a yellow Australian Shepherd?
Yellow is considered a non-standard color for these dogs. They can be very pale yellow or a much deeper golden color. These pups can also have white patches and the yellow gene (e-locus) will replace the base color of the pup, except for on the nose. Yellow pups will probably have black or brown noses.
Unlike white Aussies, yellow dogs are healthy and just as robust as any of the others pups on the list. In fact, if you really want a white dog, your best option is to try and find a very pale yellow pup.
Do Australian Shepherds Shed?
Regardless of the coat color, Australian Shepherds are heavy shedders. They have thick, double coats that will need weekly brushing to get rid of loose hair and keep their skin healthy. They will blow their coats when the seasons change and you will need to brush them a lot more during this time.
Australian Shepherds are one of the most beautiful dog breeds in the world and one of the reasons is because of all the amazing Australian Shepherd colors. They really range from solid black to red merle and white!
Whichever color is your favorite, it’s important to think about whether an Aussie is really the right breed for you. Aussies need lots of exercise, training, socialization, and mental stimulation.
They’re hard workers and really excel if they get to be on a farm or ranch. If you don’t have the space or lifestyle to adopt an Aussie, you might want to think about an apartment dog breed instead.
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I’m Charlotte, a content and copywriter from the North of England and currently living in Berlin. Animals have always been a huge part of my life, so writing about dogs is a total pleasure! I love all kinds of dogs and their cheeky personalities, but I’d have to say Weimaraners are my favourite!