Color in the Min Pin
The Min Pin comes in six colors. Four of those colors show a solid base color with tan points, and two are solid red in appearance. The four base colors are black, chocolate (brown), blue, and fawn/Isabella (lilac). The two other colors are stag red (sable) and clear red (yellow). The terms in parentheses are those used by color geneticists when talking about color, but for the purpose of this document I’ll use the common terms most Min Pin breeders and owners understand.
Because they underlie everything else, let’s first talk about the four solid base colors.
‘B’ = Black and ‘b’ = brown/chocolate. Black is dominant over chocolate. So all dogs who are black will have ‘B’ in their genetic color code, and because ‘b’ is recessive to ‘B’, for a dog to be chocolate he must have two copies of the recessive chocolate gene, or ‘bb’
‘D’ = NOT Dilute and ‘d’ = dilute. Dilute colors are blue and fawn. You can apply the same principles as above to the D series. Any dog with ‘D’ in its color genetics cannot be a dilute dog. Only when a dog inherits two copies of ‘d’ does it show the color of either fawn (dilute of chocolate) or blue (dilute of black).
All Miniature Pinschers have these basic four colors. Think of it as the base coat on your house or car. However, there are two other colors in the breed, and they can partially (in the case of Stag red) or wholly (in the case of clear red) mask, or cover, the underlying coat color. Like putting a top coat of paint on your house. You may change the color, but the base coat is still there.
at = Tanpoint. Along with the four base coats above, Min Pins, with the exception of those dominant for stag/sable, have tan point. Tan pointing is atat.
The two solid red colors aren’t quite as similar as they appear.
Ay = Sable (stag red). Min Pins can be AyAy or Ayat. Dogs with Ay will be a russet red color (no visible points) with intermingling hairs. The color of the intermingling hairs is determined by the base color from the B/D series. Most have a base color of black (BB, Bb), which leads to black whiskers, a black nose, and black intermingling hairs, often visible on the side of the neck and the top of the back. However, if the dog is genetically a blue, chocolate, or fawn, the intermingling hairs will correspond to those colors, and the nose and whiskers will also reflect that base color (grey nose for blue dogs, chocolate nose for chocolate dogs, tan/beige nose for fawn dogs).
AyAy dogs are dominant for sable/stag and do not have tan points.
Ayat dogs are stag/sable, but carry the gene for tan point. These dogs are often a darker stag color because they are letting in more of the base coat.
'E' = NOT yellow and 'e' = yellow. Min Pins carry the EE/ee series. This is a masking gene. As long as there is one ‘E’ in the genetic makeup, the dog will not be clear red. But two copies of the gene, ‘ee’ will produce clear red and mask ALL other color. These dogs will be solid for one color, including whiskers. In these dogs, the only way to know what the base color was is to look at the nose and eyerim colors. This is the same gene which produces yellow labs.
The below chart shows what happens when you breed two solid-colored tan-point Min Pins and what the possible puppy colors will be. Unfortunately it can be difficult to tell, except through results, whether a dog carries dilute or chocolate.
Though the Min Pin comes in all four colors, it’s important to note that blue and fawn Min Pins are not an allowed color in the United States. They can be registered, but cannot be shown. These two colors may be prone to a skin disease called Color Dilution Alopecia. When researching breeders, buyers should avoid any breeder who breeds specifically for color, or who refers to any color as “rare,” or “special.” Blue Min Pins are allowed in the UK, and there are some breeders in the U.S. working on making it an acceptable color here.
Stag Red and Tanpoint
Stag red, which is a form of sabling using the genetic color code of Ay, will partially cover the base colors shown above. Sabling means that the dog is a solid reddish brown but with an intermingling of darker hairs. Other breeds with sabling include Collies, Pembroke Corgis, etc. The color of the overlaying contrasting hairs depends on the base color shown on the chart on page two. Min Pins can either be AyAy, dominant for sable, or Ayat, sable expressed but with a recessive for tan pointing. Those dogs who are Ayat are actually likely to appear as darker, richer stags because there will be more of the base color leaking through.
Clear Red is caused by a masking gene, ‘ee.’ Because clear red masks all underlying color, the only way to tell which base color the dog is is through the skin color of the nose, eye rims, and footpads. Clear red dogs will be born a solid color, with no black hairs and with self-colored whiskers. Since clear reds turn up from all color combinations in Min Pins, it appears that the E/e series is present in all Min Pins.
There's a free program called Canine Genetics Primer that can help you predict color in your litter as well as genetic disease!