Can dogs really have blue fur? There are a lot of questions that come up when discussing blue dog breeds. Many people want to know if blue is a naturally occurring color and, if so, how it happens.
Bluish-hued coats are actually a normal, natural, and frequently occurring coat coloration in several canine breeds. Some appear darker and multi-colored. The blue coloration is connected to a pup’s genetics and is determined by the genes a pup inherits.
Big and small, the list of blue dog breeds is a big one, but it happens more often in some breeds than others. We jump in and get to know 17 of these beautifully colored pups.
- Is There Naturally A Blue Dog?
- Blue Dog Genetics
- Blue Dog Breeds
- Color Dilution Alopecia
- Final Thoughts
Is There Naturally A Blue Dog?
Yes, the color blue is a naturally occurring hue in canines. However, that shade is, in truth, a dilute black. The color we see is not a true navy or cobalt but a range of silver and gray, which can sometimes appear very dark. No canine is naturally the color of sapphire or cornflower found in cartoons, commercials, or bright capri dye.
Dogs considered “true blue” have black hair with the dilute gene that has diluted the black, making it appear lighter or bluish.
Blue Dog Genetics
Canine coat coloring results from the unique blend of genetics every pup has. Every puppy receives genetic information from both parents, called genes. Genes contain pairs of alleles, one taken from each parent. These alleles pass on to offspring randomly. One is dominant, and one is recessive. The dominant allele will determine specific characteristics like coat color.
Although an extensive range of coat colors can occur in canines, just two primary pigments are at the root of all canine coat colors. These are eumelanin (black) and pheomelanin (red), two forms of melanin.
There are 8 genes involved in canine coat color. These genes are called loci. These 8 color genes are:
- A (agouti) – This locus controls the coat patterns. The agouti gene can control the amount of melanin released into the hair.
- B (brown) – B relates to brown, chocolate, and liver coloration in canines. The B locus contains 2 brown alleles. B, which is dominant, and b, which is recessive. Two recessive alleles must pair to dilute the black pigmentation to brown. The brown allele also impacts the coloring of foot pads and noses in some dogs with yellow or red pigmentation in their coats.
- D (dilute) – The D locus is responsible for diluting coat pigmentation. It occurs due to a mutation in the melanophilin (MLPH) gene. The mutation causes the dilution of color. The dominant D allele associates with full color, and the recessive D is dilute. A puppy must inherit 2 recessive D loci for their coat to lighten from black to bluish-gray and lighten red pigmentation to a cream color.
- E (extensions) – The extension locus is responsible for the black facial mask some breeds have. It is also the locus that determines the red or yellow coat color. The gene has four alleles that are listed in order of dominance: the melanistic mask (Em), grizzle (Eg), black (E), and red (e).
- H (harlequin) – Harlequin is responsible for dogs with white base coats and black patches, creating various combinations of colors and spotted patterns.
- K (dominant black) – The K locus controls the dominant black, Brindle, and fawn colors.
- M (merle) – M is the locus responsible for merle coloration. The allele creates a patchy-looking coat with solid colors and splotches of diluted pigment. Merle dilutes black pigment only.
- S (spotting)– S is the allele responsible for creating different color patterns that include asymmetrical, particular, and piebald.
The dilution gene is recessive, meaning a dog must inherit two copies – one from each parent – to display the bluish coloration. If a dog only inherits one copy, it will carry the gene but will not exhibit the dilute color.
There are variations among blue-coated dogs. These include:
- Harlequin – The harlequin coat pattern often has a white base with splatters of color. Many people confuse Harlequin with Merle. Harlequin has larger patches, more vibrant hues, and contains one to two colors. The coloration happens frequently in the Great Dane.
- Merle – Merle is a splotchy coat with various gray to bluish shades. These are mixed in with bits of brown and black and a good amount of white. Merle-colored dogs are sometimes also referred to as dapple.
- Tick – A ticked coat has a white or lighter base with small spots and splatters of gray shades.
- Brindle – Brindle coats include several colors and shades. Brindle pups often have a deeper gray as a base color with spots of tan and brown. Sometimes it can appear almost like stripes.
- Fawn – Fawn is a diluted shade ranging from deep to light gray. In some places, the fawn is called lilac or Isabella.
Blue Dog Breeds
There are several shades possible among a long list of canine breeds. We have listed these breeds alphabetically.
1. Australian Cattle Dog
Also called the Blue Heeler or Red Heeler, the Australian Cattle Dog is the first breed many think of as being bluish. Aussies often have tri-colored coats with black and brown hues. These pups have an intriguing and unique look and an energetic and showy personality. The Aussie often has heterochromia (two different colored eyes), which, paired with their pointy, alert ears, square noses, warm eyes, bushy tails, and muscular necks, gives them an adorable yet peculiar look. Heelers reach 35 to 50 pounds, making them medium-sized pups.
Red and Blue Heelers, contrary to popular belief, are not different breeds. The Blue variety has a gray, black, and white colored coat. The Red Heeler has brown, black, and white fur. Both varieties are extremely energetic and need a high amount of physical exercise. Though adorable and alluring to look at, the Aussie is not a pup for everyone. They need dedicated, experienced, high-energy owners.
2. Australian Shepherd
Though they have Australian in their name, the breed originally comes from the Pyrenees Mountain ranges located between France and Spain. The breed eventually made its way to Australia and was bred with Border Collies and Collies. The mixed canine became known as the Australian Shepherd. Originally bred as ranching and working dogs, these pups are still hard-working and loyal. Like the Aussie, these dogs have a lot of energy. They need active owners who are always ready for some fun.
Australian Shepherds weigh between 40 and 65 pounds. They have friendly faces, with triangular-shaped ears that flop down to their eyes. The Aussie Shepherd also often has heterochromia. Their double-layered coat is long and fluffy. Blue merle is an accepted color by the breed standard and is relatively common to find. They can also be black, red, and red merle.
3. Blue Lacy
The Blue Lacy is not an officially recognized breed by the AKC, but these pups are unforgettable to those who meet them. Lacys are a mix of English Shepherds, Greyhounds, wolves, possibly coyotes, and scent hounds. The Lacy was developed by ranchers, herders, and hunters in Texas during the 1800s. These dogs are hard workers, sturdy, and fast learners, making them a top pick for work on the ranch or farm. The Blue Lacy has served as the Texas State Dog since 2005.
Lacys can have bluish-hued coats as well as red and tri-colored. The bluish-coated variety can come in a silvery gray to almost black shade. They reach between 25 and 55 pounds. With high energy, a stubborn nature, and a high prey drive, they need a ton of physical and mental stimulation but make loyal family pets for the right owner.
4. Chow Chow
The mighty, fluffy Chow is another breed that can develop bluish coats. With a body weight of 45 to 70 pounds, their fuzzy coats can make these dogs appear much larger. Believed to be one of the oldest canine breeds on the planet, Chows once served as guardians of palaces. Today they are cuddly family pets, though they have an independent streak and protective nature.
The Chow’s thick double coat can be rough or smooth. Both varieties come in several colors, including blue. Chows also have solid bluish or black tongues. Combined with the bluish coat, a Chow Chow can be quite the distinctive-looking pup.
5. Great Dane
Great Danes are a common breed to see with a bluish-hued coat. Solid colors are a highly preferable and looked-for coat. The giant Great Dane comes from 16th-century Germany. The breed is large, making them seem formidable, but these dogs are enormous sweethearts. Great Danes are a giant breed, reaching between 110 and 175 pounds or more.
The bluish hue of the Great Dane is often described as steel or deep silver gray. Their coats are short, very soft, and almost like silk to the touch. A Great Dane needs top-quality nutrition to keep its coat looking and feeling beautiful. Merle, brindle, and harlequin patterning are common in the Great Dane. Despite their large size, the Great Dane can be a bit lazy and become very attached to their people. They need a nice short walk twice daily and a slow game of fetch. These pups are smart but somewhat naughty and make unforgettable companions.
Blue is one of the rarest colors of Greyhound and is an incredible sight to see. They can come in solid, brindle, and fawn. Truly blue Greyhounds have bluish-hued noses, and their shades can range from a deeper slate gray to a light powdery shade.
Greyhounds can reach between 50 to 85 pounds or more. They are famous for speed but do not like heavy exercise. While gentle, they have a strong hunting instinct and will chase after smaller pets. Greyhounds are very sensitive in nature and need owners with a gentle touch.
7. Irish Wolfhound
The Irish Wolfhound is a much larger breed than many. These dogs reach between 105 and 120 pounds or more. They are the tallest canine breed on record, standing 30 to 32 inches from paw to shoulder. Some even reach 180 pounds or more. When they stand up on their hind legs, they can tower over a grown man.
While the massive Irish Wolfhound is usually gray, they can also come in blue, black brindle, reverse brindle, fawn, red, cream, wheaten, red wheaten, and white. They often have white markings on their chests. An Irish Wolfhound needs a lot of room and heaps of love. They are gentle and not hyper but require a significant amount of exercise.
8. Italian Greyhound
The Italian Greyhound is the smallest of all the sighthounds, a regal, beautiful toy-sized dog breed that reaches just 7 to 14 pounds. Similar in appearance to the larger Greyhound, these pups are athletic and energetic. The breed is often described as blue. Fawn is a common shade to find in the Italian Greyhound coat. They move fast and look like a tiny gray blur at full speed. They often have solid or blue and white coats.
Italian Greyhounds can be traced back to ancient Egypt. Originally bred as hunting dogs, these pups are popular companions. Sometimes called the Iggy, they can be very clingy and affectionate with people but are likely to chase after other pets. Overall, this little cyan-hued pup is a sweet, family-friendly companion.
9. Kerry Blue Terrier
The Kerry Blue Terrier is a dog one will not soon forget. Famous for their dazzling and unique appearance, these pups also pack a strong personality. They stand out in the crowd due to their bushy beards. Strong, regal, and proud, these are protective and loyal family dogs. They are also hypoallergenic and do not shed, making them a popular pick for allergy sufferers.
These terriers weigh between 33 and 40 pounds. This breed does not shed that tightly curled bluish coat. The colors range from a deep slate gray to a light silvery shade. Their hair is soft and silky and requires a lot of maintenance. The Kerry Blue Terrier is a showstopper, whether on a walk around the block or on the competition stage.
10. Neapolitan Mastiff
The Neapolitan Mastiff is a massive dog. The Mastiff can be traced back to central Italy and has an incredibly intriguing appearance. Highly recognizable with massive folds of skin and huge swinging jowls, the breed is nothing short of unforgettable. Often simply called the Mastiff, this enormous breed has a long history of being a dedicated guard dog and helpful worker with immense physical strength. The loose skin was a purposefully bred trait that helped protect the dog from bites and serious attacks.
A Mastiff can reach astonishingly large sizes, between 150 and 200 or more pounds. One of their official four color choices is blue, which includes brindles. The bluish color is relatively rare, giving an already intriguing-looking dog an even more distinctive appearance.
The adored Poodle, as well as many Poodle mixes, can come in a bluish color. As one of the world’s most popular breeds, Poodles come in several sizes. They are a top pick to breed mixes with due to their intelligence and soft, hypoallergenic coats. The loyal, playful, and determined Poodle comes in three sizes, Toy, Miniature, and Standard. Originally a water retriever that comes from Germany, the Poodle is a beloved pup all over the world.
A blue Poodle has a coat of diluted black and can come in various shades. Poodle’s colors tend to change as they age, so sometimes, the diluted coloring takes time to appear. In some cases, it can be up to two years. Bluish-hued Poodles are often described as being an intense gray with an azure tone.
12. Shar Pei
The Chinese Shar-Pei is an ancient dog breed. Famous for its unique appearance, the breed dates back to the Han Dynasty in China. Today these dogs make incredibly devoted pets who are protective of their human families. They are medium to large dogs that can reach between 45 and 60 pounds. Shar-Peis are revered for their stocky, intriguing appearance. They are often described as looking like small hippopotamuses due to their unique head shape and Roly Poly folds of skin.
A Blue Shar-Pei will have a silver-gray hue, usually solid colored, ranging from deeper charcoal to a bluish lighter color. The fur around the paws and noses is often darker, and they may have bits of darker fur mixed in throughout the coat.
13. Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog
Many people have never heard of the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog. However, they are a registered and recognized breed with the AKC. Contrary to what some may say, this pup is not simply an Australian Cattle Dog with a docked tail. The Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog is born with a naturally bobbed tail. The breed shares a common ancestor with the Australian Cattle Dog, but today they are two different breeds. The Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog is often referred to simply as the Stumpy.
Stumpy dogs have rugged, muscular bodies, short, dense outer coats, and a softer undercoat. They tend to have longer hair around the neck. Their coats generally consist of blue, red, and tan colorations. They can contain different patterns, including speckles, splotches, or merle patterning. With friendly faces, pointed erect ears, and loyal personalities, the lesser-known pooch can make a fantastic pet. These cyan-colored dogs make an impressive sight out running in the field.
14. Thai Ridgeback
The Thai Ridgeback is rare in the United States but is an elegant and shiny-looking animal. They look quite glossy and striking when they have a bluish coat, with their heads held high and ears at attention. These pups reach between 35 and 75 pounds. They are muscular, athletic, strong, and fast. These pups are famous for howling at anything that walks by.
The breed is native to Thailand and was largely unknown to the rest of the world until the last few hundred years. The Ridgeback can be pretty stubborn but is also fiercely loyal. They need a firm owner and plenty of room to run to ensure they get all that pent-up energy out.
The Blue Weimaraner has a bit of a controversial past. Some schools of thought consider the hue a rare coloration, while others believe it indicates poor genes. The Weimaraner breed can be traced to 19th century Germany, bred as gun dogs to assist in big game hunts. They are a strong breed, muscular and quite friendly, that reach between 55 and 90 pounds when fully grown.
A Blue Weimaraner has a coat that appears to be charcoal gray or a powdery diluted black. The coloration is not recognized by the AKC, though they are allowed to be registered but not participate in the competition. The controversy dates to the 1950s when the first well-known Blue Weimaraner was brought to America. There were questions regarding whether the dog was purebred due to the color of the coat.
Whippets are an elegant breed famous for having incredible speed. They are slightly smaller than their Greyhound relatives but are impressive in their own right. These dogs have incredibly playful personalities, high energy, and lots of love to give out. They reach between 25 and 40 pounds and are quite athletic with very little body fat. The Whippet has a long arched neck, a narrow head, and a high waist.
Whippets can come in various colors, including blue and blue Brindle. These coat colors can include patches, splotches, and spots. Often looked over for other breeds, the Whippet makes a wonderful family pet.
17. Yorkshire Terrier
Purebred Yorkshire Terriers, or Yorkies as they are affectionately called, can come in a variety of shades. Shades include solid blue or a blend of mixed colors. Some Yorkies are born with bluish-gray-hued fur, and others will experience a color change as they age. Blue is an official color for the breed standard. Blue Yorkie coats can also come with flecks of tan and gold.
Yorkshire Terriers are incredibly small, reaching just between 4 and 7 pounds. Yorkies are highly affectionate and very friendly with people. They have exuberant personalities with a high level of energy. Along with that, they have a high prey drive and love to chase things. The Yorkie has long been a family favorite and a popular pick for small homes and apartment life.
We have covered some of the most recognized breeds that can have a bluish color in their coat. There are many other breeds where dilute coloration can occur. These include the American Staffordshire Terrier, Beagle, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Pitbull, Catahoula Leopard Dog, Blue Tick Coonhound, Chihuahua, English Setter, Bearded Collie, Boston Terrier, and many more.
Color Dilution Alopecia
Color dilution alopecia is a recessive, inherited genetic condition that can cause hair loss, hair thinning, and itchy, flaky, and dry skin. The condition is often seen in animals with a fawn or blue coat. Color dilution alopecia is also considered a form of follicular dysplasia. Owners may notice broken hair, dry, flaky skin, bacterial infections, skin infections, and hair loss. It often affects breeds with lavender, blue-gray, blue, or flesh-colored noses.
While there is no cure for color dilution alopecia, different options are available to treat the symptoms. Before trying any treatment, it is wise to discuss your concerns with your veterinarian and have your dog examined and tested to ensure they do not have fleas, mites, skin infections, or other underlying issues that could contribute to hair loss. Treatment options for canine color dilution alopecia include topical ointments, antibiotics, shampoos, moisturizing rinses, essential fatty acids, and vitamin supplements.
Having a blue coat does not mean a dog is a riveting shade of aquamarine or cobalt. While no dogs are genuinely colored sapphire or navy, except those seen in television and movies, this color is common among several different canine breeds. These coat shades range from deep grays to light silvery hues. The color is not specific to any one breed and, in some cases, is disallowed from breed standards or competition.
Contrary to a popular myth, blue dogs are not rare, though coloration can be rare to find in certain breeds due to the specific genetic combination required. These dogs, just like every other pup, require plenty of love and care. Regardless of what color or breed you bring home, make sure your pup always has plenty of high-quality food, a safe, secure yard to run around in, daily exercise, and regular veterinary visits.