The Working Kelpie in the picture is cream coloured with black pigment, even though its nose has changed colours over the years, according to its owner.
Cream coloured coats appear on the Working Kelpie; however the colour has occurred in one or two Australian Kelpies as well. Genetically the colour is a recessive red and belong to the colour series E locus. The E gene decides what area of the coat may produce eumelanin. This gene in its dominant form is either E/E or E/e and the dog is normally pigmented. The recessive form of the gene is e/e and it prevents the eumelanin production in the skin cell and so normally pigmented strands of hair also lack eumelanin. The dog then has a yellow or red coat, while the nose, claws, pads, edge of the eye lids and lips has the colour of the eumelanin.

Recessive red has its own series but is more dominant than any other colour. This means that black, agouti, tan, saddle, wolf grey, merle and other colours will be eliminated, and the dog’s coat will be yellow or red if it is recessive red (e/e).

The following alleles in the E series known in the Kelpie so far:
E = normal pigmentation
e = recessive red

Examples of cream coloured Kelpies with different eumelanin pigments:
  • A cream coloured Kelpie with B/B or B/b has black pigment on its nose, lips and around the eyes.
  • A cream coloured Kelpie with b/b has brown pigment on its nose, lips and around the eyes.
  • A cream coloured Kelpie with d/d has paler pigment on its nose, lips and around the eyes. The coat is also somewhat paler.
Cream in australian kelpie
It is extremely rare to see a cream coloured Australian Kelpie, but they do exist. The latest cream coloured Australian Kelpie litter in Sweden was 2017. The dog pictured below is a cream coloured Australian Kelpie whose genotype also includes black and tan according to a DNA test (Animal Genetics, UK). The black shows up in black pigment on its lips, pads and around its eyes.
Melanistic mask
There is a third variant of the gene on the E locus named Em. The gene is also called a melanistic mask (or masking) and occurs in e.g. the Boxer and German Shepherd. Em is a dominant gene and dogs with a melanistic mask may therefore have either one or two copies of the allele Em.

It is not known if the Kelpie carries this gene, but a couple of known Kelpies have tan markings without the characteristic tan markings above the eyes and on the side of its nose. This could be a melanistic mask which hides these tan markings. To determine whether a dog has a melanistic mask, (or carries other types of colour genes) a DNA test is needed.
Page updated: 2019-12-30


Kelpiegallery presents photos all types of Australian kelpie. All photos are taken by the same photographer, Sofia Olsson. The purpose of Kelpiegallery is to display photos with the same type of image layout and information on each dog. The Kelpiegallery was created 2005 and is online since 2008.