Foto: Åsa Lindholm, 2013
Fawn and smoke blue
Occasionally a Kelpie with a paler coat colour may be found. It may be grey, like the lead tip of a pencil, or a more wheat coloured coat. These dogs are called smoke blue, or fawn, with a washed out or diluted version of black and brown. A gene is involved that affects the intensity of eumelanin in the coat, nose and eyes, which dilutes black to a darker grey and brown to hues of grey and beige.

Dilution is a recessive gene, which means that both parents must carry this gene for their offspring to be smoke blue or fawn. Two brown parents with dilution heritage can only leave offspring which are brown or diluted brown (fawn), and of course the basic colours black and brown.

As with the brown dogs, different hues of smoke blue or fawn may exist and that is why these two colours sometimes get mixed up. One way to determine the colour of a Kelpie is to look at the nose. A smoke blue dog has a steel grey nose, and a fawn dog has a nose which is coloured towards brown or lilac.

The genotype for the dominant form is D/D or D/d and this Kelpie will be black or chocolate/red. The recessive form for this gene is d/d and this Kelpie will be smoke blue or fawn.

The alleles in the D series of the Kelpie:
D = normal pigment
d = diluted pigment
Dilution and health
A common misconception is that dilution somehow is nature’s flaw. As in most recessive genes, the dilution gene could be said to be flawed in one way, but only in its capacity to equally distribute eumelanin/melanin along the strands of hair in the coat. The uneven distribution will cause the diluted looks. This does not affect the dog’s health, only its colour.

The misconception probably comes from a genetic disease called Colour Dilution Alopecia (CDA), which causes hair loss and skin problems. This is common in blue coated dogs, especially in the Doberman. However, all colours can carry CDA or still be homozygote, but only dogs with diluted black or diluted brown may have symptoms.

This genetic disease is prevalent in some but not all breeds, but it does occur in the Kelpie. One theory is that CDA is caused by a specific dilution gene, called the dl gene. This gene is recessive but is probably dominant over the standard d gene.
See more Australian Kelpies with the colours:
Page updated: 2019-12-30

Kelpiegallery

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.