Solid colours

Black, red & chocolate

Australian Kelpies are usually black or different shades of brown. The brown and the black colours belong to the B locus. Brown and black are at the top of the hierarchy of the colour series available in the Kelpie. Therefore, these colours constitute the base for all the other colours.

A brown Kelpe has brown pigment on its coat, but also on the nose, paws and lips, and a black Kelpie has black pigment in all the same areas where the brown Kelpie has brown pigment.

Black is dominant and brown is recessive in the B locus. To have brown offspring there must be one brown gene from the mother and one brown gene from the father. A brown Kelpie (b/b) and a black Kelpie with a homozygote gene pair (B/B) can only have black offspring. However, all the puppies will be carriers of brown since the brown parent only can pass on the brown gene to its offspring. Two brown parents (b/b) will never reproduce any black offspring since dogs with recessive genes cannot pass on anything than their own traits.

Below are examples of how different coloured parents can pass on colour traits to their offspring depending on their own genes. The dogs’ colours show their phenotype (what you actually see) and the letters show the dogs’ genotype (what they carry genetically).

Example 1

A black homozygous Kelpie and a brown homozygous Kelpie.

Example 2

Two black Kelpies heterozygous for black/brown.

Example 3

A black Kelpie with a brown gene and a brown homozygous Kelpie.
Chocolate or red?
A brown Kelpie is defined as either chocolate or red, depending on the shade of the coat’s colour. The intensity in the colour varies according to the genetics, but how the intensity is inherited is not yet known. We do know, however, that it is a hereditary aspect of the coat colour. The brown gene can come in shades from a dark cocoa to a light almost orange colour.

There are different views among breeders on how to determine whether a Kelpie is brown or red. Some compare the colour on the dog’s nose with a cocoa bean. If the nose is lighter than the bean, the dog is called red, otherwise it is chocolate brown. There are a number of dogs registered as chocolate but appear to be red, and vice versa. However, all these dogs are genetically brown (b/b).


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.