It probably would not surprise you that blue Greyhounds are among the rarest color possibilities for the fastest dog on earth. Only a solid white Greyhound is rarer. But what does blue signify in the Greyhound world?
Greyhound owners and experts generally refer to the color blue as grey in their dogs. However, like in other breeds, blue results from a coat dilution.
A specific combination of genes causes what would ordinarily be black hair to wash out to a shade of charcoal, bluish-gray, or silverish-blue.
The blue coat in Greyhounds can also extend to fawn and brindle dogs. Sometimes, aficionados will refer to these dogs as blue variants.
What colors can Greyhounds be?
Despite the suggestion in their names, Greyhounds come in a vast array of colors. Since the dog’s main purpose is racing, the AKC considers a Greyhound’s colors irrelevant.
The United Kennel Club lists several color possibilities, but track officials are most thorough. They recognize 18 Greyhound colors.
- Brindle (6)- fawn base with black markings that resemble stripes; standard brindle, light brindle, dark brindle (heavier striping), blue brindle (stripes faded), red brindle, fawn brindle (distinct fawn color under striping)
- Fawn (3) – light tan to cream with yellowish undertones; deeper tan with reddish undertones(light red fawn); deep reddish-tan (red fawn); light tan with bluish undertones (blue fawn)
- White-spotted (5) – any color with significant white markings; black & white, white & black, white & brindle, red & white, white & brindle with ticking.
The American Greyhound Track Operators do not specifically recognize blue fawns, instead classifying them as blue Greyhounds. They also make distinctions the AKC would not require, such as the fawn brindle.
According to greyhound track records, 37% of Greyhounds are brindle, and 20% are white with patches of color. Of the self-colored Greyhounds, 6% are fawn, 18% are black, 16% are red, and 3% are blue.
Why Greyhounds Are Not Gray
People designate the formal color of a few breeds as gray or grey, although they are technically blue.
This occurs in the Cane Corso. Some breeds can have both blue and gray in their ranks, like the Poodle.
Greyhounds are unusual in that the formal designation of a bluish or grayish dog is blue, but people informally call them gray or grey.
It could result from the breed’s name, although its roots are not believed to be related to color. What is the difference between gray and blue?
Greying genes are progressive.
In stark contrast to the dilution gene, the greying gene is progressive. It usually affects black or liver-colored dogs, and the fur becomes lighter over time.
Puppies are born with dark coats that do not show the first signs of grey until the dog is six months old.
Lightening is gradual, and since it affects the hair as it grows, shaving a grey dog will revert it to its original dark color. Therefore, you will not see the expression of greying in short-haired dogs.
Blue Greyhounds show their color at birth
Unlike gray dogs, blue puppies are born with bluish coats. Although blue Greyhounds may darken or lighten a few shades with maturity, they do not show the dramatic lightening that gray dogs do.
Coat genetics differ between blue and gray dogs
The dilution gene that causes blue coats and the greying gene work to lighten eumelanin, the pigment that produces dark eyes, lips, paw pads, skin, and fur. That is where the similarities end.
The dilution gene, often designated by “d,” is recessive. To be blue, a puppy must acquire (inherit) a “d” gene from both parents. This can happen in a few ways.
- Both parents are blue (“dd”)- they will only produce blue puppies
- One parent is blue (“dd”), and the other is a different color (“Dd”) – the second parent serves as a carrier, and the result of this combination is approximately 50% of the puppies will be blue
- Neither parent is blue, but both are carriers (“Dd” x “Dd”) – 25% will be blue Greyhounds, and 50% will be carriers of the blue gene
The dilution gene affects the skin, nose, eye rims, lips, and paw pads. Therefore, blue Greyhounds and other breeds usually have a bluish nose and lighter-colored eyes (blue, smoky-blue, or amber).
You may have heard of a blue-nosed Pitbull as a classic example of this phenomenon. Blue dogs also show bluish paw pads, dusky skin, and dilute eye rims.
A dilution gene also often affects phaeomelanin, the pigment responsible for reds and yellows in a dog’s coat color. This is relevant for blue brindle and blue fawn Greyhounds.
The greying gene is incompletely dominant. Expressed as “G,” a dog with one “Gg” or two “GG” copies of the greying gene will show in the coat lightening upon maturity. Dogs with one copy express less dramatic greying than those with two copies.
The greying gene only affects the coat color and sometimes not evenly. A grey dog’s skin will be dark, as well as its eyes, nose, lips, and paw pads. Furthermore, the greying gene has variable effects on phaeomelanin, sometimes not affecting its intensity.
Variable Blue Greyhounds
As alluded to earlier, blue Greyhounds come in three forms. Self-colored blue dogs can be solid blue, blue with white markings, or white with blue patches.
They range from charcoal gray to steel blue to gray with a slight bluish cast to silvery. Most have amber eyes, but some have gray, blue, or hazel peepers.
Blue brindle Greyhounds have a diluted fawn base with bluish striping. Some dogs look a muddy gray underneath their markings.
Blue fawn Greyhounds are difficult to distinguish from their blue counterparts. They have a tannish or reddish base with obvious blue overtones.