Why Do Some Havanese Change Color As They Mature?
Cuba’s only native dog breed comes in all colors and marking patterns, and all are of equal merit in a show ring. It’s difficult to predict the color of Havanese puppies that will come of a breeding because the litter can made up of puppies of all different colors or color combinations, and they can be entirely different from the color of their parents.
There are many different genes which control color in Havanese (at least 10 and quite likely more).
Some of the genes regulate color, some determine pattern and markings and others are modifier genes. The modifier genes are the ones which cause many of the changes you may see. Some cause the color to lighten or soften or to develop in certain ways. Some affect color in a very significant way and others affect it more subtly. Some genes affect only light colors, other affect only dark colors and some affect both. Oftentimes, there is little way to know if these genes are in play until you see the effects of them.
Where things get even less straightforward in the Havanese has to do with point patterns. In this breed, “points” (or, for lack of a better explanation, “spots” of a different or lighter color) are not always evident at birth, but typically develop within a few weeks of birth. The first place a point will become apparent is often under the puppy’s tail. On a youngster’s face, points may show up on the cheeks, inside the ears, and/or on the eyebrows. Sometimes the points will be big splotches, but they can be small half moon shapes, as well. As the puppy grows and the coat grows, points can become less clear, and indeed, with maturity, they can soften or fade altogether.
- Light colored dogs change the least. White stays white.
- On dogs with color plus white, the white may either stay pure white or may sometimes develop flecks of color throughout. This is called ticking.
- Sable is one of the most changeable colors in Havanese.
There are two main reasons for this:
* Dark tipping once cut off, generally does not grow back, so a puppy that starts dark may appear much lighter as an adult (especially if he is cut or trimmed).
* As well the base coat may soften or lighten as the dog matures.
Just these two factors can lead to an adult dog that bears little resemblance to what he looked like as a puppy.
A Sable dog generally will retain some dark tipping at least in the ears and tail where the dark hairs are most concentrated.
- Some dogs lighten and then darken again as they mature.
- Others develop colour banding in their coats.
- Many colors soften over time.
One thing is for sure. Havanese colors are always interesting and intriguing.