DNA Detail Sable/Fawn

Sable or Fawn?

Most labs consider Sable and Fawn to be the same. For purposes of Color breeding, for many years Rare Color Breeders have agreed to Specify a difference between Sable and Fawn. This difference lies on the Agouti Gene. FYI: Many people refer to the Agouti Gene as Black tri, Black and Tan, and just Tri.


If a dogs DNA is ayay at agouti, we call this dog a Fawn.

If a dogs DNA is ayat at Agouti, we call this dog a Sable.


In doing this, we hold down confusion for breeding purposes and to know what the dog is capable of producing. For instance, a Fawn dog can never produce anything but fawn or sable. When bred to a mate that is either Sable or Black Tri (black tri is atat at agouti), the Fawn dog can produce Sable offspring, but can never produce Black Tri offspring.


Agouti aka ASIP gene interacts with the MC1R gene to control red and black pigment switching in most dogs.
Dog coat color is further complicated when other genes restrict agouti expression for example the dominant black gene-K. There are 4 known alleles of agouti. They are listed in order of Dominance.

1. ay- fawn or sable which expresses in shades of  yellow to red with some dorsal black tipped hairs.

2. aw-Wild Sable expressing as banded hairs of yellow and black.

3. at-Black and Tan black expressing as dorsal hairs with tan hair on cheeks, eyebrows and undersides.

4. a-Recessive Black expressing as all black


The agouti test can help determine the color of dogs that have white patterns that may obscure the distribution of the colored pigment.


ay / ay   2 copies of fawn

ay / aw  Dog is fawn  and carries 1 copy of wild sable

ay / at  Dog is fawn and carries 1 copy black and tan

ay / a  Dog is fawn and carries 1 copy of recessive black

aw/ aw  2 copies of wild sable

aw/ at  Dog is wild sable and carries 1 copy of black and tan

aw/ a   Dog is wild sable and carries 1 copy of recessive black

at/ at  2 copies of for black and tan

at/ a  Dog is black and tan and carries 1 copy of recessive black

a/a   2 copies of  recessive black