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Common Black Australian Shepherd Color Patterns

I'm a dog lover, and I'm fascinated by the wide variety of colors and patterns in their coats.

Learn about the four coat patterns for black Australian Shepherd dogs and how to identify them, like this gorgeous black tricolor Aussie!

Learn about the four coat patterns for black Australian Shepherd dogs and how to identify them, like this gorgeous black tricolor Aussie!

What Kinds of Black Australian Shepherd Dogs Are There?

The Australian Shepherd is a popular household breed. Aussies are renowned for their physical agility and obedience as well as their striking beauty. These dogs come in four basic colors: red, red merle, blue merle, and black. The black color classification can be further broken down by the color patterns on their coats.

  • Solid Black: This means that the dog's coat is all black, with no other colors.
  • Black and Tan: This refers to black dogs with tan points, which means they have small patches of tan on several parts of their body.
  • Black Bicolor: This refers to a black dog with white markings.
  • Black Tricolor: This pattern describes a black dog with white markings and tan points.

What Are the Breed Standards for Black Aussies?

Black Aussies must have black noses, black lips, and black-rimmed eyes to count as proper black dogs by organizations such as the AKC. There are further standards for the placement of tan points and white markings, which we'll take a closer look at below.

Here's an example of a true black Aussie with dark brown eyes.

Here's an example of a true black Aussie with dark brown eyes.

Solid Black Australian Shepherds

Just like the name indicates, solid or true black Aussie Shepherds feature only one color: black. This coat color pattern is very hard to find, since most Aussies have at least a tiny spot of white somewhere on their bodies. If they are black and have even the tiniest spot of another color on their coat, this disqualifies them from counting as a solid black color.

Here is a black and tan Aussie with tan points above their eyes, on the sides of their muzzle, and on the front of their neck.

Here is a black and tan Aussie with tan points above their eyes, on the sides of their muzzle, and on the front of their neck.

Black and Tan Australian Shepherds

True black and tan Aussie Shepherds only have those two colors in their coat. More specifically, they are black dogs with tan points. The shade of tan can range from a light brown to a deep copper, and the points can appear in various places on the dog's body.

Where Do Tan Points Appear?

The pattern known as tan points consists of tan-colored patches of fur in any or all of these locations:

  • Above the eyes
  • On the sides of the muzzle
  • On the cheeks
  • On the front of the neck
  • On the chest (typically, two triangle-shaped patches)
  • On the lower legs
  • On the feet
  • Underneath the tail
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This is a black bicolor Aussie puppy.

This is a black bicolor Aussie puppy.

Black Bicolor Australian Shepherds

Black bicolor Aussies have a black coat with white markings. Normally, they have more black in their coat than white. The AKC breed standard describes the unacceptable and acceptable placement of the white markings for purebred show dogs.

Acceptable Placement of White Markings

  • Neck (partial or full collar)
  • Chest
  • Legs
  • Underside of the muzzle
  • Blaze on the head (but white should not be the predominant color on the head)
  • Small extension from the underparts (not more than 4 inches)

Unacceptable Placement of White Markings

  • Between the withers and tail
  • Sides between the elbows
  • Back of the hindquarters

Keep in mind that these breed standards are intended to help judges evaluate show dogs. If your black bicolor Aussie has "unacceptable" white markings, they're still a beautiful dog and a wonderful companion!

Here is a beautiful tricolor Aussie with tan points and white markings.

Here is a beautiful tricolor Aussie with tan points and white markings.

Black Tricolor Australian Shepherds

Dogs with the tricolor pattern are black with white markings and tan points—sort of like a combination of the previous two patterns. As with black and tan dogs, the tan color can range from a light brown to a deep copper. Refer back to the placement lists for tan points and white markings above to see where these colors might appear on a tricolor dog.

What Color Eyes Can Black Aussies Have?

Black Australian Shepherds usually have amber or brown eyes, although they can have blue eyes, two different-colored eyes (which is known as heterochromia iridum), or even marbled eyes. However, blue eyes—including the icy blue, near-white eye color that's so unique for Aussies—and multicolored eyes tend to be more common in merle dogs than in black dogs. All of these eye colors meet the breed standard.

This dog may look like a black Aussie at first glance, but do you see that grey coloring on their head? True black Aussies will not have any grey in their coat.

This dog may look like a black Aussie at first glance, but do you see that grey coloring on their head? True black Aussies will not have any grey in their coat.

Don't Mistake Black Aussies for Red, Blue, or Merle Dogs!

All Aussies that fit into the black category will be part of one of these subcategories: solid black, black and tan, black bicolor, or black tricolor. If the dog has any grey, blue, or red markings, then they are not a true black Australian Shepherd. If you're unsure how to interpret your dog's coloration, the United States Australian Shepherd Association has a useful guide to the four main coat colors, as well as more info on the subcategories of coat patterns.

Celebrate This Beautiful Breed

Whether you have an Australian Shepherd of your own or just admire them from afar, you can appreciate their intelligence, loyalty, energy, and physical beauty. This breed features an incredible variety of coat colors and patterns, from the rare all-black dog to the striking black tricolor. All of them are great family dogs who are intensely devoted to their owners!

More About Aussies

  • A Guide to Owning an Australian Shepherd
    Australian Shepherds are amazing companions and will become a priceless part of your life! But new owners should be aware of what they are “signing up for” when they bring an Aussie into their home so they can give them the care they need.
  • 18 Interesting Facts About Australian Shepherds
    A list of facts about the Australian Shepherd breed including temperament, history, and little-known interesting facts.
  • 25 Australian Slang Names for Your Australian Shepherd
    Look here for great names for your Australian Shepherd. All of the unique and meaningful names included in this article are based on Aussie slang. Here are 25 ideas for the name that might be just right for your dog or puppy.

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