Colour and Markings in the Pekingese - Colores y marcas en el pekinés

agosto 26, 2013

Pekingese dogs could be in many different colours and shades, different black masks and differents white markings and all kind of different combinations including particolor and tricolor markings. Only two colors are not allowed for breeding and showing purposes: liver and albino and in both cases it is because they cannot have black pigmentation. Albinism genes are also associated in many breeds, including Pekingese, with different health issues as deafness and that is one big reason to do not allow the breeding of pedigree dogs with albinism. Liver is produced by a gene that dilute colors making all pigmentation a kind of chocolate tone, as for example in labrador retriever. Being liver pigmentation a liver pekingese will never have black nose or lips. So regardless of all the different colours and marking, the pekingese must be close to the standard with desirable black inkjet pigmentation in eyes, nose, and labial mucosa. 

Pekingese breed is lucky in variety of colors but all of them compete together for the champion points, there are special class for colors in some countries, normally where pekingese breed had many entries in the past and a long history behind, as in United Kingdom, but it is not the rule for all the other countries. Anyway at the end of the judging they always will compete together for the champion points and Best of Breed

Studying the book of champions along the last century it is easy to understand that there is an evolution in the most winning colors, always associated to some relevant bloodlines and champions that probably had been a big influence in the breed and also in judges and breeders. The evolution has been mainly from light fawns with half black masks to the nose, to red and blonde with middle head black mask over the eyes and lately to grey pekingese with full head black mask. About the now called "rare colors" they are dissapearing when they were very common before, specially in the first decades of 20th century when the champion books where full of particolor, cream and white dogs, sadly that colors appear less and less along the modern decades. The truth is that they are almost dissapeared in some countries as United Kingdom, where rarely one of this color dog is showed but thank to passionate breeders and peke fanciers they are still strong and going on in other countries as USA and specially Russia where the rare color pekingese are flourishing and they are very much appreciated.

About color in puppies sometimes it is quite difficult to know the exact color of some puppies when adult, even if you are an expert and have had experience before, shades will vary a lot while growing up and maturing. Many grey-fawn puppies will look almost black when just born, reds will look dark brown, many cream puppies will look almost white when just born and will be darker  when older going to cream, and the same with many other colors. Normally the color tend to be clearer when adult, but not always, for example deep cream or apricot pekingese could be just a little bit light orange when just born, same with reds that intensify the color along time.

There are other marking changes, for example some white marks in the head tend to dissapear when adult. A white line or spot in the head when it is not enough big, could be totally away except for some white hair.
As an approach I will use the list from the different mark and colour that are registrable by the AKC for Pekingese. 

I am uploading some pictures to show you each color example. I am sorry if I do not have examples of all the colors, all pictures below are from my own dogs.
if you are interested about the genes involved in color, take a look to this article about gene colors in Lhasa-Apso, the colors in pekingese work almost the same.
There are more interesting information about gene colors in dogs in this website of dog genetics.

1. Biscuit:
there are many shades of biscuit, some are warmer than others, at some age almost look a pale yellow.

2. Black :
black color can appear in diffents shades, normally two, the totally black, where are no grey zones, and the black and silver, where grey silver coat appear in front, back legs and tail also called smokey black. Black color tend to looks brown in puppies and dogs that have been sunbathing because the black pigment of the coat is easily damaged by the sun. There are actually 2 differents genes that could give black dogs.

This is actually the black and silver but is just considered like a Black

3. Black & Tan: this is a very rare color and difficult to see. The dog is black with the same tan markings that a doberman or rotwailer.

When associated with white markings, it is a tricolor pekingese (black, tan and white)

4. Cream: is a color associated with whites, the majority of the whites are light creams and not truly whites, cause there are different genes involved. Creams do not appear with black masks.  Depending on the combination of genes there are also shades in the cream, from very dark cream almost apricot to very light cream almost white. Genetically the cream color is recessive. Cream and white genes in combination with other colors have the ability to dilute then and make them more clear. For this reason have been used in many historical kennels for making more beafutiful shades of blonde, red, fawn and grey, that dogs normally have a big contrast of black mask and black ear fringes, something very desirable for many peke fanciers. Some important champions where white-cream carries, as for example was UK CH Tengling Golden Arrow of Pekehuis a beautiful light red.

Cream as puppy
Light cream as puppy
Ivory white that will look more cream when adult

5. Fawn: very classic color, much more appreciated with black mask and black fringes.

It is a fawn pekingese with a black muzzle marking.

6. Fawn Sable: a variation of the fawn that have some grey coat also.
7. Gray: also could appear in different shades, from very dark grey to very light grey. 

8. Gray Sable

9. Red

10. Red Sable

The red is in the main body and the sable is in the front and head, here also you can see the full black face marking and the white front marking that include the front feets and the chin.

11. White: as happens in cream. There are different shades of whites, ivory or paper white to ice white. It is usual that the white dog change color after coat mature changing to some tone of ivory. Many white pekes are in fact a combination of true white and ligh cream genes with or without white markings. So many whites are having particolor markings but being over white we cannot see at all. That dogs when bred to particolor pekes or carrier will give particolor puppies and breeding particolor and whites together in the same litter is quite usual.  White and cream are recessive alleles and need 2 pairs (one from mother and one from father) to show up in the puppy.

Whites could be in different shades: paper white, ivory whit, ice white

12. Fawn Brindle
13. Light Red 

There are many different shades of red. Here also you can see an half black mask and the white front whith a little bit of white marking in the chin.

14. Red Brindle


  • Black Mask: differents sizes of masks are possible, only the muzzle, over the eyes, complete head totally black... many of the dogs showed here have black mask.

  • Parti-Color: it is a white marking of the dog over any other color. The standard call for particolor marking with good distribution of the white, normally front and neck collar is white, followed by the main body in the color of the dog and then legs and tail in white too. There are other white marking distributions but when the markings are not in geometrical position are not as desirable and correct. For being a good particolor marking the face should have balance with same amount of white at both sides of the face. In the pictures you have some good particolor distributions from my breeding, both dogs are half brothers by mother, so they share the same particolor gene, easy to appreciate here. Genetically particolor markings are recessive alleles, it means that to show up in the puppy both parents should give the recessive parti allele in the same way that happens in white and creams.

Grey and fawn particolor pekingese with black mask. Particolor white markings can appear in any color body The white marking in the head is called budda´s blessed kiss and is considered a good luck mark.

Argos when puppy, half brother of Triana by mother, he got the particolor gene too. His black mask is smaller, and not covering over the eyes.

Notice that one side is different to the other one, the left side has all the back leg in white color but the right side has in grey-red mark, the white mark appears from the exact middle back to the left.

Other particolor puppies from my breeding

  • White Markings: white feets, white fronts, white spot in the head, etc... some people think that white markings make a dog particolor but only if a good portion of the body is covered of white  (half the body) it is considered a parti. Anyway sometimes there is a relationship between particolor carriers and white markings when a small white spot or line is in the neck of the puppy associated with white feet and white front, almost no doubt it is a particolor carrier that have not developed the parti markings because is carrying only one allele from mother or father and not two.

  • Black Face: a big black mask that cover all or almost the full head, reminds to the monkey face.
  • Black Face, White Markings: normally is a black face with the chin in white in my experience associated to white fronts and feets and particolor carriers. 
  • Black Mask, White Markings: the black mask do not cover all the head and probably the chin is white or there is a white line in the front (again a particolor or carrier of particolor genes)
  • Black Muzzle: black mask only cover the muzzle.
  • Black Muzzle, White Markings: black mask cover the muzzle and there is white probably in the chin.
It is difficult to cover all the pekingese color variations. 
Pekingese colors are one valuable legacy of the past of this breed that came from the very early breed standard and were very appreciated in the origin of the breed in the Chinese Palaces. We are lucky to mantain alive the different colors and shades of the breed and we should defend the right of all colors to be perpetuated. All colors should be considered normal in the breed as this has been in the past, there are no place for "show colors" and for "pet colors", all of them have the right to be appreciated and breeding for the best future of the next pekingese generations. 

Info by the AKC on this link.

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