The Black Miniature Schnauzer: When Black Miniature Schnauzers Ain’t Black!
The Black Miniature Schnauzer is strikingly dark as a puppy. However, many fade with age. And some aren’t black to begin with!
Confused? Then read on and I’ll try to explain it all to you!
What is a Black Mini Schnauzer?
Genetically, true Black Mini Schnauzers are “one color” dogs with a black (rather than brown) color base.
Black Schnauzer pupIn other words, their skin is black and because they are “one color” their coat is also black. The result is a black dog!
It may have a little white on its chest or toes, and though not desirable in the show ring, this is still acceptable in purebred registered Miniature Schnauzers.
So what’s complicated about that?
…Other Genes Get in the Way
Minis also often carry a gene for fading. This fading gene dictates how fast the fading will take place, exactly where on the dog the fading will occur and even what color the coat will fade to.
Father of the above pup, showing fading on legsSo your black puppy may fade to chocolate or grey anywhere on its body, slowly or rapidly… There’s really no way of telling until it happens!
…Other Colors Get in the Way
There is another gene that can influence the pigment intensity of a genetically one-color coat. So Black Miniature Schnauzers can be intensely black, or have a grey undercoat, or fade to grey.
Similarly, a Liver (one-color, brown-based) dog can be so intensely pigmented that it appears identical to a black dog!
Side by side, a black with a faded, almost chocolate coat would look identical to a very dark liver (sometimes called “chocolate”).
Is this a very dark Liver or a faded Black?Because some Schnauzers also carry genes that code for fading- either all over or just in specific places – dogs that are genetically the same one color can appear quite different at maturity.
It’s very easy to confuse the two! As a precaution, in Germany in the early days of the breed, you couldn’t register a Miniature Schnauzer as black unless both parents were black.
This is because breeding a black to a brown merely intensifies the darkness with which brown is expressed in the offspring, making it even harder to distinguish “true” Black Mini Schnauzers!
How Grooming Affects the Black Color
Black Miniature Schnauzers often have a grayish rather than black undercoat. When cut, (for example by machine clipping) this undercoat is exposed, resulting in a faded appearance.
The body area of show dogs is diligently stripped of its undercoat, resulting in a wiry coat in which the intensity of the black coloring is preserved.
However, in clippered areas, and the scissored leg furnishings, any grey undercoat will nevertheless be exposed. In this case the dog will appear black with light grey legs.
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