Development of Red in Red and Black-Headed Tricolors

RH photos courtesy and copyright Judy Neuhaus (Zephyr), BH photos Liz Myhre, Kris Grassman, and Kit Maris.


These are a series of comparative photos from birth of both red headed (RH) and black headed (BH) tricolor Pembrokes. Note that not all tris develop red at the same rate as those shown in the photos, so age mentioned can be relative. Some RH tris can be so dark that they can be mistaken for BH tris through several months of age, while others are very quickly obviously RH tris. Note that while AKC registration papers call tricolor Pembrokes “Black and Tan,” the term “Red” is often used instead of Tan.

Go to the Color Genetics page for discussion on inheritance of colors in the Pembroke.


BH tris several days old. No tan on muzzle or legs above white boots. Definate tan cheek patches that were there at birth. Eyebrows are small and barely visible.

RH tris at several days old. Note cheek patches are larger than those of the BH tris at this age,but there is no way to tell one from another. Eyebrows are quite a bit larger, and smudge into the black. Very dark RH tris probably have less tan cheek patches.


BH tri, between 1-2wks old. Cheek patches very visible as well as butt patch tan and tan eyebrows.

RH tri, ca 2wks old. Not a lot of change from earlier. Red on legs is visible.



BH tri, 4wks, head view. Again, eyebrows are still small and well defined, and cheek patches have not increased. Note that tan on legs above boots is now present, but not very visible.

RH tri, 4wks, head view. Color can definately be called RH tri at this point. Red is showing thru under eyes, and has expanded from cheeks and eyebrows across the head. The "black" on the top of the head in general has a brown cast to it. Tan on legs above white boots is also still not very visible.


BH tri at 4wks again, side view (not a fluffy!). Black coat on skull remains jet black, little expansion of red up legs above white boots.

RH tri at 4wks again, side view. Showing definate brown cast on ears and top of skull. Some scattered red hairs are coming in above elbow quite above the white boot.




Two of the BH tris at ca 10wks of age. Note that most of the adult tan is now present: cheeks, muzzle, and above white boots.

RH tri, 6wks. (top) Outer ear rims are distinctly outlined in red, red is much more visible above white boots. (bottom) Red is starting to show thru black on shoulder area. Red above white boots is distinct.


BH tri around 4 months of age. Little has changed in amount of tan since 6wks. What little this dog has is just in front of the arrow tip. He also has tan on inner sides of front legs.

RH tri at 4 months. Red has increased greatly. Note that some RH tris do take a lot longer to reach this stage, and some will stay darker than this for their lifetime.

BH tri 6 months. Note an increase in tan finally on leg since the ca 4 month pix. Interestingly his cheek and muzzle tan areas which were previously touching are now distinctly separated by black. Compare cream marking areas of butt patch, eyebrows, and cheek with darker body red of legs.7


BH tri at 9 months (right pix) and 18 months (left pix, Trev center with Peri-littermate left and Polly-dam right, pix courtesy Trev's mom, Kris!). Here cream points vs normal body red is shown by the lighter head markings vs the leg markings as seen in the 6 month picture and the right picture. The light markings again are where a dog with cream points has those points.9


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