Chihuahua colors: what are my choices?
AKC Standard for Chihuahua Colors
According to AKC Standards, a chihuahua can be "any color - solid, marked or splashed". Marked means a solid color (such as black, fawn or chocolate) with a few markings or patterns on the face or body. Splashed means patches of colors on a white body. The main colors are Black, Chocolate, Fawn, White and Blue. Within each group of main color, there are combinations of colors, markings and patterns, such as sable, brindle and masked. With all these interesting colors and combinations, no two chihuahuas are alike. This is one of the best things I love about the breed.
Black color group
I have a black chihuahua, so I'll start with this one. In the US, the black combination is a popular color group for chihuahuas. Black chihuahuas have dark eyes and a black nose. They often show gray and white hairs throughout the face and body as they grow older, especially around the muzzle, but a black chihuahua can start graying as early as a year old. One advantage of having a black chihuahua is that they will not show tear stains, but you will know that the area needs to be cleaned because the hair around the eyes will get matted down and rough to the touch. Totally black chihuahuas usually don't do well in dog shows because it's harder for judges to see their features and expression. Black chihuahuas are hard to photograph, I find that they show up much better in black and white photos in sunlight or a well-lit studio.
Black color combinations
Black combinations include:
(1) BLACK AND TAN. This is like the markings of a Doberman. The chihuahua is mostly black with black patches above the eyes, on the cheeks, around the muzzle, chest and legs.
(2) BLACK AND TAN WITH WHITE MARKINGS. This is called a black tricolor, very pretty.
(4) BLACK AND WHITE. This is mostly black with white on the chest, face, and/or legs. Some can have faw or tan markings too, making it a black and white tricolor combination.
(5) BLACK SPOTS ON WHITE. This is a mostly white chihuahua with splashes of black on the body and/or face.
Chocolate color group
Chocolate is the term used for brown chihuahuas. "Brown" chihuahuas can be in the chocolote group or the fawn group. Fawn is really more like tan, cream or gold. The chocolate gene blocks the black pigment in the nose and toenails. So if you see a "brown" chihuahua that has a black nose or toenails, it should be called fawn and not chocolate.
(1) CHOCOLATE AND TAN. The chihuahua shown above is a fine example. It's mostly chocolate with tan markings above the eyes, around the muzzle and cheeks and on the chest and legs.
(2) CHOCOLATE AND TAN WITH WHITE MARKINGS. The chocolate tricolor combination, same markings and patterns as above, with white on the face, chest, legs and tail.
(3) CHOCOLATE AND WHITE. Mostly chocolate with white markings. If tan or fawn are mixed in, then it is a tricolor.
(4) CHOCOLATE SPOTS ON WHITE. A mostly white chihuahua with chocolate splashes on the body.
Fawn color group and color combinations
Fawn is the proper term for a tan or light brown chihuahua. The Chihuahua Club of America defines fawn as "A brown, red-yellow with hue of medium brilliance." Tan is the term used for the color of a marking, not the dominant color. Fawn is called fawn because it's the color of a baby deer. Here are the shades within the fawn family from lightest to darkest:
- cream - beige or blonde
- fawn - closest to tan
- gold - almost like honey
- red- dark and rich like an Irish Setter
The color combinations possible here are FAWN WITH WHITE (fawn chihuahua with white markings on face, chest, and/or legs and FAWN SPOTTED ON WHITE (mostly white chihuahua with fawn splashes on the body and/or face).
White color group and color combinations
Solid white chihuahuas are rare, usually they have markings of other colors on their body. The colors of the markings may be fawn, cream, gold or red. White chihuahuas can have black noses and toenails or a lighter color such as beige or pink.
Blue color group and color combinations
What? How can a chihuahua be blue? Blue is actually the official term for gray, it can range from silver to dark steel. The blue color in dogs, not just chihuahuas, is commonly associated with alopecia (balding). There is not much medically you can do about it. Feeding a high-quality diet with essential fatty acids may help. Not all blue chihuahuas get it especially if it's a blue combination and not pure blue. The BLUE AND WHITE WITH TAN tricolor combination is especially stunning.