Your dog if it had no hair, but only had skin pigment showing, would have the exact required color
pattern on it's skin as written in the standard. All the way from the back of it's head, down it's
neck to the root of it's tail there will be blue skin. The shade will correspond with the depth of
the dog's blue hair. The blue skin extends down the forelegs to above the stifle. The end of the
dog's tail would have a darker blue tip than the dog's back color.
The skin pigment on your Yorkie's head chest, throat, the underside of the the tail and the
breechs is a flesh color. The back of the dog's ears are a darker flesh color. The flesh colored
skin pigment of the forelegs extends up to the elbow, on the hindlegs the flesh colored skin
pigment extends from the foot to just below the stifle, a thin strip of flesh colored skin extends
up towards the belly on the front side of the hind legs. The underside of the dog; including the
inside of the hind legs is usually a slightly lighter flesh color. This description is of a
correct pigment pattern for silk texture.
So you ask what does it matter? It matters because it is the map that controls where your dog's
color will be. Deviate from this pigment color and you'll go one of two ways in your colors. You'll
get an unclear Gold and an incorrect Blue: if the blue skin has invaded the territory belonging to
the flesh colored skin. Or you'll get an extremely light gold with gold extending down the neck and
a very pale blue pigment with gold creeping up thru the shoulder, the thighs and around the base of
the tail as the flesh colored skin has invaded the blue territory.
Correct silky textured dogs always have correct color pigment patterns - woolly coated dogs always
have the blue pigment invading the flesh colored pigment. Cotton-coated dogs usually get a mixed bag.
The blue skin may extend into the tan on the head and the flesh skin may extend into the shoulders.
Very extreme silver dogs will have flesh colored pigment where the blue pigment should be. The gold
will be an extremely pale gold even though they have silk texture.
To understand why this saddle pattern must be correct you'll first have to understand the way color
in hair is arrived, and the difference in textures that go with each of those colors.
Hair is formed from a substance called keretin and the walls of the shaft of each hair are clear.
The hair itself contains no color nor do the pigment particles. There are a number of layers of
dermis tissue in the layers of the skin. The pigment that colors hair is produced by pigment glands
housed about four layers down. The top layers although well pigmented, do not produce enough pigment
to color the hair. The pigment particles produced by these glands are also colorless.
There are three active sections of a hair that serve a specific purpose in the arrangement of the
pigment globules. That arrangement causes certain patterns that affect the refraction of light.
The first section of the hair is the root. The root of the hair is slightly flared and as the skin
moves in its various motions, this flared root gathers and sucks up the microscopic particles of
The second section of the hair is an enlargement above the root that is a barrel shaped section
called a follicle and it is the manner in which the pigment is transmitted from the follicle, that
determines the pattern arrangement in the shaft of the hair. The microscopic pigment particles
migrate through the follicle and up through the shaft of the hair by their own electrons. This
explains the presence of different patterns formed by the same color pigmentation and of density in
the various patterns that refract light to reflect the different colors and shades within these
colors. The refraction and reflection give us the
colors we optically identify.
The third section is the shaft of the hair that extends out of the skin above the follicle and makes
the body coat and holds the permanent pigment arrangement. Hence the necessity for the correct
pigment pattern for each of your hair colors.
For instance if the opening of the follicle is wide and pigment can easily pass into the shaft of
the hair in such abundance and intensity that no light is reflected from it, the color is black and
dull. The hair is thick. If there is no opening in the follicle at all no pigment enters the hair,
it is white, since there is no pigment in the hair it can neither refract light in or to reflect it.
The arrangement that forms the other patterns is caused as the pigment leaves the opening of the
follicle and enters the shaft of the hair determining the color and what shade the color will
optically appear. Where shading is desired in each hair the sensity of the pigment as it travels
along the shaft of the hair.
To obtain the highly desired rich gold the opening of the follicle is drawn extremely small and
pigment is forced by it's electrons into a thin smear that coats the inside of the shaft of hair.
The smear coating on the inside of the shaft of the hair refracts light and reflects it back giving
off a shining golden hue. The hair is fine, shiny and cool to the touch and is silky in texture.
( See A)
A lighter gold has lesser pigmentation and it has a glow but not a shine. In this hair more than
two thirds of the center of the shaft is open and the pigment layers are thinner than that of the
gold. (See B)
Blond or pale gold is a strong dilution of both of the above. There is little pigment in this hair.
It has a very thin pigment layer and a much larger center opening and gives off very little shine of
it's own. (See C)
The pigment pattern for blue is somewhat complex. The pigment leaves the follicle in an intense
fine line, migrates up through the center thebfull length of the shaft of the hair. Pigment is
sent from this line to the outside shaft of the hair in three partition like formations (picture in
your mind a ventian blind). This causes a thin curtain - like pattern allowing light directly to
the intense pigment core. However, light is not refracted completely from one wall to the other
wall of the shaft, and reflection back from the so called partition creates a haziness within the
shaft of the hair that is perceived optically as blue. The texture of this hair is fine, strong
and very shiny, and is cool to the touch, silky in texture. (See D)
A Blue-Grey color is achieved at the point when black hair is
intermingles with enough white hair to give the optical appearance of Blue-Grey. Unlike true grey or
Steel-Grey it is not caused by the receding action of the pigment glands failure. The Blue-Grey
pattern of coloring once achieved does not continue growing lighter or darker because of age. This
texture is usually woolly, heavy and does not give off and natural shine. The texture of this being
wooly allows it to snarl easily. It is warm to the touch. (See E)
Steel-Grey and Grey are caused by the continued failure of the pigment glands in the upper skin
layers failing to produce pigment particles, which causes the pigment glands in lower layers of
skin to take over. Being fewer and weaker, less black hairs are produced. The failed upper layers
produce more and more white hairs, this process continues all of the dog's life - but a short period
the color appears optically steel-grey. This process can continue so that by old age the dog is an
extreme pale grey. The texture is cottony, soft, thick and gives off not
natural shine, and is warm to the touch. The texture of this coat allows it to matt easily usually
close to the skin.
The Blue-Black dog's pigment is extremely compact, the layers of the pigment particles are in stacks
perpendicular to the outside shaft of the hair. As some of the black hairs die they are replaced by
white hairs. The additional sheen picked up by the black is caused by the pigment being at a slight
angle and the very edges pick-up sufficent light to cause the reflection of a highlight which mixed
with the white hairs gives a optically blue-black appearance. The hair texture is smooth, fairly
fine and silky but does not have the pattern to give a true blue color and it does not have the
ability to dilute to blue.
There are two types of silver. The first is a blue dog whose dilution factor instead of shutting
down continues to dilute and dilute, so that the pigment that leaves the follicle in an intense line
becomes a thinner and thinner line so that although it has the correct hair color pattern is cannot
reflect enough haziness back to really appear dark blue.
The second silver has pigmented skin of a very pinkish blue or even flesh colored. The hair is
between a white and a black containing some pigment in the center so that some light is refracted
and reflected back. The texture is fine, silky, and does have a shine. It tends to be wavy.
Returning to the standard you will find only one texture mentioned. It
says "Hair is glossy. fine and silky in texture." These are the
description of the correct blue and gold and this texture is the only
one that carries the color patterns in them to produce the desired ones.
The genes that determine colors also determine texture. Hence the
standard which says "Quality and Texture (and quantity which is another
gene) are of prime 'importance'. It's like the line in the song "You
can't have one without the other".
So now we've determined that you need a gene to place the blue and the
gold pigment skin pattern and genes to have the correct color pattern in
each hair along with the accompaning texture.
The next gene you need is the one that assures the age at which the
blue skin will retreat from the head allowing only the gold to grow and
a gene to tell your black puppy that it is time to kick in the color
pattern in each hair for the blue. Connected to this is the gene that
tells the dilution factor to stop at a specific color and to maintain it
at that color. The gold gene includes one to have the gold shaded
correctly, so that it comes in darker at the base and lightens as it
extends to the tip.
You will need a gene to tell your texture to be straight and not wavy.
Two genes one for each color, that will determine the quantity of hairs
per square inch and that will determine the speed that the coat will
grow. Lighter blues have heavier coats and grow faster. Both the woolly
and cottony coats very rapidly.
The correct silk blue and gold grows slower, but it arrives at maturity
with equal length and density by adding layer upon layer of hair much
the same way a baby does.
Since a Yorkie is actually a brown dog with a blue saddle- just as an
Airdale and many other breeds are. They only way you can lighten or
darken your dogs color (I do mean the blue as well) is to plan your
breeding on the color of the gold. The blue color and the gold
compliment each other. Light gold equals light blue - rich gold color
equals dark blue. Bred this way they can pass it to the next generation.
Lots of you do this without knowing it. Gold is the first thing anyone
checks on their newborn puppies.
Cottony dogs normally have a pale gold either uncleared or almost
cleared with the gold pigment saddle pattern creeping into the Blue
Woolly dogs normally have a brighter gold head, with a lighter shade of
gold on their legs. The gold area onthe head has usually not cleared of
all the blue pigment skin so the pigment saddle pattern of the blue is
in the gold's area.
The blue-black harsh texture silk Yorkie is hard to grow coat of any
length as the hair tends to snap off at the tip. This type has an
extremely bright gold closer to orange or red. The coat usually lacks
quantity. They are a throwback to some particular ancestor. They are
always extremely sound, very outgoing and very showy.
Years ago Mrs. Annie Swan, of the Invincia Yorkies, told us to keep one
in our breeding program. She said everyone kept a so called "Red". They
occasionally appeared from silky coated parents. No one ever showed
them, but since they had the ability to return color pattern to it's
proper boundaries and the ability to darken the color of a lighter dog
when bred to them, they were on occasion bred in. Bred to cottony or
wooly texture they usually have little effect. Bred to silk texture they
improve color. Bred together they usually produce themselves and
occasionally a lovely colored silk dog - but this is the exception.
The last gene in the color inheritance package is for dark pigmentation
for the eye-rims, the lips, a black nose, black toenails and black pads.
Breeding color and thus texture on a Yorkie is a difficult challenge
particularly as a lot of these desired genes are recessive, but it can
be done. We are unfortunately plagued with pedigrees that include every
texture in the book, making it doubly hard to achieve our goal. We've
arrived at a point where some dogs have more than one texture appearing
The only words mentioning black in our standard concern being born
black and the statement "not silver blue and not mingled with fawn,
bronzy or black hair" and that the gold should not be intermingled with
sooty or black hair. No where are there any words that a Yorkie should
be grey or even steel-grey. The words woolly, cottony, soft, dull, or
harsh also do not appear. Everytime the wrong texture is bred in we add
another wrong gene to the gene pool, making it harder for future
generations of breeders.
The gold on a Yorkie is covered in the standard in three and a half
sections. The number of words-approximately eighty-seven describing it,
outweighs those on the blue-approximately fifty one.
If our dogs pedigrees were such that they only contained the genes for
silk texture, all our battles with color would be over. Then all our
puppies would be correct. As it stands now people breed a woolly or
cottony textured dog to a silk textured dog for whatever reason, and yes
they can get a good colored silky puppy. The reason of course is that
since most pedigrees today are a mish mash of texture genes, is that if
the silky parent is dominant over the inheritance of the puppies he or
she is going to nick some silk genes in the wrong textured parent's
pedigree. But the next generation can and will probably produed the
other coat texture, just like any other inherited fault. Many people buy
this theory of breeding wrong textures in because they have gotten a
puppy that's correct by breeding this way. They forget that the silky
textured ancestors in their pedigree can come forward when given an
opening from a silky parent.
Like getting rid of any other fault, and wrong texture is a fault, you
don't breed it in. It takes time, commitment and patience to breed only
silk texture to silk texture, thus putting those wrong colored woolly
and cottony textured dogs so far back that like any other undesireable
inherited fault they disappear only to come out once in great while.
The formula to obtain desired colors with their silk texture is to
breed only silk to silk in every generation. Your dogs will then only
produce this as that will be all that is available in their genes.Then
you can lighten or darken your colors by breeding for gold, without this
game of breeding for blue by adding wool or cotton texture, which only
throws you whole gene pool out of whack.
As a final note. Altho this article is all about colors, do not forget
the other parts of your dog. I've never seen any reason for us or anyone
else to spend time growing a show coat on an unsound dog. I always
figured it was rather like putting an expensive designer's model on my
figure. All the faults will show up despite the cost of the outfit,
ruining the look of the dress or your dog's show coat. A show dog must
meet the standard, but he must have a sound body, a good head and
expression, be a proper size and have a sound temperment to carry and
show off his or her's show outfit.
To quote Mrs, Raymond-Mallock, of the Ashton - more Yorkies written in
1907-" What we want is a sound Yorkshire Terrier with a lot of coat, not
a lot of coat with an unsound Yorkshire Terrier." Or to quote Mrs.Goldie
Stone of the Petit Yorkies writing in 1930 -"They should appear as proud
as Kings and Queens sporting their blue and gold mantles that flow
around them like water as they move."
A Yorkie is a small long coated blue and gold shining silky textured
terrier who is proud and arrogant, mischievious, loving who is able to
carry this off because he can trot smoothly around his world. He knows
he's better than any other dog and surely smarter than his mistress or
Joan B. Gordon - June 7th 1998
This is the property of Mary Elizabeth Dugmore. Neither part nor all of
it may be reprinted without her permission. Joan B. Gordon
She met her husband when she was 6 years old. Their families
vacationed in the same location each year. They will also celebrate 50
years of marriage together this year. They are best friends and have
been all of their lives.
She has been crowned the "Godmother of all Yorkshire Terriers" and
certainly the breed would not have been the same with out her loving
hand. She's been a mentor to so many of us that our breed has benefited
from her hours of devotion and I am proud to call her my friend.
Thanks Joan for all of your help with this and many of the other things
on my page.