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13 Sable Dog Breeds [Recognizing Beautiful Sable Patterns]

Key Takeaways

  • “Sable” does not really refer to a breed, but a type of fur color and pattern found in some dogs.
  • Coats with the colors gray, silver, tan, golden, yellow, or tan with black tips are considered sable pattern.
  • The color combinations of a sable coat are many, but it is considered a rare trait. However, only one canine parent needs to have the genetics for a sable coat in order for its offspring to sport a sable coat. 

What is a sable dog? The term “sable” does not refer to a particular breed of dog; rather, it refers to a coat pattern and color. The most popular sable dog breeds are the German Shepherd, Shetland Sheepdog, and English Bulldog. If you’re a fan of this color scheme, you should be able to find the best dog breed for your household here in this article.

A dog with a sable coat has gray, silver, tan, golden, yellow, or tan in the coat of the body with black tips in the whiskers, the back, head, ear, and tail. The sable coat comes in three various patterns: a tipped sable, a clear sable, and a shaded sable. I like to compare the sable coat to that of an ombre hair color style—the hair shaft is lighter near the root of the hair, while the hair gradually darkens the closer it gets to the top. Although there are many color combinations of the sable coat and only one canine parent needs to carry the gene to produce a sable dog, it is still considered a rare trait in the canine world.

There are several different breeds that sport a sable coat, and the German Shepherd dog breed is the first that comes to mind for most people. The “saddle” pattern on most German Shepherd dogs can be seen in other sable dog breeds. These breeds include the Chihuahua, the Belgian Malinois, the Dachshund, the Shetland Sheepdog, the Border Collie, the English Cocker Spaniel, the English Shepherd, the Pomeranian, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, the Borzoi, the Saluki, and the English Mastiff. Below, I’m sharing some things you probably didn’t know about these 13 sable dog breeds.

The German Shepherd

German Shepherd.

Most people associate the sable coat with the German Shepherd; in fact, the sable coat pattern is the most dominant coat color of the German Shepherd dog. The sable coat is most closely associated with the original German Shepherds; it is the breed standard according to the American Kennel Club. Ironically enough, the true sable coat of a German Shepherd is actually quite rare. You should expect a price of over $2000 if you are interested in a sable German Shepherd Puppy.

The coat of sable German Shepherds will be either a medium-length or a long-length coat. Either way, the sable German Shepherds will sport a double coat just as German Shepherds with any other color pattern. The sable patterned German Shepherd will have a base coat that is either white, parti, red, gold, blue, or silver, and the tip of the hair will be black. 

The sable German Shepherd dog will have the same needs as any other German Shepherds. Many large dog breeds’ first instinct, like the German Shepherd, is to work. They will have the same personality quirks and physical needs as any other dogs of the same breed. You’ll want to make sure the sable German Shepherd has plenty of exercises and you may want to supplement this with fun interactive dog toys to keep his mind occupied. 

The Chihuahua


The Chihuahua may also sport a coat of sable color pattern. Typically, the sable coated Chihuahua puppy will be born with a much darker coat that lightens as he grows older. Ironically, the adult sable Chihuahua’s coat does not sport the same pattern as other sable breeds, and, in fact, the sable pattern may seem to “disappear” as the Chihuahua grows older. 

The base coat of the sable coated Chihuahua may sport a base coat of gold, red, cream, or fawn. This base color will eventually be dominant. The sable Chihuahua does not always feature hairs with black tips, but rather chocolate, blue, or black coloring at the end of the hair. Earlier we mentioned that the base colors will one day be dominant. That means that a puppy born with a lighter coat that has dark tips will eventually see the coat lighten so that the sable coat pattern so visible in other breeds is no longer present in the Chihuahua. Some Chihuahuas born with a sable coat may retain only a few “sprinkles” of dark-tipped hairs on their face or neck. 

The Pomeranian


Like the Chihuahua, the sable Pomeranian may not sport exclusively black-tipped hairs as a part of their pattern. The sable Pomeranian may have dark chocolate or dark orange color as the dark tip of their sable hair. 

Like the sable German Shepherd, the sable Pomeranian will sport a “saddle” pattern on its back. Other sabling can be unpredictable on the coat of the Pomeranian. Whereas other sable dogs may have a pronounced amount of the pattern around their necks, the Pomeranian’s tuft of hair around his neck may make this seem as if the pattern isn’t present in the sable Pom, but it’s still there. It may be more predominant in the tail or legs of the Pomeranian. 

Like the Chihuahua, the sable Pomeranian may seem to “grow out” of the sable pattern. However, the Pomeranian’s sable changes are much more pronounced than the Chihuahua. Sometime during Pom’s first year of life, she will experience something many breeders refer to as “the puppy uglies.” This means the Pom pup will shed the puppy coat— which may be much darker than the adult coat of the Pom (and often much more evident of sabling). The adult coat will be a double coat, and the base coat will change during this time. It may come out lighter or darker than the original puppy coat. One should note that while the majority of Pom coats see a decrease in the amount of sabling on the coat, there are some Poms who do keep the sabling of their puppy coat, with some seeing an increase in the darker tipped hairs of the sable pattern. 

The Shetland Sheepdog 

Shetland Sheepdog.

Although sable is rare in some dog breeds, the “Sheltie” or Shetland Sheepdog is best known for its sable color. Sable Shelties have a golden or mahogany coat that darkens to black at the tip of the hair. The Sable coated Sheltie may also have a tan color that has splashes of white on the legs and toes as well as the neck and chest of the sable patterned dog. 

Like other breeds, the sable coat pattern is a dominant trait; in Shelties, it is the most common color pattern and the dominance of the gene is to thank for that. 

Like the Chihuahua and the Pomeranian, the Sheltie is born with a puppy coat that will change as the dog ages. Most puppies are born with fur that appears gray, and this will change to more of a tan coloring as the puppy grows older. 

The Dachshund


The sable Dachshund typically has a base color of red hair that ends with black tips. A sable Dachshund will also exclusively be a long-haired Dachshund. Some breed experts refer to the sable Dachshund as a “red sable,” and, from a distance, the red sable Dachshund will appear almost as though it were black and brown dog breed. 

Every other common trait of the Dachshund will be present in the sable dog, although there are some breeders that like to present this as a “rare” Dachshund in order to raise the price of the puppy. In fact, the sable pattern is NOT the rarest of Dachshund patterns. 

The Belgian Malinois

Belgian Malinois.

The Belgian Malinois is a close relative of the German Shepherd, so you can expect the sable pattern to be present in many of the Belgian Malinois pups. The Belgian Malinois may offer sable patterns in several versions. One is the Fawn sable coat, which is characterized by light fawn-colored hair that darkens closer to the tip of the hair. Typically, the hair will be black at the end but it may also be chocolate. 

Another variation is the Mahogany Malinois. This version of the sable coat will run the gamut from a light reddish-brown to a dark red mahogany color which will then be tipped with black or chocolate color on the ends. 

There is a red sable Belgian Malinois that may not sport the saddle pattern of other sable dogs, but the masking around its face will sport the traditional sabling. 

There are some coats recognized as black sable, but the American Kennel Club does not recognize this as a standard coat pattern.

The Border Collie

Border Collie.

The Border Collie is rarely born sporting a sable coat. The black-tipped sabling is paired with a brown base color. Although is considered rare today, evidence exists that the sable coated Border Collie was once much more predominant [1]. Eventually, a white and black coat became more predominant in the Border Collie line of genetics. 

Border Collies may also show a sabling pattern in a red sable, a blue sable, or a slate sable. 

Unlike other sable patterned dogs, the Border Collie will actually be born with a lighter sabling pattern that will eventually darken as the puppy grows older. 

The English Cocker Spaniel

English Cocker Spaniel.

The sable-coated English Cocker Spaniel may vary in color, which makes them quite different from other sable patterned dogs. The sable English Cocker Spaniel may have chocolate, golden, or silver look to their coat. English Cocker Spaniel puppies will have black hairs running throughout their coats. They may also have a mask around their face with the sable pattern. There is often a sabling around the eyes of an English Cocker Spaniel, giving the dog the appearance of wearing eyeliner. 

The English Shepherd

English Shepherd.

An English Shepherd with a sable pattern will come in two variations: the Sable and White version and a Clear Sable and White version. 

The base coat of an English Shepherd sporting a sable pattern will appear from a pale golden color to a dark mahogany red with dark-tipped hairs. This is often a particolored coat, with white around the dog’s muzzle and on her chest. There are some sable English Shepherds that have no white whatsoever in their coat. 

The clear sable pattern on an English Shepherd is also often golden to a deep red; these coats do not sport the traditional black tips of other sable patterns. Unlike other sable patterns, this gene is recessive and both parents must possess a clear sable coat in order to produce puppies with the same trait. 

The Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Pembroke Welsh Corgi.

The Pembroke Welsh Corgi sporting a sable coat will be quite similar to Border Collies and English Shepherds in their coloring. They will often have a coat that at its base may be honey-colored or various shades of red. The sable Pembroke Welsh Corgi will have a “black cast” over the tail, the withers, and the back of the sable Corgi. In addition, the sable Pembroke Welsh Corgi will sport a “widow’s peak” – black hair that arches over the eyes and comes down at a point between the eyes. 

The Borzoi


A young sable Borzoi will be dark at birth, but, by his fourth week of life, will begin to show the patterns of a sable coat. Many times, a sable Borzoi will have a dark upper body while its back is paler without the sabling pattern. 

The sable Borzoi will also often sport the same “widow’s peak” that is evident in the sable Pembroke Welsh Corgi. 

The English Mastiff

English Mastiff.

The English Mastiff often sports a tan or cream color that has black-tipped ends throughout the coat. The English Mastiff often sports a “mask” on its face as well. Occasionally, there will be other patterns to the sable English Mastiff, with some appearing to be brindle dogs. 


The Saluki

The Saluki offers a sable pattern much like that of the English Mastiff. It will have a light-colored body that shows black-tipped hairs over the body and a mask on its face.

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