How Colorful Yorkies Came to Be ...
Many skeptical Yorkie owners and breeders, absolutely refuse to believe that the Parti, chocolate and golden colored Yorkie is anything other than a recent "behind the kennel bred" mutt. They say: "The only color that Yorkies come in is blue and tan" or "There is NO record of any Yorkie ever breeding to a white, Parti, chocolate or golden colored dog." This article will try to educate you about color genetics, recessive genes and how these unique colors remained hidden in the Yorkshire terrier breed for years.
We know from our Yorkie history, that early records were not kept on the foundation breeding stock. I seriously doubt, that back in the days where spaying and neutering was not done, that the farmers and working class families didn't have the "occasional" unplanned pregnancy in their canines. If anything, it happened more then, than it does today.
It's documented in some of the earliest records that the foundation stock of our breed, were cross-bred dogs and dogs without pedigrees (who's heritage is unknown). Even if these dogs didn't look Parti, chocolate or golden colored they could very well have harbored the recessive genes in their DNA makeup. Whether their mother/father, grandmother/grandfather or great grandmother/great grandfather was Parti, chocolate or golden colored, no one would really know, since record keeping at that time in history, was little to none.
The Parti, chocolate and gold gene can only be expressed if a dog who carries one copy of that particular recessive gene (known as a carrier) is bred to another dog who also carries that same recessive gene. A carrier will look like a traditional colored Yorkie; Parti carriers may have some white markings on their chest and feet but otherwise, the carriers will look like a black and tan Yorkie puppy. When a carrier is bred to another carrier, 25% of the offspring will be traditional Yorkies (not carrying the gene), 50% will be traditional colored Yorkies who do carry the recessive gene and 25% of the offspring will be actual Parti, chocolate or golden colored Yorkies - these dogs carry 2 recessive genes, one from their mother and one from their father. It's only been approximately 5 years since AKC has allowed these beautiful colored Yorkies to be eligible for registration. Prior to that time, Parti, chocolate and golden colored offspring were normally kept quiet, given away without papers or destroyed (yes, destroyed).
In this day of scam artists and people looking to make a fast buck, my suggestion is to buy from reputable breeders who have their dogs DNA'd or their dogs come from known color producing lines. So do your research, get references and have an open mind. These genes have been in some of our Yorkie bloodlines for years and years and years ... and if you think it's not possible, don't be surprised if one day your own purebred Yorkie produces a pup of a different color!
The genetic makeup of Chocolate Yorkies
All dog coloring comes from two basic pigments: eumelanin (black) and phaeomelanin (red).1 A gene called TYRP1 darkens the eumelanin, which is already dominant in Yorkie puppies, causing it to appear black. This is known as B-Locus.
However, a recessive mutation of the TYRP1 gene in Chocolate Yorkies causes the eumelanin to lighten to a brown color. This is known as the b allele.
If both parents of a Yorkie puppy have the recessive b allele gene, a brown or Chocolate Yorkie may be born.2 And when combined with the lighter phaeomelanin pigment, the Chocolate Yorkie puppy’s fur may have sections of hair that appear light brown as well.
The Chocolate Yorkshire Terrier is caring a double gene for a red or brown coat. The gene will also often result in brown or liver pigmentation of the eye rims, nose and paw pads. Yorkies having the double recessive gene for a brown coat are a lighter color at birth.
Top Coat: The entire body will be Chocolate or Brown with no Gold or Tan on any other part of the body than the face, legs, breast and abdomen.
Eyes: The eyes are hazel to dark in color.
Nose: The nose is brown in color.
THE BIEWER YORKIE IS PARTI COLOR YORKIE NOT A SEPARATE BREED. PIED BALD RECESSIVE GENE DOGS DESCEND FROM PARTI COLOR ANCESTRY THE WOLF. THE BIEWER YORKIE IS BLACK AND WHITE. THE BIRO YORKIE IS CHOCOLATE AND WHITE. THE GOLD DUST IS GOLD AND WHITE. THEY ARE DIFFERENT COLOR VARIANTS OF THE TRADITIONAL BLACK AND TAN YORKIE PARTI COLOR. THEY'RE FULLY EXCEPTED BY THE AMERICAN KENNEL CLUB AS PARTI YORKIES. THE IBC, IN GERMANY, DOES NOT GIVE PERMISSION FOR ANY ONE IN THE UK TO CALL THIS DOG A NEW BREED OR A BIEWER TERRIER. IT IS BIEWER YORKSHIRE TERRIER.
A carrier means a dog has inherited a recessive gene and doesn't display that color, but can produce that color when bred to another dog (depending on the mate's genes). You can visit this website Dog Coat Color Genetics for more information about Dog Color Genetics.
Traditional - Black & Tan (at/at)
I always refer to traditional as black and tan. Even though it's all the at/at gene the AKC lists 4 color options when registering your Yorkie: Black & Tan, Black & Gold, Blue & Gold, Blue & Tan. Currently these are the only colors allowed to be shown. Sometimes black markings grow out to be a much lighter silver color (I believe from the greying gene). You'll also notice that the tan points seen on young puppies' faces usually grow out to be solid gold/tan.
Parti refers to white markings. It can occur on any color, but I've only pictured Traditionals with Parti markings here. Some Traditionals that only carry the Parti gene will have large amounts of white. It's not uncommon for a Parti carrier to have white toes, chest n belly, and sometimes a stripe across the back of the neck . The amount of white on a Parti can vary from very little to mostly all white (breeders call this extreme white). I strive to produce Parti's with symmetrical masking.
A dog with two copies of the Chocolate gene will turn from Traditional or golden to a beautiful brown color. They will still genetically be Traditional or golden, the Chocolate gene only alters their pigment. The Chocolate gene turns the nose brown and sometimes lightens the eye color. Their shades range, and it's not uncommon for their coats to lighten as they mature. Please note these are all Traditional's (at/at) with the Chocolate gene. Golden Chocolates look slightly different. I don't have pictures of many, but two puppies are posted at the bottom of the page.
Chocolate Parti - (bb plus SS)
I often hear Chocolate Parti referred to as one thing, but they are two different locus. When bred a Chocolate Parti will always pass one copy of each gene to their offspring, making each puppy automatically a carrier of both genes. This also means that both parents must either be or carry Chocolate and Parti to produce a Chocolate Parti. This makes them harder to produce, rarer, and typically more expensive than Traditional's, Chocolates, or Parti's.
Blonde - (ee)
Blonde, although recessive, is essentially dominate over almost all other locii. A blonde can be genetically traditional, golden, brindle but will be all blonde. This makes it impossible to know from looking at a blonde whether it carries other colors. The only way to know what genes it will pass down to its offspring is through DNA color testing, or knowledge of their parents. Blondes can also be Parti and chocolate (none are pictured here, I have posted examples at the bottom on the page)
Golden - Sable (ay/ay)
Golden, more commonly called sable can produce a range of colors from light fawn to dark red. They sometimes look chocolate or almost black at birth, and can lighten to appear nearly ee blonde! It's a dominate gene, so only one parent needs to be golden to produce golden puppies. Offspring of a golden parent WILL NOT automatically be a carrier of the gene (unless a parent carries 2 copies of the gene)! This is a common misconception because Parti, chocolate, and blonde are all recessive and if one parent is the above mentioned all their puppies will carry at least one copy of the gene, making them a carrier. A golden will be golden colored even if they carry only one copy of the gene. There are some exceptions to this such as if the dog is blonde or Kb black.
Trindle - Brindle (Kbr) plus (at/at)
A Traditional with Brindle tan points. Brindle markings will only show up on Tan/Sable. So these Yorkies may look Traditional but a close examination will show their Tan points to have Brindle markings. If they were golden instead of black and tan you'd be able to see the black Brindle striping over their entire bodies.
Merle - (Mm)
Merle is a dominant gene that creates mottled patches of color. Merle can affect all coat colors. Golden (Ay) dogs can also be affected by merle, but the patches are much harder to see. If the dog is ee Blonde merle will not be visible at all. Traditional merles are often referred to as "blue merles".
Merle can also change eye color and the coloring of the nose and paw pads. The merle gene modifies the dark pigment in the eyes, occasionally changing dark eyes to blue, or only part of the eye blue. Color on paw pads and the nose may also have pink patches.
When two merles are bred together there's a high chance of the puppies having health issues. Double merles (MM - a common term used for dogs that have two copies of the merle gene) often have severe vision or hearing deficiencies.
You should NEVER breed two Merles together!
**With the Kb's, Merles, Golddust's, Brindles and some others, there was obviously some other breed bred in at some point to give Yorkies these colors and coat patterns. Once a Yorkie is bred back to another Yorkie 3 times, it is then considered a Yorkie. NONE of these dogs will test 100% Yorkie because of this!**
~Some other color combinations~
Golden Chocolate Parti
Blonde Chocolate Parti