Havanese colours are not straightforward. Along with all the main colours and assortment of colours and patterns, there can also be many variations of each. Colour is controlled by an intricate network of genes. A liberal lacing of additional genes spice things up further and create innumerable combinations and variations. Some genes control base colour, while others, called modifier genes, change things. They can lighten or deepen colours, filter out certain shades, cause spots to appear and may even cause premature graying. How much can the colours really change? Take a look at gallery 14, gallery 15 and gallery 16 and see for yourself. It has to be noted that colour change is specific to the dog and not to the colour. While some colours seem to be more changeable than others (Sables have the tendency to change the most) colour change all depends on the modifying genes that each dog has inherited. The more modifiers there are and the stronger they are, the more change there may be. Usually, but not always, the earlier a colour change starts, the most change there will be between puppy and adult appearance
These colour changes can have some impact on registration. As we have seen, generally Havanese are registered the colour they are at the time of registration, which is usually as a young puppy. What about when colours change? Can you, and should you, change the registration colour? While some registries may permit a colour change on an official registration, this is not the norm or common practice. The initial registration colour is what will be on the papers. This is also why some people try to guess as to adult colour, but as we have seen, that also is not always a good decision.
Look at your puppy in in bright natural daylight. Artificial light, especially fluorescent lights, can change the way a colour appears. Colours are most intense when a puppy is young. Patterns are easiest to identify when the coat is short. If you wait for a colour change to be complete, your Havanese may be a senior before he is registered. Colour change can take years to develop. Most colours are obvious very early on but here are some things to keep in mind.
SILVER: Puppies that will be silver as adults usually start to change colour by 4 to 6 weeks of age. A black puppy that starts to silver early will be well on his way to silvering by the time he is registered and may be registered as silver.
CHARCOAL/DARK SILVER: An adult dog that is dark silver or charcoal will generally be registered as black. His colour change may not start until adolescence or later so he will be registered the colour he is at the time of registration (black).
SABLE: A sable dog can appear cream or champagne as adult with just a few wisps of dark tipping remaining. Sabling is most evident when a puppy is young. By even a few weeks of age, the undercoat colour will be evident.
BRINDLE: Streaky, striped markings are most evident on the very young puppy. The pattern is quickly lost as the coat grows out and even by 3-4 months of age may have lost definition.
HAVANA BROWN: Generally registered as black. Puppy coat may have reddish undertones but this is not definitive that he will be Havana brown. This is a late developing change so he will be registered the colour he is at the time of registration (black).
BELTON: Ticking generally starts when the puppy is a few months old but if very sparse may not be noticed. Heavier or extensive ticking may be more obvious at a younger age. A number of belton dogs will be registered simply as particolour.
BLUE (dilute black): Blue is usually obvious by registration time as the coat is greyish at birth and the pigment is grey when it develops. Some registries have a blue colour choice for Havanese, but some do not. Many will be registered as silver.
DILUTE CHOCOLATE: Most registries have no registration colour for dilute chocolate Havanese, although they may for other breeds. The majority will be registered as chocolate. The lightest ones may be registered as cream or champagne.
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