There are not really variations of Sable. Sable is Sable, but the sabling (overlay and tipping) may differ widely in degree from very sparse to very heavy and from quite light to intensely dark. A lighter Sable with perhaps just dark ear fringe is sometimes called a clear sable(or Fawn) while a darker sable with a heavy overlay is sometimes called a shaded sable. Sabling is generally concentrated on the dog's head and back (dorsal areas) with very little, if any, appearing on the dog's chest, stomach and legs (ventral areas). Black hair on a sable dog can range from a sprinkling of individual black hairs interspersed in the light coat to the hair being black only at the tips. The influence of the chinchilla gene allows the undercoat to be many different shades leading to innumerable expressions of Sable. The Sable coat can grow in bands of tone-on-tone colour shadings (ie bands of lighter, medium and darker gold).
Interestingly, when the tipping and overlay is black, dogs generally get named the colour of the undercoat; for example Gold Sable (gold undercoat - black tipping) Red Sable (red undercoat - black tipping). However, when the dark coat is any other than black, such as Silver or Chocolate then the dogs appear to get colour named according to the tipping or overlay colour. The under colour on many of these appears pale creamy off-white. For example Silver Sable (creamy undercoat-silver/charcoal tipping), Chocolate Sable (creamy undercoat - chocolate tipping). However, this is not always the case. Some dogs have a lot of undercoat colour so you can find a Chocolate red sable with a red under coat and chocolate tipping. See Points of confusion for photos. No wonder there is such confusion. Genetically, they are all sable, the base colour is a descriptor only and is not necessary for registration purposes though it is quite commonly used for such.
All Sable dogs have both light and dark in their coats. Sometimes the dark tipping is very sparse or becomes less prominent with time. Even if there is only some small amount of dark coat, like a small amount of tipping on the ears, or a sprinkling of individual black hairs on an otherwise light colour dog, then it is a sable. Familiar breeds that are sable are found among the herding dogs, Shetland sheep dogs, Australian shepherds and German shepherds.
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