If You Want to Get a Pitbull, Learn about Pitbull Colors first!

The Pitbull is a breed that’s recently shedding their misconceptions of being ferocious 19th-century fighting dogs. 

Gentle yet protective, bully breeds are becoming a popular choice as a family pet and are becoming widely regarded as nanny dogs.

two American Staffordshire Terriers outdoors
American Staffordshire Terriers playing tug of war

Aside from their sweet disposition, you can find them in many different color variations.

From the elusive blue coat down to the interesting brindle and merle, find out all about their coat colors below!

Pitbull Coat Genetics: Why do Pitbulls have many different colors?

Genes determine a dog’s coat color. There are a few identifying alleles that can either be dominant or recessive genes.

These alleles work together to produce pigmentation, which can sometimes be expressed as patterns instead of colors. 

For instance, the Agouti (A Locus), Merle (M Locus), Harlequin (H Locus), and Spotting (S Locus) are patterns, not colors.

The Dominant Black (K Locus) may produce Brindle Pitbull puppies if paired with a No Dominant Black (N Locus).

Making it a pattern because it doesn’t affect the color of the coat but adds pigmentation in a specific way. 

When the No Dominant Black gene is not present, dogs with the Dominant Black gene will be Black Pitbulls.

There’s also the Extension or Red/Yellow (E Locus) color and Brown (B Locus), which determines the color.

Finally, the Dilute (D Locus) gene directly contributes to the intensity of their color. Only dogs with a pair of this gene will have that gorgeous watered-down coat color. 

What are the different colors of a Pitbull?

two Pitbulls near a lake
Meet Ivory and Boris, two Pitbulls enjoying their playdate – Image source

Bred from Old English Bulldogs, you can expect them to have white in their coats. The original colors are most likely to be brindle or black and white, but it’s hard to trace without a proper ancestry.

However, what breed specialists have noted is that as their notoriety grew as accomplished bull-baiting dogs.

Pitbulls’ red nose and blue nose appeared, with many believing that the blue nose Pitbulls being closest to their intended coloring.

Standard Colors of the Pitbull breeds according to different Kennel Clubs

Before we go any further, there are in fact, four separate breeds listed as Pitbulls, and they are all descended from Bulldogs and Terriers.

There’s the American Pitbull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and the American Bully. 

Since there are four different breeds categorized as Pitbulls, some recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

Some only recognized by the United Kennel Club (UKC) or International Canine Federation (FCI), we have an official list of what is considered acceptable colors for each breed below. 

Pitbull Type Colors Recognized by AKC Colors Recognized by UKC Colors Recognized by FCI
American Pitbull Terrier (APBT) (Breed not recognized) All colors except merle and albino. (Breed not recognized)
American Staffordshire Terrier All colors except from 80-100% white, black and tan, and liver are acceptable. (Breed not recognized) All colors except from 80-100% white, black and tan, and liver are acceptable.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier All colors except black and tan and liver. Blue, black, white, red, fawn, any shade of brindle. Black and tan or liver are faults. Albino is not permissible. All colors except black and tan and liver.
American Bully (Breed not recognized) All colors except merle and albino. (Breed not recognized)

Black Pitbull 

a Black Pitbull standing on a rock
Meet Tucker, a Black Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppy with puppy ears – Image source

Black dogs have carried with them the stigma of being more aggressive than other colors, but this is simply not true.

I’ve met plenty of docile black dogs and find that the amount of melanin they have doesn’t directly correlate to their temperament. 

This hasn’t stopped them from suffering from the “Black Dog” Syndrome, though Black Pitties are less likely to be adopted from a shelter. 

They can either be solid black or have patches of white on their chest, toes, or muzzle. 

Black Brindle Pitbull

a Black Brindle Pitbull resting
Meet Rosa, an American Staffordshire Terrier in a forest – Image source

A Black Brindle Pitbull often has a white underbelly, but they can also be predominantly white with brindle patches appearing on their withers and head.

The pattern can be crisscrossed or run vertically down their sides, so some dog owners refer to them as tiger stripes

Red Pitbull 

a cute Red Pitbull puppy
A portrait of a Red Pitbull puppy with blue eyes

Red-coated Pitbulls can command a high price due to their rarity. These dogs have a deep russet color and have amber eyes, red toenails, as well as a reddish nose

They may be self-colored or have white markings. If you want to know more about the Red Nose Pitbull, we have an article where you can learn all about them!

Red Brindle Pitbull

a Red Brindle Pitbull squinting
Meet Gia, a Red Brindle Pitbull on a walk – Image source

These dogs are generally less vibrant than their Red Pitbull counterparts, but the brindle pattern that accentuates their coat is a dark red.

Similarly, they have red noses, nails, and light-colored eyes.

Blue Pitbull

a handsome Blue Pitbull sitting on dried leaves
Meet Pacha, a Blue Staffordshire Bull Terrier loving the fall season – Image source

Any blue-coated dog is often embroiled in controversy because some dog lovers are adamant that they must be mixed.

Take for example the Silver (Blue) Labrador. Whether they are purebred or not is up to debate, but they do have a luscious coat that almost makes them look like they are glowing.

Since this ghostly grey color is attributed to a recessive gene, dog experts argue that they are more prone to behavioral problems. 

Their unique coloration may contribute to light-colored eyes. In some cases, they may even be blue. To learn more about them, read our article on Blue Nose Pitbulls.

Blue Brindle Pitbull

a Blue Brindle Pitbull wearing an orange scarf
Meet Moosette, a Blue Brindle Pitbull laying on a carpet – Image source

What happens when you mix a Blue Pitbull with a Brindle Pitbull? You may get a dog with both qualities. They are often lighter and can either have white markings or have a full coat of blue brindle.

These dogs can sometimes seem cream with blue stripes, depending on their genes.

Blue Fawn Pitbull

a close-up of a Blue Fawn Pitbull looking up
Meet Darren, a Blue Fawn Pitbull with wondering eyes – Image source

Another rare color variation, this type of dog is absolutely breathtaking with their liver-colored noses and light silvery liver coats.

Blue Fawn Brindle Pitbull

a Blue Fawn Brindle Pitbull standing
Meet Alux, a Blue Fawn Brindle Pitbull refusing to go to the beach – Image source

A light base, faint blue stripes, and a reddish nose make this guy one of the most expensive shades.

As with most brindles, you may notice that they have white markings on their underbelly and face.

Fawn Pitbull

a Fawn Pitbull sitting near a garden
Meet Elle, a pretty Fawn Pitbull loving flowers – Image source

At first glance, you might mistake them for the Tan or Seal Pitbull, but Fawns are a lighter shade with a nose that’s not deep black. 

Fawn Sable Pitbull

Sable is when your dog’s individual hair has two tones, giving them a darker back.

A Fawn Sable looks similar to a Fawn Pitbull, except for the fact that they have black-tipped hairs in their coat. Because it’s a pattern, sables can also be red, white, brown, or any other color.

Fawn Brindle Pitbull 

a Fawn Brindle Pitbull puppy sitting
A cute and muscular Fawn Brindle Pitbull – Image source

While not as rare as Blue Brindle Pitbulls, the Fawn Brindle Pitbull can also fetch a handsome price. These doggos have very light brindling and may also have white patches on their chest or toes. 

Tan Pitbull

a happy Tan Pitbull laying on a bed
Meet Brady, a Tan Pitbull giving you all the smiles – Image source

Between fawn and brown, you have tan, which is a rich yellow-beige color. While many of them have white markings, not all of them do.

Buckskin Pitbull

a Buckskin Pitbull in a parking lot
Meet Bronson, a strong Buckskin Pitbull puppy – Image source

According to the guide on American Dog Breeders Association, Buckskin Pitbulls are more yellow than red. In fact, the Buckskin Pitbull is almost biscuit-colored.

You can expect that their noses are black and that they have some white markings along their forelegs and chest.

Seal Pitbull

a Seal Pitbull resting on the grass
Meet Lexi, a Seal Pitbull loving the sunshine – Image source

These beautiful dogs are commonly mistaken to be black, but at a closer glance, you’ll realize there’s a reddish-brown cast to their coat under sunlight.

They do have black noses, which means they aren’t Brown Pitbulls or a dilute.

Reverse Brindle Pitbull

a Reverse Brindle Pitbull with a stick
Meet Mecco, a Reverse Brindle Pitbull enjoying his large stick – Image source

The Reverse Brindle Pitbull has a dark coat with bright stripes, making them look more like tigers than any other type of brindle coloring.

Tri-Colored Pitbull 

a Tri-Colored Pitbull in a field
Meet Astro, a Tri-Colored Pitbull wanting to play ball – Image source

These dogs resemble their Bulldog ancestors very much due to the way the colors present themselves in their coats. They have a light undercarriage, a medium-toned body, and a dark back. 

The most common color combination is white, brown, and black, but they can be any combination of colors, including lilac, blue, and liver. 

Take a look at Sirius, believed to be the biggest Tri-Colored American Bully at 170 lbs (77 kg): 

What are the Non-Standard and Faulty Pitbull Colors according to Top Kennel Clubs?

Pitbulls have been reported to come in shades that aren’t seen on breed standards anywhere in the world. Since they do exist, we’ll explore how they look and why they might not be a good idea.

Black and Tan Pitbull

a charming Black and Tan Pitbull sitting on the floor
A sweet Black and Tan Pitbull giving all the attention – Image source

A coat color that closely resembles the Rottweiler, the Black and Tan Pitbull has tan points where their eyebrows are, which gives them an endearing appearance, especially when paired with a white chest. 

Liver Pitbull

a Liver Pitbull with golden eye
Meet Nala, a Liver Pitbull with beautiful eyes – Image source

The Liver or Chocolate Pitbull has two recessive genes that mutes the black, creating a dog that has lower pigmentation. They are a sight to behold, especially if they have hazel eyes.

Liver Brindle Pitbull

a Liver Brindle Pitbull looking to the left
A Liver Brindle Pitbull waiting for his treat – Image source

These dogs have a lighter base coat which often has white patches on their chest, and the dark brindling around their backs. 

Merle Pitbull

a Merle Pitbul standing on a road to the forest
Meet Forest, a Merle Pitbull loving her hike – Image source

A color type that can only be described as dynamic with the random splotches of dilute color all of their coat.

As merle is a form of the dilute gene, you can be sure that your dog will have light pigmentation. 

The merle gene also carries with it certain controversy, as dogs with double merle genes may inherit certain congenital diseases such as deafness.

Albino Pitbull

an Albino Pitbull puppy laying down
Meet Keylo, an Albino Pitbull puppy resting – Image source

White Pitbulls aren’t encouraged for obvious reasons. If the lack of melanin doesn’t give it away, these dogs are more prone to skin cancer (just like humans!) and have a high probability of being deaf.

True albinos have pink pigmentation around their noses, skin, and eyes.

80% White Pitbull

a happy Piebald Pitbull laying on the dirt ground
Meet Bessie, a satisfied Piebald Pitbull in the park – Image source

Pitbulls which are largely white are also associated with the same hereditary diseases that albinos carry.

However, White Pitbulls have black pigmentation instead of pink. These piebald dogs often have black spots on their backs.

Pitbull Markings

Aside from patterns and colors, there are a few markings which Pitbull-type dogs are known to have. 

1. White Markings

a Pitbull with White Markings in the middle of a flower field
Meet Eleven, a Pitbull with White Markings enjoying the flowers – Image source

As mentioned in many of the colors above, there are various shades that can be accentuated by white, especially around the chest and head area. Many Pitbulls have white markings on them.

2. Black Mask

a Pitbull with Black Mask walking
Meet Harpyia, a Black Mask Pitbull doing a show – Image source

As you might expect, Pitties with black masks will have dark pigmentation around their faces, much like a Pug. Masks can be seen in all shades.

3. Black Ticking

a Pitbull with Black Ticking smiling
Meet Zeus, a Pitbull with Black Ticking wanting to play fetch – Image source

Ticking looks very much like the Merle pattern, but instead of a dilute spotting, you’ll notice that the spots are often black in color.

All colors can have ticking, but it’s most prevalent in white or dual-tone doggies.

4. Patch

a Pitbull with patch having its close up picture
Meet Chantal, a captivating Pitbull with patch – Image source

Dogs with a black patch over their eye can be pretty adorable, don’t you agree? This patch isn’t always solid black and may even be brindle, blue, or red. 

What are the most common and rarest colors of Pitbulls?

a Brindle American Staffordshire Terrier in a tree trunk
Meet Hugo, a Brindle American Staffordshire Terrier in a forest – Image source

Depending on which of the Pitty dog breeds you’re referring to, as each breed has their own common colors. 

The Amstaff is commonly Brindle, while American Pitbull Terriers are often red, black, or buckskin.

As for the Staffy, they usually have dual colors in the coat, but blacks are also a relatively common color. Lastly, both Blue and Black American Bullies are the easiest to find.

Is it okay to get a rare-colored Pitbull?

A rare-colored guard dog is cool, but whenever you’re buying a dog, whether they are a purebred dog or a designer dog, you should look into their background. 

Unscrupulous breeders often try to mass-produce rare colors.

From what we know about genetics, mass-producing recessive genes often require overbreeding a bitch proven to produce certain colors, which is considered unethical.

Inbreeding is also not rare. This happens with all breeds of dogs and can cause all sorts of problems. Careful selection is required when buying a dog. 

Rescuing is a much better option as you give a homeless dog a second chance, while those irresponsible breeders have one less person to sell to.

Do Pitbulls change color as they age?

a Pitbull puppy with blue eyes looking up
Meet Griffin, a Blueye Pitbull Puppy on training – Image source

It might surprise you when your blue-colored pup turns a deep brown as they reach adulthood.

This change is brought on by their adult coat growing in, and it’s most obvious when you have a dilute pup.

Sun exposure also causes the color to fade, which is why some black dogs may look like they have a reddish tinge. Diet, medication, and skin disease can also play a part in discoloration.

Do Pitbull colors affect behavior?

Contrary to popular belief and outdated superstitions, there are no studies to support the theory that color affects behavior at all. It all boils down to training and socialization.

Happy Pitbull dog playing coconut on the grass

Do Pitbull colors affect health?

The sad answer is yes. While color doesn’t play a part in a dog’s temperament, certain colors are more prone to specific health problems. 

Brown Pitties are more prone to musculoskeletal disorders, cancers, and ear and skin conditions such as pyo-traumatic dermatitis commonly referred to as hotspots.

Ear infections called Otitis Externa can also affect them the most. 

White and Merle Pitties have a higher risk of being deaf and blind.

Merles specifically can have a non-treatable disease known as Microphthalmia which causes them to have abnormally small eyes.

Due to the lack of pigmentation, they will be more susceptible to skin cancer or have sun sensitivity.

How About Pitbull Eyes and Nose colors?

a Red Nose Amstaff looking up
Meet Phalon, a Red Nose American Staffordshire Terrier – Image source

Just like their coats, Pitbulls may have light-colored eyes or skin pigmentation, which is often influenced by the dilute or albino genes. 

Pitbull Eyes Colors 

You may notice some Pitties with hazel, light brown, or even blue eyes.

Pitbulls are sometimes born with blue eyes, which darken with age, which occurs around the six-month mark. Those that don’t darken will have striking blue eyes. 

The icy shade is highly undesirable because it is associated with crossbreeding and ill health. For a better understanding of what colors are acceptable, take a look at our table below:

Pitbull Type

Acceptable Eye Colors
American Pitbull Terrier (APBT) All colors except blue.
American Staffordshire Terrier All colors except light or pink.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Dark eyes are preferable.

American Bully Any color except blue.

Pitbull Nose Colors

The pigmentation on a dog’s skin should be in direct harmony with their coat color.

Solid-colored dogs should always have black pigmentation, dilute coats only have liver or blue pigments in their skin, and albinos do not have any pigmentation, making their skin look pink.

Pitbull Type

Acceptable Nose Colors

American Pitbull Terrier (APBT)

Any color

American Staffordshire Terrier

Black

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Black

American Bully

Any color

Taking care of your Pitbull’s coat

Pitbulls have a single coat, and they are relatively easy to care for. These low shedding dogs don’t need regular brushes.

A weekly rub down with a damp cloth is more than enough to keep your dog’s coat clean and shiny.

For more information on how to take care of your Pitbull, check out our complete guide to the breed.

Which Pitbull color will you choose?

two Amstaff dogs sitting and looking up
Two American Staffordshire Terriers sitting side by side – Image source

As a wise dog enthusiast once said, no good dog is a bad color

However, as mentioned above, there are certain colors that come with health problems. While it isn’t a given, there’s a strong association with certain shades and their lifespan.

If you want a sturdier dog, Pitbull Mixes can sometimes be a better choice due to the dilution of their genes. 

But we want to know, what is your favorite color and why? Let us know in the comments section!

Further reading: Want to know more about these fascinating dogs?

  • American Pitbull Terrier (APBT)
  • American Staffordshire Terrier
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • American Bully
  • Types of Pitbulls

 

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