There are variations in Cobberdog coat colors known under the same name just as there are for humans' hair. For instance not everyone with "brown" hair will have the same shade of brown. An infant's hair color can change its shade as an adult. Puppies can too. Dalmations are born with no spots. Golden Sable Collies (Lassie dogs) are born grey with white. German Shepherd dogs are born mostly black with grey points.
Cobberdog puppies also can vary from puppy to adult. In these descriptions, "pigment" refers to nose, lip rims, eye rims and paw pads.
Parchment puppies are usually born chocolate brown. Most retain brown head, ears, faces and legs up to about 4 or 5 yrs which contrasts to the milky myriad of colors elsewhere. They are well known for appearing to be different shades depending on the light, in much the same way as the tinted tones we see at times after rain, when the sunshine returns. At times they can look a beautiful mauvish pink in certain lights. Brown puppies who will turn into Parchment later on give the game away when at about 8 weeks old a paler color can be seen at the roots when the coat on the top of the head and the face is parted. At about 12 to 14 weeks old, a pale creamy patch appears about half way down their tail.
Just as white horses are born black or chestnut and change to dapples which finally disappear, when you have a Parchment Cobberdog you have a different pet to watch changing colors throughout their lives. Parchments are dilutes and as such, they have liver/brown pigment and golden hazel eyes.
BROWN -CHOCOLATE OR CAFE (Cafe Au Lait)
Chocolates are darker brown than Cafes but are often thought to be Cafe due to the lighter highlights on the tips of their coat caused by sun rain and wind (weathering). If you're breeding, it's important to know the difference because genetically they breed differently. Both have liver pigment and clear hazel to green eyes. A weathered coat is always lighter colored on the outside, but when the coat is parted the true color shows at the roots.
Weathering of the tips of the coat, can happen in any color to make it look different than it is genetically. Weathering makes a dog appear to be a lighter color than it really is.
It is important that show judges do NOT penalize weathered coats. If they do, the Australian Cobberdog will join the ranks of other long coated show dogs being kept indoors, denied a romp outside and with their gorgeous locks wrapped in plastic or Chux wipes & rubber bands to preserve their 'show coat' This would in my view be a tragedy. Coats should be judged only on their cleanliness, grooming, fleecy texture and non shedding status.
Caramels are interesting because there are so many shades from a pale golden cream through to a dark rich color of auburn similar to red. The traits which differentiate them from Apricots, Golds or Reds are their brown/rose/liver pigment and clear transparent eye color. Brown/liver/rose colored noses are not a lack of pigment in this breed and they are not susceptible to sun-burning. I have always called the paler caramels "cool" and the richer darker shades "warm" to set them apart. But check the MDBA Breed Standard for any official name changes.
Cream can be any shade from a chalky white to a pale golden color. often called Gold.
Their pigment must be jet black on nose, around eye rims lip rims and paw pads. Eye color is rich dark brown, the darker the better. The reason for strong pigment color is that if black pigment gets pale it's either the sign of a diet deficient in minerals (weakened immune system) or a lack of pigment which predisposes to sunburn, unlike the liver/rose pigment in Caramels and other dilutes, which are strong in their own right. Some Creams have peach colored ears and a matching shade along the center of their backs.
RAVEN AND BLACK
Both are black coated, with black pigment and eyes of either a dark brown or black. Blacks tend to have chocolate highlights especially around the muzzle. Ravens are jet black with no brown although in bright sunlight and particularly in photographs they can appear to have a reddish-brown haze.
Apricot as the name implies, is ideally the color of inside a ripe apricot. Pigment must be black. and eyes rich dark brown. The color of an Apricot coat can be the same as a warm Caramel which is why it's important for breeders to note pigment color, because the two are genetically different and will produce different color results when bred.
It's easy to confuse Apricots with Reds at birth and during the first few weeks or even months of life, since some deepen in color with age, and others go paler. Many Australian Cobberdog puppies have been registered as Red and then develop to be Apricot, and vice versa. Either way, their pigment must be black, and eyes brown, the darker the better.
Reds are definitely striking, with some so vivid when they're young that they look artificially dyed. But very few maintain their depth of color throughout their lives, with most fading to a pale Apricot by about 3 years of age or sooner. Pigment is black and eyes should always be a rich dark brown. Interestingly, although Warm Caramel is a dilute, they are more likely to keep their rich color throughout their lives.
As their name suggests, the Partis are partly a base color and partly white. Patterns are many and varied but shouldn't be confused with a Bi Color which is a completely different genetic pattern that expresses itself in a solid colored body, with white chest and paws and perhaps white markings on the face. The Parti must have a sizeable portion of its upper body in white. The patches may be in any base color that's included in the breed's acceptable colors. Pigment and eye color must be in accordance with the base color.
Broken pigment is a worrying trend that has crept into the Australian Cobberdog breed with the surge of popularity in Parti Colors. This is most noticeable in the nose pigment and in the absence of color around the lining of the eyes and lips. If unchecked in the gene pool, as these dogs are mated with solid colors (as they should be) broken pigment, butterfly nose and others will permeate the entire breed. This would lead to dogs which suffer sunburn, and have weak eyesight and would be difficult if not impossible to eradicate from the breed.
Silver lost favor due to people saying it made their young dogs look old and very few breeders encourage it in their bloodlines now. Puppies are born black. and the undersides of their paw pads show silver shortly after birth. Silver begins as 'goggles' around their eyes and starting with their feet, it spreads up the legs and eventually their body.
Very rare, possibly because they are often born Chocolate and go through stages similar to Parchment, so they can be missed by breeders when selecting the puppies they will keep for breeding.
There have been times when I have come across some of the most exquisite dogs I've bred, who have been de-sexed as pets, and I've had no idea they were Lavenders in time to keep them!
Lavenders have what can be best described as mauve pigment and the clear translucent eyes of the caramels. and other dilutes.
There are other colors in the Australian Cobberdog breed, such as Phantom, (carriers of Parti, but not Parti themselves), Blue - (rare) which looks like black other than for their blue skin, and the Merles. I can't speak on Merles because I don't know much about them.