Dachshunds can come in a variety of different colors. The tried and true colors accepted by the Dachshund Club of America are your typical shades of Red, Cream, Black and Tan/Cream, Chocolate and Tan/Cream. On top of these colors you can have your choice of PATTERN: Dapple (Merle), Piebald, Brindle, and Sable/Wireboar. These patterns are like the flavoring you add to any of your favorite dishes; you can have a Black and Cream Brindle Dachshund or a Red Dapple Piebald. The intertwining of colors and patterns is safe as long as you understand the genetics and what your dog carries and what it does not. Getting your dog genetic tested for their coat colors is of utmost importance when considering breeding a pair. The health of your dog can be compromised significantly when breeding a Dapple with another Dapple (Double Dapple), or breeding for "rare colors" like Fawn, Blue and Isabellas. These colors have become fashionable in the last few years, especially among the Bully breeds (French bulldogs, Bullys, etc.) These colors have been bred over and over by BACKYARD BREEDERS to monetize on their growing popularity. Breeders who purposefully breed Double Dapples are in no way ethical preservation breeders.
Genetically, Dapple is a pattern caused by the Merle gene (it is the same gene that causes Merle Collies and Harlequin Great Danes). It is given the letter M in Scientific research. The dapple gene causes a patchy dilution of the coat colour, it can affect any base colour although in reds and creams this may not be visible in adult dogs. It can also affect eye pigmentation resulting in blue or “wall” eyes. Dapple is a dominant gene (M), therefore to produce a dapple one parent MUST be a dapple. Non dapples have the gene combination “mm”. If a dog has the “Mm” combination it will be dappled, if it has the “MM”combination it is known as a double dapple and health problems are associated with this combination – namely deafness, reduced eye size or lack of eyes. Although in Dachshunds we tend to refer to them as Silver Dapples and Chocolate Dapples, to be technically correct the whole base colour should be used i.e. Black and Tan Dapple, Chocolate and Tan Dapple, Black and Cream Dapple etc. as all base colours can also be dappled. Two dapples should never be bred together as there is a risk of producing Double Dappled offspring (25% chance for each puppy in a litter). Double Dapples very often have hearing/sight problems. Dapples should only be bred to Reds or Creams with caution, a red dapple/cream dapple is very difficult to distinguish from a shaded red/cream and therefore may inadvertently be bred to another dapple in the future and produce double dapple puppies. If the Red happens to be an “ee red” then the “ee” genes mask the dappling pattern so the dog may actually be what is known as a Phantom/Cryptic Merle. Phantom Merles are still dappled but you cannot see the dappling on the coat, this can be very dangerous if an unsuspecting breeder breeds this dog to dapple that is visibly dapple; double dapples can be created.