The Lacy Dog Coat Color Genetics Project

In 2011, the National Lacy Dog Registry began collecting data to understand and explain the inheritance of coat color in the Lacy breed.

The Lacy dog coat color genetics project, spearheaded by Betty Leek, involved collecting DNA samples, testing them in a lab, and recording the results into a database maintained by the NLDR.

Physical descriptions of early Lacys vary. The first written standard described Lacy dogs as being “solid in color, never spotted…solid blue or blue with tan trim, black with tan trim, solid black, all shades of red and yellow,” and even brindle. Those who were around 50 to 70 years ago to witness the dogs tell a different story.

Today, the three recognized colors are blue, blue and tan and various shades of red, however, there has always been some controversy over what represents a normal variation of an accepted color and a true deviation from the standard. Our hope was that this research would help inform the community about the what and why of coat colors.

The initial round of testing revealed that much of what we thought we knew about the coat colors existing in the Lacy breed was wrong! For example, there is no such thing as a "blue color gene" mentioned in House Bill 108. Blue Lacys get their coat color from a recessive dilution gene which is not at all uncommon in domestic canines. All Lacys, even reds, are dilute. This gene dilutes eumelanin, turning black hair to blue.

We are learning how and why certain variations from the norm occur and we now know that breeders can use color genetics testing to predict the coat colors of future offspring and we are publishing this information with the intention of helping breeders learn how to breed lacys that best meet the breed standard.

Would you like to participate in the Color Genetics Project?

The NLDR utilizes the services of the Veterinary Genetics Lab at UC Davis. If you would like to participate in the lacy dog color genetics study – and the information gathered from your sample will further our understanding of the coat colors present in the Lacy breed – the NLDR will pay for the tests.

Currently, we are seeking purebred Lacy dogs with unusual or non-standard colors. This would include Lacy dogs with brown (liver) color, dogs of isabella color (light blue to chocolate with pink colored nose, eyelids and lips,) dogs that are blue and tan saddlebacks, and dogs that appear black.

Interested in color testing your Lacy? For information on color testing, and to request a test kit, contact Courtney Farris at To learn more about the science of Lacy coat colors, visit the Color Genetics page on the National Lacy Dog Association website at