Cocker Spaniel Glossary: Roan (Coat Color)

In the context of Cocker Spaniels, “Roan” refers to a specific coat pattern marked by a fine mixture of colored and white hairs. This blending of colors gives the coat a speckled or mottled appearance, different from the stark contrast seen in parti-color coats. Roan can come in a variety of base colors, each mingling seamlessly with white.


  • Roan is a speckled or mottled coat pattern in Cocker Spaniels.
  • It consists of a fine mixture of colored and white hairs.
  • Unlike the bold patterns of parti-color, roan is more intricately blended.
  • Common roan variations include blue roan, liver roan, and orange roan.

A Deeper Look at the Roan Coat Colour

The beauty of the roan pattern in Cocker Spaniels lies in its subtlety and complexity. Resulting from a combination of genetic factors, roan coats can appear as if they’ve been “sprayed” with color, with no clear boundaries between the white and colored areas. This results in a harmonious blend that can change and evolve as the dog grows, often becoming more pronounced with age.

Roaning can appear all over the body or be limited to specific areas, such as the legs or face. Some roan Cocker Spaniels may also have larger solid-colored patches, especially on the head or back, against their roaned background.

Distinguishing Roan from Other Coat Colors

While both roan and parti-color patterns involve white in the coat, they’re distinctly different. Parti-color presents clear, solid patches of color against white, whereas roan shows a fine mingling of colored and white hairs. The roan pattern is more diffuse, without the bold demarcations seen in parti-color coats.

Examples of Roan Variations in Cocker Spaniels

  • Blue Roan: A mix of black hairs interspersed finely with white, giving a “blueish” overall appearance.
  • Liver Roan: A blend of liver (deep brown) hairs and white, creating a warm, speckled coat.
  • Orange Roan: A mixture of orange or light red hairs with white, presenting a sun-kissed, freckled look.
  • Sable Roan: A unique combination where sable-colored hairs (multi-tonal) are blended with white, making for a complex and captivating pattern.

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