Cocker Spaniel Glossary: Tan Points (Coat)

In the world of Cocker Spaniels, “Tan Points” refer to distinct patches of tan or reddish-brown that appear on specific areas of a dog’s body, typically contrasting with a primary darker coat color. These markings add depth and variety to the coat and are prominently visible on the eyebrows, muzzle, chest, inside the ears, under the tail, and on the lower legs.


  • Tan Points are specific tan or reddish-brown markings on a Cocker Spaniel.
  • They often contrast with a primary darker coat color, such as black or liver.
  • Commonly appear on the eyebrows, muzzle, chest, inside the ears, under the tail, and legs.
  • Derived from a specific genetic trait that dictates the distribution of these points.

A Deeper Look at the Tan Points

The presence of tan points on a Cocker Spaniel is the result of a genetic trait that dictates the placement and intensity of these markings. They bring a dual-tone appearance to the dog, adding character and distinction to its overall look.

Tan points can vary in shade from a pale cream to a rich, reddish-brown. While they are primarily associated with black or liver-colored Cocker Spaniels, these tan markings can also appear alongside other colors or patterns, creating a tri-color appearance in some instances.

Distinguishing Tan Points from Other Coat Features

While some Cocker Spaniels might have light-colored areas, tan points are distinct due to their specific placement and the consistency of their shade across individuals that possess them. Unlike the varied patches seen in parti-color or roan patterns, tan points are localized to certain parts of the body, bringing a touch of warmth to the primarily dark coat.

Examples of Tan Points Variations in Cocker Spaniels

  • Black with Tan Points: A predominantly black coat complemented by tan markings on the aforementioned areas. The contrast between the dark black and the warm tan creates a striking appearance.
  • Liver with Tan Points: A deep brown or liver-colored primary coat accentuated by the tan points. The two shades of brown harmonize beautifully.
  • Blue Roan with Tan Points: A blue roan patterned coat, where black and white hairs are mingled, further adorned by tan markings. This combination adds another layer of complexity to the coat.
  • Liver Roan with Tan Points: A blend of liver-colored and white hairs forming the roan pattern, with the addition of tan points.

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