Cocker Spaniel Glossary: Tri-Color (Coat)

In Cocker Spaniels, “Tricolor” denotes a coat pattern that incorporates three distinct colors. This intricate mix often consists of black or liver as the primary color, interspersed with white, and accented with tan points. The term underscores the vibrant triad of hues that add depth and visual interest to the coat, creating one of the breed’s most striking appearances.


  • Tricolor is a three-color coat pattern in Cocker Spaniels.
  • Typically combines black or liver with white and tan points.
  • The tan markings usually appear on the eyebrows, muzzle, inside the ears, chest, under the tail, and on the legs.
  • This pattern is a result of complex genetic interplay and is highly prized by many enthusiasts.

A Deeper Look at the Tricolor

Tricolor Cocker Spaniels stand out due to their captivating combination of colors. This pattern is the result of specific genetic factors that dictate both the primary color (black or liver) and the presence of white and tan markings. The white usually forms large patches or areas on the body, while the tan points punctuate specific regions, adding warmth and contrast.

Although tricolor is commonly associated with black or liver primary coats, it’s essential to note that other variations can exist, such as a blue roan or liver roan combined with tan points.

Distinguishing Tricolor from Other Coat Colors

While both parti-color and roan patterns in Cocker Spaniels can involve combinations of colors, tricolor is unique due to its consistent triad of hues. The primary color is either black or liver, the secondary is white, and the tertiary color is the tan points. This combination creates a harmonious blend of shades, distinct from the two-tone appearances seen in other patterns.

Examples of Tricolor Variations in Cocker Spaniels

  • Black, White, and Tan: Predominantly black coat with white patches and the characteristic tan points on eyebrows, muzzle, legs, and other specified areas.
  • Liver, White, and Tan: A rich liver or deep brown primary coat complemented by white areas and accentuated by tan markings.
  • Blue Roan with Tan Points: A mingling of black and white hairs, giving the coat a “blueish” hue, adorned further by tan points.
  • Liver Roan with Tan Points: A speckled pattern of liver and white hairs, further accentuated by the warmth of tan markings.

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