Cocker Spaniel Glossary: Sable (Coat Color)

In the context of Cocker Spaniels, “Sable” is a coat color characterized by hairs that have multiple shades along their length, typically with darker tips. The base color can range from gold to tan or even a light brown, but what defines the sable coloration is the presence of those darker-tipped hairs, giving the coat a unique, shaded appearance.


  • Sable is a multi-tonal coat color in Cocker Spaniels.
  • Hairs are often gold, tan, or light brown at the base with darker tips.
  • The coat presents a shaded or gradient appearance due to the multiple hues.
  • Sable is considered rare and is particularly captivating due to its dynamic appearance.

A Deeper Look at the Sable Coat Colour

Sable is one of the more intricate coat colors within the Cocker Spaniel breed due to its multi-tonality. Each hair strand in a sable coat carries multiple colors, creating an overlay of shades that results in a dynamic, ever-changing appearance based on the dog’s movement and the lighting. The gene responsible for the sable coloration is recessive, which means that it’s not as commonly seen as some of the more dominant colors like black or liver.

In the world of canine shows and breeding, the sable coloration can sometimes stir debates regarding breed standards, especially given its rarity and the complexities surrounding its genetic manifestation.

Distinguishing Sable from Other Coat Colors

The sable coat’s distinctive characteristic is the multi-tonal appearance, which isn’t as prevalent in other solid Cocker Spaniel colors. While a roan coat might seem similar due to its speckled look, sable hairs have different shades along their length, whereas roan consists of intermingled hairs of different solid colors.

Examples of Sable Variations in Cocker Spaniels

  • Golden Sable: A lighter base coat, often golden or cream, with darker golden or light brown tips.
  • Tan Sable: A tan base coat with deeper brown or even black-tipped hairs.
  • Dark Sable: A deeper base color, like brown, with black or very dark brown tips.
  • Sable Roan: A combination where sable-colored hairs are mixed with white, giving a speckled appearance with the sable’s signature shading.

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