The genetic reservist red color, traditionally known as yellow

Cream coloured coats appear on the Working Kelpie; however the colour has occurred in one or two Australian Kelpies as well. Genetically the colour is a recessive red and belong to the colour series E locus. The E gene decides what area of the coat may produce eumelanin. The color is genetically the same as in the yellow labrador retriever or in the golden retriever.

This gene in its dominant form is either E/E or E/e and the dog is normally pigmented. The recessive form of the gene is e/e and it prevents the eumelanin production in the skin cell and so normally pigmented strands of hair also lack eumelanin. The dog then has a yellow or red coat, while the nose, claws, pads, edge of the eye lids and lips has the colour of the eumelanin.

Recessive red has its own series but is more dominant than any other colour. This means that black, agouti, tan, saddle, wolf grey, merle and other colours will be eliminated, and the dog’s coat will be yellow or red if it is recessive red.

Examples of cream coloured Kelpies with different eumelanin pigments:
  • A cream coloured Kelpie with the genotype B/B or B/b has black pigment on its nose, lips and around the eyes.
  • A cream coloured Kelpie with the genotype b/b has brown pigment on its nose, lips and around the eyes.
  • A cream coloured Kelpie with the genotype d/d has paler pigment on its nose, lips and around the eyes. The coat is also somewhat paler.
Cream in Australian Kelpie

It is extremely rare to see a cream coloured Australian Kelpie, but they do exist. The latest cream coloured litter of Australian Kelpies in Sweden was 2023.

The dog pictured here is a cream coloured Australian Kelpie whose genotype also is black and tan according to a DNA test from Animal Genetics, UK. The black shows up in black pigment around the eyes, lips, and pads. The nose has been black but has faded with time.

Melanistic mask
There is a third variant of the gene on the E locus labelled Em. The gene is called a melanistic mask and occurs in e.g. the Boxer, Belgian Malinois and German Shepherd.

Melanistic mask is a dominant gene and dogs may therefore have both one or two copies of the allele Em for the mask to occur.

It is not known if the Kelpie carries this gene, but there are a couple of Kelpies with tan markings but without the characteristic markings above the eyes and by the nose, which could be a melanistic mask hiding these tan markings.

To determine whether the dog in the picture has a melanistic mask a DNA test is needed.


Kelpiegallery presents photos all types of Australian kelpie. All photos are taken by the same photographer, Sofia Olsson. The purpose of Kelpiegallery is to display photos with the same type of image layout and information on each dog. The Kelpiegallery was created 2005 and is online since 2008.