The Many Colours of Doggy Love – Part 3

In Parts 1 and 2, we talked about the colour of dogs’ coats (NOTE:  “colour” is the Canadian/British spelling; “color” is the American spelling) and the possible relationship to canine personality.  Specifically, we listed the colour and personality traits of Ling Ling and Oreo.  So today, let’s take a look at Tilly Tot, and then finish off with our conclusions.

Tilly Tot 

Tilly is our rescue dog, female, presumed to be purebred; but, in fact, pedigree, if any, is unknown, age unknown but an educated guess from our vet puts her now at 10 or 11 years old.   Her coloring is silvery white on back and belly.  She has a golden brown spot on her left flank and a golden brown tail, with a golden brown and darker brown face.

Tilly Tot, looking pleased with herself.  (Photo credit:  Laurie M. Hamilton)

Tilly Tot, looking pleased with herself. (Photo credit: Laurie M. Hamilton)


  • sweet and gentle
  • easy-going
  • easily trained
  • brave
  • doesn’t like too much cuddling
  • independent spirit
  • finicky eater
  • loves licking hands and face, especially Daddy’s
  • loves toys
  • usually non-confrontational, but sticks up for herself with warning barks if the youngsters get too rambunctious around her
  • better trained than the other two
  • not a barker, except when Daddy comes home
  • smaller in stature than the other two
  • sweet-natured, just generally a sweetheart of a little dog


Many thanks to Kent for sending in his comment re the coat colours for his two dogs, Paisley and Stanley:

Paisley (4-year-old Terrier X), Tan with small amounts of black
– Loves men, men love her
– Wary of new dogs but eventually loves them all
– Very hard to house break
– Loves being in her kennel
– Almost too trusting of new people
– Quick to come to her name
– Completely dependent on Stanley for making most of her day-to-day decisions. I am not sure she is capable of really deciding much in life.

Stanley (6-year-old Saint Bernard X), Black and White
– Always happy
– Somewhat obsessive compulsive
– Wants to be beside you at all times
– Extremely intelligent and learns things very quickly
– Loves to people watch out the window of our front room

As far as a comparison study goes, this information plus that in my three columns of this series (Parts 1, 2 and 3) are pretty much a bust, since you can’t make much of a comparison with five dogs.  Because I know the three shih tzus so well, I can see definite links in their personality to the shared colours in their coats, but that is just a personal conclusion.

To be honest, when I started these three columns, I didn’t know for sure if my unsupported conclusion to a link between canine coat colours and canine personality traits had any scientific basis.  Due to a generally prevailing belief that any dog or cat with black coloring on the inside of its mouth tends to be quick-tempered, I felt there must be a connection.  Imagine my pleased surprise when I found out that a fair amount of research has been conducted on this very subject.  Following are links to articles on some of the studies carried out in this area, along with my comments.

Marietta Burton's shih tzu Moose and our Tilly Tot - synchronized snoozing.  (Photo credit:  Sandra Bell Kirchman)

Marietta Burton’s black, white and brown shih tzu Moose and our Tilly Tot – synchronized snoozing. (Photo credit: Sandra Bell Kirchman)

The Role of Coat Color and Ear Shape on the Perception of Personality in Dogs

Carried out by authors Jamie L. Fratkin and Suzanne C. Baker, this study focused on people’s perception of the personality traits in dogs associated with their coat colour(s) and/or ear types (floppy or pointed).  The results were gathered through an online survey completed by 124 participants.  The conclusion reached supported the premise that people do indeed associate personality of dogs with their coat colour and ear shape.

Is Coat Colour Linked to Temperament?

Paradoxically, the research I considered the most extensive was done with respect to cats.  It was so informative, complete with various comparison charts, that I included it in these conclusions.  Authored by Sarah Hartwell, the research seems to favour the perception that colours and cat personality traits are connected.  The following quote from the article caught my attention:

According to Albert C Jude, author of “Cat Genetics” in 1955, colour and size in cats were often linked. He wrote ‘it is found that the “brown” gene tends to an increase in size. An example of “brown” and increase in size is the brown tabby, which may become a really hefty fellow under suitable conditions. Other “color” genes tend to increase of size in other animals, but so far no other instance is found in cats, but the presence of a “silver” gene has effect for smaller size…

Predominantly brown dog - Hefty Oreo

Predominantly brown dog – Hefty Oreo

I’m not sure what connection occurs between the colours of the two species, but it is remarkable that Oreo (mostly brown) is the largest of the three dogs and is large even for the breed.  Tilly, however, with a white silvery coat, is petite.

Fur Color Linked to Dog Personality 

This article, written by Jennifer Viegas, centres largely on a few specific breeds of dog, such as cocker spaniel, dachshund, Labrador retriever.  I included it because it seems to agree that some link exists between dog personality and coat colour.

Inherited sensorineural deafness related to coat color

This portion of an article, taken from The Canadian Veterinary Journal and written by Aubrey A. Webb and Cheryl L. Cullen, seems practically incomprehensible to the average person.  I included it, however, because it indicates hearing problems linked to coat colour.

We would really love it if you would add your
any matches you see between your dog(s)
and the information contained in this article.
If you would like to share, please just
enter a comment at the bottom of this post
where it obligingly says, “Leave a Comment.”

 (Next week watch for “What Would You Like to Read in This Column?…” by Sandra Bell Kirchman.)

Text and photos (except where otherwise indicated)
(are copyright © 2013 by Sandra Bell Kirchman.
All rights reserved. (Volume 14.7-01, July 6, 2014)



  1. Pingback: Adorable or Annoying – Tricks and Traits of Dogs – Part 1 | Puppy Dog Tales

  2. Pingback: Adorable or Annoying – Tricks and Traits of Dogs – Part 2 | Puppy Dog Tales

Oreo, Tilly & Ling Ling will wag their tails if you reply :)

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