Ticking in dogs: a complete guide  - The Happy Puppers (2024)

You must have noticed the dark spots on the body of the Dalmatian. Did you know that Dalmatian puppies are all white at the time of birth? Have you ever wondered how the white color changes to black? The reason behind the color change is ticking in dogs. This article will discuss what is ticking, why it occurs, how to identify ticking patterns, as well as everything else you need to know.

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Ticking in dogs

Ticking in dogs is the appearance of small, dark speckles on a dog’s coat. It is primarily caused by a genetic trait found in many dog breeds. Ticking can occur in dogs of any color, but it is most common in dogs with lighter coats. This distinct and eye-catching coat pattern is frequently associated with certain breeds, including the Dalmatian, Australian Cattle Dog, and Beagle. Ticking is usually extremely small spots of colored hair or coat flecks that happen inside what would otherwise be a solid color

While ticking is not harmful to a dog’s health, if you have a dog with a ticked coat, it is important to understand this feature. This guide will cover everything you need to know about ticks in dogs, including their causes, care, and more.

Importance of understanding ticking in dogs

Ticking can occur on any white area as long as the white is “real” white. Ticking is different from roaning, which is when the colored hairs are mixed with white hairs throughout the coat. A study investigated genomic regions associated with ticking and roaning coat patterns in dogs using 1,281 purebred dogs for marker discovery. The study found that the GWAS for the ticking pattern did not reveal strongly associated markers, unlike the GWAS for roaning.

While there is information available on dog coat color genetics as well as studies investigating coat patterns, there does not appear to be a significant amount of information specifically on ticking in dogs. It is possible that ticking is not a trait that has been extensively studied or researched. It is important to note that sudden death by aggressive cancer called hemangiosarcoma can occur in dogs.


Hemangiosarcoma is a cancer of the blood vessel walls and can affect various organs such as the spleen, liver, and heart. Symptoms may include lethargy, weakness, pale gums, abdominal swelling, and collapse. If you suspect your dog may have hemangiosarcoma or any other health concerns, it is important to consult with a veterinarian.

Ticks vs Ticking in dogs

Ticking is different from dog tick, which refers to any of several ticks commonly infesting dogs. Ticking is just a color pattern, not a disease. On the other hand, ticks are a form of blood-sucking insects which can cause paralysis and even death in certain cases.

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What causes ticking in dogs?

In most cases, ticking in dogs is caused by the white spotting series and not by a phaeomelanin intensity gene such as the I locus. The exact gene responsible for ticking in dogs has not been identified yet. However, it has been mapped to chromosome 38. Ticking modifies areas with white spotting and causes small pigmented spots to appear on any white area of a dog’s coat. The amount and density of ticking can vary between dogs. Dalmatian spots are caused by SLC2A9, which modifies ticking to form distinct round spots. The hue of the pigmented hair associated with ticked or roan pigmentation patterns is controlled by many separate coat color loci. Three haplotypes near usherin on CFA38 are associated with roan, ticked, and clear coat patterns in dogs.

What is the difference between ticking and roaning?

Ticking and roaning, these terms are often used interchangeably. These are coat patterns in canines but with some differences. Ticking refers to the presence of small pigmented spots on white areas of a dog’s coat, while roan is a pattern that produces heavily mottled white areas with pigmented hairs. Roan can also cause flecks so closely spaced that the mixture appears even.

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Dalmatian flecking causes large round dots to grow inside white markings. In Spaniels, the haplotypes work as an allelic series including alleles (t, recessive clear; T, dominant ticked/parti-color; and TR, incomplete roan). In summary, ticking causes small pigmented spots, while roan causes pigmented hairs and heavily mottled white areas.

How to identify ticking and roaning in dogs’ coat patterns

Ticking and roaning are coat patterns in dog. You can identify them by their appearance on the dog’s coat. Ticking causes small pigmented spots, while roan produces heavily mottled white areas with pigmented hair. The color of ticking/roan corresponds to the color that the area would have been if there wasn’t any white there. For example, a black-and-tan dog with white markings and ticking would have black ticking on its body and tan ticking on its legs, chest, and muzzle, where it would be tan if it didn’t have white.

Roan is often only a small amount of scattered white visible on the dog’s coat. Embark scientists have discovered the genetics behind a dog’s roaning coat pattern and offer a test for this trait with their Dog DNA tests

The physical appearance of ticking in dogs

If your dog is showing ticking then you will notice that the individual hair in your dog’s coat shows different computers. This in turn gives off a freckled or speckled appearance on the dog’s coat. Most often the ticking pattern is seen in the ear, legs, and head region. however, it can also be seen on the coat of the dog.

The appearance of ticking in dogs can vary in awareness depending on the breed. However, the coat will show one of the following features.

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A freckled or speckled appearance

As I mentioned before, the individual hair will show a different color. This will create a freckled or speckled appearance.

Even the distribution of colors

The pattern of ticking in dogs is distributed in an even manner throughout the coat of the dog. It is not concentrated in one section.

Multi-colored hair pattern

The individual hair in your dog’s is multi-colored. You may notice the color changing as the hair progresses.

Color depth

The depth of the color in the case of ticking in dogs may vary. This will primarily depend on the specific breed and the trait of the dog. Some with ticking display bold and contrasting colors. On the other hand, others may display a muted appearance with subtle colors.

The ticking in dogs provides a different level of attractiveness to the coat. However one must be aware of the pattern carefully. If you notice any changes in the coat or fur patterns, consult your veterinarian as soon as possible. These can be a sign of your dog being physically unwell or having skin issues.

The different types of ticking patterns:

Classic ticking:

In this ticking pattern, the dots are small and evenly spaced against a light or white-colored background. Most commonly, these patterns are present in dog breeds like Dalmatian, English setter, and pointer.

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Roan ticking:

This ticking style is characterized by a min of white and colored hair on the body of the dog. This in turn creates a salt-and-pepper kind of effect on the body of the dog. This ticking pattern is most often observed in the case of breeds like Australian Shepard, Brittany, and blue heelers.

Merle ticking:

This form of ticking pattern results in the formation of a marbled appearance on the fur of the dog. The ticking style is the result of the presence of the Merle gene. This gene is responsible for the formation of various patterns and colors. The most common breeds that display this pattern are Great Dane, border collie, and Shetland sheepdog.

Patched ticking:

The dogs with this ticking pattern contain a large area of color on the white background on the fur of the dog. The most. Common dog breeds displaying this characteristic are Australian cattle dogs, beagles, English springer spaniels, etc.

Tuxedo ticking

In tuxedo ticking, the dog exhibits a uniform pattern of colors. In most cases, the uniform pattern is either dark brown or black. The fur on the chest is usually white. The breeds that display such patterns are Boxers, Great Danes, and Boston terriers.

Is there a genetic basis for these coat patterns?

Yes, there is a genetic basis for coat patterns in animals such as cats and dogs. Studies have been conducted to investigate the genetic basis of pattern formation on the domestic cat pelage, and the loci associated with coat color in dogs have been identified. Some dog coat patterns have come to light that have an ancient origin shared with arctic white wolves. In addition, researchers from Clemson University examined how different coat pattern varieties differ on the genetic level in dogs.

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Skin issues associated with ticking in dogs

Ticking in dogs does not lead to any skin conditions. However, the presence of ticking in dogs indicates that they will have dense fur. This dense fur can be the cause of skin infections in the dog. Dogs with dense coats are more prone to fungal and bacterial infections since their fur can easily trap moisture and act as the breeding ground for bacteria and other infectious agents.

Another common problem with ticking in dogs is that the presence of dense fur is an attractant for ticks. Tick bite brings along with itself many other problems like tick fever etc. Tick bite causes inflammation and irritation on the skin. it can also lead to diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease.

Furthermore, certain dog breeds like Dalmatians are prone to developing skin issues due to their genetics. For example, Dalmatians are very prone to hyperuricemia. This tends to cause skin problems and bladder stones.

Dog breeds that are prone to ticking

Since ticking is dependent on the genetics is the dog, if a dog has the gene, they are more likely to pass it on to its progeny. Thus some breeds are more prone to ticking than others.

Australian cattle dog

The dogs of this breed generally have blue or red colored rocking on their coats. This ticking pattern helps them blend in easily with the cattle they are used for herding.

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Dalmatians are known for the spots on their coats. They either have a liver or black colored coat. the aspires on the coat of the Dalmatian can either be large or small in size. However, the ticking pattern is generally spread out in an equal manner across all the regions of the body.

English setter

This dog breed generally has a white coat. In this case, the ticking pattern in this dog can either be of liver, black or blue color. The pattern is usually present on the body, head, and ears.

German shorthair pointer

This breed consists of a dense coat that is generally short. The ticking pattern in these dogs is usually present on their ears and hands.


This breed boasts a very short and shiny coat. Their coat is typically silver or grey. Most often, the ticking is present on their head, body, and ear sections.


This dog breed has a short coat with a dense fur pattern. The coat color is usually liver and white colored or orange and white colored. The ticking is most often present in the head and ear sections.

One thing that you must understand is that not all the dogs in this breed need to have ticking in their coats. It is also not necessary that other breeds will not have ticking. In case you notice the ticking pattern changing, go for a consultation with a professional dog groomer or a veterinarian.


We have seen many dogs with either small or big patches on their fur. However, you may not have paid any attention to it. But now when you see a dog with patches, you will be able to recognize the patches and the type of ticking in dogs as well. Normally, the presence of ticking in dogs does not cause any issues. However, the presence of dense fur acts as a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi. Thus, pay extra attention to keeping the fur of your dog clean and tidy.

Do you want to know more about dog care, psychology breeds, and the care process? If yes, then subscribe to The happy Puppers. The subscription option is present in the sidebar. Your subscription will allow me to notify you the moment a new blog post is released. Last but not least, if you like to watch videos, please subscribe to the YouTube channel of The Happy Puppers, Shruti, and Delta. Don’t forget to ring the notification bell so that YouTube can notify you about all the new releases on the channel.

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If you have any queries about this blog post or any other on the Happy Puppers, you can put them down in the comment section. In case your wish to directly ask your query, you can find me live on Twitch. I stream almost every day. Alternatively, you can also reach out to me on any of my social media channels. I will be happy to help.

See you on my next blog posts

Dr. Shruti

Ticking in dogs: a complete guide  - The Happy Puppers (2024)
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