Confusion about Color

by Joyce Johanson

Sugar was about nine weeks old when she went home with her new owner. Two years later, that owner confessed to me that she was disappointed when she first saw Sugar because she had her heart set on a cream-colored Lhasa and Sugar was a dark gold, almost brown, color with black tippings when she was nine weeks old. She admitted she felt "cheated" in a way because I had assured her that Sugar would be light gold or cream-colored. The two of us had a good laugh as we sat and talked, watching the two-year-old cream-colored Sugar playing with her squeaky toy at our feet.

The problem is, of course, that a Lhasa puppy, unless she is white, usually starts out with a dark-colored (brown-looking) coat that lightens as she gets older. Blacks usually stay black, but even then you have to be aware that some Lhasas have a black or gray overlay over their lighter-colored coats. Since the black is on top, the puppy color can be misleading, and a new owner might be tempted to register the dog as grizzle or gray and then wonder where all the light color came from when the dog gets older.

Even the color "golden" is misleading because so many shades of gold are included in that description and everyone has his own special descriptive for "gold," ranging from champaign, honey, sandy, beige, tan, cream, light, pale, dark, dusty, clear....(you get the idea).

Keep in mind that a Lhasa's color changes throughout its lifetime. Golds like Sugar are born looking brown and will lighten as they mature. Often, when you purchase a young puppy, you can get a better idea of what color she will be by pushing her coat the wrong way and looking at the color of the hair closest to the skin. In time, even the reds or blacks may also turn up surprisingly as golds or grays respectively.

Confusion about color is a dilemma many new Lhasa owners face. However, if you're buying a Lhasa puppy and have your heart set on a "light gold" color, don't be overly disappointed if the breeder sends you a dark gold puppy. If the puppy holds true to Lhasa habits, you'll have your light gold Lhasa before she's a year old!

Please note: Permission to reproduce and/or circulate information in this article is granted. However, the article must be disseminated in its entirety and credit must be given to Joyce Johanson, Joyslyn's Lhasa Apsos. Thanks!

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