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Do Australian Shepherd Puppies Change Color? (Why It Happens)

Australian Shepherds can sport an array of beautiful coat colors and patterns. As if their coat colors weren’t impressive enough, these pups have been known to change colors throughout puppyhood and into their adult years. So why does this happen, and will all Aussies change colors?

We want you to be as informed as possible about your Australian Shepherd’s appearance, so let’s break down the details of their changing coat color below. 

How Many Australian Shepherd Coat Colors Are There?

There are only four AKC recognized coat colors in Australian Shepherds, but these coat colors can create up to 14 different patterns or blends of colors.

The recognized colors of Aussies include:

  • Black
  • Red
  • Red merle
  • Blue merle

Australian shepherd pups can be a stunning combination of all four. 

australian shepherd puppy

Can Australian Shepherd Puppies Change Color?

Yes, Australian Shepherd puppies can experience a change in coat color as they get older. This varies from a subtle change to looking like a completely different dog.

This will all depend on the Aussie’s genetics. 

To make sure you are aware of the many ways that an Aussie puppy can change colors, let’s break down the most common coat changes we see below. 

Merle Aussies:

Merle Aussies are the most prone to coat color changes as they age. It is most common for their different shades of merle coloring to darken as they age, with some light shades even fading into black as the years go by. This is not the case for all shades of Merle, but it’s something to be aware of. 

Red Aussies:

Red Aussies have been known to lighten in color as the years go by if they spend quite a bit of time in the sun. Their shades of red can lighten to a straw color in some cases, but they should go back to their previous color if their sun exposure is limited moving forward. 

White trim in Aussies:

If your Aussie has white trim or feathering in any areas, it is highly likely that this white trim will darken into a different color by the time they reach adulthood. 

It’s also important to keep in mind that your Aussies coat may change more than once while they are a puppy, so you won’t likely know exactly what your dog will look until they reach 2 years of age.

However, if their coat hasn’t changed at all by the time they reach 1 year of age, it is unlikely to change at any point (aside from sun bleaching).

Can Australian Shepherd Adults Change Color?

An Australian Shepherd can change colors as an adult, but it is much rarer than color changing in puppies.

The most common color change we see in adult Aussies is sun bleaching, as this is a result of being in the sun often.

Once their dead fur sheds and the sun exposure is addressed, these pups should then go back to their natural color. 

How Do I Know What Color My Aussie Will Be?

If you have an adorable Aussie puppy in your family, you may be wondering what they will look like as an adult.

While watching their fur change colors can be fun, many pet parents would like an idea of what to expect in the future. Though you can’t always be sure, there are a couple ways to make an accurate guess on what color they may be as adults. 

If your puppy comes from a mother that has had previous litters, then looking at the previous puppies from their litters can be helpful. If they had any puppies that were similar in color to your Aussie, you can always ask for pictures of them as they aged. 

Another way to form an idea of what your puppy could look like down the line is by speaking with your breeder about the typical color changes they have seen. A reputable Aussie breeder will likely have plenty of litters to reference, so they can often offer you an informed guess about their future adult appearance. 

Are There Any Coat Colors That Don’t Change?

There is no way to definitively rule out any coat color changes in Aussies, but it’s safe to say that merle Aussies undergo the most change.

If you do not like the idea of your puppy changing colors throughout their puppyhood, then it may be best to avoid any merle Aussie pups. 

It’s also most common for light-colored Aussies to darken over time, so choosing a darker Aussie could mean they will endure less changes over time. However, this is never certain.

You might also like: FURminator: Good or BAD For Aussies?

furminator good or bad for australian shepherds

Final Thoughts

Aussies are already an impressive breed in themselves, but their ability to evolve in appearance throughout their puppyhood is truly something special.

We suggest buckling up for the ride and enjoying your everchanging Aussie puppy, as this is not a trait you see in canine friends often! 


Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.