The Salt and Pepper Miniature Schnauzer is the most common color for the breed. In fact, when the breed was first registered in the US “salt and pepper” was the ONLY officially recognized color allowed.
The Salt and Pepper is genetically of a “banded” coat color. The outer guard coat hairs are banded in shades ranging from light silver through grey to black, often ending in black hair tips. There is a lot of variation in shading and depth of color from dog to dog.
Then there’s the undercoat which can also be any shade, from silver to almost black. The color of the undercoat becomes most apparent when the dog is clipped.
As a result of all this variation, the Salt and Pepper can range from a dark, nearly black dog to a pale silver dog, and even seem to “change color” when it is clipped!
Why is my Salt and Pepper Miniature Schnauzer puppy so dark?
I often get asked this question. Many puppies are born so dark that people worry if they are in fact Schnauzers at all! They often also have pale tan tones to them (which rapidly disappears as they mature).
Another thing that sometimes worries people is the dark stripe along the spine of many Salt and Pepper puppies. This becomes particularly apparent in pups with a pale silver undercoat when they get their first clip.
Banded describes the default color of the Schnauzer. When no other genes are at play, a banded color coat is the result. Therefore it is the most common Miniature Schnauzer color.
Banded coloring in the more common (and genetically dominant) black based dogs produces the Pepper and Salt. In the less common brown-based dogs, genetically banded coat color is expressed as the coloring Liver Pepper.
Genetically, the gene for Banded coloring is dominant to all others except that for ‘one color’ (e.g. all black).
Carriers for Black and Silver
Black and Silver is determined by a recessive gene that expresses as ‘bi-color’.
Salt and Pepper Minis that carry the recessive gene for Black and Silver coloring will have a tell-tale narrow silver band along the top edge of their nose pad. Normally this area is black.
My daddy dog Shadow (see his photo above) and one of my girls Mia both carry this trait so when mated together produce some Black and Silver pups in the litter.