Pointers come in four colors, as indicated in the chart developed by Bob Wehle which appears below. This chart indicates the potential colors resulting from specific combinations. There is, however, no guarantee that all potential colors will result from a particular breeding. For example, a popular liver sire that has produced over two dozen litters has never sired an orange pup in spite of having been bred to numerous orange females. A popular orange-black sire, now deceased, never produced a liver pup even though bred to numerous black and liver females. It is, therefore, apparent that all dogs of a given color do not necessarily carry the same combinations of color determining genes.
Black: White with black coat pigmentation. Nose, lips, palate, and pads black
Liver: White with liver (brown) coat pigmentation. Nose, lips, palate, and pads deep brown.
Orange-Black: White with orange coat pigmentation. Nose, lips, palate, and pads black.
Orange: White with orange coat pigmentation. Nose, lips, palate, and pads brown to orange.
MATING COLORS EXPECTED:
Black x Black: All four colors
Black x Liver: All four colors
Black x Orange-Black: All four colors
Black x Orange: All four colors
Liver x Liver: Liver & Orange
Liver x Orange-Black: All four colors
Liver x Orange: Liver & Orange
Orange-Black x Orange-Black: Orange-Black & Orange
Orange-Black x Orange: Orange-Black & Orange
Orange x Orange: Orange
Note that geneticists use the color descriptions "orange" and "lemon", rather than the more common designations "orange-black" and "orange" to describe the same colors. Note, also, that it is a common misconception that orange-black (orange) dogs are darker in coat color than orange (lemon) dogs. The dark, rich, vibrant orange coat color preferred by most Pointer enthusiasts is as prevalent in orange (lemon) dogs as in orange-black (orange) dogs. Similar variations in color shade occur in liver dogs. The nose, lips, palate, and pads of orange-black (orange) dogs may, also, not be completely black.
Pointer color is determined by two genes, which are typically called the B and E genes. The B gene is the Black pigment gene. If a dog has at least one dominant B allele, they will have black pigment. Both black and orange-black (orange) dogs have black pigment. The E gene is the dark color gene. If a dog has at least one dominant E allele, they will be either black or liver in color.
The genotypes of the colors are listed below. An underscore ( _ ) indicates that either gene can be present. A black dog could be BBEE, BbEE, BBEe, or BbEe; an orange-black (orange) dog can be BBee or Bbee; a liver dog can be bbEE or bbEe; and an orange (lemon) dog can only be bbee.
Even though the genetics determining Pointer coat color are relatively simple, there are still eighty one different possible sire and dam gene combinations. This is why Mr. Wehle's chart indicates only potential colors resulting from a breeding, and is not definitive. Possible colors resulting from a specific mating can only be ascertained by genetic color testing of the sire and dam. Most breeders prefer to be surprised at whelping time - not unlike opening a special gift on Christmas morning.