Tri-Color Pitbull Colors, Genetics, Patterns & Rarest Coat

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Pitbulls come in many different types, colors and patterns.

For years the typical Pitbull has been seen in black, white, blue, red, fawn, brown and brindle. However, the most special and rarest of them all is the tri-color.

Tri-color Pitbulls have a coat that is made of three colors. Its unique looks and color combinations are sure to catch the attention of anyone that sees them.

Keep reading to learn more about them, their color combinations and which is the rarest.

What Is A Tri-Color Pitbull?

Tri-Color Pitbull Social

A tri-color Pitbull is just a coat color variation of the Pitbull.

These Pitbulls have a coat that is made of three colors and not two like most Pitbulls. This variety is very rare compared to other types of Pitbulls. Each one is incredibly unique because the three colors will be different for each dog.

Usually their pattern consists of a base color that is black, blue or lilac. The other two colors can be any combination white, tan, brindle, blue, brown, red, fawn and seal.

The most common tri-color combination in Pitbulls is black, brown, and white.

No matter which combination appears on their coat, the color white will never be missing.

One important thing to note is that the Pitbull is not a single dog breed, but rather a catch all term for four types of Bully breeds:

  1. American Pit Bull Terrier
  2. American Bully
  3. American Staffordshire Terrier
  4. Staffordshire Bull Terrier

All four of these breeds can come in the tri-color pattern.

Historically breeders avoided this color pattern since it could cause people to think that this breed was a mix. However, the popularity of these dogs has dramatically increased over the last two decades. Breeders now go to great lengths selectively breeding Pitbulls of different colors to get a tri-color.

Despite their recent popularity, the history of the Pitbull has had its ups and downs.

These dogs get a bad reputation for being aggressive because of their original purpose as bull baiters. However, the truth is that these dogs are some of the sweetest and tolerant dogs.

As the positives of Pitbulls continue to increase, so does the popularity of the tri-color.

Six Types of Tri-Color Pitbull Colors

Tri-Color Pitbull
There are many types of tri-color Pitbulls.

Pitbull dogs have a very large range of possible colors. In their breed standard: black, blue, fawn, brown, brown brindle, black brindle, blue brindle, white, liver, red and fawn sable are all accepted. You can read more about brindle pitbulls here.

Tri-color Pitbulls can be any of these colors, plus more!

These color combinations are bred via careful selective breeding techniques. Breeders cross together Pitbulls with the desired colors until they get the tri-color Pitbull they want.

Each type of tri-color is named after the base color of their coat. Black is the most common type, however, lilac, liver, merle, blue and purple also exist. Below we have listed a few of the most popular types.

1. Black

Black Tri-Color Pitbull

Black is likely the most common type of tri-color Pitbull.

Their base color is black and the two other colors that are most likely to appear on their coat are white and tan around their neck, chest and legs.

Tan markings can be found over the dog’s eyes and nose.

White is usually on the paws or stomach.

2. Liver or Chocolate

Chocolate Tri-Color Pitbull

Chocolate tri-color Pitbulls have a rich, shiny brown coat color.

The tan appears like patches of a lighter brown shade and is present on the face, around the legs, and on the chest. White is typically concentrated under the neck and chest.

A liver Pitbull is actually common in the American Bully bloodline because these dogs often come in liver or chocolate.

3. Merle

A merle tri-color Pitbull sometimes looks like it has more than three colors. This is because the merle pattern itself is made of multiple colors. Merle Pitbulls can be a whole range of patterns including red merle, blue merle, and fawn merle.

The merle forms the base color of the coat and white and tan are found as patches under the neck and chest.

Unlike other tri-colors, the merle Pitbull usually has blue eyes or one blue eye and one brown eye, just like the mini Australian Shepherd. This is because the merle gene is linked with eye color and dilutes it.

Some studies suggest that the merle gene is associated with poor health and deafness. However, there is still not enough evidence to make a concrete conclusion as tri-color merle Pitbulls are a new breed.

4. Lilac

Lilac Tri-Color Pitbull

Tri-color Pitbulls are already rare because of how hard it is to breed them, but the Lilac Pitbull is rare among tri-colors. This is because the lilac color itself is not a common one.

Pitbulls with this coat have a solid lilac background with patches of tan around their paws, snout, ears, and hindlegs. White is usually seen underneath or around their neck.

Dogs with a lilac coat will commonly have light gray or blue eyes, instead of the typical dark brown eyes.

5. Blue

blue nose pitbull full grown

Like Lilac, the tri-color blue Pitbull is one of the rarest combinations. Blue is usually a rare color in Pitbulls, so you won’t see many of these dogs.

The blue variety are unique from other tri-color Pitbulls because they will always have a blue nose. This is why they are known as “Blue Nose Pitbulls.”

Their base color can range between a dark blue that almost appears black and a bright silver. The white and tan will cover their face, neck, chest, and legs.

6. Purple

Purple Pitbulls are similar to blue ones, but the shade of blue in their base coat makes them look purple. They are also special because they do not usually have tan markings.

Tri-color Pitbulls that are purple usually have lighter markings, either like a champagne or a warm grey color. White is still present in the usual spots as other Pitbulls.

Are Tri-Color Pitbull Dogs Recognized By Kennel Clubs?

Tri-color Pitbulls are considered a purebred dog. The gene is a natural part of the genetics of Pitbulls. They have likely existed throughout the entire history of Pitbulls, but they were not as seen as much because of how difficult it is to breed them.

Pitbulls can inherit from their parents the tri-color coat through a recessive gene.

Even if a Pitbull is not tri-color, it can still carry the gene, but be hidden.

While Tri-Colors are purebred, they are not accepted by any major kennel clubs.

Currently the American Kennel Club and United Kennel Club accept a wide range of colors for the Pitbull breeds, but this does not include a coat with three colors. They are not considered part of the breed standard because of how rare they are.

You will never see this dog in the show ring or at competitions.

These Pitbulls are simply not common and are hard to breed. Kennel clubs do not accept rare colors as standard.

Genetics and Breeding

The genetics behind coat colors are not simple, this is true for other breeds like Labrador coats too. There are various genes that contribute to the tri-color pattern. Which colors your dog has will ultimately depend on the combination of genes and how they affect each other.

The demand for tri-color dogs has forced breeders over the last two decades to selectively breed for these dogs.

Breeders go to great lengths in selectively breeding Pitbulls of different colors to get the tri-color combination. Some people believe that tri-colors are bred from crossbreeding different dogs with the Pitbull. A common example is the Pitbull x Rottweiler mix.

But, the tri-color gene is a recessive trait in purebred Pitbulls.

Both parents must pass on the gene for their puppies to inherit a tri-color coat.

It is the recessive nature of the genes that makes the production of the various types of tri-color Pitbulls so difficult. It could take breeders a couple of generations to get the tri-pattern they want, especially if they are searching for a specific color.

Related: Pitbull Names: 500 Best Girl & Boy Pittie Names

6 Fun Facts About Tri-Color Pitbull Dogs

Red Tri-Color Pitbull

1. Tri-Color Pitbulls Can Change Color

The color of a Tri-Color puppy can change over time. As the pup grows, its base color can change color too.

You might see a puppy with a lilac coat, but that coat could become slightly darker with time to purple or black. If you want a specific color, make sure to discuss this with the breeder before purchasing a puppy.

2. Lilac and Blue Tri-Color Pitbulls Are Rare

Since Pitbulls need two copies of this gene to be able to exhibit the tri-color trait, these dogs are very rare. Yet, even within that pool of Pitbulls there are some colors that are easier to find than others.

It will be easier for you to find a black tri-color Pitbull. Colors like lilac and merle blue are the rarest.

3. Their Pattern Is Caused By A Recessive Gene

Pitbulls can only be tri-color if they inherit the correct recessive gene from both parents. There are concerns that selecting for a specific gene, especially a recessive gene, can cause health problems.

While there are risks involved with selective breeding, there is no evidence to suggest that tri-color dogs are less healthy due to their recessive genes. However, choosing to purchase from reputable breeders ensures that the parents have been genetically tested and that no genetic disorders will be inherited.

4. They Need Attention

Pitbulls are family-oriented dogs and love attention. This means that they will want to stick with you all the time. It is important that you are prepared to give this breed the time commitment it deserves.

A Pitbull that is left alone for long periods of time can develop separation anxiety. This can lead it to express destructive behaviors like chewing things in the house.

Families that are very active, and are able to spend a lot of time with their dog, are best suited for this breed. They might not be for everyone, but for those families that want this breed, the tri-color Pitbull is a perfect fun-loving companion.

First time owners, or owners who do not have a lot of time, might not be able to take care of a tri-color.

5. Tri-Color Pitbulls Are Expensive

While tri-color Pitbulls are rarer, they are also expensive.

You can expect to pay about $1,750 to $2,500 on average when purchasing one from a reputable breeder. Sometimes they can be sold at a higher price, but this is influenced by factors such as the quality of the breeder and the bloodline of the dog.

Standard Pitbulls cost between $750 and $1,000.

6. They Are Smart

Tri-color Pitbulls are very smart and highly trainable.

However, patience and consistency are needed when training them. They also need a lot of socialization so that they can get to know kids and other dogs and learn what friendly behavior is.

While training and exercising a tri-color Pitbull might take up a lot of your time, at least you do not have to spend so much grooming them. These tri-color dogs have short hair. They only need to be lightly brushed once about every week or so.

Are They Different From Normal Pitbulls?

Tri-Color Pitbull Dog

Other than the number of colors on their coat, the tri-color Pitbull is no different than any other Pitbull.

Tri-color Pitbulls come from the same bloodline of Pitbulls that originated in the United Kingdom. They are all descendants of the Old English Bulldog. The tri-color gene is a natural part of their genetics.

Pitbulls can come in a huge variety of colors and usually come with some white patch on their coat and chest.

What distinguishes the tri-color Pitbull are their tan patches, which give them three colors on their coats.

Coat color does not control the personality, temperament or energy of this breed.

This means that like all Pitbulls, the tri-color will have a lot of energy.

Pitbulls in general are a very energetic breed. They love to play and be silly, and will never say no to a walk in the park or tugging at their favorite toy with you. Anything that keeps them active and gives them a chance to be with you will please them.

The temperament of tri-color Pitbulls are not different either.

Pitbulls love to receive affection and be around their family all the time. They will play with the kids all day and serve as their loyal companions and guardians. They are even a bit silly and like seeing you happy. You will often find yourself laughing at this Pitbull.


Tri-color Pitbull dogs are a type of purebred Pitbull.

The only difference is that this dog has three colors in their coat instead of the typical two.

Their coat is usually a base color that can be any color Pitbulls are known to have. They will then also have tan and white markings.

Some types of tri-color Pitties are more difficult to find than others. The most common type is black, but it is also possible to find chocolate, merle, lilac, blue and purple.

If you looking for a beautifully unique dog, with a goofy humor and a heart of gold, then the tri-color Pitbull might be just for you.

Want to learn more about Pitbulls?

Read: Pitbull Ear Cropping: Purpose, Procedure & Pros vs Cons


  1. My Red Nose Pitbull is 4 mos old and her name is Stella Bella, she is white and dark chocolate. Her father is a Eli Red Nose Pitbull and her Mother is a American Blue Nose Pitbull.

  2. I have an American pitt bull terrier who is such a joy. He weighs 75lbs and looks like a cow colored hide. He has a phoenix bird as a patch and half a pink and black nose. One pink one black eye. What category does he fall into?


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