The tan coloring can range from a pale honey-gold color through a deep mahogany red. The black hairs are usually solid black in color. The tanpoint gene is recessive, which means all tri-color English Shepherds carry two tanpoint genes (atat). Variations within this coat color include the Open Face Tri-color, the Saddleback Sable and the Red Tri-color.
The amount of white carried on a tri-color English Shepherd can range from minor white markings (usually on the chest and feet) to the Irish White markings (chest, feet and/or legs, tail tip, muzzle, with or without a collar and face blaze). White markings are due to the White Spotting gene.
When paired with a sable and white mate, the puppies could be sable and white, tri-color or black and tan. All of this is dependent upon the genes carried by the sable parent. If the sable parent is ayay and does not carry the recessive clear sable gene, all puppies will be sable. If the sable parent is ayat, then some pups may be black and tan or tri-colored.
Puppies from a tri-color and black and tan cross should only produce like puppies unless the parents are carrying the recessive clear sable gene. These puppies may have a limited amount of white on their coats.
If both parents carry the recessive clear sable gene (ee), there would be the possibility of some clear sable puppies in the litter.