Salt & Pepper Miniature Schnauzer

Learn more about the salt & pepper color in Miniature Schnauzer.

Is Salt & Pepper A Standard Color In Miniature Schnauzers?

Yes, this is a traditional Schnauzer color accepted by the AKC and the FCI.

What Does A Salt & Pepper Miniature Schnauzer Look Like?

Salt and pepper is a breed term for a black-based agouti pattern (E/- ky/ky aw/-).

In Standard and Giant Schnauzers, the same pattern is called “pepper & salt“.

Hairs on the upper body alternate between black eumelanin and pale silvery phaeomelanin. This way, agouti produces an overlay of banded hairs while the ventral side shows areas without banding.

The amount of dark hair banding can vary between dogs. In some cases, heterozygous genotypes (aw/at) tend to produce darker phenotypes than homozygous genotypes (aw/aw).

Agouti can be quite dark in puppies, but tends to fade to a lighter pattern in the adult coat.

Some dogs show red staining in the white coat on their legs or beards.

“Acceptable are all shades of salt and pepper, from the light to dark mixtures with tan shadings permissible in the banded or unbanded hair of the topcoat.”

AKC Breed Standard

“When breeding Pepper and Salt, the aim is a medium shading with evenly distributed, well pigmented, pepper colouring and grey undercoat. The shades from dark iron grey to silver grey are all permitted.”

FCI Breed Standard

Salt & Pepper Miniature Schnauzer Markings

Agouti is the wild-type pattern in dogs.

It produces dark banded coat on the dog’s back, tail, down his upper legs and on his front and face. The lower body and front will have some clear markings without banding.

Schnauzers with their fuzzy coat want banded and clear areas to gradually blend into each other, they do not seem to prefer too defined edges these portions of the agouti pattern.

Perhaps a dark and very crisp agouti pattern would be too similar to their black & silver pattern?

“In salt and pepper dogs, the salt and pepper mixture fades out to light gray or silver white in the eyebrows, whiskers, cheeks, under throat, inside ears, across chest, under tail, leg furnishings, and inside hind legs.”

AKC Breed Standard

“Distinct light markings on head, chest and limbs are undesirable.”

FCI Breed Standard

The FCI standard does not provide a definition of color placement in a salt and pepper coat other than “evenly distributed, well pigmented, pepper colouring“. However, when they talk about a “mask“, they likely refer to agouti face markings and not a real melanistic mask (Em/-).

Typical face markings in a salt & pepper pattern should include a nose bar and spectacles with banded coat under the eyes and clear markings on the cheeks and sides of the muzzle.

Long furnishings can make it somewhat hard to see the pattern.

Agouti puppies sometimes have a dark puppy mask which later on fades away. And some dogs with an aw/at or aw/a genotype tend to have darker faces than related aw/aw dogs without having a real black mask. In other cases, some dogs that test Em/- don’t seem to actually express a black mask.

“In all colour variations there must be a dark mask, which should adapt harmoniously to the respective colour.”
FCI Breed Standard

Miniature Schnauzers are the only Schnauzer breed that calls this pattern “salt & pepper” while the Standard Schnauzer and Giant Schnauzer call the same color “pepper & salt“.

Interestingly, both the AKC and FCI standards mention faulty patterns that read like maybe shaded sable (Ays) or maybe agouti saddles (aws?) were also present at one time in the past.

“[the salt and pepper mixture] may or may not also fade out on the underbody. However, if so, the lighter underbody hair is not to rise higher on the sides of the body than the front elbows.”

AKC Breed Standard

“Faults […] A black trace on the back or a black saddle

FCI Breed Standard

Salt & Pepper Miniature Schnauzer Nose Color

A dog’s nose gets its color only from its eumelanin pigment.

Dogs with a black-based pattern will always have a black nose. Also, any visible skin pigment like eye rims and lips and even the nails and paw pads will be black.

“[…] the nose must be solid black.”

AKC Breed Standard

“Well developed nose leather, always black

Lips: Black […].”

FCI Breed Standard

Salt & Pepper Miniature Schnauzer Eye Color

Eye color is determined by eumelanin color and pigment density.

A black Miniature Schnauzer with its black eumelanin typically has dark brown eyes.

“Eyes – Small, dark brown and deep-set.”

“Faults – Eyes light and/or large and prominent in appearance.”

AKC Breed Standard

Eyes […] dark with lively expression”

“Faults: […] Light, too large or round eyes.”

FCI Breed Standard

Salt & Pepper Miniature Schnauzer Coat Type

Miniature Schnauzers are double-coated with a short coat and furnishings.

Their topcoat is harsh and wiry with their leg furnishings a little longer and softer.

All Schnauzers are fixed for furnishings, they always have a beard and bushy eyebrows.

Some Miniature Schnauzers have a long-coat variant. And even fewer have a curly variant.

“Coat: Double, with hard, wiry, outer coat and close undercoat. […] Furnishings are fairly thick but not silky.”

AKC Breed Standard

“The coat should be wiry, harsh, and dense. […] The hair on the limbs tends to be less harsh. […] Typical characteristics are the not too soft beard on the muzzle and the bushy eyebrows ...”

FCI Breed Standard




Salt & Pepper Miniature Schnauzer Genetics

Gray Miniature Schnauzers have a black-based agouti pattern:

Basic Pattern

The genetics behind a salt & pepper pattern:

    • E/-
      • ky/ky
        • aw/-
          • agouti
            "pepper & salt"
        • at/-
          • tan points
            "black & silver"
        • a/a
          • recessive black
      • KB/-
        • dominant black
    • e/e
      • recessive red
        " white"

The A, K and E locus combined are responsible for a dog’s basic pattern. They tell pigment cells when and where to produce either eumelanin or phaeomelanin.




A Locus

To get an agouti pattern, the Mini Schnauzer needs an aw/- genotype at their A locus.

K Locus

To express his agouti pattern, a dog needs to be ky/ky at their K locus.

E Locus

At the E locus dogs need a wild-type E allele. Never e/e.

The wild-type (E/-) enables normal pattern expression.

Some Schnauzers have a mask (Em/-). However, a black mask may not conform to the breed standard.

Pigment Colors

To get salt and pepper colors, Miniature Schnauzers have white phaeomelanin and black eumelanin.

Some genes determine the actual colors in a dog’s pattern.





Schnauzer patterns always come with very pale silvery white phaeomelanin.


Dogs with a B/- D/D genotype will produce black eumelanin.

Other Traits

Traditionally, Miniature Schnauzers do not have white markings or merle.

Some traits can modify a pattern by removing pigment or further modifying colors:




White Markings

Gray Miniature Schnauzers are supposed to have a solid coat (S/S).

If they had piebald spotting (sP), they would be Parti Pepper & Salt.

“Between [the body coat color and the silver-white markings] there exists a natural body coat color. Any irregular or connecting blaze or white mark [under the throat and across the chest] is considered a white patch on the body, which is also a disqualification.”

AKC Breed Standard


Purebred black Miniature Schnauzers do not come in merle.

Dogs need lots of black in their pattern to even express a reasonably “loud” merle pattern anyway. Merle may not be properly visible in very light agouti patterns or dogs that also have graying going on.


Some Schnauzers (mostly in the US) have progressive graying.

This can produce a very uniform pale silver coat since graying causes all the visible black “peppering” or dark hair banding to fade to gray over time.

Sometimes, the fading can be so strong that it turns all the black to silver gray. Some color breeders call these very light patterns with strong graying a “platinum silver“.

“The stripped portion is free from any fading or brown tinge.”

AKC Breed Standard

More Miniature Schnauzer Colors

Purebred Miniature Schnauzers come in other colors than gray:

Black Miniature Schnauzer

Black Miniature Schnauzers are dominant black.

Pattern #1: E/- KB/- (dominant black)
Pattern #2: E/- ky/ky a/a (recessive black)
Eumelanin: B/- D/D (non-diluted black)

Salt & Pepper Miniature Schnauzer

A breed term for a black-based agouti pattern.

Pattern: E/- ky/ky aw/- (agouti)
Eumelanin: B/- D/D (non-diluted black)
Intensity: white

Black & Silver Miniature Schnauzer

A breed term for a black-based tan point pattern.

Pattern: E/- ky/ky at/at (tan point)
Eumelanin: B/- D/D (non-diluted black)
Intensity: white

White Miniature Schnauzer

A solid white recessive red pattern.

Pattern: e/e (recessive red)
Eumelanin: B/- D/D (non-diluted black)
Intensity: white

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