Sable is not really a color it is a pattern.
In the Cocker Spaniel it affects the non white areas of the coat in a parti and primarily in solids the face, ears and back.
There is more research being done on how the 'sable' gene has various alleles and thus interacts in the Am. Cocker Spaniel differently than in some other breeds. Altho there is no way to specify whether it is a black or brown sable on the AKC Registration you can easily tell based on the color of the nose. A black sable has a black nose and a brown sable has a brown nose.
The AKC defines Sable as "COAT COLOR PRODUCED BY BLACK-TIPPED HAIRS ON A BACKGROUND OF SILVER, GOLD, GRAY, FAWN, OR BROWN." in the American Cocker Spaniel this would refer to buffs or brown backgrounds in various shades from light to dark.
The oldest page that I can find that talks about Sables in cockers and why they are not 'allowed' in conformtion and the breed standard can be found here. Called CaraLee's Cockers.
The newest page about Sables and the "Agenda" so to speak is still being assembled and I already have some objections to it but I encourage others to think for themselves and so here you go. Sable-Cockers
I could fill 10 pages going over the controversy, trying to explain nonsense tho isn't one of my favorite activities. I would rather refer you to some of my favorite websites that were written by people involved at the time etc. Sadly so many of the Sable Links on the internet are no longer hosted.
I trust that if it's important to you to know all of this and such you will read up on it and yet I also trust that to the majority of people viewing my webpage here it's not of the utmost importance to you and thus I am ok with discussing things that are of more importance to us both here. If you have questions about Sables tho you are welcome to contact me and I can get you access to the article I had a very experienced Sable person write for Cockered Magazine, that is if I can't answer the question for you myself.
I will be having Mickey and Infiniti tested for which Sable extension they have so that I can know what to expect from them as they are bred. Minnie is a tricolor and 'considered a tan point' as such. I may even test littermates to Infiniti and future litters from her parents to grasp with certainty what we here at PitterPatterPrints.co have going on genetically.
The 1st website I learned from that made it clear to me what Sable is and does in the coat of the American Cocker Spaniel is ARTISTRY COCKERS
I also truly like how she illustrates color and genes and how they affect the coat on her Sable Genetics Page. Last updated 2005.
Although I am sure the individual would not approve of me as a breeder because I do not breed for the show ring etc I still find her information and illusttrations to be clear and concise and invaluable to those wanting to learn about where
I've put off writing this page for too long. Part of the delay is that I am hoping that soon the Sable & Sable Partis will once again be allowed for in the Breed Standard. I want to mention that just because a color or pattern isn't 'approved' of in the Breed standard DOES NOT mean it isn't a purebred cocker spaniel. This isn't understood by far too many show breeders, maybe they can't grasp that the purpose of the Breed Standard is to state what is preferred and wanted versus what is there? If it's stamped onto a ribbon they might understand it but that's not a guarantee either. So let me be clear with you, in the United States ONLY the Sable Cocker Spaniel or Sable Partis are NOT ALLOWED to be shown for conformation. (championship). Canada is where most of the sable show breeders send their's to be shown for a title. All of Europe and every other reputable level like the AKC for dog shows permits them. AKC can't because of a political decision and lots of confusion conducted by the ASC who is the parent club for our breed and thus AKC must take a huge amount of direction from them in regards to many issues. Unfortunately even dog show venues like IACBA won't let a sable or sable parti be evaluated in the United States because of the ASC not permitting them in the breed standard.
Sables have been part of the American Cocker Spaniel all the way back to the beginning. Entered into the Stud Book as either Sable or Mahogany in the first records. It never should have been taken out of accepted in the breed standard.
Color and Pattern Bias has been a long standing issue in our breed. Many today try to deny that but Sables and Roans experience bias only slightly different than that of Merles. View the Merle Page for details on that. Roans are still accepted but I have witnessed comments that they ought not to be due to how people confuse them with Merles. Read the Roan page to get more information on why it's super easy to tell them apart.