Ferret Breeds Types and Patterns
Can we talk about Ferret Breeds ?
There are eight main different ferret coats, colors and markings : Champagne , Chocolate , Albino, Black, Black Sable, Champagne, Cinnamon, DEW and Sable ; but we can’t really talk about ferret breeds as we would talk about dog or cat breeds, because there is only one breed of ferrets but we can find several colors, patterns and markings.
You should also know that the color of a ferret, these members of the Weasel Family, will not tell us anything about its character, habits or genetic predispositions, the colors, coats and markings are just to differentiate them, and not to classify them as different breed of this species.
Nevertheless, some patterns can affect the health of a ferret, I site deaf and blind ferrets .
Let’s start with the basic colors of ferrets and the most common ones:
1-Basic Sable ferret :
This is the most common ferret color, this type of ferrets are dark brown with lighter undercoat, except for their tail and legs which are completely Dark brown (darker undercoat).
They have a sort of black mask like Zoro’s on their eyes and their coat is usually creamy white and can vary from cream to white and even gold in some cases.
Their coat can change a little during the summer, it can become either darker or lighter; their pinkish nose has a little light brown pattern.
Sable Ferrets have a life expectancy of 7 to 10 years, they can measure 21 in without the tail (12 in), the males are larger than the females, their weight varies between 1.5 to 4.5 Lb.
Also called Black-footed ferrets (Mustela Nigripes), they are North America’s only native ferret species, they almost became extinct until a small colony of these American Polecats or prairie dog hunters was discovered in 1981 and this native American species was able to proliferate again after it was protected by humans.
2- Albino Ferret:
Whenever a pet has a white or cream coat and Ruby red or pinkish eyes, it will be quickly nicknamed Albino and this is also the case with ferrets.
This type of light-coated ferrets, also known for their pink noses, has a gene mutation that prevents them from producing pigments for their fur, skin and eyes.
Albino ferrets can never have any other color on their body except white, sometimes a little creamy, which makes them very easy to recognize among other ferret species or colors.
They can sometimes be a little sensitive to strong light but this is not always the case, Albino ferrets can also have hearing problems (deafness).
This ferret is as healthy as the other colors and this mutation does not affect his other organs, just the pigmentations!
As for its health, The Albino fact does not affect its lifespan, Albino ferrets live on average 8 years and can live longer.
The albinism does not affect the character of these ferrets, they are the same as the other types of ferrets, curious, playful, explorers and big sleepers too.
In the wild, only Black-footed ferrets are found, Albino ferrets are also born in the wild and in captivity as well, but in the wild it is rare that they survive (between 2 and 3 years), but in captivity, Albino ferrets are as available as the others.
Albino ferrets can cost between $75 and $250, they are available in almost every pet store and private breeder too.
3- Black ferrets :
Black ferrets have dark coat , undercoat , tail , nose , eyes ,feet …They are all black. It’s rare to find a black ferret that has a white spot on the belly, chest, feet or neck.
It is very easy to confuse Black ferrets with Black Sable Ferrets, they both have this white spot around the mouth, but know that Black ferrets are really black, a dark black because even their undercoat is black while Black Sable, are a black that turns to dark brown or dark purple.
4- Dark Eyed White Ferrets ( DEW ) :
This type of ferret looks almost like an Albino, the only difference is the color of the eyes which are black (sometimes very dark brown) hence the name “Black eyed white”, there are some who call them “White ferrets”, just to differentiate them from Albinos.)
They can have sometimes, some patterns on their coat, usually blackish or silverish patterns.
Like Albino ferrets, Black Eyed Ferrets are prone to hearing problems, a Waardenburg Syndrome, to be deaf to be exact.
They have no other special requirements, you can buy them in a pet store between $75 and $130, and a little more from a passionate breeder, especially if they are already descented and neutered ( desexed for males of course )
These ferrets can weigh up to 5.5 Lbs and measure with their tail up to (18+7.5) 25.5 in.(65 cm) .
5- Cinnamon Ferrets :
Their fur is light brown with a slightly reddish cast, as in their undercoat, and their legs, neck, chest and tail are of a slightly darker reddish brown color.
The most sought after are those with a brick red nose but they can have a pink or beige nose. Cinnamon ferrets can have a semblance of a mask over their eyes but usually it is not the case, it is just a little dark around their eyes.
Cinnamon Ferrets are the rarest ferrets at the moment; their reddish brown guard fur with darker tail and legs makes them beautiful to see and very rare to find.
Cinnamon ferrets can cost between $400 and $500 for a Cinnamon ferret (especially a KIT – baby ferret) born to a passionate breeder from selected and healthy parents.
You will not find Cinnamon ferrets in pet stores, they are very rare, I advise you ferret forums or on facebook and find a breeder passionate, but be prepared that the bill is a bit salty.
This kind of ferrets are very rare and very sought after and it’s not easy to find. you can also find Cinnamon mitts ferrets, they are Cinnamon but with Mitts.
6- Chocolate Ferrets :
Chocolate ferrets have Dark burgundy or Brown eyes and above their creamy white or slight golden undercoat, a warm brown fur, a bit like the color of chocolate, hence their name Chocolate ferrets.
They also have a mask over the eyes and legs and tail darker than the rest of the body. Their pattern is like Basic Sables ferrets one but instead of Black or Dark brown, Chocolate ferrets have instead warm milk chocolate brown fur (like chocolate).
For the price, you can find a chocolate ferret in a pet store between $150 & $300) As with all other types of ferrets, these prices can vary if you buy from a breeder who specializes in breeding ferrets (usually a little more expensive, especially if they are desexed & descented).
They have no particular health problems, their weight and size is like any other, 4.4 lbs for a length of 22 in average for an adult Chocolate ferret.
7- Champagne or Dilute Chocolate ferrets :
Not to be confused with Chocolate Ferrets ! Champagne ferret are beautiful , they have a Light brown coat , it’s a diluted version of Chocolate ferrets color , and have white or cream undercoat , and sometimes yellow undercoat as well (not preferred ). These kind of ferret has guard hairs vary from a tan color to a slightly paler shade of milk chocolate brown.
This kind of ferret has light to Dark burgundy eyes with colored rings around them , a light pink or light beige nose (sometimes with a slightly dark pattern ) and light brown “T” outline.
When viewed from a distance, Champagne ferrets have a head that appears creamy white, legs, belly and tail darker than the rest of their body which is soft brown shade with a creamy white or golden undercoat.
Their price varies between $75, $150 to $350 (reputable breeder price), this type of ferrets also has no health problems of its own, I still advise you to always buy your ferrets from a breeder but you will have to ask if they are descented & desexed if you want to reduce the smell of your ferret.
8- The Black Sable Ferrets:
This is another color of the Sable Ferrets, they have a darker coat and darker, in fact they appear all black except their nose which remains pink with brown pattern and a little cream around the eyes, ears and white around the mouth as you see in the photo.
Black sable ferrets are expensive ferrets when bought from a breeder, in petstore, their price can reach $250 to $350) at a breeder and between $100 and $200 in a pet store (Marshall pet’s)
Some Patterns from the American Ferret Association:
The Color Patterns in ferrets :
- Standards : 90% Colored guard hair (10% colored white)
- Roans : 60% Colored guard hair and 40% white (or 50%/50%)
- Point ( Siamese) : They should have a different color between their points ( tail and feet ..) and the rest of their Body.
- Solids : 100% of Colored Guard hairs
The White Patterns :
Blaze : ferrets should have white blaze from their forehead to their shoulders.no full color mask
Panda : They can have colored guard hair , but their head should be totally white and should have 4 white mitts.
Mitts : ferrets with white feet , with/without : white bib, knee patches,tail
You may also hear in forums about Mutt and Striped patterns, they are not cited or recognized by the American Ferret Association.
There could be many other colors and shades of ferrets, here are the most common ones:
What’s an Angora Ferret ?
They cost between $75 and $250, Angora ferrets are rare, originating from Suedes (fur farm), created by accident, their fur is longer than the usual ferrets, this fur becomes even denser and longer during the cold season (winter) and will become less long during the warm seasons, but always remains longer than normal.
What’s a Panda Ferret ?
Panda ferrets ( a mix of only one color and white ) , like a panda bear , have a head ( they are characterized by a contrasting white head and do not have a mask like other ferrets )
They have a neck, chest, tail and a white belly, dark burgundy eyes and white mitts on their paws.
Darker colors are found around shoulders and hips. Their eyes can also be surrounded by a circle of color .They are usually deaf like the Blaze ferrets .Not to be confused with Fire Ferrets which are just a derivation of Panda ferrets.
What’s a Bulldog Ferret ?
The Bulldog Ferret (average 4lbs) is native to Northern Europe and has a strong, broad body. It has a round head with a muscular body, short legs and is very effective at hunting hares.
There is also Greyhound Ferret Body type and a Whippet Ferret body type.The Bulldog ferret were bred essentially for their fur, the larger the ferret is, the larger will be its fur (sorry for this remark, I am against the fur trade and thank God, it is illegal in many countries! ).
For a first time, I don’t recommend just a white ferret or Albino ferret, you might get a deaf ferret, which might vocalize all the time and will have other disadvantages, like it will never learn its name and won’t hear you coming which might push it to bite you often when you catch it…etc.
If I were buying, I would choose Sable Ferret, they are available and vets are used to having them as patients, so you will find many other Sable Ferret relatives to exchange experience and advice.
Be aware that male ferrets are larger than females, they will require more Ferret food and will be a little more energetic and will require more playtime daily.
I’ve heard that female ferrets are more aggressive than males, but that’s just gossip, a non-neutered male will be more aggressive during the rutting season.
Just remember to buy your neutered and descended ferret from a reputable breeder, because the ones from the pet store are from the Pet Mill, usually from Marshall pet and their childhood is still not easy which leads to behavioral problems and this leads to more biting, noises and difficult socialization not to mention possible genetic disease from the age of 6 years.
Apart from this, you should know that the costs and the necessary to buy is the same for all types of ferrets, just plan a budget for the vet.
What is the rarest ferret color?
Cinnamon ferrets are the rarest of all ferrets, which makes them the most sought after and therefore the most expensive, a Cinnamon could cost over $500 at a breeder’s. Look on Craigslist or Facebook if you want a Cinnamon Ferret because you won’t find one in a pet store easily.
Final Thoughts & Advice :
There are no different breeds of ferrets, domesticated over 2000 years ago for hunting and then unfortunately for the fur trade, ferrets have only one breed but different colors and markings.
The color you choose will depend on your taste! Albinos and white ferrets are the most affected by deafness among ferrets.
The type of ferret cannot indicate temperament or intelligence; ferrets are all the same and only have different colors and patterns.
If you want to choose a ferret, listen to your heart, and as I often say, it is the pet that chooses us and not us!
Ferret are extraordinary animals that just need a little attention and love that they will give you back of course!