There shouldn’t be too much to say about black rats – after all, doesn’t the name suggest that their colour is rather unambiguous? But on such an exacting background, there are a multitude of differences and faults that can appear on blacks.

While all self rats have silvering (white guard hairs) to some degree, many judges seem less able to overlook them on blacks as they’re just so easy to spot. The intensity of the black colour is probably the hardest to get right though – often black rats have a somewhat soft colour, lacking the density of pigment needed to get that deep black colour, especially in the undercoat. Carrying one or more recessive colour genes can contribute towards this. Blue is a notable exception – a black carrying British blue is more likely to be a dense black colour, but whether that’s because of something the blue gene is doing, or because blue lines are particularly bred for deep colour and the blacks are just benefitting from that, isn’t clear cut.

Genetics: Non-agouti (aa).

NFRS Standard: To be a deep solid black, devoid of dinginess and white hairs or patches. Base fur to be black. Foot colour to match top. Eyes black.