The domestic dog exhibits a variety of coat colors that encompass a wide range of variation among different breeds. Very little is known about the molecular biology of dog pigmentation; current understanding is based mostly on traditional breeding experiments, which in some cases have suggested genetic interactions that are different from those reported in other mammals. We have examined the molecular genetics of dominant black, a uniform coat color characteristic of black Labrador retrievers or Newfoundlands that has been proposed to be caused by either variation in the melanocortin-1 receptor gene (Mc1r) or by variation in the Agouti gene (A). We identified several coding polymorphisms within Mc1r and several simple sequence repeat polymorphisms closely linked to A, and examined their inheritance in a Labrador retriever x greyhound cross that segregates dominant black. No single Mc1r allele was found consistently in animals carrying dominant black, and neither Mc1r nor A cosegregated with dominant black. These results refine our understanding of mammalian coat color inheritance and suggest that dominant black coat color in dogs is caused by a gene not previously implicated in pigment type switching.