Sables are Saanens that are not white. They come in many colors and combinations and have been a part of the Saanen heritage for as long as there have been Saanens. The first Sables in the US arrived on the same ship with the first Saanens and have been here ever since.
Sables are the result of the pairing of two recessive genes, one from the sire and one from the dam. If an animal has only one of these genes, the animal is white, but if the animal has two, one from each parent, then a colored coat is the result. Since the colored genetics were brought in with the original Saanen imports, this will continue to happen as long as people are breeding Saanens.
Sables often embody superior genetics from the top Saanen bloodlines. Many breeders prefer Sables to Saanens because they enjoy the variety of colors and are bored with the monotonous white of the Saanens. With Sables, they have the best of both worlds; production, strength, and temperament together with a gorgeous variety of coat colors and patterns.
Another reason for keeping Sables is totally due to their color. White Saanens, with their light skin, do not fare well in hot, sunny climates. Their light skin color makes them prone to skin cancers. Buyers from tropical countries know this and are often reluctant to buy them despite the Saanen size, productivity, and temperament. Sables do not have this problem. Their darker skin makes them no more prone to skin cancer than are other breeds while retaining all the Sable’s superior characteristics.