Many soon-to-be-reptile owners often wonder what types of bearded dragons are popular in the dragon trade.
Of the eight species native to Australia, the most commonly owned beardie is the Pogona vitticeps, also known as the inland or central bearded dragon.
Within this species of dragon, there are many different morphs or specific physical characteristics.
We have comprised a straightforward list of the top 13 bearded dragon morphs in the reptile trade to help all beardie lovers identify the different colors and scalation patterns present in their pets.
#1 Classic “Wild” Morph
The first morph on this list is the most common type of beardie.
The classic morph refers to the standard dragon you will find in a pet store.
This lizard has a distinctive triangular head shape and resembles its wild counterpart.
The classic morph results from little to no selective breeding.
This means the breeder made no attempt to produce an animal with specific physical characteristics and instead bred any two captive beardies of the classic morph.
All of the other morphs in this list, including the color variations of the classic morph, result from selective breeding carefully done by bearded dragon keepers.
The normal colors for this common morph are tan or brown with standard scalation patterns.
They have spikes on their heads and beards.
Rows of spikes will also run along their sides and down their tails.
Many classic dragons have a pattern of darker lines across their bodies.
They are often angled from the spiky edge of the body towards the spine.
Classic morphs are the most budget-friendly and are likely available to you locally.
If you are in the market for a beardie and you have no desired traits in mind, this is the dragon for you.
There are several pattern and color variations present in the classic morph.
These variations result from selective breeding; however, pattern and color variations are not considered morphs on their own.
Red Classic Morph
A red-colored dragon is incredibly popular among collectors.
This variation is the result of breeders selectively mating beardies with genetic traits for red skin.
Over several generations of selective breeding, the offspring present more vibrant colors. Within this color type, there are varying degrees of red hues.
Some common color names for these red beardies include:
- Blood red
- Ruby red
In some cases, a beardie may even appear to be light red or pink.
In general, dragons with darker colors are more expensive than those with lighter red hues.
Ruby red is a very dark solid color which is highly sought after by beardie enthusiasts.
Beardies with strong red coloring are also bread with other color types, such as yellow.
This breeding practice is usually done to achieve offspring with vibrant orange skin or striking tiger stripes.
These lizards often come with higher price tags.
Their coloring is incredibly attractive and is popular among collectors.
Yellow Classic Morph
Yellow is another version of the classic morph, which is the result of selective breeding.
Similar to their red relatives, the yellow color is achieved through generations of beardies.
A breeder will take two adults with strong yellow color and breed them to produce offspring with even deeper yellow hues.
The bright colors popular among these beardies include:
- Lemon fire
- Sandfire gold
One of the more expensive yellow hues is the lemon fire.
This dragon has a bright body with vivid yellow coloring.
In some cases, citrus beardies may appear to be slightly green.
When a lizard is born with citrus coloring, it has green coloring.
As it grows older, the green fades, and more yellow shades surface.
However, a citrus dragon will occasionally carry its green color into adulthood.
Orange Classic Morph
Classic morphs with orange coloring are generally the result of breeding generations of orange beardies, starting with red and yellow lizards.
This dragon may appear in a variety of colors, ranging from bright orange to gold.
Gold dragons are one of the lighter colors and are sometimes considered yellow morphs.
However, their gold coloring is the result of breeding a red dragon with a yellow one.
Another orange morph which appears to be more yellow is the sunburst.
These dragons are bright yellow with orange markings throughout their body.
The well-known orange morphs include:
- Citrus tiger
- Sandfire red
Tangerine dragons have light orange skin, which is highly desirable among many owners.
Citrus tiger is a more defined version of its citrus relatives.
They generally have yellow-orange skin with very pronounced orange stripes, resembling those of a tiger.
The sandfire red morph is a beautiful combination of yellow, red, and orange.
These beardies have a red body with patterns highlighted in orange and yellow hues.
#2 Dunner Morph
The Dunner morph is aptly named after its creator, Kevin Dunn.
This morph originated after careful breeding to achieve specific physical characteristics.
There are several oddities associated with Dunners which intrigue many beardie lovers.
One of the most noticeable differences from classic beardies present in Dunner morphs is the shape and direction of their scales.
While most of these lizards have teardrop-shaped scales facing down toward their bellies, Dunner morphs have cone-like scales pointing outward towards their sides.
Their scale pattern is also unique.
Unlike the traditional uniform scale pattern, these beardies have a disorganized scale pattern with extra bumps along their body.
A Dunner’s spiky beard and haphazard scale pattern provide a rougher texture with a more rugged look.
The general shape of a Dunner is also quite different from wild dragons.
Dunners have longer feet and nails with a slightly thicker tail than regular dragons do.
Finally, the coloring and patterns of Dunner morphs are quite different from the common dragon.
Instead of the typical stripes, these dragons have a random spot pattern on their bodies of all different sizes.
In some cases, they will have blotches on their tails known as Dunner spots.
Here’s more in our post on dunner bearded dragons.
#3 Leatherback Morph
The leatherback dragon is one with minimal scales and a smooth back.
This morph has small scales on the back with no spikes.
Instead, their spikes are limited to the head and the edges of their bodies.
Their bodies are covered in small, smooth scales.
This characteristic is very different from the typical dragon with a back covered in spikes.
Some owners prefer a beardie with smoother skin, making the leatherback morph very attractive.
This morph occurs when the beardie is heterozygous for the codominant leatherback trait.
The term heterozygous refers to a gene which has one dominant allele and one recessive allele.
A codominant trait refers to a heterozygous gene where the dominant and recessive traits combine to produce a new phenotype.
So, a leatherback bearded dragon is heterozygous for the codominant trait, meaning it carries only one allele for the gene, determining its scalation and spike pattern.
Since the leatherback dragon has a smoother appearance, they seem to have much more vivid colors.
This morph is often bred in a range of colors.
Their varied bright shades are a trait favored by many in the dragon trade.
#4 Microscale Morph
The microscale morph is an even more selectively bred version of the leatherback.
These beardies have very small scales, and their spikes are only present on their head and beard.
They look similar to a leatherback, but you are able to tell the difference thanks to their lack of spikes down the sides of the body.
A microscale beardie will occur when two leatherbacks with specific gene combinations mate.
Since the leatherback gene is codominant and parents each pass only one allele to their offspring, the offspring can have this recessive trait.
This would occur when the recessive gene from each parent is passed on to the offspring.
When a leatherback beardie with the recessive gene is bred with a leatherback with the codominant gene, they will produce offspring with the microscale morph.
Essentially, the microscale morph is very similar to the leatherback, but it has even fewer spikes and smaller scales.
It is important to know the physical differences between these two morphs when shopping for a beardie.
The microscale is a very expensive morph, so you want to make sure you purchase an actual microscale beardie and not a leatherback when you are investing your money.
#5 Silkback Morph
The silkback morph is yet another version of potential offspring from leatherback beardies.
A silkback has an unusual appearance with no scales and resembles an amphibian more than a reptile.
This morph is also the only type of dragon without an actual “beard.”
Their necks are flatter due to their lack of scales, and they cannot puff up.
Silkback morphs will occur when the lizards are homozygous for this specific trait.
This means it carries two alleles for the codominant trait, unlike a leatherback morph which carries only one.
A silkback morph will not occur when a leatherback with the codominant trait is bred with the recessive leatherback gene.
The dragon will need two alleles from the dominant gene to have this scaleless mutation.
Silkbacks, also referred to as scaleless or silkies, are the most vulnerable form of a bearded dragon.
Without its protective scales, this reptile is extremely susceptible to injury.
Females are even more at risk than males due to mating practices.
If you own a silkback dragon, you will need to take extra precautions when placing furniture or toys in its enclosure.
You will also need to ensure your beardie is extra hydrated and is moisturized regularly.
Since they have smooth skin, they have a much higher risk of dehydrating and drying out.
Many silkies which are not given the extra attention they need end up losing toes or parts of their tails.
The silkback morph is arguably the most controversial morph within the bearded dragon community due to the various increased risks associated with a lack of scales.
Some beardie lovers argue their lack of scales is unnatural.
If you choose to own a scaleless dragon, it is important to properly research the morph and educate yourself on looking after it.
Owners who are not up for the extra care required by this morph are better off investing their time in one of the similar morphs, such as the microscale or leatherback.
#6 German Giant Morph
The German giant morph is an extremely large version of the classic dragon morph.
Since these beardies look identical to classic morphs, it is hard to tell whether or not you have a German giant until it is fully grown.
The average dragon will usually grow to be at least 16″ inches and 24″ inches at a maximum.
German giants are much larger, measuring between 25″ inches and 30″ inches in length.
A giant will also weigh significantly more than average, measuring 680 g or more.
For comparison, the average beardie weighs between 380 g and 510 g.
Since all beardies grow at different rates, it is usually difficult to know your pet will grow to be a giant.
You may be able to spot this by tracking its length and weight while it grows, but this will not always be obvious.
If you know the parents which your pet was bred, this will be useful information in determining if you have a giant on your hands before it is fully grown.
German giants require much larger enclosures to thrive.
The minimum size for a beardie tank in the U.S. is 40 gallons.
Of course, it is always better to have a larger enclosure for your pet.
Many people in the reptile community will suggest having anywhere between a 50 gallon and 75-gallon tank for your regular dragon.
In the case of German giants, you will need a minimum tank size of 100 gallons for it to have enough room to live comfortably.
If you notice your pet is continuing to grow past the average size, you will need to invest in upgrading its enclosure to a large tank.
It is important to note this morph tends to be more aggressive than a regular beardie.
While this does not mean you will have a terror as a pet, it is certainly something to be aware of as an owner.
Here’s more in our post on the German giant bearded dragon.
#7 Hypomelanistic Morph
Hypomelanistic morphs are classified by having a lack of melanin and have very light coloring.
Some hypomelanistic dragons even appear to have pastel-colored skin.
As babies, these morphs are born with beautiful bright colors.
However, they will not keep this intense color into adulthood.
They will have a lighter coloration and often appear to be a pale or pastel version of their juvenile selves as they age.
Dragons of this morph will lack the typical dark marks throughout their bodies and will have clear nails.
Many collectors love hypomelanistic morphs because of their muted colors.
Their lack of melanin prevents them from having tan or brown spots.
This allows a range of red, yellow, and orange colors to show through in lighter shades.
Hypomelanism is a recessive mutation, meaning a dragon of this morph will need to inherit the recessive allele from both of its parents.
It is possible for hypomelanism to be present in other beardie morphs, such as the leatherback, translucent, and witblit.
#8 Translucent Morph
Beardies which are translucent morphs, have very thin skin, giving them an almost see-through appearance.
As babies, their skin will be very thin, appearing to have a blue mid-region.
This is because their organs have a black lining, which is easily seen through their translucent skin.
These beardies will usually have thicker skin as they age, causing the translucency of their mid-region to fade slightly.
A common characteristic present in these morphs is solid black eyes.
With black eyes and light, translucent skin, these beardies have a striking appearance.
In cases where the skin stays thin enough into adulthood for the organs to continue to show through, the beardie may appear to have blue or purple skin.
Translucent dragons with these colorings are often quite expensive.
The translucent traits present in this morph are also recessive.
It is relatively common to come across a translucent beardie, which also carries the hypomelanistic trait.
These beardies will look similar with very light pigmentation and slightly translucent skin.
The silverback morph was the original colorless morph.
These dragons are born with light markings which fade over time.
Silverbacks will have either beige or off-white skin.
This morph originated in Japan and is not very common in the United States.
Since the silverback, several other colorless morphs have emerged.
These morphs are much more popular, making it very rare to find a silverback for sale here in the U.S.
#10 Witblit Morph
The witblit morph was discovered in South Africa.
When translated into English, the name of this morph means white lighting.
While this morph has no pattern and very minimal color, they are not white.
Witblits will have skin appearing off-white or a very pale earth tone such as sandy brown or orange.
The witblit morph tends to have slightly less coloring than the silverback but is not as light as the zero morphs.
Thanks to their lack of patterns and muted shades, witblit morphs are often very expensive.
#11 Zero Morph
The zero morph is classified as a bearded dragon with no color or pattern.
This complete lack of pigmentation is where the zero morph gets its name.
Beardies with the zero morph are usually white but will sometimes have a silver hue to them.
Thanks to their rarity and striking appearance, these dragons are very expensive.
For a zero morph to have white skin, it also needs to have the hypomelanistic gene.
The hypomelanistic zeros carry the trait which lacks melanin, making them completely white.
Zeros without the hypomelanistic trait will have a light grey or silver color.
Whether a beardie has the hypomelanistic gene or not, zeros are valued greatly by collectors and are highly sought after.
#12 Wero Morph
The wero morph is the last of the patternless morphs.
Weros are a cross between zeros and witblits.
Wero morphs are generally white with some slightly darker shading around the spine or tail area.
Other than this small distinction, this morph looks nearly identical to the zero morphs.
Weros are relatively new in the bearded dragon community, making them quite rare.
Similar to zeros and witblits, weros are also very expensive dragons.
#13 Paradox Morph
The paradox morph is a very interesting type of bearded dragon.
This morph results from crossing many different beardie morphs, including the zero, hypomelanistic, translucent, and witblit.
Beardies with the paradox morph often have some version of white as their base color.
The random pattern of brightly colored splotches is what makes this morph unlike any other.
At birth, paradox beardies appear like any other lightly colored dragon.
As they start to grow, the bright colors will begin to show up in random patterns.
Some even look like blank canvases splattered with paint.
How this morph develops is not fully understood within the bearded dragon community.
Since this morph occurs randomly from the crossbreeding of several other morphs, each one will have a unique appearance.
Some paradox beardies will have translucent bodies with blue shining through and patches of white or orange.
Others may have a solid white base with bright orange and yellow patterns throughout their bodies.
The shade of the colors present in this morph will also vary.
Some may be brightly colored, while others have more hypomelanistic characteristics.
Either way, a paradox beardie will be very distinguishable thanks to its random patterns.
This beautifully patterned morph comes with a high price tag.
Beardies with brighter and more sporadic paradox patterns will usually be priced higher than paler colors or large paradox spots covering more of the body.
Paradox beardies are similar to an abstract piece of art.
No two will be the same, but they are all astonishingly beautiful.