Mysteries of color

By | February 12, 2010

In my time I have read a lot of books on dogs written by people from many breeds – there is one point that has always interested me but which I have never seen positively answered. It arises in many different breeds, especially in the bull breed subgroup, and in several different ways., The point is the genetic difference between the colours red and fawn, if indeed there is a genetic difference. Old sourmug.the Bulldog is behind many breeds in which these two colours occur, perhaps not quite in. his present day form, but undoubtedly behind them an many generations ago. Now the Bulldog appears in a wide range of colours, two of which are rich deep red and pale smutty fawn – light fawn with dark tip to the hairs. He a so appears in lighter shades of red and deeper shades of fawn, with or without smart markings, sometimes so that it is not at all easy to say whether a particular dog’s coat is pale red or deep fawn.

Similar

In the first example mentioned above, there is a very marked difference between the two dog’s colors.. In the second one they are very similar indeed. both are recessive to brindle and probably dominant to black and tan but how ,genetically, are they related to each other?. Is the deep red dominant to pale fawn,is the fawn recessive to the red, or are they equal? Ara they distinct colours or variations of the one colour? This question is even more apparent in the Boxer than in the Bulldog with all his many colours and different types of marking. Very often it is quite difficult to make up one’s mind whether a Boxer is a red or a fawn, the colours can be so similar, even differing in richness or the lack thereof at different stages. of a particular dog’s growth. In some lights it may look red, in different conditions, perhaps indoors, it can appear fawn. They too can be deep red greyish fawn. Much the same problem arises in Great Danes, Mastiffs, Bullrnastiffs, and similar breeds and these same colours can appear singly in other breeds. I find it hard to accept that a fawn Pug with a dark trace. is the same colour as a Rhodesian Ridgeback or a Finnish Spitz! Or is it? What do owners of breeds where this question arises think about the matter? Do they have any evidence or strongly held opinions as to the genetic nature of these two colours – or are they one? Is there perhaps a geneticist with experience of one or other of these breeds who could resolve this question,? It is not exactly of world-shattering importance, but it would be nice to know. Replies to me, please. Colour in dogs is a strange subject. In different breeds it seems to behave in different ways. and where do colours come from which appear only in one breed? Where does the Weimaraner’s grey colouring come from and where did the Welsh Springer obtain the very individual type of red in his coat?

Same question

The same question can be asked of the A.rnerican Cocker, only more so – he has a whole range of colours not found in the Cocker Spaniel from which he is claimed to be descended. And what happened to the roan coat pattern when the Yankee was evolving? Does anyone know? It is not only dogs that have odd colour results. If a black Aberdeen Angus cow is mated with a White Shorthorn Bull the result is a blue grey calf, but when a black and white Friesian cow is mated with a red and white Hereford bull, the result is a black calf with white markings on the head only, despite the fact both parents are marked with white under the body and on the legs. We dog breeders are not the only one with genetic problems.

Breeding for coat and color – a case history:

A reader has written with a problem concerning loss of colour depth and coat texture in her breeding stock, and asks how she can improve that without endangering her stock’s conformation and quality which are very good. Some years ago, this breeder, after admiring the conformation and movement of another breeder’s line, decided to make use of that line, despite the fact that many members of it were pale in color and tended to be soft in coat texture. This breeder was not too apprehensive about the coat texture as that feature in her own line was excellent, and after discarding one or two from early litters which showed a tendency to softness, has not had any further problems with coat textures upto a crucial point.

Mixed

But things are not going so well with color. The breeder sent two bitches to stud dogs in the other line – one a good deep red and the other a rich dark brindle, hoping in both cases that the richness of colour in her bitches breeding would offset the paleness in the sires used, both of whom were pale reds and from the same basic breeder. In the case of the brindle , the first litter was rather mixed. There were five of them, two good dark brindles, a lightly marked brindle and two reds, one rather paler than this breeder was used to breeding and one very pale, Both the latter were bitches, while only one of the dark brindles was a bitch. In the other litter from the red bitch there were four puppies, two dogs and two bitches – one dog very outstanding all of them red. two including the very, good dog, of quite good colour. and two pale ones. One much paler than the other. Wishing to see how their conformation and movement developed, the breeder ran them all on, except for the two very pale ones, until they were seven months old and their teethings was completed. Eventually the breeder decided to keep the dark bitch from the first litter and the red dog and less pale bitch from the second litter. The brindle dog was sold and became a champion and never sired a male puppy. The breeder did not at first mate the products of the two litters together, using them with her own line with quite satisfactory results. While the conformation and movement of the litters improved there was no problem with color, though the outstanding red dog’s progeny were not as deep in colour as himself. The brindle bitch never had any coat or colour problem with her offspring. After breeding the two lined apart for three generations, a case arose when the mating of a descendant of each original outcross mating appeared to suit each of them so well it was decided to carry out a mating, both parties to which were red. The result was a bit of a shock. There were four puppies whose conformation and movement were well ahead of anything the breeder had bred before. She was really thrilled with that, but the coats and colours were a different matter. There were two pale reds, one with a slightly soft coat and one with a very soft coat of quite good colour. The fourth one was both very pale in colour and very soft in coat. Needless to say on conformation movement and temperament, this was the pick fo the litter. At first sight it looked to the breeder as if the outstanding red dog, who won CCs as a puppy and was a big winning champion, must be the nigger in the woodpile, as he was the only one of less than really rich colour she had bred from, except for his litter sister who mated to brindle dogs had never bred any poor colours.

Dormant

Previously the good red dog and his male progeny had sired good stock, but not good as when mated back into his sire’s lines in type, conformation and movement. But how is the breeder to secure that improved type, conformation and movement without those horrible coats and poor colour? It seems to me that as the bad coats had lain dormant until the champion, red dog’s great-grandson was mated with a close red relative, but probably there is a close red relative, but probably there is a need to introduce some good strong brindle of good texture and colours, Thes may entail losing a bit in type and quality but it looks as if both the paling colour and the poor coat texture are controlled by recesssive genes, and that when they come rearing out- but not through the brindle members of the line upon which they have been line-bred. The few poor coloured and textured brindles that have occurred have not been bred from, so that at least the brindles from the last few generations have good coat texture and colour. And in the first litter there was a brindle who is not known to have sired any poor coats or colour. That’s the way I would suggest this breeder should turn thoughts and go on from there.