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Colour inheritance in boxers Article by Kasia Jozwik.
Colour inheritance makes a lot of questions, especially amongst starting breeders/owners. Therefore I allowed myself to write a simple guide to show in possibly simplest way the rules on colour inheritance, based on few articles, book 'The Inheritance of Coat Color in Dogs'', C C. Little, Howell Book House and some publications of Mr Dr Bruce M Cattanach from "Dog World" and from his website: GENETICS.
From the time of C.C. Little's book publication there were changes in naming convention of genes and symbols, but it didn't influence the way of showing the inheritance, so I used old names, very often used today.
Boxers can have two coats - fawn (with various intensity - from light fawn to dark red, called deer red) and brindle (also with various intensity of stripes, their colour and background colour). Those two colours are now only used for breeding. White colour, which is very often met, is actually the white marking extended for a whole body, but I will write about this later.
If boxer is fawn this means that this particular dog has two genes of fawn coat, which he/she got from parents.
This is recessive colour (outgoing), which means that brindle coat dominates fawn. The letter coding for this is bb
Brindle coat is in two types: dominant homozygous (to makes things simpler - double brindle), this means that dog has got two genes of brindle coat. Coding: BB
And dominant heterozygous (to makes things simpler - single brindle), this means that dog has got one gene of brindle coat and one of fawn. Coding: Bb
Double brindle and single brindle boxers looks the same - phenotype is the same. Usually very dark bridled boxers are more often double brindle than light brindle ones but this is not a rule and can't be used to predict the coat genotype of the offspring.
With absolute certainty one can say, that the boxer is NOT double brindle, if there is his/her even single fawn offspring.
But this is only small part of colour inheritance. Additionally, of course, one must take under consideration white markings or lack of it, which has great influence on dog's look and the breeding itself.
White boxer, as I said at the beginning, is coloured dog (fawn or brindle) with extremely extended white markings, sometimes to the point that it covers the whole body.
Solid dogs will never give white coat regardless of partner type (solid, flashy or even white).
Because genes are not picked regularly and in the way we would wish to, after two flashy parents we can get mostly white puppies or mostly solids or only flashy but with wrong markings partially, mostly too big, especially on head.
As an example I used my puppies' photos:
As can be seen we have puppies with various white markings, also with too much white on the head - overmarked, which is undesirable in breeding.
Solids (probably, this can only be specified from dog's offspring):
Last example is a dog with white markings on head and chest, he can be solid as well as flashy with extremely small amount of white markings. He has no white markings on feet, tail end and neck. He only has small patches on chin, forehead and chest.
PS. In four litters so far, each with flashy bitch, he didn't produce any single white puppy, which means that he is genetically solid.
After all this one can ask - why after a dog thought as solid, puppies are white and vice versa - flashy dog doesn't give any whites? Because solids can be mistaken with flashy because of white markings and also genetically flashy dog can be recognized as solid because of small white markings.
Beside genes responsible for colour, there are also genes called "modifiers", named as "+" and "-".
Solid dog which has a lot of "-" modifier genes will have lots of white markings in the areas called de-pigmentation centres - toes, chest, stomach, muzzles, tail (end of it). Lots of "+" modifier genes in flashy dog can cause limitation of white markings. That's why it is impossible to say what type of coat dog has - flashy or solid - only by his colour.
This is known that pigment cells "migrate". It appears during fetal life, but also after birth! That is why white markings on heads and neck are getting smaller during growth, also puppy nose, which at the beginning can be completely without pigment, with time gets black spots which at the end of the day are covering the whole nose which in effect became black.
It should be emphasized that pigment cells are not for "pretty look" but are for another functions in dog's organism. Pigment cells are related with hearing - lack of these in inner ears can cause deafness in one or both ears. White dogs are especially exposed to deafness caused by lack of pigment but also these with white markings - flashy.
As an example of coat colour inheritance is our "C" litter:
Another example - the litter from which Kala came. I gave this example because Kala's mother looks like solid and she could be double brindle but on the contrary she's neither - she's flashy single brindle with extremely small amount of white markings :) This actually confirms that not everything what we see is what we think it is ;)
I recommend to read: http://www.steynmere.co.uk/GENETICS.html, particularly for colour inheritance: