Colorful

Normally I don’t write my blogs in English, but the last one I have translated as well.

Colorful is a word you could use to describe the Barbets personality. They are funny, smart, sweet, loyal and will make you smile every day. But nowadays the word is getting more appropriate for the Barbets coat as well, with more and more ‘fawns’ being born.

Personally, I myself can’t be bothered by color. A dog could be purple with blue spots for all I care. When leaving character and health out of the quotation, I feel type is way more important. Color and type are related as is known in many breeds where more than one color is permitted and I also see it in the Barbet.

The colors we see right now are black, brown and fawn or sand.
When learning about genetics, most will know start with brown and black. For these genes a B (and/or b) is used.
The fawn or sand is more than likely what is called ‘recessive red’ or ‘yellow’ in genetic terminology.
For this the letter E (and/or e) is used. A dog that has genotype ee will be red or yellow.

In colors, the funny thing is that what you see is not always what you get. A dog’s phenotype is what you can see from the outside. We can see this:

What we can’t see on the inside, the genotype, could be different. Maybe those dogs are this:

The yellow color you could regard as an extra ‘layer’, which is put over the basic coat color of black or brown. So a black or brown dog can carry the gene for yellow, just as a yellow dog will carry genes for black and/or brown.

For some dogs it’s easy to determine or guess their genotype, or at least part of their genotype. Looking at the pedigree will tell you a lot. For others, it takes a breeding to a dog of a certain genotype to see if a dog produces a certain color.

There are a lot of different combinations and results. To see what a certain combination could produce: click here and choose the parents’ phenotype. You will see a list of all possible combinations. If you click the link underneath the combination, you will see the result including the percentages which you could expect.

Not taken into the equation here are the white markings, since these are not colors but patterns. For the white markings, there are four alleles who are called ‘the S series’.
S, which stands for ‘solid color’. Dogs with SS have no white hairs, or a tiny amount.
Si stands for Irish spotting. Irish markings are those we see in for instance the Collies.
Sp stands for piebald, where there is more white and the patches are distributed more randomly about the body.
Sw stands for ‘extreme white piebald’.

The difficult thing with this series is that they are ‘incompletely dominant’. A combination of these genes will give differing amounts of white.

Some ‘standard’examples:
SiSi is what is regarded as ‘normal pattern’ such as in Collies.
Dogs with a ‘mantle’ such as in Great Danes are SiSw.
SwSw often gives white bodies and colored heads.

Then we also have the G, or Greying gene which is a dominant gene that causes a dog to gray with age. This is not grey as we see with old dogs, but a greying over the complete body. The pigmented hairs are progressively replaced with unpigmented hairs.
As far as I know this gene has influence on brown dogs in the Barbet, but not on black dogs. How that works, I am not sure.

Again, the color of a dog is not important for me. However, I do like the puzzle of color genetics. All of the above is what I have been taught and what I have found out by searching and reading. I am by no means an expert and cannot guarantee any of it.
If only other traits, such as genetic diseases, were as easily traceable. Especially polygenetic disorders such as epilepsy are a horrible curse for any breed. Scientists learn more everyday and maybe one day we will know about the genetic codes for that!

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