FINDING YOUR BLUE GENES:

A PRIMER FOR BLACK & BLUE DANE BREEDERS ABOUT GENETIC COLOR TESTING

 

By JP Yousha    

 

The world of biology is changing and we as breeders are being given “Clark Kent eyes” by the new advances in genetic testing. We are beginning to be able to see into the insides of our dogs, see their hidden genotype (the genes that make them up); so just like Superman with his X-ray eyes we don’t have to guess anymore about what we cannot see. A good example of this is the recent advances made in coat color testing. No more do you have to study pedigrees, quiz other breeders, then hope and pray you know enough to hopefully have or avoid blue puppies from your black Danes. You can now spend around a $100 and be absolutely sure!

 

Recently a test for blue coat color in the Great Dane was developed by Dr. Sheila Schmutz in Canada, and a Canadian company called Health Gene invested in making a commercial test for the blue gene for us. So now all you have to do, to know for sure if your black or fawn (or even Harlequin/Mantle!) Dane carries the blue gene is to test for it. It’s simple to do. You just order the little brushes, rub them along the inside of the cheek of each dog, package them back up and send them off. Wait a couple of weeks and you will be told what recessive genes (like blue) you cannot see that your dogs carry! It’s a brave new world with new tools for better breeding.

 

Why would you need to spend the extra money on this? Well if you are breeding for black Danes and have fawn behind them, you’d like to avoid producing blue fawns and blue brindles. This test can help you do that. Or if you are breeding a known blue-carrier (one parent was blue) to a possible fawn carrier, you want to know beforehand if that fawn carrier also carries blue? What if you really want blue pups and are breeding two blacks? Test both for blue and you will know for sure if you can get blue pups or not. There are lots of other possibilities, but you get the picture? Test for what you cannot see and know a LOT more about what you are really breeding. You can then predict more successfully what your pups will be like. And as much as it costs to breed good Danes, that $100 a dog for testing seems a real bargain?

 

Health Gene has a website with all its current color testing for each breed. Below is the page for the Great Dane. This is available online from:

http://healthgene.com/canine/C128_great_dane.asp

 

What it all means explained below the table.

 

Genotypes

Coat Color

Nose Color

HiddenColor

EmEmDD

various deep; with mask

black

-

EmEDD

various deep, with mask

black

lack of mask

EmEmDd

various deep, with mask

black

blue

EmEDd

various deep, with mask

black

blue, lack of mask

EEDD

various deep, without mask

black

-

EEDd

various deep, without mask

black

blue

EEdd

blue, dilute brindle, without mask

slate

-

EmEmdd

blue, dilute brindle, with blue mask

slate

-

EmEdd

blue, dilute brindle, with blue mask

slate

lack of mask

 

This tests can find not just blue, but masking where it doesn’t show up (like on blue and black Danes). Nose color tells you if the dog is a black or a blue. So the first line says the dog is pure for mask (has two masking genes) and is pure for black—is a true breeder for black and will not produce blue. (Note: the test for fawn/brindle is in the works, so currently there is no proof positive a dog does or does not carry fawn.) The second line says the dog is black (“various deep” could also be fawn, but that’s not the topic here, so just ignore it for now) & that he has one gene for masking, but one gene for lack of mask. So this dog can produce mask less fawns if he’s also a fawn carrier and is bred to a similar carrier. The third like shows a dog who is black and carries for both masking (one gene) and for blue (one gene), so can produce blues. The fourth line is a dog that carries blue, but doesn’t carry for masking.

 

The EEDD on the fifth line is a dog that doesn’t carry for masking or for blue. The EEDd is a black dog who carries for blue. The next line, EEdd, is a blue dog who doesn’t carry for masking, the last two lines show blue dogs that carry one or two genes for masking. This ability to carry for both blue and masking really only matters to those who are trying to produce masked fawns out of black/blue bloodlines, but it also is a good warning to those cross-color breeding any time from black to fawn, as it tells you which individuals carry the blue gene from the blue lines, which carry the fawn’s masking gene, and which puppies have both.

 

So this is both simple and cheap; easily takes the guess work out of “will my black with blue and fawn behind her give me blue-fawn mismarks” as well as “does my black stud dog carry for blue and can I then advertise him as a potential blue puppy producer?” and so on. It’s a simple matter of more knowledge means more power to us all! And stay tuned as soon we can expect to see the last of the color genes solved & so have simple tests like this commercially available for everything from fawn to Harlequin!

 

By JP Yousha    05-03-2007

CHROMADANE   jpy@chromadane.com

All copyrights & authors' rights are to be respected. For further information contact:CHROMADANE; 1-432-684-8940. Email: jpy@chromadane.com

 

JPY200jpegAbbreviated CURICULUM VITAE: JP YOUSHA

Telephone: (432) 684-8940 email: chromadane@juno.com 

A 5th generation Texan, JP Yousha grew up with horses, dogs and all sorts of other critters, and then spent half her life living with them in various European locations.

Having combined her interest in dogs and horses in the late 1980s, she became a dedicated enthusiastic of the Great Dane. Always torn between deep and abiding interests in biology and art, she has pursued her interests in both--both academically & vocationally--holding a variety of degrees & certification from CVT (veterinary technician) & BA (Fine Arts: wildlife illustrator) to a MAIS in Philosophy of Science. She returned to the U.S.A in late 1991 where she now exhibits, trains, and breeds dual-ring & therapy-work Great Danes under the kennel name CHROMA. She has volunteered her services over the past decade to various area dog clubs, acting as a local dog training instructor and specializing in "Good Manners" and Canine Good Citizenship" training. She is the technical, training, and medical advisor for regional Great Dane rescue. She also acts as a canine midwife for some local and regional breeders and does puppy temperament testing and helps with cropped ears. She's a member of the various local dog clubs and breed national club and serves regularly in a variety of officer and committee positions, including Chairman of the Health and Welfare committee for the GDCA and a member of the Color Research committee as well. Outside of dogs and horses, she has owned her own art business, worked as a translator and as an animal nurse, and was once a cold warrior as well as the stable manager to a Countess. Recently she has been a sometimes college teacher and is now a sometimes science writer.