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Genetics


by Jill Pfaff

Letter written to Jill:
I see you are still looking for Dutch genetics questions for the Dutch Reporter. I'm a newbie so pardon me if I'm asking questions that have already been addressed.
I have heard of some breeders breeding in black Dutch to darken up their line of blue Dutch. Then I read in the Dutch Standard and Guidebook that really has no affect darkening the blue color. My question is, which is correct? Then you would have to deal with the problems of eye color, which leads to my next question. Could you address the recessive vs. dominance of the brown eye color and the blue/gray eye color? I was told that offspring of a blue/black cross might even have eyes with half of one eye brown and the other half blue/gray, etc. Does that mean the brown eye color is incompletely dominant then? (We just added blues to our rabbitry last fall, hence all the questions.)
Also, somewhat related to my question on blues, we bought a gorgeous blue junior buck from very good lines last fall. However, he only has one testicle. We were ignorant of this problem, having never come across it before, and were later warned by a friend not to use him for breeding. I have found very little on this condition, except what I've seen on your website, that it's a recessive trait. Is there any more information on this?
Also, I read that breeding steels into your black line won't produce any more scattered white hairs in the blacks than would normally be there. Is that correct?
One more question - are there any sex-linked colorings in Dutch or rabbits in general? I know that the calico coloring is cats is sex-linked. Just wondering about rabbits.
Thanks Jill!
JoBeth Harden
Reply from Jill:
I am happy to share my knowledge and understanding of breeding Dutch, but please remember you are asking for opinions and everyone thinks things out a little differently. I'm a scientist so I tend to think methodically. There unfortunately isn't a lot of research money spent on rabbits, so most of what we learn is doing trail and error. My rabbity is a living experiment.
It will take a little time to go into detail on your questions, but first off the buck with one testicle can still be fertile and it may not be a genetic defect, but from a trauma during development. So if he is really nice otherwise, I would say give him a try, but watch his sons. It would be best to raise the litter to at least 4 months. This is a really good idea when you are breeding new lines together anyway so you can see how they develop.
Just a quick comment on the color genetics, no, there are not any sex-linked varieties that I know of and I do raise several unrecognized varieties, such as Harlequin (black/orange) which has a brindling gene.
I have a few theories on the blues from what I have seen over the years. Blacks probably carry a modifier that is lost over time breeding the dilutes together (blues). I have see blues get a silver look, especially at the ear tips. Eye color is linked to body color, but there are probably several genotypes for what looks like the same phenotype. Eye spots can be hereditary in a line and then pop up. I think it traces back to having chocolates in a black line that is crossed into blues. Chocolates have a brown eye with a ruby cast, whereas the blue-gray eye is found as a dilution.
Also, I recommend two books by Netherland Dwarf breeders, Glenna Huffmon and Bobby Schott.

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