A look at the suggested Rex variety sanction changes for 2000
By Cristina Sherer
I was asked it I could write an article that may clarify the reasons behind the proposed variety sanction changes. I wish to explain the genetic basis behind these colors and therefore show you what must be present to fit the definition of that color. Please don't let the word "genetics" sway you away from this article. I will try to clarify not confuse the issues involved here. I will be covering sanctions related to the following varieties: Lynx, Tri Colors, Californians, Opals, and the Broken Group.
Is that really a Lynx?
I have been observing the few Lynx that I have come across over the last few months. I walked around at the ARBA National Convention in Wisconsin and looked at a few and several in my own state of Ohio, in order to get an idea of what variations that might be seen in the color. We all know that the varieties we specialize in teach us that there are subtle variations in a color that make it superior, average, poor or a disqualification. I attribute these slight changes to be the work of modifiers. These are genes that collect together in a team effort to sway one aspect of a color one way or another. An example would be the difference between those beautiful Castors that seem to glow with rich red hues and the other end of the spectrum where the Castor is a dull sandy brown. Both are technically a Castor, but one is closer to the ideal sanction description and is more pleasing to the eye. These modifiers are hard to map out in a strict prediction. Generally you control them by breeding animals together that actively display the direction you want to go. The main control genes or as I call them "team leaders" control where, how and if these modifiers may be allowed to express themselves. These are the genes I use to predict what colors I will get (not their quality). These are represented in the following diagram: (Bear with me if you have seen this.)
My greatest concern at this time is the tact that most of the Lynx I have seen are truly Fawn. How do I know this? The first question you need to ask yourself is: "Does this rabbit have ring color?". Lynx are Agouti and possess ring color. If it is truly a Lynx, it will have a light Lilac base color, followed by a fawn mid-band, and ending with a Lilac top ring. Notice I said Lilac not Blue. Fawns are just diluted Reds and cannot express ring color. The confusion occurs when these Fawns show some smut (like seen in the Reds). The smut is diluted also and gives the rabbit a Blue hue. This hue is mistaken for Lilac.
The second very important factor we must not forget is what base color creates a Lynx. Lilac is a diluted version of Chocolate. Therefore, those Lynx must carry a full set of Chocolate genes. (bb) Both the Chocolate base color and dilution factor are recessive and will be hidden by dominant genes. This means, in order to get your Lynx you must breed animals known to possess these genes (such as Chocolates and Lilacs) to Agouti colors suspected of carrying these genes (Lynx or Opal). Ideally, if you have a real Lynx already you can use this as your Agouti in the pair. Remember, recessives cannot hide dominant genes. If one of the rabbits is not Agouti you will not get Agouti babies. In a perfect situation you would have two good Lynx to breed and you wouldn't need to play with this. I cannot stress enough the need for more breeders to put Chocolates and Lilacs into their Lynx lines.
I will caution that first generation crosses are not always completely successful. The first breeding is to just ensure you have babies with Chocolate, Dilution and Agouti genes. For example: if you breed a Chocolate to an Opal. The litter could be a mix of Black, Castor, Opal, Blue, Chocolate, Lilac, or Lynx. Any proportion of these babies may occur and even a few rarer colors may be possible (such as Fawn). Keep in mind that the Chocolate and the Opal carry dominant and recessive genes depending on what aspect of there color you look at. These get randomly thrown into the litter. The only thing you can count on is that completely recessive color characteristics can only give out recessive genes (they can't hide anything in that characteristic). An example: all the babies in this litter have at least one Chocolate gene (from the Chocolate) and at least one Dilution gene (from the Opal). The other thing you can count on is that the dominant Agouti gene is always expressed if present. Therefore, one parent must be an Agouti to pass it on (from the Opal).
Now that we know what is wrong with our Lynx we need to see how the standard can help us. The first proposed change to the standard by Tex Thomas is to change the mid-band color from "bright orange" to "fawn". I completely agree. The Lynx is diluted and the dilute of orange (or red) is Fawn.
Second, it has been proposed by some breeders that Blue under color be taken out from under the "disqualification" heading. I would leave this the way it is, but change the main description to include "over Lilac under color" instead of "over white under color". I also feel the Lynx should be treated like the other Agouties and given the allowance to have either a Lilac under color or white under color on the belly. There will be some room for judges to decide whether or not they see Lilac or Blue and unfortunately this allows for subjective error to occur, but judging is subjective.
It has been recommended that the Californian variety should disqualify for Blue or Chocolate points. There will also be a statement allowing for fading or frosting due to the sensitivity of this color to temperature. I completely agree with this recommendation. I see too many Californians with obvious Chocolate or Blue base color. If fading or frosting occurs, the judge can effectively use the darkest areas to make a decision on the true base color. We will have to rely on their judgment. If we want this color to have Black, Blue, Chocolate, and Lilac; we must change the variety through new color acceptance (much like the Otters have tried). The current standard specifically says:" are to be as black as possible". Genetically the different point colors are inherently different.
Should Opal color be disqualified for white under color on the body?
This question has some ties to all Agouti varieties. The Opal should have a blue under color to create the three rings. Unfortunately I have seen all agouties display fading or mottling of ring color when the coat dies and falls out. The slate under color is the first to suffer many times. It may be more prudent to make this a sever cut or disqualify for complete lack of ring color in this situation. We may need to play with this a little.
Should the Brokens be faulted instead of disqualified for having more
than 50% color or less than 10%?
I personally see too much room for subjective error in this area. I have seen rabbits pass through that were very questionable and I have seen judges make decisions to disqualify that were equally questionable. The only genetic basis for this rule would be to rule out "Charlies" that are genetically different and pass on two spotting genes instead of one. The rest of the color percentages are based on modifiers and this can be equated to the difference between a good representative of a color and a less "eye catching" version. Simply put, I don't feel this fault should be made anything more than a "fault".
Should we have a disqualification for blue or gray under color on Reds?
This is my suggestion for changes that need to be made. I believe we should. The Reds are not suppose to have ring color and a blue under color coupled with smut brings it too close to being a Castor. This can be caused by a very weak "red gene" (unable to eliminate all ring color) or we may have some Castors out there trying hard to be a Red.
Should we call Reds "Orange"?
I believe we should leave this variety name as "Red". The goal of the breeder is to create a deep, rich color. Orange is simply a lighter version and works against our goals in this area.
I hope I have shed some light on the subject of proposed changes for some of the varieties. Some of this is my opinion, but I tried to give as much objective basis to it as possible. My biggest concern is that when looking at a variety description, no color can be mistaken for another (disqualifications come into play). The next concern is what constitutes a good example of the color (faults come into play).
2001 National Rex Rabbit Club