"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
I do not wish to be too technical because knowledge is nothing
if it cannot be shared. There is no point whatsoever in repeating
what can be read in books, much better to explain things in
layman's terms for those who find genetics difficult to absorb.
When we speak of a Merle gene most people in Europe
automatically think of BLUE Merle. Somehow they confuse the
truth and think of the MERLE gene as a BLUE MERLE gene.
There is actually NO SUCH THING AS A BLUE Merle gene!
The Merle gene is a dilution gene carried individually of the
other colours. If a tricolour Collie inherits the MERLE gene
it will be a BLUE Merle. On the other hand, if a sable collie
inherits the MERLE gene, the dilution will NOT produce a
muddy coloured blue Merle...rather it will dilute the sable
body colour and produce a SABLE Merle. To say that the
introduction of the Merle gene to a sable line will ruin the colour
of any future blues is a total fallacy.
I recently heard one very experienced breeder declare that ALL
progeny of a mating between a sable collie and a blue Merle
Collie will automatically be Sable Merle? Sorry...but if you are one
of those people that think this is true, you need to open your
mind to the truth.
In 2010 we mated our Blue Merle bitch WICANI LOVE ON BLUE
FIRDAYS to our Ti-factored sable male CAN. CH GLASGOWHILL'S
WITH PRIDE. The fact that Pride is Tri-factored gave us the opportunity
of producing some blue Merle puppies in this combination,
and in deed we did. The mating produced 4 puppies. Two tri-factored sables,
one Tricolour and one blue Merle...there were NO Sable Merle born in this
particular litter. Interested people have asked me to explain why the resultant
Merle bitch WICANI VENUS IN FURS is of such a lovely colour!.
Every dog carries two basic colour genes (plus modifiers but we can forget
about these for the purpose of this short article).
Pride carries one sable gene and one tricolour gene. The sable gene is
incompletely dominant over Tricolour. Any Rough Collie carrying a sable
gene will be Sable, but if it has also inherited a tricolour gene, the sable will
carry Tricolour (recessively) recessive traits are hidden unless there are two of them.
However the Sable gene is incompletely dominant to tricolour, which is why the
black will show through the sable over time. Tri-factored sables are usually shaded
with black to some degree and this deepens with age.
The Tri-factored sable will pass to his/her offspring either a sable gene or a tricolour
gene, it will not pass both in one puppy.
The Blue Merle is actually a tricolour, so the blue Merle Collie carries two tricolour
genes and can only pass to every puppy a tricolour gene. however the blue Merle
Collie also carries a dilution factor. This dilutes the black and creates 'blue'. It does
not work on the tan points and it dilutes intermittently which creates the marbling effect
on the face and body.
When we mate a blue Merle to a Tri-factored sable we have several possible results in
1) Tri-factored Sable: If the puppy has inherited a sable gene from the sable parent
and a tricolour gene from the blue Merle parent (but has not inherited the Merle gene)
the puppy will be Tri-factored sable.
2) Tricolour: If the puppy has inherited a tricolour gene from the tri-factored sable
parent, plus the tricolour gene from the Blue Merle parent, and again it has not inherited
the Merle gene, it will be tricolour.
3) Blue Merle: If the puppy has inherited a tricolour gene from the tri-factored sable
parent, plus the tricolour gene from the Blue Merle parent, but has also inherited the
Merle dilution gene (a separate modifier) it will be BLUE Merle. This puppy will be
the same as any other blue Merle puppy born from any other colour combination.
4) Sable Merle. If the puppy inherits a sable gene from the tri-factored sable
parent, and the tricolour gene from its blue Merle parent, plus the Merle dilution gene.
This puppy will be a sable Merle. The dilution factor will act on the sable coat because
without the Merle dilution factor this puppy would be SABLE whereas a 'Blue Merle'
puppy without the Merle dilution gene would be TRICOLOUR.
Sable Merle can easily be identified at birth as the sable is pale with darker sable
'merling'. Sometimes there are blueish patches in the coat that mostly disappear as
the coat grows. An adult Sable Merle can be difficult to distinguish from any other
sable collie, although some will have blue tips to the darker areas of hair. In the case
of a tri-factored Sable Merle (such as would be the reality in this scenario) there can
be bluish areas on what would normally be the dark shadowing. Naturally the dilution
factor, working on the black coat in this instance, will produce blue. Sable Merle collies
can also have blue eyes, or blue flecks in the eyes.
I hope this short explanation will go some small way to enlightening the mind of
those who find
Sable Merle breeding difficult to comprehend; and I hope such seekers will have
gained a better understanding
Once the light of understanding has been 'turned on' it becomes much easier to deepen
At a later date I will go deeper into this subject.
Harking back to the litter mentioned briefly above, the lovely blue Merle bitch
Wicani Venus in Furs
is actually a much better colour than her blue Merle mother....but that is another story!