A simple and easy to understand description of the inheritance of color in the Borzoi: a "Rule of Thumb"
Supplied by Leonore Abordo / Oxota, reg.
This is intended as a easy reference of colors and a few modifiers in layman's terms. See other pages for a detailed scientific description of the specific genes currently identified.
RULE OF THUMB FOR COLOR INHERITANCE: Black dominates over all other colors, Red is dominant over Black & Tan; Black& Tan is dominant over Sable (the color, not the black tipping on hairs, often called "sabled").
BLACK. If a borzoi is Black, then it is Dominant Black (K locus). From a Black borzoi you can get - depending on what other colors are carried (but not seen): Black, Red, Black & Tan, and Sable. Note the difference between Black and Black & Tan!
RED. From a Red borzoi you can get - depending on what other colors are carried (but not seen):Red, Black & Tan, and Sable. Two Red parents can NOT produce dominant Black puppies.
BLACK & TAN. From a Black & Tan (usually with distinct tan points on the eyebrows and a "Z" on the cheeks) borzoi you can get - Black & Tan, and Sable. Two Black & Tan parents can NOT produce dominant Black or Red.
SABLE. From a Sable (usually with a distinct "widow's peak" head marking) you can only get Sable. Two Sable parents can only produce Sable puppies; they can not produce dominant Black, Red, or Black & Tan.
A few notes on color inheritance:
1 - You can only have dominant Black if at least one of the parents is dominent Black. The more dominant color a parent is, the more unseen colors it may carry. What colors are actually produced in a litter depends on (a) what color the other parent is, AND (b) on what colors (if any) each parent carries but can't be seen. What you see and what colors are carried are not always the same thing! A detailed examination of the pedigree going back several generations can be highly informative.
EX: There are multiple instances of a Black parent producing offspring of all 4 colors when bred to animals that carry those other colors; there are also cases of a "double Black" that ONLY produced Black offspring, regardless of mating partner.
2 - You can only have Brindle if at least one of the parents is Brindle. Brindle sits on the same locus, K, as dominant Black (this means that genetically, Brindle is a color - but we describe it as a Marking). It is possible for a dominent Black borzoi to also "be" Brindle, but you can't see it. Any other color carrying brindle you WILL see the brindle (with the rare exception of an extreme white with dilution). Two non-brindle parents can NOT produce Brindle offspring.
3 - You can only get Ticking if at least one of the parents is Ticked. The gene location is unknown at this time, and it is quite often not visible (unless a dog is shaved to the skin) due to various modifiers. Ticking tends to become more pronounced (visible) as a dog matures, but not always.
4 - There are a number of genes that MODIFY color, both in intensity (e.g., Chinchilla: on Red makes gold; on Red Brindle you can get creme or silver brindle; on Black it makes silver; on Black & Tan it makes black&creme) (or the dilute gene D, which with 2 copies makes a "blue" dilute of any of the colors listed above, including paler pigmentation and yellower eyes) and distribution - see section on WHITE, below.
WHITE is not a color; it is the absence of color. White fur comes out of pink skin (colored fur comes out of dark skin, regardless of which color the fur is).
RULE OF THUMB FOR WHITE PATTERN INHERITANCE: SELF dominates over all other white distribution patterns; IRISH is dominant over SPOTTED; SPOTTED is dominant over EXTREME.
SELF - white toes, sometimes the entire foot, but not above pastern. tip of tail. sometimes a bit on front of chest or tip of nose, even a skinny blaze. From a Self marked borzoi you can get - depending on what other white patterns are carried (but not seen): Self, Irish, Spotted, or Extreme. See the pictures of the two Perchino borzois, Raketa and Rogdai.
IRISH - white to or above the pastern and below elbow; almost always below hock; white on the back of the neck ranging from a few hairs to a full neck ring of white. more white on face, throat, chest, belly. maybe 1/2 the tail sometimes. From an Irish marked borzoi you can get - depending on what other white patterns are carried (but not seen): Irish, Spotted, or Extreme. Two Irish marked parents can NOT produce Self marked puppies.
SPOTTED (sometimes called "blanket spotted") - white typically extends above the elbow and stifle, but is less than 50% of the dog's entire body. there are some dogs that are a "false irish" - that have white hairs on the hips visible as puppies but not in adult coat. From a Spotted marked borzoi you can get - depending on what other white patterns are carried (but not seen): Spotted, or Extreme. Two Spotted parents can not produce Self or Irish marked puppies.
EXTREME - color is restricted to the head, and usually just big spots one or two places on the body - often the rump. in the adult that carries a dilution modifier, these spots can be difficult to see. Two Extreme marked parents can only produce Extreme marked puppies; they can not produce Self, Irish, or Spotted.
A few notes on White inheritance:
1 - You can only have Self if at least one of the parents is Self. Unlike colors, a borzoi has only 2 genes for white markings - one you see, and one it carries (which may be different). What patterns are actually produced in a litter depends on (a) what White pattern the other parent is, AND (b) on what White pattern (if any) each parent carries but can't be seen. A detailed examination of the pedigree going back several generations can be highly informative.
EX: A Self that carries Irish will only produce those two white patterns, regardless of what the breeding partner is or carries. A double-Self will only produce Self offspring. A Self that carries Extreme, bred to an Irish that carries Spotted, can produce a litter of Self, Irish, or Spotted puppies (but NOT Extreme puppies, though statistically half will carry Extreme white).
2 - Always remember that white fur comes from pink skin, and colored fur comes from dark skin. If a dog is shaved, you may see stripes (Brindle) or spots (Ticking) that are not clearly visible on a dog in full coat.
Predicting possible colors and patterns in a future litter is an enjoyable pass-time and the possibilities are straightforward once the dominant order of inheritance is understood. Always remember that the more recessive a color (or pattern) the parent(s), the fewer possibilities in offspring. In this way, it is easy to "rule out" colors (and patterns) that are not genetically available from the parents. This of course is of little use to a breeder, as all patterns and virtually all colors are accepted by our Standards around the world (see the current standard for your country for exceptions).
If you will learn more on colors in the borzoi, visit this page: Borzoi color in detail