Sable pattern explained Sable pedigrees Photos of sable cockers Sable Cocker Research Titled Sable Cockers

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Sable Article
Written by Dr Francis Greer
from the book "COCKER CHAMPIONS in Story and Pedigree” Volume 2
(Special Thanks to Martin Belcke ( for taking the time to write this out & sending to me)

The advantage of having the color history of a breed is no better illustrated than in the controversy which arose a few years before these books were published. 
The appearance of sable and sable/white Cockers shocked many breeders.  It was rumored some years later by those who were not familiar with the breeding program that produced the litter that the Cocker dam had probably been bred by a Beagle. 

Dr. Little found that the sable gene is almost nonexistent in Beagles or so rare as to be insignificant. Dr. Phillips’ technical article on the inheritance of sable in Cockers was published in “The Journal of Heredity” in 1938. 
The article contained photos of the two subjects (a mother and son), both sable. 

The sable female was bred to a black dog which carried tan points recessive.  This produced a sable male which showed large areas of tan in the tan points areas.  The experiment confirmed Dr. Phillips’ theory of sable inheritance and the dominance of sable over tan points. 
The registered names of the two sables were not given in the article (it is not a practice to call the subjects by registered names). 
The names of the breeders and owners were given, and a search is now underway to identify the bloodlines from Stud Book records. 

Sable patterns in Cockers is relatively rare although it is (and was) probably more common than appears in the Stud Books. 
Breeders of previous eras tended to register them simply as “red,” disregarding dark hairs or visible indications of tan points pattern in the normal locations. 

A disconcerting aspect of the color to genetic novices is the production of some blacks in litters from two “red,” one of which is actually a sable. 
This seems to be a violation of Dr. Phillips’ statement that buff to buff breeding can give only buff. 
Dr. Phillips’ reputation is not tarnished; buff to buff gives only buff as long as both are genetic buffs. 
A sable does not have a buff or red coat by virtue of the normal buff genes.  His lighter color comes from the action of the sable gene, and his breeding behavior with buff is controlled by his basic color – black or liver. 

The pedigree of CH Dogwood Rouge et Noir is in the pedigree section of this volume.  The name indicated that there must have been some black in his red coat; he was registered “red” by Lucy and Hagood Bostick who owned him. 
A photograph was necessary to examine his appearance since both Bosticks are now gone, but I expected to find one. 
Beth McKinney, English Cocker breeder and historian, knew of old magazines, found his picture in the February 1939 AKC Gazette! 

In black and white, the photo showed a dog that might well have been a black/tan because the tan pattern was so obvious. 
During the entire period when Rouge et Noir was shown, black/tans were still shown in particolor classes. 
The only chance for an answer to his color was to locate his show record. 
Beth delved into show records and found that he had earned all his points from the Solid Color Other Than Black classes. 
His chance of actually being sable rose to 99%. 
The next project was to see if his pedigree contained the lines of known sable producers.  And it did. 

Ch Billy Obo, Jr., his son, Ch Obo Donatello, and his sire, grandsire, and near relatives are ubiquitous in most sable pedigrees and have been shown to have produced sables directly in some cases. 
The black bitch involved in the recent legitimacy conflict has 12 crosses to Ch Obo Donatello, known carrier of the sable gene. 

The limited number of sable pedigrees chosen for this chapter illustrates the gene’s distribution geographically. 
They come from the East (Ch Dogwood Rouge et Noir), the Midwest, the Southwest, the far West, and from a combination of far West and Midwest bloodlines meeting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 

A more extensive discussion of sable genetics and known sables is included in a booklet nearing completion for those interested in the subject. 
It is probable that the sable gene was preserved in Canada at the time those breeders were actively engaged 
in developing dark red Cockers. 

It is fortunate from the standpoint of genetics that Canadian-bred Ch Obo Donatello was brought to the States at an early age. 
He was outstanding; many bitches were sent to him, and a large number of his puppies were registered. 
Only AKC records provided color information, but many breeders were still averse to the procedure. 

I have traced 143 of Ch Obo Donatello’s sons and daughters out of 54 different bitches. 
He was black, but he carried the recessive genes for liver, sable, and parti-color.  He did not carry tan points or buff. 
His sire, Ch Billy Obo, Jr., remained in Canada until his breeder F.J. McGauvran, moved to California in 1922 and officially registered “Obo” with the AKC as his kennel prefix. 

I have traced all of Ch Billy Obo, Jr.’s AKC-registered offspring (69) out of 28 different bitches. 
He had recessive liver and particolor, and to add to the possibilities, it seems that he had a recessive buff gene as well as sable. 


The research on sable would never have reached its present stage without the help of others who have contributed greatly.  First, I am thankful that Don Harrison and Ed McCauley described the color of their black bitch’s first litter.  Together, we worked months studying the limited sable literature and planning the second litter.  The result was both confirmation of Dr. Phillips’ research and birth of a litter containing three solid sables and two open-marked parti-colors.  It was Don who engineered our recent acquisition of the Journal of Heredity containing Dr. Phillips’ article. 

Our sincere appreciation goes to the American Genetic Association and the editor of The Journal of Heredity, not only for furnishing a mint-condition copy of the February 1938 (Vol 29, No 2) Journal, but also for giving us permission to reprint the photos on pp. 67 and 68 in Dr. Phillips’ “Sable Coat Color in Cockers,” pp. 67-69. 

Beth McKinney of Redmond, Washington, deserves unlimited gratitude for her tenacious searching for a photo of Ch Dogwood Rouge et Noir and her equally spectacular unearthing of his show record which covered a time span between October, 1935 and the late spring of 1938. 
From  COCKER CHAMPIONS in Story and Pedigree” Volume 2, Austin and Greer.  Copyright 1983


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