by Dr Francis Greer
the book "COCKER CHAMPIONS in Story and Pedigree” Volume 2
(Special Thanks to Martin
Belcke (CockerSpaniels.com) for taking the time to write this out &
sending to me)
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
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.
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.
article contained photos of the two subjects (a mother and son), both sable.
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.
registered names of the two sables were not given in the article (it is
not a practice to call the subjects by registered names).
names of the breeders and owners were given, and a search is now underway
to identify the bloodlines from Stud Book records.
patterns in Cockers is relatively rare although it is (and was) probably
more common than appears in the Stud Books.
of previous eras tended to register them simply as “red,” disregarding
dark hairs or visible indications of tan points pattern in the normal locations.
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.
seems to be a violation of Dr. Phillips’ statement that buff to buff breeding
can give only buff.
Phillips’ reputation is not tarnished; buff to buff gives only buff as
long as both are genetic buffs.
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.
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.
photograph was necessary to examine his appearance since both Bosticks
are now gone, but I expected to find one.
McKinney, English Cocker breeder and historian, knew of old magazines,
found his picture in the February 1939 AKC Gazette!
black and white, the photo showed a dog that might well have been a black/tan
because the tan pattern was so obvious.
the entire period when Rouge et Noir was shown, black/tans were still shown
in particolor classes.
only chance for an answer to his color was to locate his show record.
delved into show records and found that he had earned all his points from
the Solid Color Other Than Black classes.
chance of actually being sable rose to 99%.
next project was to see if his pedigree contained the lines of known sable
producers. And it did.
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.
black bitch involved in the recent legitimacy conflict has 12 crosses to
Ch Obo Donatello, known carrier of the sable gene.
limited number of sable pedigrees chosen for this chapter illustrates the
gene’s distribution geographically.
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.
extensive discussion of sable genetics and known sables is included in
a booklet nearing completion for those interested in the subject.
is probable that the sable gene was preserved in Canada at the time those
breeders were actively engaged
developing dark red Cockers.
is fortunate from the standpoint of genetics that Canadian-bred Ch Obo
Donatello was brought to the States at an early age.
was outstanding; many bitches were sent to him, and a large number of his
puppies were registered.
AKC records provided color information, but many breeders were still averse
to the procedure.
traced 143 of Ch Obo Donatello’s sons and daughters out of 54 different
was black, but he carried the recessive genes for liver, sable, and parti-color.
He did not carry tan points or buff.
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.
traced all of Ch Billy Obo, Jr.’s AKC-registered offspring (69) out of
28 different bitches.
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,”
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