Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Breeding the Pointed White English Angora Part II– the Three Cardinal Rules

The three cardinal rules for breeding pointeds are 1) you want to double up on the pointed gene, 2) you want to avoid the non-extension gene carried by torts, pearls and fawns, and 3) the you want to avoid the agouti gene carried by chestnut, choc agouti, opal, lynx, cream and fawns. 

1) Doubling up the pointed gene.  When breeding the pointeds, the best breeding choice is to breed two nice dark colored pointeds together.  Another good option would be to breed a self (black, blue, lilac, or chocolate) that carries the pointed gene or a Siamese sable that carries the pointed gene.  This is because your darkest pointeds will occur when the rabbit receives the pointed genes from both parents. In fact, it is desirable to have a Siamese sable and pointed line that you breed together.  Breeding the pointed to the sable will give you correctly colored sables which are not too dark.  Also, the babies will hopefully carry the pointed gene, so any pointeds out of the sable to pointed breeding will carry two pointed genes.  This is a win-win, and it allows you to have two nice colors that you breed together so that each pairing is a sable to a pointed, resulting in a litter of half Siamese sables with nice color and the other half theoretically would be double gene pointeds.  While you could do the same with a black or other self line, a black that carries the pointed gene may not reach its full potential for color.  However, I currently use blacks because I do not have Siamese sables yet, and I am happy to report that my blacks remain very dark, although I am sure that they would be darker if I did not have to use them in my pointed line.

Single gene pointeds.  You can also get pointeds when a rabbit receives a pointed gene from one parent and a white gene from the other parent.  These will not be as dark in color as the pointed to pointed, but if you are trying to improve your pointed line, or just do not have any other options, you may have to do these crosses. You do need to get your quality first.  So, if I needed to work on quality, I would not hesitate to use a black or sable that carries the white gene to breed to my pointeds, or a white that is genetically a black or other self.  Once the quality is there, then you can go back to trying to get your darkest pointeds by doubling up on that gene.

2) Avoiding Non-extension gene pointeds.  One should always avoid the tort or non-extension gene when breeding pointeds.  This means, no tort of any color, no pearl of any color (with the exception of smoke pearl, because smoke pearl is not genetically a pearl, but rather a blue sable) fawns or creams.  Also, avoid using pointed whites that are very light, or whose points appear frosted rather than solid, as they are more than likely non-extension pointeds.  Breeding this gene into your line will produce very undesirable rabbits, and rabbits that can be disqualified.  And, that pesky gene can stay hidden in a line for awhile, and once in there, it will take awhile to breed out.  It is understandable that the English angora breed has many outstanding tort rabbits, and it therefore can be tempting to use them to improve your pointed line.  However, this temptation should be resisted, and, one should find an outstanding black or other self instead.   There are plenty of nice black or other self colored English Angoras, so there should no need to perpetuate the tort gene into your pointeds, causing headaches for many generation.  Just like giving in to temptation and breeding to a rabbit with a white toenail, breeding to the tort could come back and haunt you later down the road. 

3)  Avoid the Agouti Gene.  Also important, but not as crucial as avoiding the tort gene, is to avoid the agouti gene.  This means no chestnuts, choc agoutis, opals, lynxes or fawns should be bred to the pointed white.  The agouti gene will also cause the color to be undesirable as it will cause the points to have rings.  When looking at these rabbits, the points will appear to look chinchilla colored.  While this will result in a disqualification, it is a dominant gene and therefore is easier to breed out than the tort gene.   Therefore, if you bred a chestnut to a pointed and got some nice colored babies that do not have ring color, you could rest assured that those babies will not be passing the agouti gene on to future generations and can safely be utilized in your breeding program.

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