Showsight Presents the Shiba Inu

GENETIC TESTING FOR COAT COLOR AND LENGTH IN THE SHIBA INU

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The lightened color on the undersides of many breeds is influenced by the Agouti ( A ) gene series and especially noticeable in those of red/sable coloring with a longer, double coat such as the Sheltie, Corgi, and Chow. It has been taken to a new level by selective breeding in the Shiba. The desire for a clear, almost white urajiro has created a look that is almost indistinguishable from the white markings found on a Siberian Husky and some Malamutes. The most obvious difference is that Shibas are not born with those markings but transition into them as a puppy matures, just as many wild animals, including coyotes, cotton- tails, and mountain lions have undersides that lighten with maturity. The agouti gene series, influenced by modifying factors both known and unknown, produces some of the widest variations in canine color. A couple other things are worthy of note. There have not been enough tests done on Shibas to determine how many carry the aw gene, but it is probably not very many. So far, those that do carry the gene are descending from just a few dogs. At this time, there is no genetic evidence showing that black & tan Shibas would be more likely to carry the cream gene than the red ones. Fortunately, for Shiba breeders, coat color genetics is easy, especially when compared to their cousin, the Akita (Greater Japanese Dog). With testing for the long-coat and cream genes readily available, people can test before breeding, to eliminate these faults, if desired, or even test puppies at just a few days of age. The use of the long-coat carrier to boost the thickness of offsprings’ coats (prob- ably already being done inadvertently) or the cream to possibly intensify the red in sable offspring are controversial subjects and better addressed in open forums rather than in national publications. How breeders choose to manage these things are individual decisions, but at least the tools are now available for everyone. “FORTUNATELY, FOR SHIBA BREEDERS, COAT COLOR GENETICS IS EASY, ESPECIALLY WHEN COMPARED TO THEIR COUSIN, THE AKITA (GREATER JAPANESE DOG). WITH TESTING FOR THE LONG-COAT AND CREAM GENES READILY AVAILABLE, PEOPLE CAN TEST BEFORE BREEDING, TO ELIMINATE THESE FAULTS, IF DESIRED, OR EVEN TEST PUPPIES AT JUST A FEW DAYS OF AGE.”

photo courtesy of Johnny Szary

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Since joining the NSCA in 1989, Jacey Holden has been an Officer or Board Member for the majority of those years, including five years as President and all other offices except Treasurer. Serving on the Public Education Committee for the past several years made it abundantly clear to Jacey that the greatest challenge facing the Shiba, and probably all purebred dogs, is not the hyperbole surrounding dog shows or whether or not we have an Illustrated Standard, but the proliferation of poor-quality dogs being offered to an impulsive public over the Internet. Our only weapon is education, and the club and its members face this greatest challenge by creating informed puppy buyers, for without them our sport and all the noble objectives in our constitution will be moot. Jacey previously wrote the Shiba column for the AKC Gazette . Much of what Jacey has written appeared on the NSCA website or in the E-News, and she hopes that it expresses much of her desire for breed and public education. Jacey’s experience in dog-oriented organizations is extensive and she has served in almost all board positions for the Shiba Inu Fanciers of Northern California, the San Joaquin Kennel Club, the Northern California Siberian Husky Club, and the Sierra Nevada Dog Drivers.

Links Offering Testing: www.vetgen.com www.vgl.ucdavis.edu/services/coatcolordog http://www.vetdnacenter.com/canine-dna-coat-color.html http://www.horsetesting.com/Canine/Canine.asp

Learn More: http://jhered.oxfordjournals.org/content/98/5/544.full - The Genetics of Cream http://nicholescritters.homestead.com/malcolorgenetics.html/ - Lots of Pictures and Colors to Boggle the Mind http://www.healthgene.com/canine-coat-color-testing/ - Good Basic Under- standing of the Tests http://homepage.usask.ca/~schmutz/dogcolors.html - Good Basics with Photos http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15965787 - For the Scientist http://www.kolumbus.fi/~w425013/link/canlinks.html - A Link with Many More Links

236 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, MAY 2022

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