genetics male symbol
genetics female symbol


Little, Clarence C., 1957.  The Inheritance of Coat Color in Dogs.  Comstock Pub. Asso. - a division of

         Cornell  University  Press, Ithaca, NY   

Miller, Constance O. & Gilbert, Edward M., 1987.   The New Complete Afghan Hound - Fourth Edition.

         Howell Book House, Macmillan Publishing co., NY, NY

Willis, Malcolm B., 1989.  Genetics of the Dog.   Howell Book House, Macmillan Publishing Co.,

Education: There are many resources available for further understanding of any of these topics, whether relating to gentics or dog breeding. Online instiutions offer a variety of programs at any level. An   AACSB online MBA   or   international MBA   can develop tools to relate to subjets encompassing a wide net, making it easier to do business and interact at the higest levels. Breeding and genitics has opportunities for growth in many   arenas  scientific and business alike. While a general understanding is helpful to anyone there is a market which can take you to any   level   you desire.

An Introduction to the GENES that Influence Coat Color

in Afghan Hounds         


          Recently, a novice friend and I were discussing whelping.  Earlier, we had been talking about coat colors in our breed (Afghan Hounds).  She said to me, "You mean you sit there waiting for them to pop out just to see what colors they are?".  Sheepishly, I had to admit that I do.  Some of us are just "crazy about colors".

The Basics:   Dogs have 39 pairs of chromosomes, with thousands of genes on each one.  Each individual has a pair of each chromosome, therefore two copies of each gene.  Each gene comes in two or more forms, called alleles of that gene.

     The individual gets one of each chromosome from the sire, and one of each chromosome from the dam.  If it is carrying two identical alleles of a gene, it is said to be homozygous for that trait.  If it is carrying two different alleles of a gene it is referred to as heterozygous.

     During meiosis - the special form of cell division that results in formation of reproductive (egg or sperm) cells - the chromosome pairs segregate and move to opposite  ends of the cell.  When the cell divides, the resulting gametes (eggs or sperms) each have only a single copy of each of the 39 chromosomes.  At conception, when egg and sperm unite, the resulting individual has a pair of each chromosome, one inherited from each parent.

     There are two aspects to inheritance - phenotype, and genotype.  Phenotype is what the dog "looks" like.  There are many creative names for various "looks", as in black masked red, s_it brindle, etc.  There seems to be no universal agreement on what names are applied to these looks, either.  There is always lots of debate about phenotypes.

     Genotype refers to the actual genes carried by the individual that are the cause of it's phenotype.  This includes alleles carried, but masked by other genes or alleles, that are not apparent from it's phenotype. These may show up in the phenotype of progeny.  Phenotype can tell us some things about genotype, but others can only be guessed at.  This is the reason for "surprises" that sometimes come from some breedings. 

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      Presented below is a table describing the genes and their alleles (discovered so far) that influence coat color in Afghan Hounds.  They are listed in order of dominance, from most to least.  Other genes, and other alleles of some of the genes presented here that influence coat color in other breeds have been omitted.  This is a brief summary, useful to keep handy if you're trying to read Little, or Willis (see references below) for the first time, and haven't memorized them all yet. 

      It is believed the nine separate genes listed below are not "linked" - they are all on different chromosomes, and are inherited independently of each other.

       One reason this subject keeps me interested is that there is still more to discover.  Since this is a large subject worthy of a book, this article will cover only a small area.  Here is a basic introduction to the genes that influence coat color in Afghan Hounds. 

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photo of model of molecule of DNA

       Some have told me that color inheritance is simple.  I've also read that "there's just no accounting for Afghan Hound colors", and I've been told that "Afghan Hounds just don't follow the rules." (so what else is new?? : ))

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