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Panda-marked Afghan Hound at a show in Europe.

Color Me Controversial

Unusual Colors in Sighthounds - Part 2
Are they traditional colors we need to preserve or new anomalies we need to purge? Breeders need to investigate before they rush to promote or persecute.

In this the second* of three articles dealing with controversial colors and patterns in various Sighthound breeds, we cover the Afghan Hound, Scottish Deerhound, Rhodesian Ridgeback and Basenji. Although color seems like a trite characteristic of a breed it is apparently an important point, judging by people's reactions, either pro or con, when the subject of an unusual color comes up. In every breed where I have asked the question there have been accusations of crossbreeding and attempting to breed a new color for profit. I have been chastised by some for even mentioning that these colors exist, for fear it will encourage readers to want one or decide to start breeding them. I prefer to allow people to see the controversy and the colors for themselves and make up their own mind what they want to do.


AFGHAN HOUND

AKC Standard: Color: All colors are permissible, but color or color combinations are pleasing; white markings, especially on the head, are undesirable. Nose: ... black in color.

FCI Standard: Colour: All colours acceptable. Nose: Preferably black, liver permissible in light-coloured dogs.


Afghan Hounds have one of the greatest array of acceptable colors of any breed. That said, don't look for a merle or a particolor in the Afghan ring. But what about an Irish-marked? The AKC standard states that "white markings, especially on the head, are undesirable."  We've all seen top winners sporting white under their neck and on their forechest, so they must not be too undesirable. 

But when the white creeps up the feet, or around the neck, or onto the face, North American breeders take exception. The situation is a bit different in Europe, where the standard doesn't mention white as being undesirable. According to Stephanie Hunt-Crowley the discrepancy between standards in North America and Europe arose because when North American breeders were reworking the AKC standard in the 1940s, they were at odds about many things, including white markings. One breeder wanted them to be a disqualification, while others pointed out how commonplace white feet were. They compromised with the current AKC wording but were unable to persuade their European counterparts to do so.  

         In FCI countries, there is no statement against white markings. In 2007 a bitch, Butterfly Top Orient, was born in the Czech Republic. Although registered as a domino, she certainly was not a typical one. She had a white chest, white face and a wide blaze that extended into her forehead and down both cheeks. Because her body color was fairly light, the markings were not that dramatic. When she was bred (twice) to a black dog, however, at least five offspring shared the same distinctive white markings but this time on a black background. Now they were as obvious as, well, black and white.  

        Three panda-marked offspring from Butterfly were bred; all produced panda-marked offspring. One of Butterfly's black-and-white offspring, Benetta Loving Gaze, earned a championship in several countries, attracting considerable attention and igniting a debate about her so-called "panda" marking (even that designation is controversial).

         The unusual coloration may have began in earlier generations. A dog whelped in France in 1985, named A Culture Club de Cassandra is Butterfly Top Orient's great-great-grandsire. Though registered as a domino, his photo is clearly not typcial domino, nor black-and-tan patterned. No photos are available of the dogs in the intervening generations.

         Most people have assumed their markings to be typical Irish markings, as seen in Boston Terriers and Basenjis. The Irish marking pattern can arise in dogs in two different ways: first, by having two copies of the s^i (Irish) allele, which is recessive to S (solid) but dominant to s^p (parti). The second way is from having one copy of S and one copy of s^p — highly unlikely in Afghan Hounds due to the lack of particolors. Either way would mean the alleles would have to be lurking on both sides of Butterfly Top Orient's pedigree for recessives to meet up, and then again on both sides for recessives to meet up in the subsequent generation. This seems unlikely, and is why many breeders have been quick to accuse them of cross-breeding — an accusation fueled by the refusal of the panda-marked dogs' owners to have any sort of DNA testing done.

         I believe cross-breeding is highly unlikely for two reasons: 1) if the cross was to an S^i S^i dog of another breed, the Afghan Hound dam would still need to carry s^i in order for it to be expressed in the first generation; 2) if the cross was to an s^p dog of another breed, the pattern would not breed true in the second generation; 3) there is no other breed, not even a Saluki, that would allow the consistency in breed type to remain in the first two generations. 

         It defies genetic logic to believe these dogs are cross-breeds. So what are they? Could there be latent Irish-marking genes in the Afghan gene pool? Could such dogs have been produced in the past but hidden or euthanized as puppies, as some supporters claim? Perhaps, but it seems unlikely, given the Afghan Hound craze of the 1960s and '70s, that they would not have been sold as beautiful pets during that time. 

 

Panda Afghan puppies

         However, this may not be true. Stephanie Hunt-Crowley has a letter from a prominent Afghan Hound breeder, dated around 1970, in which the breeder laments the fact that her stud dog produces white muzzles and chins, "some with exactly the markings of a St. Bernard, some with the teardrop starting at the end of the nose-leather up to the face and over the eyes and head and down to the neck, ending in a big, white diamond." The breeder adds that these "mismarks" occurred at a high frequency in both litters sired by this dog, and that she euthanized all the mismarked puppies. 

         Certainly Afghan Hounds with white muzzles and even lower legs have been recorded in earlier times. A bitch owned in the 1930s/'40s bythe comedian Harpo Marx, of the Marx Brothers, produced black puppies that were "highly marked with white on their face and legs." There are also several photographs of Afghan Hounds with white feet from those years. But none report white to the extent that it formed a collar. 

         But not so fast. Is this marking even technically Irish-marked? Although close, they may not be exactly marked like traditional Irish-marked dogs, as they have very little white on their rear half and a lot of white on the front half. In fact, rather than a blaze they are said to have a white face adorned with black eye markings of various extent and a fully white front without a collar. Some proponents contend it is a novel (for the breed) mutation similar to that initially identified in German Shepherds. The mutation, generally referred to as "panda," is in the KIT gene (CD117)and causes a panda-like spotting with white on the face, belly, tail tip and front of the dog, with markings that tend to be fairly symmetrical. (The KIT gene is associated with white spotting in various domestic animals but had so far not been demonstrated to cause white spotting in dogs until the German Shepherd panda mutation.)A high percentage retain dark markings around the eyes. It is a dominant allele, so only one copy is needed. In fact, dogs with two copies of the mutation are believed to die as embryos, precluding a pure-breeding line from being established.  

         The panda mutation is entirely distinct from the spotting and Irish-marked gene loci. Proponents claim the mutation has also been identified in Pugs and at least one Bully breed, but I have not been able to find that reference. Could a similar mutation also be present in Afghan Hounds? So far none have been tested for it — that we know of. Once again, this arouses suspicion amongst doubters. It is probablue that these dogs have a totally novel mutation, so would test negative for the German Shepherd Dog panda mutation but still have one of their own. Hopefully a less hostile atmosphere on all sides may encourage testing and sharing of results. 

         There's another color that's seldom seen in Afghan Hounds: the so-called chocolate, which are seen with the frequency — and veracity — of Big Foot sightings. No less famous a dog than Ch.Tryst of Grandeur, the all-time top Hound with 161 Bests in Show, produced an AKC champion daughter that was supposedly chocolate, Ch. Lets Tryst Again of Grandeur. In online photos she appears to be a very dark liver-ish Afghan Hound that looks black on the saddle and face. It's hard to tell, but she appears to have a dark nose or dark eyes. Note thatwhile the Saluki standard allows for the nose to be black or liver, the current Afghan Hound standard allows only black, further supporting the idea that chocolate is neither present nor desirable in the Afghan Hound. 

         However, the early U.K. standard did allow for liver-colored noses in light dogs and also stated that eyes should be dark, but golden was not debarred. One report states that a 1960s U.K. dog, Ch. Conygar Janze of Carolway, was a very brownish black-and-tan with eyes so light they were almost green. A well-known Australian champion Calahorra the Hawk, has also been claimed to be liver, but again, his photo shows no evidence of light eyes or nose. According to breeder Wendye Slatyer, Hawk was born black but started to dilute to chocolate while still a puppy. "We became aware on CLOSEST inspection  in BRIGHTEST sunlight that his pigment was the DARKEST liver imaginable. He continued to dilute and became the most heavenly lavender blue in advanced age ... To my recall he produced blacks, never a chocolate. .." 

         It appears that chocolate may mean something different to Afghan breeders compared to the b/b chocolate seen, for example, in Salukis, that causes all black pigment  to be brown.  It appears to be more similar to the seal color seen in Italian Greyhounds and some other breeds. In fact, Allan Reznik refers to the color as "root beer," which seems a more apt description.  

         No discussion of Afghan Hound color would be complete without mentioning dominos, which are genetically the same as grizzle Salukis. In fact, Some Afghan breeders insist that the first domino appeared in a kennel that also bred grizzle Salukis, leading to speculation that some gene trading had been going on. The term "domino" comes from the best-known early example of the pattern, Multiple Ch. Tanjores Domino, who was imported into the U.S. from Sweden in 1958 by Cynthia Guzevich (Sommers), and at the time supposedly held more internationaltitles than any other Afghan Hound. (Sighthound Review's editor Bo Bengtson bred a litter by Domino's son Ch. Tajmahal Abd-ul Djari, who was also domino-colored, in Sweden in 1965, but none of the puppies were the same color as their sire and grandsire.) The pattern was controversial at one time, but no longer; however, to this day many fanciers contend that domino Afghans have more Saluki-like features than other Afghan Hounds. Domino Afghans don't seem to have a rich history. A couple of early dogs are listed in the Afghan Hound pedigree base as domino, but these were labeled by modern day breeders, as there would not have been this nomenclature at the time. Even these dogs, such as Ch. Yabu El Myia, born 1953, don't necessarily scream domino. It's just too hard to see. 

         Note that even blue Afghan Hounds were at one time controversial. Sighthound expert Conni Miller commented upon the controversy in several 1965 issues of The Afghan Hound Times, stating that several British and Australian writers had inferred the color was "illegitimate, unknown in Afghanistan and probably developed through a sneaky modern cross with Greyhounds or Whippets." 

         Miller explained that blues and brindles were both uncommon in the United Kingdom (which is certainly no longer the case). However, she was able to trace blues produced from first generation American imports from Afghanistan.


SCOTTISH DEERHOUND

AKC standard: Color: Is a matter of fancy, but the dark blue-gray is most preferred. Next come the darker and lighter grays or brindles, the darkest being generally preferred. Yellow and sandy red or red fawn, especially with black ears and muzzles, are equally high in estimation. This was the color of the oldest known strains---the McNeil and Chesthill Menzies. White is condemned by all authorities, but a white chest and white toes, occurring as they do in many of the darkest-colored dogs, are not objected to, although the less the better, for the Deerhound is a self-colored dog. A white blaze on the head, or a white collar, should entirely disqualify. The less white the better but a slight white tip to the stern occurs in some of the best strains.

FCI standard: Colour: Dark blue-grey, darker and lighter greys or brindles and yellows, sandy-red or red fawns with black points.  A white chest, white toes and a slight white tip to stern are permissible but the less white the better, since it is a self-coloured dog.  A white blaze on head or white collar unacceptable.


         To most of us, Scottish Deerhounds are a gray breed. Period. But recently wheatens, fawns and fawn-brindles have been making a re-appearance, often claimed as the last throwbacks or a “mutation” to once common or at least historical colors that have not been seen in purebred Deerhounds for at least a century. 

         First, it's true that the Scottish Deerhound used to come in more colors and patterns, including wheaten and fawn-brindle. Many portraits of the breed from the 19th century depicted fawns or wheatens of various shades. (See for example).

         But during the 20th Century breeders selected for a dark gray coat and the breed became uniformly dark gray with a brindle component. Puppies are born black, but gray to varying degrees with age. Puppies often exhibit brindling, and this may be seen under the gray coat but is normally hidden by it in graying adults. This is not a true fawn-brindle, which depends on having black stripes on a fawn background, as the fawn background is extinct in Deerhounds. Rather, it results from fawn banding on individual hairs that together can create a slightly striped appearance. However, some reports contend the Deerhound is homozygous for brindle, but seldom exhibits obvious brindling, because it is dominated by black to gray in the longer graying out-coat of the adult and it usually should no longer have a fawn background on which to appear. Analysis of color variation in Deerhounds led the geneticist Dr. Reinhard Jödicke (1991) to conclude that “One fact is irreversible: the historical colors are lost, because the specific gene informations are extinct.” 

Fawn Deerhound, Leoch Lus Righ at the 2019 SDCA Scottish National Specialty, age two and a half. Photo by Kathy Lazenby.

         In recent years an increasing number of fawn or wheaten Deerhounds have appeared in the U.K., Europe and Australia, with claims that they are the last examples of this historical color. Challenges by other breeders to DNA-test these dogs for breed purity went unanswered, and this, along with the allegations that they all came directly or indirectly from a kennel that also bred lurchers, Greyhounds and Irish Wolfhounds led to the conviction that many have that these dogs are not purebred. A registered Deerhound from a kennel in Ireland that breeds Irish Wolfhounds, Greyhounds and lurchers as well as colored Deerhounds, was in fact DNA-tested as part of a Mars DNA survey of European Sighthounds in 2012. (The Mars DNA test is a commercially available test that is used to determine what breeds a dog has in its ancestry.)The cluster formed by the Deerhound samples was very tight and distinct from the Irish Wolfhound, with the exception of this one bitch, who fell midway between the Scottish Deerhound and Irish Wolfhound clusters — a result consistent with crossbreeding. (For more information go to http://sloughi.tripod.com/preserving/info_meeting_2012_deerhound-arnold.pdfThis site discusses the study of European Sighthound genetics. The microsatellites from 25 individuals of each Sighthound breed are compared, with the goal of establishing norms with which to compare future samples to establish if they were pure-bred or crossbred with various sighthounds.) 

         In 2017, the exhibition of a so-called "blonde" (fawn) Deerhound in the U.K., Rathcreevagh Hailey of Anmialchu, aroused substantial controversy. Owner Iain Gow states that allegations of cross-breeding are disingenuous, given the admitted and sanctioned cross-breeding to Greyhounds as recently as 1957, a cross from which thousands of present-day Deerhounds descend.  

         In 2018, the U.K. Deerhound club moved to change its standard to exclude "yellow, sandy red, red fawn." The proposal met with much outrage and appears to have been postponed until the AGM of 2020. 

Rathcreevagh Hope placed in her class at the Border Union championship show in the U.K. She is registered with the Irish KC.        

       Terry Robertson is one of the very few owners of fawn Deerhounds in the U.S. The dam of his fawn is also from the Rathcreevagh kennels. He, too, has been accused of promoting lurchers, but he says his dogs have been verified as pure Scottish Deerhounds using the Wisdom DNA panel. (The Wisdom DNA panel compares your dogs DNA to the average DNA of each breed and determines what breeds are behind your mix, or if it is purebred.)Detractors state that they have asked for third-party DNA collection and publication of results, neither of which the fawn owners will consent to. The latter insist that they are being bullied and will not cooperate with an audience that will likely contend that the fawns results from a cross several generations ago that no longer shows up as a mix in such tests. And so, as in virtually every other breed with a color controversy, the stalemate continues ...

 

RHODESIAN RIDGEBACK

AKC Standard: Color: Light wheaten to red wheaten. A little white on the chest and toes permissible but excessive white there, on the belly or above the toes is undesirable. Clear faced or masked dogs are equally correct and neither is preferred. A clear face with black or brown/liver pigmentation only on nose, lips, and around the eyes, or a masked face with black or brown/liver pigmentation is correct as long as the color is not continuing with a solid mask over the eyes. A darker ear often accompanies the darker masked dog. Nose - should be black, brown or liver, in keeping with the color of the dog. No other colored nose is permissible. A black nose should be accompanied by dark eyes, a brown or liver nose with amber eyes.

FCI Standard: Colour: Light wheaten to red wheaten. A little white on the chest and toes is permissible, but excessive white hairs here, on belly, or above toes is undesirable. A dark muzzle and ears permissible. Excessive black hairs throughout the coat are highly undesirable. Nose: The nose should be black or brown. A black nose should be accompanied by dark eyes, a brown nose by amber eyes.


         The Ridgeback standard seems clear on the subject of color when it states "Light wheaten to red wheaten." However, many exhibitors report a decided bias among judges for darker reds, to the point that light wheatens seem to be unjustifiably faulted. 

         Early reports of mouse-colored Ridgebacks seem to refer to a dilute, Weimaraner-like color that still occasionally pops up in rare instances. Breeders seek to avoid this color, and a gene test for it is available. 

         Similarly, rare cases of purebred black-and-tan Ridgebacks occur. This pattern has caused more controversy, since at least one black-and-tan Ridgeback has become a top lure-courser, and another was exhibited by a well-known professional handler in the show ring. The dog was excused from the latter. Current black-and-tans are said to come mostly from the well-known Spring Valley line. The pedigrees of these dogs include top show-dogs and producers with nothing to suggest any cross-breeding. So while some detractors suggest an unknown alliance, others believe it's a case of rare recessive matching-up. 

Sable Rhodesian Ridgeback. Photo courtesy of Carole Bradley-Kennedy.

         No historical evidence of black-and-tan Ridgebacks exists, and it's unknown how the pattern is in the current Ridgeback gene pool. However, according to an article by William Rosenthal, several breeds that went into the creation of the Ridgeback could have introduced the black-and-tan allele, which is recessive to the Ridgeback's typical sable alleles. Rosenthal specifically mentions Cornelius Van Rooyen's statement that the breed was established "due to two gray-black bitches with yellowish buff legs and tan points." 

         Rosenthal also states that "[w]riters about the breed discuss the occurrence of black and tans, and other colors, going back at least thirty years." (This was written in 2005.) He also contends that black-and-tans have been so seldom reported because they were generally culled at birth, pointing to one European Ridgeback organization that states in its Code of Ethics: "Pups with dermoid-sinus, absent or multiple crowns, colour not of standardor ridgeless should be culled at birth." 

         That said, not everyone agrees. In fact, the mere mention that I was writing this segment aroused enough ire amongst Ridgeback breeders that I was inundated with messages informing me they were mixes and begging me not to even mention them. The concern is that pet breeders may purposefully breed them, as they are eye-catching and unusual. At present, the few examples seem to be in responsible hands and have not been bred from. 

Wheaten Rhodesian Ridgeback. Photo courtesy of Carole Bradley-Kennedy.

 

         What about white? The standard states: “A little white on the chest and toes permissible but excessive white there, on the belly or above the toes is undesirable.” American breeders and judges are more accepting of excess white than are European breeders. Breeders also caution not to confuse paler wheaten coloration on the underside with white markings; they are decidedly different, with the paling effect natural and totally acceptable. 

         Then there's the matter of black hairs, more often interspersed within the coat but sometimes blackening the ears and muzzle. The AKC standard makes no mention of black hairs, but the South African standard, which is what the FCI follows, states “Excessive black hairs throughout the coat are highly undesirable." 

         In the early years of the breed brindle was an accepted Ridgeback pattern. Brindles were extremely common in the early foundation of the breed. But by the 1938 standard, mention of brindle was gone. Brindles are absent from the AKC Ridgeback gene pool. 

         For a complete discussion of Ridgeback color, see The Ridgeback Register, Fall 2009 issue.  


BASENJI

AKC Standard: Color-Chestnut red; pure black; tricolor (pure black and chestnut red); or brindle (black stripes on a background of chestnut red); all with white feet, chest and tail tip. White legs, blaze and collar optional. The amount of white should never predominate over primary color. Color and markings should be rich, clear and well-defined, with a distinct line of demarcation between the black and red of tricolors and the stripes of brindles. Nose-Black greatly desired. 

FCI Standard: Colour: Pure black and white; red and white; black and tan, and white with melon pips and tan markings on muzzle and cheeks; black; tan and white; brindle: red background with black stripes, the more clearly defined the stripes the better. The white should be on the feet, chest and tail tip. White legs, blaze and white collar optional. Nose: Black nose desirable.


         First, let's get white out of the way. All Basenjis should be Irish-marked to some degree. The amount of white can vary greatly between dogs. As long as white does not predominate it is technically correct, although some highly-marked Basenjis may not be as aesthetically pleasing. The same is true of scarcely marked ones, which while perhaps appearing plain are equally correct as long as the feet, chest and tail tip are marked. 

         The Basenji is one of the rare breeds that has Country of Origin dogs from which to replenish the gene pool. This allows new colors and patterns to be considered and accepted in the AKC standard. Many of us recall the days when brindles were first brought back to the U.S. from Africa by the group of Basenji breeders seeking to widen the AKC gene pool. (The first trip to Africa by Western breed fanciers was in the late 1980s, but there were also later visits.) Before that time an occasional brindle had made its way to the show ring elsewhere, even earning at least one foreign championship, but the AKC standard did not allow them. A photo in Susan Coe's book "The Basenj: Out of Africa to You" shows a brindle Basenji puppy found in Africa in 1959. The parent club changed the standard in 1987 to accept them, and at first brindle Basenjis were a novelty. Now brindle is no big deal — although its presence does give a nod to a more recent African ancestry. 

         Of course, when you have brindle, and when you have black-and-tan, you can have "trindle" (black-and-tan with brindle markings in the tan areas). For some years there was controversy over how to address such dogs. That has been resolved; trindles are considered perfectly acceptable and are classified as tricolors for the purposes of showing. Some breeders still don't like them, but at least one trindle has won a Best in Show. 

Open-faced or capped Basenji, Dual Ch. Taji’s Africa Queen Disa.

         Early imports included dogs of  several other colors, such as Nyanabiem of Tonj, imported 1937, described as mahogany, tan and white; and Phemister's Congo, a mostly white bitch with a few red spots. Elspet Ford's book "The Complete Basenji" includes a photo of Nyenabim, described as a mahogany tricolor brought back from the south of Sudan in the 1930s. The more recent imports from the African Stock Project have included a dog that appears fawn but is genetically red (A^y), Lukuru Amisis, and a capped tri-color, Avongara Nabodio. 

         Michael Work mentions the so-called open-face or capped tris they found in Africa. They returned with one, Avongara Nabodio, described as a capped tri-color. Similarly marked dogs have descended from these imports.They appear to be dark sables with a red mask, or perhaps tris with extensive tan facial markings. Last year Work finished the only open-faced Basenji champion so far. "No one else has seriously tried," he adds. 

         Work does concede the pattern is not equally acceptable to others "as the standard is pretty clear on how a tri should be marked, and it's not like this." But this is not the first time this pattern has been seen. Around 1963 several puppies were born to top-winning parents that were black, tan and white, yet lacked the melon eye pips typical of black-and-tans. Veronica Tudor-Williams, whose "of the Congo" kennel has had tremendous influence on both sides of the Atlantic, wrote that these dogs could become very sabled on the neck and sides. She clarifies that black, tan and white without pips is mentioned as being owned by a member of the Sudan Defense Force in the Sudan around 1917, and that later, the great stud dog Ch. Fulafuture of the Congo sired three such pups (out of the hundreds he sired). She adamantly wrote against banning this color, or any other color seen in the southern Sudan.

         That said, two colors remain especially controversial: cream and blue. The earliest reported creams came from imports Bongo of Blean and Bokoto of Blean, born around 1935. Their cream offspring were placed as pets and not bred from as they were considered undesirable. The earliest photos of creams are of 1939 littermates from a breeding of Kwango of the Congo to Koo Koo of the Congo. 

Open-faced or capped Basenji, Dual Ch. Taji’s Africa Queen Disa.

         According to Veronica Tudor-Williams, "[t]here was never any malice or ill-will over the banning of creams. We all used to say that if only they had black noses, dark eyes and dark eye-rims, they would have been a most attractive and welcome color in the breed, and I am sure would have become very popular. But their semi-albino points made their inclusion out of the question."

         In fact the Basenji that Miss Tudor-Williams used for illustration did appear to resemble an albino piglet more than a dilute cream! Some breeders apparently continued to breed them, however, as evidenced by their appearances in advertisements as late as 1957. Again, these dogs had extremely light noses and eyes, creating modern speculation that they may have been albinos rather than true creams. 

         Veronica Tudor-Williams, writing in 1970, stated that several English kennels produced creams. The Cambria kennels, owned by Bob Mankey in California, produced creams at least until the late 1960s, and "was not the only kennel who experienced dilute colors in the early years. Most breeders tried to breed away from any dilute colors. There were also dilute tri-color Basenjis at the time."

         More recently, dogs from the African Stock project have included at least one dog, Avongara Siri of Brushy Run (born 1997), who was identified as a cream, although the photos make her appear to be more of a washed-out red — very different from the albino-ish dogs of the past. In fact, her breeder tried to register her as a blue-fawn but that option is not available on Basenji registration forms. Her coat is described as appearing between a milky chocolate color to light bluish gray; her eyes are greenish and her nose a very dark charcoal. 

         Some people currently claim to have cream Basenjis, but most of these tend to be either unregistered dogs of dubious background, very light reds, or blue brindles on a dilute fawn background.  

         Not all, however. Rose Marie Holt has two Basenjis born in Benin, West Africa, and tested as 100% Basenji by Embark DNA breed-identification testing. "My creams have dark nose, lips,  and eye rims and genetics of white German Shepherds (recessive red), she says. 

         Blues seem to evoke even stronger feelings. There is limited mention of them historically. A 1963 U.K. advertisement pictures two blue tri Basenjis, Morning Mist of Sin and May Morning of Sin. Misty was exported to become the first blue Basenji in the U.S. The ad also boasts of having a blue and white stud, Blue Horizon of Sin. The puppies pictured both seem to be lacking in nose and eye rim pigment. (The Sin kennels of Basenjis and Ibizan Hounds were owned by the late Diana Berry, whose son Ben Reynolds-Frost is currently a judge. He judged the Hound Group at Crufts in 2013 and has judged Basenjis in many countries, including Africa and the U.S. - Ed.)

         According to critics, the current blue Basenjis trace back to a kennel that also raised Rat Terriers, a breed that carries the blue allele. Sally Walters, who has bred Basenjis since 1981 and says she has never owned a Rat Terrier, says she acquired Basenjis from a deceased breeder in 2008. Those dogs subsequently produced blues and creams. "We had them DNA tested by Embark and they came back as pure Basenjis," she says. She believes the color may come from the African imports behind them, but can't say with certainty. However, nobody has reported any blue Basenjis in the Congo. Work says he spent months in the Congo researching the breed. "Saw a lot of different things, but a blue Basenji was not one of them." But he does add: "That's not to say there wasn't one there." 

         Sally Walter's blues have charcoal noses and slate-colored eyes. A veterinary technician, she states that they have never had any health or coat problems that are sometimes associated with blues in other breeds. She states that an African villager she has communicated with says that when such dogs are born in tribal villages they are considered evil and culled. She also believes Western breeders may have culled them rather than be accused of accidental breedings. These days the stigma of crossbreeding is somewhat less than in the past, and culling is less favored; that, plus the exposure of social media, could contribute to what appears to be their sudden emergence. 

         Walters is emphatic that these dogs are representing traditional coloring. "If the colors were there historically they need to be preserved," she says. 

         And that is the question with all the controversial colors: Are they traditional colors we need to preserve or new anomalies we need to purge? Breeders need to investigate before they rush to promote or persecute. 

         * Part 1 of this article — concerning unusual colors in Salukis, Greyhounds, Sloughis, Irish Wolfhounds and Whippets — was published in the printed Summer issue of Sighthound Review, and can be puchased under the "Back Issue" page. The third and final part of this article will be published in the next digital issue of Sighthound Review.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: D. Caroline Coile, Ph.D., has earned the Canine Health Foundation Award (twice), Eukanuba Canine Health Award (twice) and Morris Animal Foundation Award, plus induction into the Dog Writers Association of America Hall of Fame. She has lived with Sighthounds since she was six years old, starting with a Whippet, then Afghan Hound, Borzoi and finally her first love, Salukis. Caroline’s Baha Salukis have won BIS, SBIS, BIF and National Specialty BOB, HIT (agility and obedience) and triathlon wins. She has written hundreds of articles and 32 books about dogs. Caroline lives in Live Oak, Florida.

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