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Eye color in breeding

Discussion in 'The Sheltie Standard' started by sunni9, Aug 9, 2011.

  1. sunni9

    sunni9 Forums Novice

    I am new to Shelties and I am going to get a Blue Merle male and a Tricolor female puppy. Now I have read how only brown eyes are allowed on all colors of Shelties but blue eyes are only allowed on Blue Merles in showing. I want to breed my puppies when they get older and I want to show them...so would it be bad if I got a blue eyed Blue Merle to pair with the brown eyed Tricolor female. I'm not sure how many of the babies from that pair might end up being blue eyed Tricolors and I know that would not be good for showing. Or does the only eye color that really matters is what color the female has? Anyone know about how eye color is in being passed down in breeding? Thanks for any help.
  2. tofu pup

    tofu pup Moderator

    Aug 28, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    Hi and welcome to the Forum!

    I'm going to hold off on your question for the moment, because I want to talk about something even more important...

    I think you need to seriously consider how and why you're going about starting your breeding program.


    Because the questions that you're asking tell me that you're just getting started with Shelties and with showing dogs. They also tell me that you don't yet have a mentor who can guide you and answer your questions about the Sheltie Standard and about genetics. Think about it... here you are, starting off with your breeding program, laying the foundations for a family of Shelties, and the only place you have to turn to with important questions is an online forum. Don't get me wrong, Sheltie Forums is a great place - but these are questions that you want to be absolutely sure about.

    Please don't take my comments the wrong way. I grew up showing Shelties - my mother has been involved in showing and breeding for over twenty years. One of the best lessons that we learned is that you need to have a good mentor and a strong Sheltie community - ideally, you'll have these things even before you buy your first show-prospect puppy!

    There is so, so much to learn before you start showing... and even more to learn before you start to build a breeding program. By educating yourself and teaming up with a great mentor, you set yourself up for success and for a family of dogs you can be proud of.

    Your area is a hotbed of Sheltie quality. There's not one, but four American Shetland Sheepdog Association member-clubs in Ohio alone (I'm certainly impressed!). You can find contact information for each at this link here. By contacting a club, you can get in touch with a breeder who could be a great mentor for you, and help you get started in learning what you need to know to start of right in showing and breeding dogs. You'd also have the opportunity to join a Sheltie club, which would let you become a part of a vibrant Sheltie community.

    Best of luck to you!
  3. ClantyreSheltie

    ClantyreSheltie Forums Sage

    Feb 24, 2010
    I think before you ever breed anything, you should have a practical understanding of what you are doing. And this applies to all breeders, not just newbies. It scares me how many sable breeders don't comprehend AOC colors or how they inherit. All they know is brown+brown=brown.

    You have chosen to start with the merle gene, which can be a dangerous game to play when you don't understand how it works. The eye color you ask about has everything to do with the merle gene, except when it doesn't :smile2: Merle is a fairly unstable mutation that dilutes pigment. There are inherent risks with any dilution, and the risks in merles is pretty well identified.

    I would advise you start your research in basic genetics, then go to the Sheltie specific genetics. Color inheritance in general is a good thing to know, Shelties are pretty easy, as we only have one color gene location with three alleles, the rest of the color genes are set.

    Then get a good understanding of structure, and why it's important. You don't want to produce dogs who act old before their time or who get arthritis early and are miserable their whole lives. Understand how structure affects a dogs ability to do it's job (like why cow hocks aren't necessarily bad, even though the standards are written to avoid them).

    Then research about health and robustness and how you can maximize your dogs health, and weed out sickly dogs from your program.

    Then learn to be objective, which is the hardest part. Most of us are still learning this.
  4. seashel

    seashel Forums Enthusiast

    Jul 29, 2010
    Kent, UK
    Hi and welcome:smile2:

    Just wanted to add something else to the excellent advice you've already been given.

    It would really be better if you forgo getting a male for the time being and just stick with your tri girl. Two pups can be quite a handful and require a great deal of individual attention. You are not going to be wanting to breed from your girl until she is old enough, has had the required health tests etc. Until that time you will have to keep her away from the male during each season, which could be quite stressful for you and the dogs - especially if they have grown up together and are companions.

    When your girl is old enough you will know if she is of sufficient quality to breed from, not just the correct type for the breed but also with a good temprament and health screening results which are essential (and by no means is any of this a foregone conclusion as many promising puppies do not 'make the grade'). If you are still wanting to breed from her after this then you will have the choice of some excellent, PROVEN stud dogs that are owned by experienced breeders who will be able to guide you into finding the most suitable mate. It could be that a sable and white is a better option than a blue for her. It is also unwise to mate a 'maiden' dog and bitch pairing together as one of the pair needs to be experienced. If all goes well with the first litter then you might try her with a blue on a subsequent mating.

    In the meantime, do as much research as you possibly can, visit shows, talk to breeders, read information. You simply cannot have too much information and as Tofu pup has said, finding a mentor will really help.
  5. sunni9

    sunni9 Forums Novice

    Ok, I know you all are just stating the facts, but I really have done my research, I just don't know like what percentage of eye color from mom and dad pass on etc. I know the best combination with a blue merle, is a blue merle paired with a tricolor. I am new to dog breeding but I am very familar with blue color genes in animals because I raise, breed and show rare and unusal chickens and have for basically all my life and my fav color are blue chickens. Yes I know chickens and dogs are very different but colorwise pretty similar actually. I know blue merle paired with another blue merle is something that can lead to numerous color combination and many of those being colors that can't be shown. Same with chickens, blue chicken paired with blue chicken gets blue, black and splash (white with polka dots) offspring. Just like with my chickens where in my topknoted varieties you need to have a certain size topknot, certain this and that, I know in dogs you need certain eye color certain size etc etc. I have read a few books on shelties all the way thru looked online thru many websites and did a bit of research, so I am not a complete idiot at what I am doing. I just had a simple question on eye color since I havn't found much info online about eye color in breeding. I just know in most cases the offspring takes after the mother's eye color. Or that is what I have been told. I am not goin to breed my puppies as soon as they are old enough and I will make sure they are good enough quality first. I am getting them thru Petland from two different breeders and I'm making sure they are from different unrealted lines and making sure they are from champion lines so they should be pretty good. Also I am a stay at home housewife since I was laid off of my job in 09 and havn't found another job yet (since they are so scarce anymore) so I am home all the time and have plenty of time to dedicate to the dogs and that's why I am getting two at once. Yes I know a mentor would be great to have but I have not found one so that's why I have read up on things myself to find out a bit. If anyone knows a good mentor around Greenfield, OH please let me know, as I would like to have a good mentor. I do know more than I may appear to know though about raising and breeding shelties. So please don't think of me as a complete idiot at starting out with shelties, I have done my research. I love this website and the forum and I thank you all for your info. I just had a simple question that's all. I didn't wanna come off as an idiot. And does any of you live near Greenfield, OH (southwestern OH) or know anyone who does that could be a good sheltie mentor? If so please let me know, thanks. :smile2:
  6. tofu pup

    tofu pup Moderator

    Aug 28, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    Color is about the least important part of breeding Shelties. It's vital that you not breed merle-to-merle, but beyond that... Here's the AKC Standard for the Shetland Sheepdog. It describes all of the "parts" of the ideal Sheltie, and what they ought to look like. As you'll see, there are many "parts" to cover - and color gets only a brief paragraph. It's well and all to figure out what you get when you breed a tricolor to a blue merle, but a Sheltie breeder needs to understand so much more about structure and breed type.

    I think all of the responses you've received thus far have been very civil. No one thinks you're an idiot. So far, you've heard from three experienced breeders who want to give you helpful information to help you learn about the endeavor that you want to undertake. We don't think you're an idiot - we just want to help you understand what you need to learn, and how to go about learning it.

    Please reconsider this particular plan. There are many excellent Sheltie breeders in your area who would, I am sure, be willing to work with you to help you acquire a quality puppy with a very good pedigree. The people who breed to supply Petland do not breed to the Standard. They don't breed to show. They won't be your mentors. (And let me be honest with you, a mentor who is also the breeder of your first pup will be that much more invested in you! S/he will want that puppy to succeed, and will help you get there.)

    This hearkens back to my encouragement that you learn more (not just from the internet) before you buy your prospect puppy. How will you know if that puppy you're buying is "pretty good"? Without some guidance and education, you won't - it's not because you're not perfectly intelligent, it's just because you wouldn't know.

    That's great! I've already given you a list of four different Ohio Sheltie clubs. In fact, the contact for the Cincinnati Shetland Sheepdog Club is literally twenty minutes from you in Hillsboro. I strongly encourage you to contact the club so that you can find a mentor, learn more, and eventually find just the right puppy for you.

    We aren't attacking or belittling you. We simply recognize that you are starting out, and that there's room for you to grow and learn.
  7. Lightplum

    Lightplum Forums Sage

    Jan 4, 2009
    Rhode Island
    Ohhh myyyyy....ok first off buying and breeding dogs from petland is not a good thing. first off you have no idea their genetic background. This is first and foremost with starting any breeding. Know the relatives/tree back and front..You need to start with a foundation and know that foundation...just like buliding a house you do not want to start with sub-par materials, petland dogs are below sub-par materials. They are puppymill dogs that have absolutly no testing done at all...I suggest if you sincerely want to start breeding dogs find a mentor first. They will help you with picking out a dog for your foundation and nice strong footing to start your program. And as far as being home and unemployed while its a great time to get a puppy but not a great time to decide on breeding, breeding dogs correctly take thousands of dollars. I think you need a valid reason for breeding two dogs together, what is it you hope to improve/Change upon? What are you goals for the breeding? And as far as taking two random dogs and mating them together that does not validate a good enough reason. When you have a mentor they will tell you how to work within a line of dogs, you generally want them to be within certain lines/pedigrees. That will guarantee a standard outcome...breeding willynilly will not!

    I hope this doesnt come off to harsh, but than again breeding dogs in not something to be done lightly...also with getting into merles and breeding a tri its not cut and dry. It is some times very far from that...if your tri is a cryptic (which who knows because its from petland) which some are and you breed it to your blue you will get double merles which are both blind and deaf...are you ready to take care of a litter of puppies blind and deaf? and take care of them for the rest of their life?
  8. ClantyreSheltie

    ClantyreSheltie Forums Sage

    Feb 24, 2010
    It's not an issue of not being able to be shown, it's an issue of breeding a deaf dog with no eyeballs.

    The answer is that the merle gene acts semi-randomly on all pigment, eyes included. You could get merles with two blue eyes, two brown eyes, one of each, or partially merled eyes. It has nothing to do with which parent is merle.

    To be very frank, everything that comes from Petland needs to be spayed or neutered. You have NO IDEA what is behind those dogs. They don't test for any genetic illness, they don't temperament test, they don't look behind the dogs to see what is back there. They take a male and a female, stick them together and sell the offspring for a ridiculous markup to unsuspecting people. They have been doing this for years. The dogs may not be AKC registered, so they will make up some "papers" for you.

    There is no definition of "Champion Bloodlines" because I can guarantee that nobody with a finished Champion will be letting their dog breed a bitch to have the puppies sold at a pet store. Most stud contracts explicitly prohibit this activity. So whatever you are getting will be three to four generations removed from any Champions.

    Please save your money and reconsider buying a dog from a breeder who knows the breed. You will get much more out of it.
  9. mbfrench

    mbfrench Forums Celebrity

    Aug 2, 2009
    While I will stay out of the genetics of this conversation,I will share a photo of our DM.
    This is the product of someone not well versed in genetics. Are you prepared to take care of a litter if one would happen with there severe faults. Mia is deaf & blind,her brother is deaf. The other sibling did not survive.

    Some breeders will cull these puppies,and many are euthanzied.

    All of these pups were surrendered to rescue from the twit breeder,that realized...OMG I have deformed puppies,so he dumps them off on rescue.Mia & her brother had no inquiries to adoption until Greta & I found the rescue in Columbia.
    We have a forum member here that kindly posted the link & story about Mia. No one wanted her,and I'm sure would not have done well in rescue for her whole life.
    Ok..I'm off my soap box,I don't mean to come off rude or disrespectful to you,but this is an issue that is close to our hearts,and we try to do what we can to raise awareness.

    Those that have responded are people that are helping you,please take heed.
    FYI...any puppy that comes from petland....lordie me,you have no idea~


  10. SheltieLuver

    SheltieLuver Forums Enthusiast

    Aug 31, 2008
    South Carolina
    I can't add much more than what has already been said. Except for the fact that I was encouraged that you asked about a mentor. It is almost impossible to get started without one. I don't want to discourage you from trying. We need newbies in the breed, but please be patient and learn as much as you can before buying that first puppy. Believe me it will be worth it in the long haul.
    A reputable breeder would never ever place their puppies through Petland. Just the thought makes me sick. I went into a Petland near here to see what it was like a couple of years back and it was awful. Thank the Lord that is closed.
    Attend as many dog shows as you can. Watch who the judge picks and whom he doesn't. Ask yourself why? Watch the gait from the side and down and back, the stacking position, everything. Study the standard over and over again until you know it by heart. Visit different breeders websites and study pedigrees and look at the pictures to help you learn what the different lines look like. Buy the book Sheltie Talk... and read it from cover to cover. Also, the Illustrated Guide to Sheltie Grooming. It will not only help you in your grooming... but, it has charts and pictures that will help you learn conformation
    When you visit a show, after the shelties showing is over, or several hours before... go up to the handlers and owners and ask them questions. Ask if you can put your hands on a dog and have them go over the faults and virtues. No sheltie is perfect and a good owner will be open to it.
    Inbreeding and Linebreeding is not necessarily a bad thing, if done correctly. I once again urge you to study. Just because the puppies are from Champion lines does not necessarily mean that is a good thing if that don't crossfault nicely. Please think twice before purchasing.

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