Greyhound Genetics

GreyhoundGenetics

Greyhounds are bred for speed and athletic ability and are not limited to breeding simply for attractive coat and eye color combinations. Because of this, greyhounds can have a variety of coat and eye color combinations, some of which you may not see in other common dog breeds. Officially there are 18 colors of greyhound coats with a total of 55 variations available.

Greyhound_Color_Chart1
Image courtesy of Recycled Racers.

We know the pup’s coat and eye color depend on their parents; specifically, their genetics. There are three “main” greyhound colors: black, red brindle, and red. The greyhound receives one of these three genes from each of their parents, which is the basis for their coat color. Then, a gene modifier is passed down from both parents, which is what allows for the different coat variations.

One of the rarer genes passed down from greyhound parents to pup is the blue gene (a recessive modifier on the black gene). In order for a greyhound to have a blue coat or any variation of blue, the blue gene must be passed down by both parents. This unique gene makes blue greyhounds a rarity.

If you’re not familiar, “blue” is the term used when a greyhound has a gray coat.

Ethel-Is-Here
ETHEL IS HERE. Photo courtesy of Jeff Prince, Customer Service Manager at Palm Beach Kennel Club.

Recently in the racing spotlight, ETHEL IS HERE (TRENT LEE X J’S AIYSSA), is a beautiful blue greyhound. Her sire TRENT LEE is a black pup and dam J’S AIYSSA is blue.

Greyhound_Trent_Lee-big
TRENT LEE. Image courtesy of Greyhound Data.

TRENT LEE (BRETT LEE X SAN TAN GEM) has sired 3,860 puppies, of which 337 (8.7%) are blue. Interestingly, TRENT LEE’s sire and dam were both black. From this information, we know TRENT LEE passes down the blue recessive gene modifer, which is something he received both from his sire and dam. The same goes for J’S AIYSSA’s dam and sire, since she herself is blue.

Without going into the finer points of genetics, it makes us wonder what ETHEL IS HERE’s litter coloring would be. This hypothetical litter would depend on the sire, too, of course.

Speculation aside, the sire statistics can tell us one thing: greyhounds’ coat and eye color are not factors when it comes to racing. We were unable to find any scientific indicators that link a pup’s athletic prowess directly to the color of their eyes, or coat. However, we did find several articles on the science of greyhound genetics and would like to share with you one of our favorites.

We perused Greyhound Articles Online, a resource full of greyhound-related articles. The article on the subject of coat coloring was incredibly interesting and it related all of the genetic science, too. If you get a free moment, we encourage you to check it out here: Rainbow Colors – Rainbow Greyhounds. This article first appeared in the Spring 1999 issue of Celebrating Greyhounds Magazine and was written by Patricia Gail Burnham.

As breed enthusiasts, we can fawn (no pun intended) over our favorite colored pups. At the end of the day, we know that all greyhounds have one thing in common: they love to run.

 

Be sure to check out the greyt resource, Greyhound Articles Online. GAO is home to seemingly endless articles written by well-known folks in the field, spanning through many years. They host material from many greyhound-related publications (with permission, of course). Thanks also to Greyhound Data for all of the photos and information on greyhound lineage and sire statistics.

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