GENETICS OF THE WEIMARANER COAT
The Long Hair Gene In The Weimaraner
The coat of the longhaired Weimaraner is a recessive gene, which will be covered later in the chapter. However, all Weimaraners have a dilution gene which gives them their particular colour. The ‘grey’ of the Weimaraner is actually the dilution of liver/chocolate, so if it were possible to remove that gene, they would be the colour of a solid coloured GSP.
There are blue Weimaraners in America, but it is a disqualification in the show ring. Blue is a dilution of black.
The hair of a dog with a dilution colour is not actually lighter, the hair is banded. The gene actually affects the distance between the bands, and so to the eye, it appears lighter.
Longhair in the Weimaraner is a recessive gene. That means that it can be carried, but not seen. Many traits, such as colour, and even some medical conditions are also recessive. Some people think that a recessive gene is automatically a bad thing, which it is not. It is simply how a particular gene is carried, it has nothing to do with how the outcome is viewed by the breeder, or anyone else. The longhair puppy in one litter may be longed for, the longhair puppy in someone else’s litter may be seen in a totally different way! That is simply the method of inheritance, it doesn’t mean that a dog that carries a recessive gene also carries anything else like that.
How the Recessive Gene is Inherited.
Mendel and the Pea.
Mendel looked at how traits were inherited in his famous experiments with sweet peas. He was a priest, and looked at red and white peas, and the colour and pattern they inherited when they were crossed.
For Weimaraners, it would be displayed like this. LL stands for smooth, and it is dominant. Smooth is what shows up when a genetically shorthaired dog is mated to a long, a carrier or another smooth non-carrier. The longhair is written as ll. The longhair carrier is written as Ll, as it is showing a smooth coat (L) but carries the longhair gene (l).
To over simplify it, think about it as the first allele you see is what you see on the dog, the second one is what is hidden within. So in the smooth that is not a carrier, described as LL, is a smooth to look at, and only has smooth genes. What you see is what you get.
A longhair is ll, a longhair to look at, and a longhair within, if you like. But a longhair carrier is smooth to look at (L), but carries the long hair within (l), so they are Ll. If you think about it as a capital letter always comes first, then L is always dominant over l (smooth dominant over long) but it is when you breed a carrier of the gene to either another carrier, or a longhair, and you get a doubling of the longhair gene (l) that the longhair finds expression, or is visible. That is written up in a particular way, which helps you look up the possible combinations and outcomes. You will find one of these Punnett Squares at the end of this article.
The figures are percentages, and so, are worked out over 100 puppies. It is not the percentage of each litter, although it does sometimes happen. This is a very simplified explanation of how the system works. If you can imagine a bag of marbles with red, blue and yellow marbles in it. The bag is the mating between two Longhair Carriers. The red marbles represent the smooth non-carriers; the blue marbles are the longhair carriers, and the yellow are the longhairs, and it is from two LHCs. That means that in the bag are 25 red marbles, 50 blue marbles and 25 yellow marbles. You might expect that when you reach in and take out 20, you might get a quarter red, half would be blue and a quarter yellow. But you can see that statistically it is possible to pull out 20 red, or 20 blue or 20 yellow. It may not be expected, but it is possible. That is why some times there can be the pup of a longhair (which must be a LHC) that can parent pups to another carrier or a longhair, yet they are all smooths. They have just managed to pull only red and blue marbles out of the bag. Not expected, but certainly possible. On occasion, a litter might be dominated by LHs, again, not expected, but possible. It is the ‘Murphy’s Law’ of dog breeding – you won’t get what you want. It does not mean that either gene is ‘stronger’ in certain dogs, as someone once said to me to explain a LH that never had a LH pup, it is just the luck of the draw.
The blue that is seen in some American Weimaraners is a dominant, not a recessive gene. This means that a blue must have at least one parent that is blue. One of the early Weimaraners that was taken to the USA was a blue that was supposed to be from two silver parents, and this has caused much argument (Editor's note: the German Club discovered that this was a Dobe cross and not from 2 silver parents). They were able to be shown until 1972 and there were blue show champions before that time. The argument about keeping longhair and blue colour as a disqualification have been tied up together, but can seem contradictory. One of the reasons cited for the non recognition of the blues is that it is not recognised in Germany. On the other hand, the longhair is recognized in every country except the USA. People also have said they don’t want blues ‘popping up’ like longhairs can, but as that colour is not a recessive, it will not appear unexpectedly. At least one parent must be blue.
©Wendy Laigne-Stuart 2005
This site was last updated 10/06/08