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Coat colour in dogs is controlled by a wide range of different genes working together.

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General information

Coat colour in dogs is controlled by a wide range of different genes working together. These genes are often referred to as ‘loci’. The Dilution, or D-Locus, corresponds to the gene for melanophilin, MLPH, which is involved in the distribution of pigment. Mutations of the D-Locus result in a ‘dilution’ of dark coat colours, turning them lighter and more silvery.

Any combination of two mutant alleles will result in a diluted coat. This variant of the D-Locus mutation, designated as d^2, is found in dogs such as the Chow Chow, Sloughi and Thai Ridgeback.

Clinical features

Hair and nose colour are diluted, the eye colour lightens to amber. The allele D is dominant and does not have an effect on the coat colour. Only in dogs with two copies of a recessive allele d, the coat colour is diluted. Black dilutes into grey, also called blue or charcoal. The coat ranges from silver to almost black, but all have a blue nose. Chocolate/brown/liver dilutes into lilac/light tan/Isabella, their noses vary from pink, liver to isabella. Red/yellow/cream dilutes into champagne.

Additional information

Coat colour is an intricate trait that involves a combination of multiple different genes. Testing for a range of different loci will give the most complete prediction of a dog's coat colour genetics.

Additional, undiscovered variants of the D-Locus mutation are likely to exist.


Pubmed ID: 29349785

Omia ID: 31

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