Olde Meadowe Menagerie ~ Pinewoods

Breeder of Quality, Registered rabbits of distinction in Wisconsin

Welcome to the fascinating and sometimes confusing world of Genetics.



There are 17,010 possible genotypes for rabbits.  Genotype is the exact genetic code for what color variety the rabbit actually is.  Phenotype differs in that it is what color variety the rabbit appears to be physically.

Genotype is primarily determined by Five series of genes.  A (agouti gene), B (black/chocolate gene), C (color gene), D (dense/dilute gene), and E (extension gene).  Each rabbit carries two genes on what is called the "allele".  The rabbit receives only one gene from EACH parent for each allele.  These two genes make up the allele for each series.  Dominant genes are expressed (you can see the characteristics in the rabbit) and denoted by a capital letter.  Recessive genes are carried to be possibly passed on to offspring and denoted by a lower case letter.  Each gene, regardless of its dominance or recessive quality, is passed on to roughly half of the offspring.

A (agouti gene)  Order of dominance "A" - "at" - "a"

The A gene in its dominant form is the agouti gene, which is written as a capital "A."  It is dominant to both the "at" and the "a" gene.  The agouti gene, or just "A" gene, is expressed no matter what combination it may be present in.  The second variety is the tan gene, denoted as "at."  The tan gene is responsible for making otters, tans, and martens.  The "a" form of this gene - the self gene - is recessive to both the "A" gene and the "at" gene.  Only one combination produces the self phenotype:  "a-a."  When you see a self rabbit (for example a black tortoiseshell), you also know the genotype for the "a" gene (a-a).  A self colored rabbit cannot carry an agouti (A) or tan gene (at).  If it did, the agouti or tan gene would express itself and the rabbit would not be a self.

B (black/chocolate gene)  Order of dominance "B" - "b"

The B gene
comes in only two forms, the dominant "B" and the recessive "b."  Black family rabbits are either "BB" or "Bb."  Unless you see a chocolate color in a rabbit's pedigree, it's fairly safe to assume it is "BB."  Although the chocolate gene can hide for several generations and appear out of no where. Chocolate family rabbits are always "bb."  And chocolate family rabbits cannot carry the black gene "B." 

C (color gene) Order of dominance "C" - "Cchd" - "Cchl" - "ch"- "c"

The color gene, which controls where  and how much color will be expressed rather than which color will be expressed, is definitely the most difficult to understand.  The first complication is that there are more variations of this gene than of any other color gene.  Another complication is that some genes are incompletely dominant over others.  The dominant color gene is the "Full Color" gene represented by the capital "C."  Some full color rabbits are black, orange, chestnut, black tortoiseshell, lilac, and blue.  The next gene, in order of dominance, is the chinchilla gene, which is represented by the letters chd (or sometimes Cchd or cchd).  The letters stand for "chinchilla-dark."  The next gene is the sable gene represented by cchl, which stands for "chinchilla-light."  Himalayans have the ch (or ch) gene while ruby-eyed whites (REWs) have two "c" genes.

In full color rabbits, the color is not restricted to a certain part of the rabbit, but it spread over the entire rabbit.

When the chinchilla gene is expressed in rabbits, you generally find white or pearl fur where the full color rabbit has more yellow in the fur.  The  cchd gene causes the yellow pigment to be reduced.  For example, an orange rabbit differs from an ermine (frosty or frost point) only in that the orange is a full color rabbit and the ermine expresses the chinchilla gene.

The sable gene removes yellow from hair shafts and removes some of the darker pigments, giving a rabbit a shaded look.

The himalayan gene restricts color so that only the muzzle, ears and feet (the points) show the rabbit's color.  The rest of the fur is pure white.  Thus, Himalayans are also called "pointed whites."

The REW gene
causes all color to be erased from the fur and eyes.  REW is basically a colored rabbit with a sheet covering it.  REW can be broken.  Recessive genes can hide under other color genes.  Knowing how colors are related to each other you can use REW to test for color genes. 

D (dense/dilute gene) Order of dominance "D" - "d"

The dominant d-gene is the "dense" gene denoted as "D."  Dense color gene rabbits can be either "DD" or "Dd."  We can refer to the "DD" rabbits as "true-breeding" and to the "Dd" rabbits as "carries dilute."  The "dilute" gene is recessive and is denoted as "d."  Dilute rabbits are always "dd" and cannot carry the dense gene.  The d-gene works just like the b-gene, since there are only two types of genes, one dominant and one recessive.  If you understand how the b-gene works, you already understand the d-gene.


E (extension gene) Order of dominance "Es" - "E" - "ej" - "e"

The E/e gene controls whether the basic color on the rabbit (black, blue, chocolate, or lilac) is extended all of the way to the end of the hair shaft or whether the basic color stops and another finishes the hair shaft (such as the orange color on the back of a black tortoiseshell).  When a rabbit has full extension "E", it tends to look the same color all over, such as with a blue rabbit.  When there is non-extension "e", such as with a black tortoiseshell, the rabbit takes on a shaded look since the shorter hairs on the belly, guard hairs, feet and muzzle get only the basic color (they are not long enough to get the other color that finishes off the longer hairs).

The Es gene is dominant over the E gene, which is fairly unusual.  Two Es genes together can hide the steeling effect (hidden steel), making the steel gene seem to pop out of nowhere.  Steel-tipping can only be found in, and carried by, full extension colored rabbits.  It cannot be carried by a tort, for example.
Colors such as black and black tortoiseshell (tort) are related since they only vary by the e-series gene.  Using your knowledge of how these genes are related can help you in breeding for certain colors and for determining rabbits colors as well.

The ej gene is the harlequin gene and is responsible for tri-colored rabbits.



The Pattern/ Broken Gene 
Order of dominance "En" - "en"

The broken pattern gene, En, is dominant over the solid pattern gene, en.  It takes only one broken pattern gene to produce a broken (ENen) rabbit.  With two broken pattern or En genes, you get a Charlie (ENEN).  Charlie rabbits, no matter what bred to, will only produce broken rabbits.  Two solid (enen) rabbits cannot produce broken offspring.






Genetic Codes
From left to right the most dominant over the next, recessive genes farthest right.

A = agouti         at = tan          a= self
B= black          b =chocolate
C = full color    c(chd) = chinchilla   c(chl) = shaded  ch = himilayan   c = albino
D = dense        d = dilute
Es = steel    E = normal extension    ej = brindling/harelquin  e = non extension
En = white spotting            en = self
Du = normal      du = dutch
V = normal         v = vienna gene
W = normal agouti               w = doubles width of the agouti
Si = normal        si = silver


AGOUTI GROUP
Chestnut Agouti-black ................. A-B-C-D-E-    
Chestnut Agouti-chocolate ........... A-bbC-D-E-

Opal .......................................... A-B-C-ddE-
Lynx ......................................... AbbC-ddE-

Chinchilla-black .......................... A-B-c(chd)-D-E-
Chinchilla-blue (squirrel) ............. A-B-c(chd)-ddE-
Chinchilla-chocolate .................... A-bbc(chd)-D-E-
Chinchilla-lilac ........................... A-bbc(chd)-ddE-
Chinchilla-sable .......................... A-B-c(chl)-D-E-
Chinchilla-smoke pearl ................ A-B-c(chl)-ddE-

(
lynx are a chocolate agouti A-bb, but most breeders have what is a smutty cream A-B-C-ddee and is labeled incorrectly as a lynx)


BROKEN GROUP
Charlie Marked.......................  EnEn
Broken (spot or blanket)..........  Enen
Normal Color.........................   enen
Broken colored rabbit described as any color plus white. Remember, REW can be broken.  Test breeding to a solid will determine this.

Tri-color/Calico-combining the broken & Harlequin genes
White/Black/Gold................  A-B-C-D-ej-Enen
White/Blue/Fawn.................  A-B-C-ddej-Enen
White/Chocolate/Gold..........  A-bbC-D-ej-Enen
White/Lilac/Fawn................  A-bbC-ddej-Enen



SELF GROUP

Black...................  aaB-C-D-E-
Blue....................  aaB-C-ddE-
Chocolate............  aabbC-D-E-
Lilac...................  aabbC-ddE-

Ruby Eyed White (REW)..........  ----cc----
Blue Eyed White (BEW)..........  ----------vv



SHADED GROUP

Frosted Pearl-black..........  A-B-c(chd)-D-ee
Frosted Pearl-blue..................  A-B-c(chd)-ddee
Frosted Pearl-chocolate..........  A-bbc(chd)-D-ee
Frosted Pearl-lilac..................  A-bbc(chd)-ddee
Sable....................................  aaB-c(chl)-D-E-
Sable Point...........................  aaB-c(chl)-D-ee
Seal.....................................  aaB-c(chl)c(chl)D-E-
Smoke Pearl.........................  aaB-c(chl)-ddE-
Tortoise-black......................  aaB-C-D-ee
Tortoise-blue.......................  aaB-C-ddee
Tortoise-chocolate...............  aabbC-D-ee
Tortoise-lilac.......................  aabbC-ddee

Blue Point..........................  aaB-c(chl)-ddee
Chocolate Point..................  aabbc(chl)-D-ee
Lilac Point.........................  aabbc(chl)-ddee
Dark Smoke Pearl..............  aaB-c(chl)c(chl)ddE-

c(chl)ch combination is preferred for correct shading



TICKED GROUP
Silver/Silver Fox carry the recessive sisi

AGOUTI STEELS
Steel Chestnut Agouti (gold).........................  A-B-C-D-Es-
Steel Chinchilla Agouti (silver)......................  A-B-c(chd)-D-Es-
Steel Sable Chinchilla Agouti (silver).............  A-B-c(chl)-D-Es-
Steel Opal Agouti (gold)...............................  A-B-C-ddEs-
Steel Squirrel Agouti (silver).........................  A-B-c(chd)-ddEs-
Steel Smoke Pearl Chinchilla Agouti (silver)...  A-B-c(chl)-ddEs-
Steel Chocolate Agouti (gold)........................  A-bbC-D-Es-
Steel Chocolate Chinchilla Agouti (silver).......  A-bbc(chd)-D-Es-
Steel Lynx Agouti (gold)...............................  A-bbC-ddEs-
Steel Lilac Chinchilla Agouti (silver)...............  A-bbc(chd)-D-Es-

SELF STEELS Remember, the self steels may have very little to no ticking at all
Steel Black (gold).......................  aaB-C-D-Es-
Steel Sable (silver)......................  aaB-c(chl)-D-Es-
Steel Blue (gold)........................  aaB-C-ddEs-
Steel Smoke Pearl (silver)...........  aaB-c(chl)-ddEs-
Steel Chocolate (gold)................  aabbC-D-Es-
Steel Lilac (gold)........................  aabbC-ddEs-

Proper Genetic Steels
For the correct ticking of steel, it should be of an Agouti breeding.  This will show heavy ticking all over the rabbit. When the Self (aa Es-) color produces steel, the ticking is barely seen, if not completely gone.  Because of this, this type of steel can appear to just be a normal self colored rabbit, but genetically is a self steel.
Hopefully this description will help to define each color more clearly since both steels of the agouti and self genes are recognized and are grouped together in the standard of perfection.    Recognized tipping or ticking, is either gold or silver. 
Above, in parenthesis, is the color of tipping that that color should have.


WIDE BAND GROUP
Fawn.........................  A-B-C-D-ee
Orange.......................  A-B-C-D-ee 
Red...........................  A-B-C-D-ee
Cream (agouti) ..........  A-B-C-ddee
Cream (self).................aabbc(chl)-ddee  [gray-blue eyes]
Cream (self).................aabbc(chl)-D-ee  [brown eyes]


Red, Orange, and Fawn are genetically the same, plus rufus modifiers that add to the fur intensity deepening the color of each.  Fawns will show less coloring than the orange, the orange less than the red.  A true fawn would be of a dilute color with blue grey eyes in other breeds, in Lops these are cream.   Chocolate based "bb" instead of black "B-" aren't smutty and have a more "clean" appearance.



POINTED WHITE/ HIMALAYAN

Pointed White-black.................. aaB-ch-D-E
Pointed White-blue..................  aaB-ch-ddE-
Pointed White-chocolate..........  aabbch-D-E-
Pointed White-lilac..................  aabbch-ddE-



TAN PATTERN GROUP
Black Tan.........at-B-C-D-E-ww + rufus modifiers
Chocolate Tan...at-bbC-D-E-ww + rufus modifiers
Blue Tan...........at-B-C-ddE-ww + rufus modifiers
Lilac Tan...........at-bbC-ddE-ww + rufus modifiers

Black Silver Marten........at-B-c(chd)-D-E-W-
Blue Silver Marten..........at-B-c(chd)-ddE-W-
Chocolate Silver Marten...at-bbc(chd)-D-E-W-
Lilac Silver Marten..........at-bbc(chd)-ddE-W-

Seal Marten..............at-B-c(chl)c(chl)D-E-W-
Blue Seal Marten.......at-B-c(chl)c(chl)ddE-W-
Sable Marten.............at-B-c(chl)-D-E-W-
Smoke Pearl Marten..at-B-c(chl)-ddE-W-

Black Otter.........at-B-C-D-E-W-
Blue Otter...........at-B-C-ddE-W-
Chocolate Otter...at-bbC-D-E-W-
Lilac Otter...........atbbC-ddE-W-




HARLEQUIN
Japanese--
Black/Orange............A-B-C-D-ej-
Blue/Fawn................A-B-C-ddej-
Chocolate/Orange......A-bbC-D-ej-
Lilac/Fawn................A-bbC-ddej-

Magpie--
Black/White.............A-B-c(chd)-D-ej-
Blue/White...............A-B-c(chd)-ddej-
Chocolate/White.......A-bbc(chd)-D-ej-
Lilac/White...............A-bbc(chd)-ddej-


HOTOT
Standard marked.........................aaB-C-D-E- EnEn Dudu