Coat colour panel (Dog)

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Our results include easy-to-understand explanations of the results and we welcome any questions you might have if you need help understanding coat colour genetics in the context of your results.

We've put together some information about each of the tests in our coat colour panel below.

The A-locus is a region of your dog's DNA that codes for a protein that causes your dog's hair follicles to produce a reddish yellow pigment called phaeomelanin instead of a black or brown pigment called eumelanin. 

The region has four alleles which have a dominance hierarchy:

ay > aw > at > a

This means that fawn/sable (ay) is dominant over wolf-like fur (aw), which is dominant over black and tan (at), which is dominant over recessive black (a). 

Fawn/Sable (ay)

This is one of the most common alleles in dogs. Dogs carrying an ay allele are uniformly yellow (referred to as fawn, tan, or sable), though the tips of the hairs are often black. 

Wolf (aw)

This is the ancestral allele (a.k.a. wild type, or agouti) which causes some hairs to have alternating bands of eumelanin and phaeomelanin from root to tip. 

Black and tan (at)

This allele gives your dog a characteristic look with a black body but yellow (or tan) markings on the head, legs and feet (black and tan). 

Recessive black (a)

This allele is the lowest in the dominance hierarchy and is known as recessive because a dog needs to have two copies of it to produce a fully black dog. This is a lesser cause of fully black dogs as most are caused by a dominant allele in the K-Locus. The recessive black allele (a) is the cause of fully black German Shepherds and Shetland Sheepdogs. 

Scientific References

The B-Locus is a region of your dog's DNA which controls whether your dog has a brown coat colour. The region produces a protein which alters the colour of of your dog's coat and skin. 

There are three alleles (a.k.a. mutations) present in the B-locus which cause your dog's coat colour to be brown, if your dog has inherited any two of them: bs, bd and bc. The wild type black coat colour is present if no copies of bs, bd or bc are present (BB), or if only one copy of either bs, bd or bc are present (Bb). If your dog only has one copy of bs, bd or bc, then they carry brown and have the potential to produce brown puppies if mated with a Bb or bb dog. 

In some breeds, such as the Dobermann and Australian Shepherd, brown dogs are referred to as red. 

The B-locus is a good example of the interactions between the coat colour genes. Your dog can only be brown if they are bb at the B-locus and also Ee or EE at the E-locus.

Scientific references

The D-locus is a region of your dog's DNA which controls whether your dog will have a diluted coat colour. In some breeds like this is known as blue, lilac or isabella. In dilute dogs, their eyes will also lighten to an amber colour. 

The D-locus allele which causes a diluted coat colour (d) is recessive, which means a dog has to inherit two copies (dd) for the coat colour to be dilute. Dogs which carry one copy of dilute (Dd) can produce dilute puppies if they are bred to a Dd or dd dog. If your dog does not carry any copies of dilute (DD) they don't have a dilute coat and can't pass it on to their puppies. 

The dilute coat colour is also associated with hair loss (the so-called colour dilution alopecia, CDA) and black hair follicular dysplasia (BHFD).

Scientific References

Schmutz SM and Berryere TG (2007). Genes affecting coat colour and pattern in domestic dogs: a review. Anim. Genet. 38, 539-549.

The E-Locus is a region of your dog's DNA which controls whether your dog will only contain the yellow pigment or whether they can be any of the other coat colours. 

Like the A-Locus, there is a dominance hierarchy in the alleles (a.k.a. mutations) in the E-Locus:

Em > E > e

The Em allele is dominant and your dog only requires one copy of this allele to have a melanistic mask (darker muzzle). If your dog has a melanistic mask then they also have the coat colour described by the other regions (K-Locus, A-Locus, D-Locus and B-Locus). 

If your dog has one copy of either Em or E then their coat colour is decided by the alleles they have at the K-Locus, A-Locus, D-Locus and B-Locus. 

If your dog has two copies of the recessive allele (ee) then they will have a yellow coat, such as the coat colour seen in Golden Retrievers. 

Scientific references

The K-Locus is a region of your dog's DNA which controls whether your dog has a black coat colour. 

The K-Locus has three alleles with an order of dominance:

Black (KB) > brindle (kbr) > yellow (ky)

In the vast majority of dog breeds, a dog will need to have at least one of the E or Em allele and at least one KB allele to have a solid coat colour (black, brown or dilute). 

If your dog has at least one copy of KB then their coat colour will be black, brown or dilute. If your dog has two copies of the ky allele (ky/ky) then their coat colour will be determined by the A-Locus. 

The brindle allele doesn't have a DNA test yet as we scientists haven't yet discovered the exact DNA mutation that causes a brindle coat colour. Brindle occurs all over the coat in dogs with an ay allele (A-Locus) but only the ventral (stomach) surface in dogs with an at/at result at the A-Locus. 

Scientific References

The S-Locus is a region of your dog's DNA which determines whether they will have any patches of white spotting or a largely white coat. The white coat is caused by hairs which lack both the phaeomelanin pigment and the eumelanin pigment.

The gene involved in the S-Locus regulates the control of coat colour pigmentation.

There are two main alleles which have been described:

S (no white, solid colour) and s (piebald, pied, white spotting). 

There are several mutations in the S-Locus and we only test for the most common. Mutations in the S-Locus have also been implicated in disorders of the eye and hearing. 

Scientific references

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