CWCCA Board is bringing the color issue to the membership for another vote.
Members can access Cardigan websites to learn basic Cardigan coat color
genetics. This has been both an ongoing learning experience and a hot issue for
controversy and emotions. Those
favoring breeding blues to other colors want to use to quality dogs in the gene
pool regardless of color. Breeding
two specimens based on quality breed type, structure, and related sound movement
is most important – color an added cosmetic trait.
one time there were no color breeding restrictions. The Standard allowed for
“Any color (other than white)”. History
indicates reputable breeders did cross-color breeding to save color. Many
concentrated on saving blue merles, yet they maintained breeding for quality a
prime concern, and re-established blues from merle to both red and brindle
crosses. (Are there no dilutes
today because there no one championed that cause?)
original colors were brindle, red (golden) and merle, indicated by early
historians, and colors were crossbred. Blue merle is only one of merle shades
available in Cardigans. The
original Bronant Cardigan facing extinction was bred to other herding dogs, (red
heeler, brindle heeler) and black color was later acquired when bred to Scottish
merle to merle
breeding is controversial because the merle gene is
"semi-lethal” when homozygous, that is, when both parents are merle, the
double merle is predisposed to health issues.
Consider the following:
Merles may be bred to any color
Merles may be bred to any color other than another merle
Merles may only be bred to black
concede lifting the breeding restriction; recognizing the need to breed equally
for everyone, yet don’t agree on exhibiting unrecognized colors.
They believe in exhibiting the five stated colors because of tradition.
Others feel that all colors naturally occurring in Cardigans should be
the current restrictions, color is forced to be the first consideration for
some. Consider two artists drawing landscapes.
One is given a full box of crayons, and the other a box with only a third
of the colors. Who would draw a
more lovely landscape? Blue merle
breeders want use of the same tools as their peers, but now must choose from
only black dogs. Why breed to a correct color but less quality dog and not breed
for type and soundness first?
According to our current Standard, merles other than blue cannot
be shown. Resulting colors of a blue to brindle or red yield colors acceptable
and not acceptable. Accurate color coded pedigrees are a must. Through pedigree
research and past breeding results, the brindle or red chosen in cross-color
breeding should genetically throw black, thus improving odds in producing more
acceptable colors. A quality but
questionable “hidden merle” red bred to black will prove or disprove the
question of merle. Merle is
expressed on black hairs, if merled puppies result, the parent “hidden
merle” red is proven to be merle - nothing is hidden.
brindle merles or sable merles can be incorporated into breeding programs
by being bred to black and will not produce health problems as in the merle-to-merle
cross. It may produce some
unrecognized colors and non-merle dogs with blue eyes, traits already existing
in Cardigans and in other breeds.
The goal is breeding quality Cardigans. Blue breeders feel
they should not be short-changed the benefits of the entire gene pool.
There was no harm done to the breed because of cross-color breeding done
in the past, and with increased knowledge of genetics, no harm would be done
As submitted for the March 2003 AKC Gazette column