THE BLACK AND WHITE ISSUE
A black and white colored Drahthaar (Schwarzschimmel) received the "High in Trial" award at the 1997 GWPCA National Specialty. A ruling in the by-laws of the German Wirehaired Pointer Club of America states that any black in the coat should be "severely penalized". The reprimand "severely penalized" is also cast upon dogs which exceed or fall short of the height standards, and coats which are short smooth, soft woolly, and excessively long. It is also bestowed upon "excessive grooming" of dogs. Regarding all considerations of each contestant, the judge felt that this black & white archetype was superior to any other. Certain individuals ( breeders ) have criticized this judge's placement. Consequently, these resentful breeders provoked profuse agitation to change the original by-laws in regards to coloration.
The breed standard reads and accepts the black and white genus (B&W) in all registries around the world, except for the breed standard written by the German Wirehaired Pointer Club of America. I personally knew all the original founders of this club. I was living in northern Indiana in the sixties, when I purchased my first Drahthaar. I attended many club functions organized by the founding members of this organization. They were a wonderful group of people, with much camaraderie and interest in the breed. I participated in both the field and show events. There was a genuine air of friendliness and enthusiasm amongst this organization.
It is my understanding, that none of these founding members had ever seen a Schwarzschimmel The only knowledge and mention they held, was written in German. In addition, to my knowledge, the original founders were not well acquainted with the German language of the hunters and dog breeders. The English translation of the notion of "controlled" breeding of the Schwarzschimmel was interpreted incorrectly, as this coloration should not be bred. In Germany, the literal translation was that only certain breeders would be allowed to breed this color, and then with precaution about specific mating. An unwarranted fear persisted, that uncontrolled breeding of the black color could lead to the exclusive production of the dominant coloration of black & white, with the demise of the Braunschimmel (L&W) (brown and white / liver and white species).
I find it odd, but some people, who are completely unfamiliar with a subject, will formulate an empty minded opinion. The basis of such bigoted opinion is not founded upon any substantial precept, but upon the unwarranted fear of "not knowing". Sometimes the worst musician sounds the loudest trumpet. Likewise, sometimes the least informed individual sounds off the most vigorously. In America, this generation has endured the bigotry of those who persecute others because of their skin color, their religious beliefs, or their sexual preferences. It seems that some people just have their own agenda. The sinister part is that they want to spread their nonsense to others.
In recent years, I have come under attack from these envious breeders. Certain individuals have been spreading malicious lies and accusations of "back yard breeder", "not breeding to standard", "puppy-mill", etc. Oddly enough, the prevaricators are competitors within the breed, and not of other breeds of dogs. They are specific breeders from the German Wirehaired Pointer Club of America (GWPCA) and the Verein Deutsch Drahthaar North America (VDD). These individuals have never spoken to me, nor have ever met me. None have ever been to my kennel, nor do they know anything about my breeding stock or breeding program. These envious breeders do not resemble the original founders of their clubs. ". I guess, I should feel honored that I am so well known
I have been breeding Drahthaars since 1968. Before this, I spent several years determining which breed of dog I wanted to own. I owned and worked with Beagles, Blueticks, & Walkers (tracking dogs), English Pointers & German Shorthaired Pointers, and Chesapeakes & Labradors (retrievers). I had never seen a Griffon, Pudelpointer, or Drahthaar. I originally thought that the Griffon would be my choice. After seeing several of them, I decided that they were too slow and close working for my purposes. To my surprise, they were not very good water dogs; lacking the enthusiasm and water-love.
Instead, I located and purchased two Drahthaars: One from the state of Indiana, the other from Illinois. The male was from a famous Wisconsin show lineage. He was a beautiful dog with a thick wiry coat. He was 27"tall and weighed 105 lbs. He had a terrible temperament. He wanted to fight every dog he saw. The female was solid liver. Her bloodlines came from Oregon. She was the best "false" pointer that I ever saw. She also had quirks in her temperament. She was nervous and somewhat timid. After producing an inferior litter, I decided to try another breed. In 1970, I purchased three Pudelpointers from Germany. I liked the more mellow temperament, but they would range like a field trial dog. They were very bright, but if they got mad at you, they would refuse to cooperate. Therefore, I decided to import some German strains of Drahthaars.
I imported the first ever American Schwarzschimmel (black & white) (B&W) from Germany in 1972. At that time, about 400 such dogs were around. The black and white coloration has been an integral part of Drahthaar breeding, dating back to the year 1870. Rich in the blood of the heralded Water-Pudels (French Poodles, Russian Poodles, German Pudels), some German breeders felt that this bloodline carried a trait for "mental stability" Many of the original Pudelpointers were the result of crosses between black Pudels and the short coated pointers (German Shorthairs, English Pointers). It makes sense, since the Pudel was a descendant of the famous French Barbet, a very intelligent sheep dog that had been around for centuries. Traits for intelligence, mental stability, cooperation, loyalty, were inherited via this channel. Certain of these traits are not found in breeds such as the Kurzhaar and the Stichelhaar. The Griffon, however does seem to possess these fine qualities. Fortunately, these instincts continue to be passed on generation after generation. Even today, the dogs rated most intelligent are the Poodles and certain Sheepdogs. . Similarly, certain other traits have been inherited via the use of other dogs. One trait that I do not like, and have tried to eradicate from my line is "aggression to kill". One must try to remember why a certain trait was originally thought to be good for the breed. Aggression was a necessary element for a dog that could be used to hunt large game and predators. Such dogs could eventually be faced with life and death situations. Therefore, a testing procedure was set up to measure the degree of aggression in each dog. The aggression test is still performed on all German dogs owned by members of the VDD. It is a measure of the "instinct to kill". This instinct can be triggered in pups as early as 4 weeks of age. I have seen litters of pups, which must be separated from each other because the "instinct to kill" was too great. If left together, certain litter-mates will be mangled or killed. Prior to World War II, contests were conducted testing the most aggressive dogs of various breeds. Owners of such aggressive dogs held a certain amount of esteem. The Drahthaars and Jadgterriers were amongst the top dog breeds of this sport. The contest was as follows: A hole was dug, covered with boards and dirt. The entrance to the den was large enough for a large dog to enter and maneuver. A wild Badger or Raccoon was released into this cave. Each dog was set on the vermin, and timed to see how long it would take to kill it. Some dogs would be wounded and retreat, but certain dogs became famous for dispatching, even the toughest Badger. The most aggressive dogs were heralded for the breeding programs. An aggression test was initiated at the natural ability testing, and an insignia was placed upon each pedigree, signifying the quality of aggression. Originally, there were 4 degrees of aggression. Today it is pass-fail. Originally, raccoons were the chosen victims. Until recently, house cats were substituted for vermin, as the victims of the aggression. Currently, even in Germany, agencies, which protect animals from cruelty, have banned the use of house-cats. Most Drahthaars can dispatch such prey in a matter of seconds. The Pudelpointer breeders decided about 30 years ago, that strongly aggressive dogs were not desirable. Originally, these breeders thought that the level of aggression was associated with a dogs level of refusal. It was believed that a dog with a high level of aggression would not refuse an order, no matter how difficult. You could send such a dog into a torrent river of ice, or against a vicious bear or boar. A more modern viewpoint is that the level of hunting desire, the "instinct to pursue game", and not the "instinct to kill game", is the pivotal parameter of a dogs ability to confront severe challenges. There are many great retrievers, which are non-aggressive or have a low level of the instinct to kill. Likewise, most hound packs do not consist of fighters. A pack may use one aggressive strike dog, which will attack the predator. Such aggressive dogs must be watched closely; in the frenzy of treeing a predator, they sometimes attack and kill other hounds.
I believe that my particular strain of Drahthaars is above average for the breed in terms of their personality and mental stability. My line is strong in Pudelpointer and Griffon ancestry. My dogs are very friendly, confident and intelligent. Like the Poodle, some have learned up to 30 tricks. Most have the ability to anticipate a future event. Some demonstrate a very good use of their paws. Many can manipulate the locks on their kennels; they are my escape artists. Some automatically carry their dishes to the front gate of their kennels when I approach with their food In addition, I find that the black & white dogs have better resistance to skin irritations and infections. I enjoy their stunning beauty. Most carry the darkest brown, almost black eyes The density and coarseness of the coat are mutually exclusive genetic events from coloration. Some specimens will have long, soft, thin coats. About 85% of my dogs have the ideal coat. From a performance standpoint, there is no such thing as a good dog with a bad color. Some people have conjectured that the black & white dogs would be conspicuous to game. This is nonsense. I own dogs, which lie about 10 feet from the duck decoys in full view. The patterning of the coat provides the camouflaging effect. I do not think waterfowl see color. However, an all black or an all yellow dog will cause the waterfowl to flare.
As to the genetics of color, black is dominant over brown. The genotype of black is twofold: The homozygous i.e. (BB) and the heterozygous. I.e. (Bb). The phenotype is black for both BB and Bb respectively. However, all the offspring produced by a homozygous (BB) will be black, regardless if the bitch is brown & white (bb). However, the progeny of such a mating will produce black & whites, which are all heterozygous (Bb). Understanding this concept, one has little to fear in terms of eradicating the liver &white strain. In Germany, and most other countries, breeders try to contain the breeding of black & white (Bb) dogs to liver & white (bb) dogs. In this way, they are preventing the production of the homozygous dominant pairing (BB). However, it matters little, for even if the breeder were to cross two heterozygous (Bb) black & white dogs together they could produce a variance of colors (bB, Bb, BB, bb). Now lets say that you got a Black& White pup which you liked, and decided to keep it. You know its phenotype is black & white but you aren't sure of its genotype. If you cross this dog with a liver & white dog, and all of the pups are black & white, I would suspect that the dog is homozygous dominant (BB). However, if this dog produced even one pup that was liver & white, it must be a heterozygous dog (Bb). An interesting concept about the homozygous condition (BB) is that all of the offspring to a liver & white dog will produce only heterozygous (Bb) black specimens. Therefore, there is little or no fear of loosing the liver & white coloration. An attractive feature, the mating with the Schwarzschimmel tends to intensify the liver pigmentation in the liver& white progeny. The inheritance of the dark brown eye color appears to be a mutually exclusive event. Occasionally, I have seen the yellow colored eyes in the Schwarzschimmel strain.
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT SCHWARZSCHIMMEL BREEDING
- You cannot get Black & White (BW) offspring from two Liver & White (LW) parents.
- You can get LW pups from two heterozygous BW parents.
- Solid patterned black and black with white on paws and/or chest are sometimes the result of crossing a solid colored dog with a spotted mate, if one of the mates has the color black. A solid black can produce spotted progeny with either liver or black coloration.
- Historically, some of Germany's most outstanding performers of both Drahthaars and Pudelpointers have been B&W and solid black dogs.
- Coat variables such as coarseness, patterning, follicle density, undercoat density, hair length, and eye color appear to be inherited independently of coat color.
- In spotted patterns, the white patches appear to have two different situations; the most common form has speckling of dark hairs dispersed within the white patch. It can be evenly distributed and is called roan, or it can be mostly white with an even peppering of dark hairs, and this is called ticked. Another form has few or no dark patches, and can be either roan or ticked. Most will have dark heads and ears.
Some show breeders have speculated that "Tri-colored" dogs are the result of crossing the L&W with the B&W. Tri-coloration is a condition in which the dog has a third coloration - tan. This tan is only found on certain points (positions); the eyebrows, legs, and muzzle. Occasionally, Tri-colored dogs are born in the Drahthaar breed. A Tri-colored dog is not the result of crossing a B&W with a L&W. Tri-coloration has three colors. Brown, white, and tan: not brown, black, and white. The result of crossing B&W with L&W has only two outcomes: brown or black. The tan points on a dog are genetically passed on. It is my guess that somewhere in the history of a tri-colored Drahthaar, one would find an ancestor, which carried this gene. In the early days, recording keeping was not done by all breeders. A dog like the Airedale Terrier may have been used. In Germany, a breeder may have deliberately crossed in such a bloodline, or it may have happened by accident. I have even seen some Drahthaars, which resemble the Brittany Spaniel. I believe the real reason for seeing the occurrence of Tri-coloration, lies in the method of breeding, namely inbreeding and line-breeding. With such breeding methods, one is more likely to enhance the occurrence of recessive traits. When employing such breeding methods, one can discover, or better yet, uncover certain genes whose phenotype has been hidden. Occasionally, one will unmask certain recessive traits such as blue eyes, long round hound like ears, erect shepherd ears, short coats, natural bobtail, pink nose, white nails, spots of pink skin, and tan points. Methods of hunting instincts may drastically vary also; low tracking nose, baying on sight or scent, treeing, method, speed of gait, stalking ability, herding instinct, use of eyes and ears, hunting pattern, etc. Personality variances may vary greatly, ability to learn, desire to please, aggression, etc. The tragic part about intensifying the recessive genes is that many disease states are also produced. It is well known that many diseases occur in the homozygous recessive state. Therefore, if one can see a certain recessive trait via inbreeding or line-breeding, one must be cognizant that one may be unleashing a huge number of "trailer" genes. Therefore, it is usually safer to breed the heterozygous, and probably even safer to breed the homozygous dominant condition, and stay away from recessive genes.
THE LAWS OF GENETICS
In the last several years, more has been learned about genetic than in the last hundred years. The genome project has amassed a huge database of knowledge concerning inheritable traits. About 85% of the human traits have been mapped. The study on dogs is further behind, but much of what has been learned about other societies, will be applied toward understanding the genetics of dogs.
In 1886, Gregor Mendel released his discoveries about genes, and his theory on how they worked. Most dog breeders of that era had little knowledge of genetics, or the ability to communicate their findings. It wasn't until midway through this century, that a basic understanding of the inheritance of color in dog was postulated. Today, due to the vast amount of research that has been done, and the newest tools of communication, we are able to get a better understanding of the genetics of dog breeding.
In the near future, new breed standards will be written to avoid the unpleasant result of producing animals, which are born with infringements. Certain ailments and diseases are embedded within certain breeds. Sometimes breed standards are written out of particular likes and dislikes of certain people in power. The benefit to the breed may have nothing to do with a decision to incorporate or disallow a particular parameter. It is time that people who set up bylaws, regulations, and standards base such decisions upon knowledge and rational logic. One could look at a particular parameter such as eye color and ask why the standard reads a certain way. What is the best eye color for a particular breed and why? Is liver, brown, yellow, blue, green, etc. a better color for a particular reason, or was a picked because someone thought it was the most beautiful.? Is the dark brown eye a better eye in the sunlight? Does it have better refractive ability? Is the yellow eye better at gathering light and a better color for dogs which hunt in low-light duck hunting, coon hunting? Do blue eyes have better marking ability and vision at a distance? Most sled dogs have blue eyes. Similar judgments must be determined for other physical traits such as coat density, coat coloration, coat patterns, coat consistency, etc. Performance abilities must be determined for each breed. This may be even more complex, because a particular trait may be more beneficial in a geographical domain than in another. For instance, dogs tracking ability may have a greater significance when used in the European hunting arena, than used by a western bird hunter of North America. Will different breed standards evolve out of usage? Finally, the personality aspects must be considered largely by the change in domestic habitation. In today's mostly suburban society, is there a real need or desire to have an aggressive canine companion? Do we want a hunting dog that will attack and kill at will? Do we want a quarrelsome companion, which is apt to get in dogfights at every outing? Is there a need to continue to breed for aggression?
In concluding, I would like to state that it is very important when breeding animals, not to exclude a certain parameter because of personal taste. If a certain trait appears, a good breeder will want to analyze it to see if it offers an enhancement to the breed. The trait may prove to be beneficial or it may not. To rule it out because someone does not like it, is ludicrous. The Schwarzschimmel coloration is an asset to the breed. However, sometimes I feel that it would be better off if the "Show" breeders do not get their hands on it.
PIGMENTATION OF THE SCHWARZSCHIMMEL EYES
It is very important that one have statistics to back up one's theory. Much misinformation is currently being distributed by members of a show element in regards to the dark eye pigmentation of the Schwarzschimmel. I have been breeding wirehairs for 32 years and have seen many thousands of wirehairs. I was the first breeder in the United States of the Schwarzschimmel lineage. I have seen some very dark eyes in a few of the Liver, and Liver & White colored dogs. I keep very detailed records on each dog that I produce, as well as feedback from surveys which I conduct with my customers. One show advocate stated that he had personally seen 25 black & white dogs that had yellow eyes. He also said that most of these dogs came from this kennel. The word "most" as defined by the scientific community, means greater than 50%. That means that this person claims to have seen 13 black & white dogs from Treborwolf Kennels, that had yellow colored eyes. After checking my database, I discovered that I produced exactly 5 Schwarzschimmel dogs that had tan colored eyes since 1972. These dogs represent less than 0.7% of all the Schwarzschimmel that I have ever produced. Why do such people take cheap such shots?
Loosely put, it appears that the inheritance of the "color of the eye" and the "color of the dogs" are mutually exclusive genetic events. The coat color of the Schwarzschimmel is black. It does not come in degrees of black. Unlike the coat color of brown, there is no "washing" to a lighter color of brown. My notations of degrees of brown include liver, dark brown, brown, tan, and cream. There are no degrees of black. Black does not 'wash" to gray. Black coat color is black! However, the eye color is not black. It is brown. It does vary in degrees of brown. In other words, some Schwarzschimmels can have lighter colored eyes. Some Braunschimmels also have lighter colored eyes. The black coat color does not mean that the dog will have the dark brown or liver eyes. I personally recorded the degree of darkness as "liver" being a very darkest brown (almost black), "brown" as a dark brown, "tan" as a light brown, and "yellow" as a bright yellow. It appears, at least in my lineages, and in my Schwarzschimmel breeding, that the preponderance of pups that I produced inherited the "liver" colored eyes. The small number of Schwarzschimmel dogs that had the tan and yellow eyes, had the same condition for both eyes. I never experienced a mixed condition; i.e., one liver and one yellow. However, the number of yellow colored eyes was significantly higher for pups that were Braunschimmel (3.8%). In my kennel, it is 7 times more likely that a yellow or tan eye color will occur in the dog which has a brown coat color. I believe that this difference lies in the fact, that the Schwarzschimmels that have a light colored eye, have been omitted from the breeding animals, for the most part. The strength of the gene for the darkest liver pigmentation may be somewhat more undiluted in the Schwarzschimmel lineages than for the Braunschimmel lineages. The Schwarzschimmels had 89% with both eyes liver, 10% brown, and 1% for tan. The Braunschimmel had 13% with both eyes liver, 63% brown, 20% tan, and 4% yellow. Two of these dogs had different colored eyes: one eye brown and the other tan.