The Heredity of Colour in Miniature Schnauzers

There are three colours accepted for the Miniature Schnauzer:

  • salt-and-pepper
  • black-and-silver
  • solid black
While white and parti-colour have historically occurred, these undesirable recessives are probably eradicated from today's important lines.

Salt-and-pepper includes all shades, from light to very dark. The standard states no preference, nor does it penalize the tan shading that can appear with this colour. The important factor is the distinct bands of colour found on the wire hairs. These may be any combination of black, grey, white or tan. (Clippering removes the wire coat and with it, the colour bands. The dog will eventually become the solid colour of its undercoat, but whether almost white or black, it is still a salt-and-pepper).

The black-and-silver grows solid black wire on the body. Dogs of good colour will also carry a black overlay into the leg furnishings and masking on the face. A black undercoat is essential.

Likewise with solid blacks. This colour presents the most difficulty for the exhibitor, as the colour intensity of the wire jacket is usually superior to that of the clippered areas and leg furnishings, which are scissored. It is by no means certain that a black coat will also have a black undercoat to go with it! A black coat with a light grey undercoat (thus light grey legs!) really presents a challenge to the groomer.

Black-and-silver is recessive to the other colours. To be of this colour, a puppy must receive the gene from each parent. When black-and-silver parents are mated together, the result is 100 percent black-and-silver offspring.

Salt-and-pepper is dominant to black-and-silver. A salt-and-pepper may carry the gene for black-and-silver and produce the colour when mated to another carrier. There is a marker trait that often identifies theses carriers - a small white spot of white directly above the nose!

Black is dominant over the other colours. To be black, a puppy must have at least one black parent. A homozygous black will produce only black puppies, regardless of the colour of its mate.

For several years, the CKC has been accepting the registrations of black Mini Schnauzers born to non-black parentage. Repeated correspondence with the registrar seems to have resulted in no action. The CKC regularly cancels Labrador Retriever litters when black puppies are reported from yellow parents, yet it continues to register equally questionable blacks in our breed.

By the time a puppy is ready for individual registrations, it is old enough that its colour can be identified. At best, these discrepancies reveal appalling ignorance on the part of the breeder. At worst, falsification must be suspected.

One would hope that the powers that be at the CKC would begin to pay a little more interest to a situation that undermines the integrity of the registry.

©Copyright 1995, Catherine McMillan

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