I get more requests for sable points than any other variety of Fuzzies. That’s not a scientific survey of course, because most people know that I don’t raise too many of the rarer colors anyway. But torts and sable points are very compatible when it comes to breeding and since most of us have torts, then most of us could also raise sable points.
As discussed in the last post, there are five main color genes (ignore the broken and vienna genes for now). By the way, there is a very good article in the current issue of Domestic Rabbit, May/June 2011, on rabbit color genetics also, which is a great reference too. We are going to focus on one gene for this discussion though, because it is where the torts and sable points different, the “C” or pigmentation (also called color) gene.
In some ways, the pigmentation gene is the hardest because instead of a nice simple two versions, with one dominant over the other, the “C” series has five different forms or alleles. “C” is the dominant form which means that one copy of this allele will affect the color of the rabbit. The other four alleles of the pigment gene are : “c(chd)”, called chinchillation dark which results in chinchilla or silver marten varieties; “c(chl)”, chinchillation light, required for sable points, Siamese sable, and smoke pearl varieties; “c(h)”, Himalayan (or Californian) allele, giving pointed white, and “c”, for albino or ruby-eyed white variety. Since each rabbit has two copies of the pigmentation gene, the dominance of each matters: C > c(chd) > c (chl) > c(h) > c.
The sable point rabbit pictured at the top of this post has very nice clean sable point color. Note the darker shading on his muzzle and ears. The legs and feet are also darker sepia brown. The color over the body isn’t white, but is a very light almost “pearl” color (sable points are called “pearl” in the angora breeds).
Solid sable point AFL with clean color
Solid sable point with darker sable point color.
There are variations in the sable point color that occur as seen above. It is believed that two copies of the c(chl) gene will result in the darker version while one copy of the gene paired with a “c” allele will give the cleaner color. This could be tested by breeding each of these rabbits to a ruby eyed white rabbit, if REWs as well as sable points are in the litters, then the sable point parent carried one copy of the c allele.
One complication with broken sable points is that the light body color can make it difficult to see the pattern on an adult. The color is readily seen on a broken sable point kit. At birth the colored skin is as visible as in any other broken, and as the wool grows it is still easy to see.
But as the wool grows, the color seems to become diluted over the length of the hair shaft and be more difficult to see. Sometimes these rabbits are disqualified for having too little color, but most judges realize the need to look closely (even in the sunlight if possible) at the body, as well as the head. A rabbit with normal or heavy broken markings on the head is likely to be well colored on the body as well.
The buck above shows the typical pattern of color on the head seen in broken Fuzzies with a prominent butterfly and colored ears. Additional pattern of color is also apparent on the face of the rabbit. The body also has several large areas of slightly darker colored wool, although the length of the wool makes it harder to see the color.
A broken sable point with less density in the wool has more prominent color patches. Some sable points are also darker in color than others; this is probably because the rabbit carries two copies of the sable point gene rather than only one copy.
Enjoy your sable points. They are a beautiful variety of AFL.