>Those dogs are very beautiful, but oh so much hair!!! I am confused about
>the breed, can you explain?
They're both rough collies, the regular "Lassie" type. Both are AKC registered. The hair actually looks worse than it is :) Pepper's pictures are her in a winter coat, but in the summer she's practically naked! This past summer, I had a fenced yard for the first time and she took to basking outside - and ended up with a sunburn. She rarely mats but the seasonal shedding can be a chore.
> The blind and deaf issue, is that a recessive gene? Do the puppies have it?
The problems with blindness/deafness only come with the double-up of the merle gene. When you see a "blue" dog, you're seeing a black dog with a merle gene. Any color can be merled - Aussies can be red merle, collies can be sable merle, great danes can be fawn merle or brindle merle. In dachshunds, the gene is called dapple, some other breeds call it harlequin but it's the same thing.
Pepper is a black (tri) dog with two merle genes - the doubling up washes out almost all the color, except for a few scattered patches, and the eyes are always blue. It can also have some bad effects, like underdeveloped or absent eyes and deafness. Any breed or mix that can be merle can have doubles crop up, if two merles are bred together. Why some dogs are blind and deaf, and some are fine, is still a mystery.
Since Pepper's a double, all of her puppies will inherit one merle gene (normally, if a nonmerle is bred to a merle, about half the puppies will inherit the merle gene). They will all be "single merles". The only way I'd have problem puppies would be if I bred her to a blue or sable merle - not that I'd ever do that! Even if Pepper were completely blind and deaf, though, if she was bred to a nonmerle dog all the puppies would have normal vision and hearing - the problems only come with the doubling up.
Ruben, the sire, is a white collie - this is a completely separate gene, and isn't associated with any health or other problems. There are also white shelties, aussies and bc, but they aren't really accepted by breeders. In shelties it's called "color headed white" which is a good description. A dog has to have two white genes to be a color-headed white. One gene, and the dog is "white factored" - these dogs often (but not always) have particular markings like a wider white collar, a blaze, and more white on the legs and underparts. The white collie almost always has markings on its head, and may have spots on the body as well, and the spots may be any color - tri, sable, sable merle, or blue.
A blue headed white could possibly be mistaken for a double merle, but there are some differences - doubles almost always have blue eyes; and doubles have much more white on the head. It's not always foolproof - some doubles have even been registered and shown as whites. Pepper's dad was white factored, and some of her littermates looked like they were, but it's very hard to tell. With her, of course, it's impossible! Any white pups in this litter would be color headed whites, not doubles.
Clear as mud? : )
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