You are here10/03/08 : Silver Grey Ramblings : Alan Belgian

10/03/08 : Silver Grey Ramblings : Alan Belgian

By Anonymous - Posted on 10 March 2008

The standard for silvers has not changed much since it was first drawn up and seems to have served fanciers' needs. Recently it has been embellished a little but not changed. So how does our present stock measure up to the standard and what are the common problems? These are some notes I made about fifteen years ago and they still puzzle me in the breeding of silver greys.

I list below the main points of the standard: -

Colour: Body colour a rich black, the under colour to be Blue black and carried down to the skin
Evenness: Of silvering throughout, including head, feet, ears and chest.
Silvering: Sharp and bright
Coat: Short full fly back
Ears: Neat and well set 011. Bold, bright eyes.
Condition and shape: Moderate length of body, inclined to cobbiness, with slightly arched back. Ideal weight to be 5 to 6lbs. To have a body of firm flesh. The flyback coat to have a bright sparkling top colour

Colour. Rich black top colour, can it be maintained on the lighter shades? What about belly colour and inside back legs often not rich black? Is this possible? Under colour, blue black and carried down to the skin. I think we should be looking for a broad black band at the top and then to go down blue black as far as possible, certainly not grey changing to off white at the base. I have found it difficult to maintain this depth of under colour, mainly on lighter shades.

Evenness of silvering. I do not think there is a big problem with evenness in the areas mentioned in the standard i.e. Head, feet, ears and chest. But what about belly, inside back legs and tail, are these to be considered of little importance? I think not. We should be aiming for the same colour in these areas but as the standard reads, maybe not.

I find that the next item, sharp and bright silvering the most elusive. For years I have tried to maintain a rich black top by using only dark shade bucks excelling in colour. These bucks carry good under colour to the skin providing the top colour is correct. At first mating these bucks to medium does they bred a high percentage of dark heads and fine silvering then by selection managed to overcome the dark heads, I will come to the fine silvering later. I have used show quality does of medium shade and over the years these have produced progeny covering all shades, from very dark almost devoid of silvering to "meal bags", the darker the shade the better the under colour, the lighter the shade the greyer the under colour. The odd medium does crop up with a broad black band and good under colour but more are bred that fail at the base. The top colour is usually maintained on the darks and mediums but starts to fail the lighter they get and with this comes lighter bellies failing colour.

Getting back to "sharp and bright", what is meant by this? Does sharp mean fine or broad, long or short with the necessary bright white? If we look at these combinations fine either long or short is neither sharp nor bright, broad and long looks "laid on"not sharp but bright. So does that mean broad and short looks the sharpest and brightest?

This then leads us on to length of coat the standard asks for a short, full, fly back coat, no mention of a harsh coat. But a sharp straight coat free from wooliness or waviness will fly back. A short coat does not normally carry long silvering and makes the silvering look sharp. It is the guard hairs that carry the brightness both black and white and their length must affect the brightness of the top.

This leaves type and condition; if a silver is not fully fit it will not look its best, enough said. A "typy" buck must look like a buck, up to weight, cobby broad body, broad head with ear length in proportion to body, carried erect. Type in does ·is· somewhat finer but should not be snipey. There is some typey stock about but many are small and narrow in body.

The breeding of top quality silver greys is not easy, as we would probably not bother if it was. We see many good exhibits, but top quality ones are few and far between. I have had no luck breeding from my 'winning bucks so I now don’t use them.
These ramblings are my views based on my experience only. I would invite other fanciers to air their views on the subject to see if we can get some rapport going on the subject as I am sure we can an learn from it. Best of luck in your breeding and showing.