You are here10/03/08 : The use of dark - medium - light in breeding silvers : T. White

10/03/08 : The use of dark - medium - light in breeding silvers : T. White

By Anonymous - Posted on 10 March 2008

The topic of the different shades within each colour has been somewhat of a puzzle over the years to those not associated with the Silver fancy and also to the new comers to our breed. It has been my experience that the combination of the three shades is one of the most difficult factors to understand to the less experienced, and even more difficult is the task of knowing how to use them correctly when the problem of identifying has been overcome.

As we look around us we see varying shades of a particular colour without taking a great deal of notice of them. The comparison of flowers blooming on the same plant can be most revealing, how positive can you be that all the red roses on the bush in your garden are exactly the same shade, close inspection will reveal that some are lighter in shade, some darker and some will be of a shade between the two. Creative artists are masters of using shades of the same colour to express the differences of lightness and darkness and reflection, it is indeed these skills which separate the masters from the majority.

The breeder of Silvers can in many ways be likened to the artist, for it is his skill as a master of using shades of a colour to produce specimens of outstanding value.

Silvers of all three colours carry two differing coloured hair shafts which are longer than the normal body fur, these are in fact known as guard hairs, the guard hairs are divided into two types (A) Body coloured hair known as ticking and (B) Silver hairs known as silvering.

To define the three shades as simply as possible they all have a combination of A and B to some degree. Dark shade carries an excess of A type guard hairs or ticking and only a small amount of type B Silver hairs. Light shade carries an excess of B type hair silver and a small amount of type A body ticking. The medium shade is the one most sort after for the purposes of exhibition, it is however the combination of the three shades which produces the finest specimens for the show bench.

Let us therefore review some of the problems which can arise through the use of breeding incorrect shades together.

The use of breeding dark shades together usually results in the progeny being also on the dark side often resulting in dark cheek bottoms and dark nose and jowls. The resulting litter will possibly contain medium shade youngsters but it must always be remembered that we must look further forward with our breeding program than the next litter, far better to be breeding for your future in the Silver fancy.

The result of pairing mediums is used occasionally but miss-use by consistently using this method will result in the progeny gradually becoming darker in shade.

Pairing of light shades results in the further increase in producing even lighter shades and the loss of colour, again there is little future for the breeder adopting this method. Having now become able to identify the three shades how are these to be used to their greatest advantage. Let us consider the following possibilities.

A mating of a dark buck to a light doe should produce young of reasonable proportions in terms of shades; there are possibilities of dark, medium, and light with in the litter. The reverse of this combination usually produces the same resulting litter, though some fanciers prefer to stick to dark buck, light doe or the reverse way round. These shade matings are the most tested and successful means of consistently producing stock of quality. The proof of any good Silver breeder is the regularity with which he can prove his stock successful on the show table. The old saying 'One swallow doesn't make a summer' applies equally in this case; one winner doesn't make a good stud. The use of successful shade breeding assists consistency and establishes the future of a good stud.

The use of the various shades can be used as the artists brush and palette, shades which are too dark can be rectified with the introduction of more light, too light can be rectified by the use of darker colour and so on. It is a case of knowing ones stock and using it intelligently. Only to often do we see a new fancier producing a winner in his first season due to the fact he has been supplied with a well balanced pair or a doe mated to the right buck which suits the doe. After this there comes a period of time when the new successful exhibitor gradually fades into the background and often out of the Silver fancy because he has not acquired the necessary knowledge of how to use his stock correctly in the breeding pen. Even today we see many exhibits with dark noses and whisker beds; this is due to the fact that there is less and less use of the lighter shade Silver. This is without doubt the result of the show successes of the medium shade on which great value is placed. This in my opinion is folly, to my mind the medium shade is the representative of a stud on the show bench, but my support and value will always be placed on those dark and light shade specimens kept at home for purposes of breeding.

Many years ago separate classes where scheduled for light shades, medium shades and dark shades, but early this century this scheme was put aside, and with the passing of time this has no doubt changed the breeding tactics of fanciers with some resulting detriment.

To the newer Silver fanciers may I say, do not be in too great a hurry to cull those light and dark shades to quickly you are probably killing off your future.