Weimaraner dogs are defined by light brown coat colour termed grey including several shadings ranging from silver and deer to mouse grey. In contrast, the so-called blue Weimaraners (BW) with lightened black-pigmented coat have been proposed to represent spontaneous revertants in the Weimaraner breed. In order to investigate the genetic determinants of the characteristic grey coat colour versus those of BW, known variation in coat colour genes including TYRP1 and MLPH were analysed in a number of grey and blue dogs. Variations at the B locus cause grey coat colour in Weimaraners via two non-functional TYRP1 copies (bb) including the b(s), b(d) and b(c) alleles. In all BW, at least one functional TYRP1 allele (Bb or BB genotype) was identified. Defined microsatellite alleles in TYRP1 intron 4 are linked to this functional B allele in BW. These alleles were also detected in various other dog breeds, but not in grey Weimaraners. The combination of a dominant trait for blue versus grey together with a specific TYRP1 haplotype in BW suggests that blue coat colour is not the result of spontaneous (back-) mutation in grey Weimaraners. This inference is even emphasized by the presence of a unique Y-chomosomal haplotype in a male offspring of the supposed ancestor of the BW population which - according to pedigree information - carries a copy of the original Y chromosome. Thus, molecular genetic analyses of coat colours combined with Y-chromosomal haplotypes allow tracing the origin of atypical dogs in respective canine populations.
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