The Basics of Coat Color Genetics for the Kerry Blue and the Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers

Editor’s Note:

The pictures you see here are from purebred but mis-marked Kerries. They were provided to me on conditions of anonymity. The breeders of these terriers
are well known in their countries and these photos should not reflect negatively on the quality of their breeding lines.

These color abnormalities are very rare and probably could not be duplicated.

Thanks to all who have contributed to this page.

If you have additional pictures, please e-mail them to [email protected].

Two Kerries

The black coat a Kerry is born with is the result of the A A genotype and it is dominant to the a/y a/y wheaten coat. A low percentage of Kerries still
carry the a/y allele and when two A a/y Kerries are bred up pops the wheaten colored Kerry. No solid black Wheatens are born from wheaten (a/y a/y)
colored parents.

The Kerry develops the gray color with age due to the action of the dominant G allele. Wheatens segregate for the G and g allele as both gray and black
ears can be seen in the Wheaten. Kerries also segregate for the c/ch allele resulting in the lighter more silver Kerries and the darker more slate
gray color. Wheatens also appear to segregate for these alleles of the C gene. In Wheatens we see poor nose and eye pigment along with a pale coat
color associated with a allele c/ch which along with a paler coat we see the “winter nose” or poor pigmentation syndrome.

 

Miss H. Henry at the Ben Edar Kennel, circa 1938

The Kerry develops the gray color with age due to the action of the dominant G allele. Wheatens segregate for the G and g allele as both gray and black
ears can be seen in the Wheaten. Kerries also segregate for the c/ch allele resulting in the lighter more silver Kerries and the darker more slate
gray color. Wheatens also appear to segregate for these alleles of the C gene. In Wheatens we see poor nose and eye pigment along with a pale coat
color associated with a allele c/ch which along with a paler coat we see the “winter nose” or poor pigmentation syndrome.

 

The picture above shows a Kerry at 4-6 months of age and the same mis-marked Kerry as an adult is shown on the right.

 Black and tan (a/t) is in the A gene allele series and is recessive to both black (A allele) and the wheaten (a/y allele) colors. So black and tan
puppies can and do occur in both Wheaten and Kerry litters. Albeit very, very rarely. I remember people being worried in the 1980 that a litter of
Wheatens with black and tan puppies was caused by some “problem” with the pedigree. Not likely just the chance meeting of two Wheatens with the a/y
a/t genotype.

A tri-colored Kerry at 7 weeks

In Wheatens we see fairly commonly the work of the B genes recessive dilation allele b . Wheatens bb in genotype are born with chocolate or brown where
normally it would be black. Nose and eye rim pigment comes in brown instead of black. I don’t recall reports of this allele (b) in the Kerry. They
would have a coat brown or chocolate color at birth with brown nose and eye rim pigmentation as they mature. Eye iris color has always been much paler
than normal on bb Wheatens.

The same try-colored pure-bred Kerry at 4 months

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