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Double trouble: Can you spot the dapple Dachshund?

We are grateful to Beverley Campbell for writing this interesting article and to Jacqui Slater for the additional information about how difficult it can be to identify some Dapples and for allowing us to share their photographs.

Bev Campbell writes:

I own, and occasionally breed, miniature longhaired dachshunds and I am passionate about breeding for health and temperament, particularly because before I knew as much as I do now, I bought two bitches from the same breeder, which turned out to be Cord1 PRA affected, and they have since gone blind.

I am very concerned about the number of dachshunds advertised for sale by breeders who are breeding dapple miniature longs and smooths, who assume that they can tell, just by eye, that the breeding combination is safe.

Double Dapple is the result of mating two Dapple Dachshunds together. A DD dog will always have white markings, many in the same pattern that you would associate with a collie-type dog (band around the neck, white on paws, nose, and tail tip) and often has blue eyes, but may have one or both dark eyes. There are serious health risks associated with breeding two dapples together, as DD puppies may have varying degrees of vision and hearing loss, including missing eyes or micro eyes.

Whilst the standard advice, therefore, is never to breed two dapples together, the danger comes from how easy it is to miss the dapple marking in one of the proposed breeding pair, thus unwittingly breeding a double dapple mating. The Kennel Club will not register puppies bred from two Dapple parents.

Here’s a perfect example of how difficult it can be to spot a dapple; last year, I bred my girl Lolo, a dapple, to Lewis, a black/cream brindle sire. She produced three perfectly healthy and strong bitch puppies. One, Fleur, was an obvious dapple. Of the other two, Tink had a large white flash on her chest and Belle a much smaller and less well defined one. Are they dapples or not? What do you think?

When they were two weeks old, I asked my Vet, Rob Dunn, to take a small blood sample from Tink and Belle’s pads, which I then sent off to Laboklin to have the DNA Dapple Test.

When the results came back, I was in for a surprise. One was confirmed as solid colour, the other a dapple …. it was Belle, the dog with the less obvious markings, who was the dapple!

Unfortunately, as yet, you cannot rely on the colour descriptions on the Kennel Club Mate Select service. The Kennel Club only relatively recently restricted colour registration to those accepted within the Breed Standard, which means there are some pretty peculiar descriptions out there in the pedigrees. Even now, colour description is still down to the discretion of the person who makes the registration, though the KC will challenge impossible results.

I am firmly of the belief that unless you know for sure, through thorough genetic research and personal knowledge of all the dogs in the pedigree back several generations, the responsible thing to do is to use the Laboklin test, which is quick, cheap and simple to do. You can either take bloods or use a saliva swab test kit which the laboratory will send to you and the results are normally back within a couple of weeks.

To get your stud or dam tested, or to find out more, contact Laboklin UK.

Feb 2018: Jacqui Slater has kindly agreed to allow us to share this photograph of her adult male dachshund.

Looks like a good old fashioned black and tan? Jacqui used the Laboklin test to double check whether he might be dapple – and much to her surprise, he was!

If anyone is intending to breed a dapple dog to a dog that looks like a non-dapple, make 100% sure that you know the partner is really what you think it is – and the only way to do that is through a DNA test.

Read more about breeding and health testing.

View our presentations on coat and colour.

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