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19 janvier 2021

The genetics behind Azawakh’s “grizzle” mask has been found !

 Some Azawakhs have an inverted mask, which is a lighter color than the rest of the coat that encompasses the muzzle and extends behind the eyes.


 This particularity is called "grizzle" in the Saluki or "domino" in the Afghan.

It was thought that this reversed mask, although most of the time less marked than in these other sighthounds, could be the effect of the same gene as for the Saluki or the Afghan.
In 2010, a Canadian study aimed at looking for the Grizzle gene in the Saluki made it possible to discover the gene, named "EG" (from the E locus and G for Grizzle), responsible for these inverted masks. It has also been proven to be responsible for the Domino in the Afghans and Borzoi. But none of the Azawakhs tested since carried this EG gene.
 In addition, in Azawakh this mask is associated with a lighter color of the under part of the body and inside the legs and it forms a clear border on their edges. Particularity found among the Akita Inu, in whom this color is referred to as Urajiro or "countershading" in English. 
Having long ago, and still have, several Azawakhs with these marks, I thought that perhaps the Azawakh shared this particularity with the Akita Inu, the Lundhund or the Spitz.
Tidémit - Widow's Peak on brindle
there is also a lighter color on the edge of the ears
 An earlier study of archaeological specimens of prehistoric dogs over 10,000 years old identified a partially recessive variant in the MC1R gene, associated with fawn/red colors, which may have influenced the coat color of early domestic dogs.
Following this discovery, Finnish researchers recently conducted a large-scale study which revealed that this very old variant called "eA" (for Ancient « e » ), probably one of the oldest color mutations since the domestication of the wolf, was responsible for the previously unexplained Grizzle / Domino masks.
Now, since December 2020, it is possible to test for this variant called Widow’s Peak with reference to the ^^ shape of the inverted mask above the eyes. 
Obviously, I wanted to research if the Grizzle / Domino mask present at our Azawakhs could find their origin in this old ancient red "eA" variant.
So, I had the test done for 3 of Tidémit and Ferren's daughters. And it turns out that all three of them are carriers of this variant gene, and their colors are most likely due to this very old variant of the E gene.
The mystery is almost solved because there are still some details of color intensity to understand ...
Rachel-Ouêl de Garde-Épée

 Rachel's Grizzle / Domino mask is very marked and obvious. Yet she only carries a copy of the variant associated with the fawn color, which alone, according to the study, should not allow the expression of her marks. There is still a little digging on this side ...
Roukine de Garde-Épée & Roumsett de Garde-Épée

 Her two sisters carry two copies of the variant, associated with the color fawn for Roukine and the color sand for Roumsett. It is the association with this double variant that gives them their lighter color, the masks now almost undetectable as they were seen when they were babies, with pale pigmentation.
Roumsett de Garde-Épée - her widow's peak mask can be seen

Later, married to a "classic" fawn male, they would surely reproduce colors like Rachel or very classical red colors.
color test results for Roukine
despite their light color, they have no dilution, only red, sand carriers and the ancient red "eA"

The advantage of the genetic tests at our disposal, which will grow richer over time, is that they will allow us to know part of the genetics of the dogs and to make the best desired breeding choices.
Here is the full article on the Finnish study:
And some more details about this color:

Corine Lundqvist
Azawakhs de Garde-Épée

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