Is my rabbit a true Charlie?

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Rabbitry25613

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I have 2 questions :
Is my Doe a true Charlie? I’ve bred her to a solid buck twice, and I’ve gotten only broken kits and some tri-colors as well.

Can a Charlie produce tri-colors?

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TroubleMakerAcres

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Hello, the genes that make a Charlie/Broken/Solid rabbit are not the same as the ones that make a Tri-colour rabbit, so yes it’s possible for a Charlie to produce Tri’s. If you breed her to a solid and got a whole litter of Broken pattern kits then she is a Charlie. From looking at your photos she may be a Tri herself?
 

Rabbitry25613

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Hello, the genes that make a Charlie/Broken/Solid rabbit are not the same as the ones that make a Tri-colour rabbit, so yes it’s possible for a Charlie to produce Tri’s. If you breed her to a solid and got a whole litter of Broken pattern kits then she is a Charlie. From looking at your photos she may be a Tri herself?
Her pedigree only says broken castor, but I’ve been skeptical of that since getting her. And unfortunately, I have no way to contact her breeder now. Her markings don’t seem very castor like to me but I definitely could be wrong!
 

judymac

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A 'tri', short for tricolor, is simply another broken, in this case a broken harlequin. So if she's produced only brokens and tris, she's simply produced all brokens. A 'Charlie' is what we call broken patterned rabbits that have very little color showing, typically less than 10% color. The color typically only shows on the midline down the back, small eye circles, a bit on the ears and small nose markings that reminded someone of a Charlie Chaplin mustache, hence the nickname--Charlies. Your doe certainly matches that description, and the 100% broken offspring fits as well, as Charlies are homozygous (double copies of the same gene allele) EnEn--double broken. Since broken is dominant, and she can't contribute anything else but broken En, all the kits are broken.

Now, the question is, are you mating her to a harlequin carrier, or is she the carrier? If she's the carrier, it would explain why her color looks 'off'. When harlequin is a recessive in the background, it can mess with the colors. I have a litter now of really odd shaded chestnuts, looking similar to the color in yours (castor & chestnut & black agouti are all names for the same color), and mine are out of a chestnut and a harlequin. Really messed with the color.
 
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Rabbitry25613

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A 'tri', short for tricolor, is simply another broken, in this case a broken harlequin. So if she's produced only brokens and tris, she's simply produced all brokens. A 'Charlie' is what we call broken patterned rabbits that have very little color showing, typically 10% or less color. The color typically only shows on the midline down the back, small eye circles, a bit on the ears and small nose markings that reminded someone of a Charlie Chaplin mustache, hence the nickname--Charlies. Your doe certainly matches that description, and the 100% broken offspring fits as well, as Charlies are homozygous (double copies of the same gene allele) EnEn--double broken. Since broken is dominant, and she can't contribute anything else but broken En, all the kits are broken.

Now, the question is, are you mating her to a harlequin carrier, or is she the carrier? If she's the carrier, it would explain why her color looks 'off'. When harlequin is a recessive in the background, it can mess with the colors. I have a litter now of really odd shaded chestnuts, looking similar to the color in yours (castor & chestnut & black agouti are all names for the same color), and mine are out of a chestnut and a harlequin. Really messed with the color.
Interesting, thank you! How would I figure out if my buck is the carrier? I do know his mom was harlequinized.
 

judymac

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I think the question is a bit confused. For a rabbit to be shown as a broken (a colored coat broken up by white patches), it needs to have a certain amount of color. For angoras, the minimum is 10% color/90% white, with a maximum of 75% color/30% white. For Holland Lops, the maximum amount of color is 70%, I didn't see a minimum. Broken Rex are 10-50% color. It would be very subjective when you got down to Charlie status as to whether a coat is 9% or 11% color. Tris are a subset of brokens, and aren't showable in many breeds, so this isn't so much a showing issue. Generally, for a broken to be showable, your breed has to have sanctioned brokens as an acceptable pattern, AND the base color has to be an accepted color as well. Some, like Holland Lops, have accepted tri, even though harlequin is not accepted.

I think the difficulty is in determining what makes a Charlie. Technically, it is simply a nickname given to rabbits with two broken EnEn genes (the En is code for 'English spotting', as the English Spot breed's spots come from this gene.) Since they aren't born with a genetic flag that says 'Look at me! I'm a genetic Charlie!', we need to look for clues. The first clue that you can see is the minimal spotting. But that's only a clue. It doesn't make them a Charlie. The 100% broken kits when bred to a solid is the best sign that the parent has only dominant broken genetics.

By definition, Charlies lack much color in their broken coat. It's the first clue. So, you can't have too much white/too little color to be a Charlie. You may well not have enough color to be a showable broken, that's a different issue. The Charlie issue is talking genetics, which we call genotype--En En Charlie vs. the normal broken En en (en en is a normal solid color rabbit, double recessive). The 'not enough color' issue is talking show/registration status based on appearace, called phenotype. Charlies simply lack much color, the real proof of being a Charlie is in the inability to throw any other offspring than brokens when mated to a solid.
 

Rabbitry25613

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I think the question is a bit confused. For a rabbit to be shown as a broken (a colored coat broken up by white patches), it needs to have a certain amount of color. For angoras, the minimum is 10% color/90% white, with a maximum of 75% color/30% white. For Holland Lops, the maximum amount of color is 70%, I didn't see a minimum. Broken Rex are 10-50% color. It would be very subjective when you got down to Charlie status as to whether a coat is 9% or 11% color. Tris are a subset of brokens, and aren't showable in many breeds, so this isn't so much a showing issue. Generally, for a broken to be showable, your breed has to have sanctioned brokens as an acceptable pattern, AND the base color has to be an accepted color as well. Some, like Holland Lops, have accepted tri, even though harlequin is not accepted.

I think the difficulty is in determining what makes a Charlie. Technically, it is simply a nickname given to rabbits with two broken EnEn genes (the En is code for 'English spotting', as the English Spot breed's spots come from this gene.) Since they aren't born with a genetic flag that says 'Look at me! I'm a genetic Charlie!', we need to look for clues. The first clue that you can see is the minimal spotting. But that's only a clue. It doesn't make them a Charlie. The 100% broken kits when bred to a solid is the best sign that the parent has only dominant broken genetics.

By definition, Charlies lack much color in their broken coat. It's the first clue. So, you can't have too much white/too little color to be a Charlie. You may well not have enough color to be a showable broken, that's a different issue. The Charlie issue is talking genetics, which we call genotype--En En Charlie vs. the normal broken En en (en en is a normal solid color rabbit, double recessive). The 'not enough color' issue is talking show/registration status based on appearace, called phenotype. Charlies simply lack much color, the real proof of being a Charlie is in the inability to throw any other offspring than brokens when mated to a solid.
Thank you for the info / clarification! How many test breedings should be done to confirm this? I’ve already done 2 breeding that were all brokens. I just don’t want to call her a true Charlie when it’s not true
 

judymac

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Okay, so let's go back to the beginning. One of the rabbit color genes is called 'E', short for extension, and it affects how the color is extended down the hairshaft. There are five possibilities on this gene, each called an allele. Each allele in this case is incompletely dominant. There is a descending order of dominance, but a recessive allele can work in the background to change up the color some. Here they are: (By the way, capital letters denote dominant traits, lower case letters are recessive traits. Generally the stuff in the parenthesis are subscript or superscript letters, but lacking that capability here, I'm just using parenthesis.)
  1. E(D) Dominant black--this one is quite rare, only found in few breeds. It takes regular agouti patterning like castor, and turns it all black, gets rid of all the agouti markings. Not an issue in most breeds.
  2. E(S) Steel--dominant over normal color, this one extends the base color up the hairshaft, pushing the center agouti band clear out to the end of the hairshaft, leaving a gold tipping (or silver tipping on a chinchilla). Steel usually only fully presents itself in agouti rabbits, since it's moving an agouti pattern around to make the tipping.
  3. E Normal Extension--this is your normal patterning. In agouti rabbits, you get your normal undercolor, center fawn band, and outer color with normal tipping--everything in it's proper place, or properly extended, which is why this is called the Extension gene.
  4. e(j) Harlequin--this one takes the normal agouti patterning, and instead of splitting it up on one hairshaft, splits it up in patches on the skin, either in patterned bands/bars, intermixed hairs called brindle (roan in horses), or simply splotches. So, a genetic chocolate agouti that should have chocolate and fawn on the hairshaft would become a chocolate/fawn harlequin, with splotches of those two colors in some definite pattern, some random mix, or simply brindled.
  5. ee Fawn--this last one on the totem pole is what we call the fawn colors--yellow based pheomelanin golden, orange or red tones. The center fawn agouti band gets pushed to the outside, leaving only the fawn (and often a white base color). For agouti rabbits, this forms fawn/cream/orange/red colors. For non-agouti rabbits, the main body color is still fawn, but the normal genetic color still shows up on the extremities, forming tortoiseshells.
A harlequinized color is what happens when a rabbit with an 'E' allele higher than harlequin (usually just plain normal 'E') has a harlequin e(j) recessive. Because this series is incompletely dominant, the harlequin messes with the color. It can cause dark ticking, or harlequin patterning where the agouti markings should be, etc. A/E Gene Combinations has a great chart to show how the colors interact.

If a rabbit ends up with two harlequin alleles, or a harlequin and a fawn, they will show harlequin traits--like the tris, which are broken harlequin. If your buck has a recessive harlequin, and so does the doe--or if one of them carries recessive harlequin, and the other recessive fawn (either tortoiseshell or fawn agouti), either way you could end up with harlequin line kits. If you mate the tri kits back to a solid harlequin or fawn carrier, you could end up with harlequin kits.
 

judymac

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To determine genetics by test breeding, the general rule of thumb (there is no written-in-stone rule that I know of, we just do our best to figure things out) is two test breedings with larger litters (8 or more, say), or three breedings with smaller litters, just to up the odds.

By the way, look at your doe's ears, I just did a close-up exam of your photos. Can you see the intermixing of black-based and yellow-based colors around the inside of the ear? Classic harlequinization, where you get the harlequin patterning where the agouti markings should be. My guess is that she is a harlequinized castor. If you just look down her back and at the back of the ears, she does look like she is castor, only the color seems a bit darker. I found that to be true with my harlequinized chestnuts as well.

Explains why you are getting tri kits, as both parents probably have harlequin recessives.
 

TroubleMakerAcres

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Tricolour and harlequin are actually two different colours.
 

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Rabbitry25613

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Thank you everyone for the information! I’m still learning the colors / genetics side of rabbits and so it’s really appreciated! 😊
 

judymac

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Tricolour and harlequin are actually two different colours.
Yes, it is a good point, for show purposes they are definitely different. The Harlequin breed doesn't show in tricolor, and Holland Lops show as tricolor but not as harlequin. Genetically, a tricolor is a harlequin rabbit with the En spotting gene added, causing a broken harlequin. Since the harlequin already has two colors in patches (like black/orange, blue/cream, chocolate/fawn, lilac/cream), adding white gives a third 'color', making it a tri-color. Interestingly enough, the rabbits with the 'best' harlequin jester pattern, like a checkerboard with alternating ear, face, and leg colors, and at least four alternating body bands of color--doesn't necessarily make the best tricolor. Those rabbits with a narrower, splotchier if you will, pattern, seem to look better when reduced to tricolor dots of color, as there are so many more polka dots of different color. Again, when you're showing, you breed for the genetics that produces the best show coat. The chinchilla version of harlequin, magpie, with a color mixed with pearl white instead of fawn/orange/cream--doesn't really make a tricolor even when it is a broken magpie. White, pearl white & color just doesn't cut it as a tricolor.
 
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