- part I
When Westernized dog fanciers began to speak of a certain "white" dog of
Turkish origins, it seemed that there was initially only one person, one that was not
Turkish, that was truly 'expert' about this newly-found supposedly ancient dog. There
appeared to be little native (Turkish) interest in the dog and its development abroad.
The genetics of white color in livestock guardian breeds is fascinating, and a
rudimentary understanding of it is necessary to understand specific developments in the
development of the 'akbash'. Regardless of color 'theory' and one's favored geneticist,
the misunderstood complications involved in the genetics of white and how it is inherited
present the strongest proof for the validity of the
confusion and mistrust that resulted from manipulating the white coloration to establish
'white' foundation stock. What better way to examine this point than from the breeding the
dogs themselves. Being dogs, they have no political agenda, they have nothing to hide.
However, thirty years later, or even later, their silent testimony may be forgotten,
because they are gone now...
Early in the development of the breed, problems emerged because these dogs demonstrated
that they carried a wide range of coloring factors with potential to 'throw white' or
color. Genetically speaking, their white color factors ranged from extreme white spotting,
chinchilla cream, diluted and/or masked fawns, and other multi-factored 'white', and any
dog could carry one or several of these in their genes. The interplay of these genetic
factors for variable expression of white are analogous to something similar to a 'paper,
scissors, and stone' game, where each one of them can over-ride another, and yet be
over-ridden themselves. Thus the genetics of white are complex, particularly in the
"natural" breeds where intense breeding and culling has not occurred, thus there
are more variables involved in the expression of coat color.
In certain combinations between some individuals of these dogs, underlying genetic
factors revealed "undesireable" colors when incomplete dominance and other
factors came into play on their litters. Due to the color standard of this breed, all that
mattered in the foundation dogs, however, is that they would produce some variation of
'white'. In other 'white' livestock guarding breeds, much misunderstanding continues to
prevail, but due to well supported breed standards - the inheritance of the white color is
less important to the 'lay' fancier. Lay fanciers of the sheep dogs of Anatolian origins
have considerably less confusion when they take the time to get a little familiar these
The founder may have taken an easy route to deal with these 'white' inconsistencies in
the first 'akbash'. Simply claim that these affected dogs were not "pure" and
refuse to register them. Thus, technically he had a 'breed' based on phenotype and 'luck'
- basing purity on the outward expression of a desired characteristic. If bred to
other akbash dogs where certain expression of the undesireable colors could be masked, the
same supposedly 'unpure' dogs produced "white".
Thus the controversy - simply because genetics was misunderstood. Some claimed that
miscolored dogs didn't happen, while others said it did. It's not the intent for this page
to get involved with 'he said' and 'she said' issues.
And - as far as conformation goes, it ranged, even among the so-called 'pure' ones, and
it still ranges with the same expression of body type as does in the primary landrace
known as the Anatolian Shepherd Dog. In fact, as many Anatolian breeders have discovered,
breeding two 'white' ASDs would throw the same combinations as would be seen in a
"pure" akbash litter and futher, that it's not difficult to establish a line of
Anatolians which are 'white' should that be a goal.
It is no surprise that very quickly in the 'Akbash' game, broken partnerships resulted
from disagreement over claims which were made about 'purity' - based on what
different combinations of dogs 'threw'. DOG WORLD
and DOG FANCY (both in USA) have a
number of advertisements in that era, demonstrating the infighting and disagreements. Any
American library may have these magazines available or archived. How the breed's genepools
would be managed became a point of contention and a number of Akbash Clubs formed and
dissolved during the interim.
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