|Ebon, showing some of the brown that can be seen on his legs|
Color: Black and Brown. The vet did once list him as Black, but some time during the many years they've been caring for him it was changed. I apparently wasn't the only one to notice.
|Ebon at 21 months, Hellon at 8 years. Click to view larger|
So, this is my conundrum. What exactly is Ebon? In my Guess the Genotype posts I try to take a stab at determining the likely genotypes of dogs who sometimes have some very unusual markings. I would place Ebon into the somewhat unusual category. Mismark Labrador retrievers happen. Some of them are quite striking. Dogs with tan points, with or without brindle, have been popping up in purebred litters for many, many years. It does seem that, to some extent, this mismark is more common in working lines since there is generally little to no real concern over what the dog looks like, as long as it can retrieve. However, usually the mismarks that are seen are far more obvious than what is seen on Ebon or his mother. Why in the world are their markings so subtle?
|Ebon's left forepaw in bright sunlight, the most red it ever appears|
However, this is not the only possible explanation for Ebon's rusty legs. There are, in fact, two more.
The first is that he's a very minimal black and tan. Though highly unusual, there are dogs that occasionally pop up in breeds that are normally tan pointed that appear to have little to no red on them. This seems to be somewhat prominent in Rottweilers, as some people seem to prefer the low amount of tan. If you do a little hunting around the Internet, it isn't that difficult to come across dogs with almost no tan at all. The same is true for Dobermans, though the dogs with less tan usually have more than the near-black Rotties. However, this is not always the case. There are some dogs that seem to have absolutely no tan at all, but those dogs usually appear to not be purebreds. The "all black Rotties" usually look like Labrador or molosser mixes and the "all black Dobes" usually look like they have some great Dane or greyhound in them. The fact of the matter is, dogs who are simply black and tan never have as little red as Ebon does. There has to be something else at work.
|You can draw a line between the solid black and the red-laced|
So, all in all, I find the black and brindle theory to be the most plausible. Black and tan doesn't fit very well at all and the bad black theory is based on a variant that may not even be present in the Labrador breed. Much of the reason why I went with the bad black theory is his Guess the Genotype post was purely for the sake of argument. It is still possible that Ebon's coloring could be explained this way, but black and brindle is more likely. I only wish I could afford to test him to abate my curiosity.