Until we started breeding rabbits, I had no idea how complicated rabbit genetics could be. There are TONS of different rabbit colors.
*Disclaimer – I have not taken any genetics classes, so I’m a self-taught learner. Not all of this information may be correct, but I researched to the best of my ability! Here is what I have learned thus far:
All colors are based on five genes, A, B, C, D, & E. Some genes activate colors and other genes turn off colors. Each rabbit receives two gene copies, one from each parent. They are combined to form a rabbit’s genetic makeup. Here’s more information about the five genes (A-E):
A – When “A” is the dominant gene, this creates an Agouti coloring. This means the rabbit will have banded hair shafts. Their fur will not look like one consistent color.
B – When “B” is the dominant gene, this creates a Black colored rabbit. A rabbit with a recessive “b” gene or “Bb” gene makeup will look more dark brown in coloration, which is known as Chocolate.
C – When “C” is the dominant gene, this creates complete color. There are several recessive variations of the C gene (we won’t list them all!) including “cc” which also means albino in color. These rabbits are snow white with red eyes. We have several of these rabbits. Another recessive variation of the C gene includes “cch3” which is Chincilla colored.
D – When “D” is the dominant gene, this creates a dense color. When a rabbit has “dd” gene makeup, this creates a dilute color. The most common examples of “dd” are the color Blue in rabbits, which is diluted Black and the color Lilac, which is diluted Chocolate.
E – To be honest, the “E” gene is the most confusing part of rabbit genetics. The “E” gene refers to extensions of color. There are several mutations of these genes that create very colorful rabbits. Harlequin, Magpie, & Tri-Colored rabbits are all examples of this gene at play. In the world of show rabbits, Harlequins and Magpies are not approved show colors so many breeders try to avoid breeding rabbits that may create these color combinations.
So there you have it! These are the basics of what I’ve learned about rabbit genetics. There is still much more that I don’t know or understand, but hopefully I was able to share information that is interesting or useful to someone!