Painted desert sheep-genetic Color theory

CapriCoCo

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Painted desert sheep are a breed of hair sheep known to come in a variety of colors and patterns- and often times people will tell you that predicting what you will get from a pairing is near impossible, and after studying different pairings, and what resulted, I’ll be documenting my theories here.


Part 1: genetically distinct colors

cinnamon: brown with a red tint
chocolate: a deep brown; can be almost black
black: just black; Sun bleaching can cause lighter colors temporarily
white: just white; ticking and roaning can can cause permanent dark colors
sable: brown with gray peppered in, dark faces and extremities
red sable: regular sable toned red
fawn: most browns fall under this category; not as dark as chocolate but more saturated than pastel
pastel: desaturated colors; extremities, eyepatches, and ears will be lighter than the rest of the body; very characteristic of ’wild’ sheep crosses


Cinnamon genetics: when a sheep inherits one cinnamon gene they will come out cinnamon, however when they inherit two cinnamon genes, they will come out chocolate. This gene bases off of pre-existing brown colors, and hyperpigments the red, so when it is inherits this gene twice the offspring will deepen to a brown due to such a high presence of red pigment. When applied to sable, creates red sable. Ex: cinnamon x cinnamon = chocolate, cinnamon x fawn = 50% cinnamon 50% fawn, chocolate x fawn = 100% cinnamon, cinnamon x chocolate = 50% cinnamon 50% chocolate, cinnamon x sable = red sable, and red sable x sable = 50% red sable 50% sable

Part 2: genetically distinct patterns

Black belly: as the name implies, a sheep with a black belly, along with black legs, and a partially black neck and face
Mouflon ‘saddle patch’: rams with close mouflon relations may get a patch of white of their back called a saddle with age
black dorsal stripe: a black stripe running along the spine of the sheep; origin is unknown, seems to be dominant. I believe it is a modified version of the black belly gene; sheep can only have one or the other at a time.
Doberman: a reverse black belly; having one gene (carrier) will not express this trait, two carriers must be bred together in order to get a sheep with two copies who will express the gene.


Part 3: ticking, roaning, and frosting

Ticking: the appearance of small dots on a sheep over time; highly sought after.speed can vary, with some lambs exhibiting ticking immediately and some only being present later in life. Seems to either be dominated or semi-accumulative, at the moment I’m not sure. Dots will always be the same color as the base color of the sheep.
Roaning: the appearance of colors over time, usually on the back of the neck.
Frosting: the appearance of white over time.


These are my personal theories and observations thus far, I will probably add more at a later date.
 
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Baymule

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Painted Desert sheep are pretty. I love all the colors and patterns.
 

CapriCoCo

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Painted Desert sheep are pretty. I love all the colors and patterns.
I like how “loose” the color can be, it gives me a challenge when deciding pairings lol. I work with mostly cinnamons (you might have been able to tell by the paragraph I wrote about them specifically) and this lambing season was a mess. We thought cinnamon to cinnamon would give us cinnamon, so you can imagine our surprise when the only cinnamons we got were from non cinnamon ewes. I’ve seen this with multiple different pairings and just never made the connection before. Also the reason I didn’t mention all the recognized colors is I’m fairly certain most of them are the same genetically, just a difference in individuals.
 

CapriCoCo

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Pictures! Pictures of your colorful sheep!
BF1391AB-3888-4794-B7CA-DBB666339CEE.jpeg

King of the hay
891A7748-9C72-4A15-9764-C7863540EF7F.jpeg
juniper’s twin brother
her story here
BA8F40C6-3399-42EB-9B69-22D871B028E9.jpeg
sassy chocolate and white elf ear lamb
FB389413-3B29-48C1-92BA-C981D4C0FA46.jpeg
cinnamon and white ram lamb pie
E356F34C-3543-4BD9-8C33-C0665216A5C8.jpeg
 

Baymule

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I love spotty sheep! Many of my Katahdins are white, but I’m trying for color!
 

CapriCoCo

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I love spotty sheep! Many of my Katahdins are white, but I’m trying for color!
We’re trying for spots and color too. Juniper and her brother are the first generation out of a promising new ram, and so far everything out of him is turning out better than we ever expected.

He has a dorsal stripe and carries one copy of the cinnamon gene, and seems to be carrying a dominant ticking gene from what I can tell based on his babies so far.
 

CapriCoCo

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Alright today I have a couple of corrections to make. First off, a correction in the cinnamon portion; chocolate x fawn in theory will give you 100% cinnamon, not 33% each. Second off, I believe the dorsal stripe is a modified version of the black belly gene, so if a sheep has a black bellied appearance, then it can not have a dorsal stripe and vise versa. (These corrections will be added to the original post)
 

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