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Mastador Coat Colors

Charlemagne of Covenant Farm, our 1st Generation Mastador stud.

Today we’re going to look at where the myriad color combinations in the Mastador breed (English Mastiff x Labrador hybrid) originate. It all has to do with coat color genetics between the two breeds. I will try to make this as non-technical as possible.

First, a simple introduction to coat color genetics is in order. You need to get this before the rest makes any sense. Both Mastiffs and Labs have recessive coat color genes. Recessive genes (like blue eyes in people) require that the gene be present in both parents, in order to show up in their puppies.

The Labrador Retriever has a very simple coat color genetic. There are three colors only: black, yellow and chocolate (all other colors are variations of one of those three). Black is the dominant color, while yellow and chocolate are recessive. That means, in order for chocolate or yellow to show up in puppies, the color must be present in both parents. As a result, 1st Generation Mastadors (where the parents and Mastiff and Lab, not two Mastadors) are usually the dominant Lab color, black, as the other two colors are cancelled out, by not being present in both parents. It is the strongest color gene between both breeds. That is why you get all black puppies from a yellow Lab and any kind of English Mastiff. About 90% of the time, 1st Generation puppies are black, some with white markings on the feet or chest.

Ancestral Markings

St. John’s Water Dog, from which the Labrador Retriever and the Newfoundland Dog were cross-bred. The last one died in 1982.

Ancestral markings are color anomalies that you do not normally see in a purebred dog. Ancestral markings in Labs are usually represented as white “blaze” on the chest, or white toes or sox. When the Labrador Retriever was developed as a cross-breed, one of the foundation breeds was the St. John’s Water Dog. This was a black dog with white chest blaze and white socks. While the white has been bred out of the Lab, the genetics of the white spots are still in the DNA, so they come out from time to time. In English Mastiffs, white blaze or toe tips is a common phenomenon, so the gene from the Mastiff hooks up with the ancestral gene of the Lab, and produces blaze and white sox.

As an interesting side-note. The St. John’s Water Dog was also used as a foundation breed for another new breed, The Newfoundland Dog. The Newfie was actually the cross between the St. John’s and the English Mastiff! So, the genetics between these two breeds has proven to be very compatible over the last 150 years.

Shelby, our reverse brindle Mastador puppy.

The English Mastiff has very complex coat color genetics that still have genetic experts trying to lay it out in a way that can be understood, but they are an ancient breed, with so much involved in their development over more than a thousand years. As recently as World War II, the English Mastiff was down to only six breeding females. In order to save the breed, one of the owners of the females bred them to the Great Dane, and the other bred them to the Bullmastiff. The English Mastiff never lost its “purebred” status, despite being cross-bred.

There are basically three English Mastiff colors in modern times, fawn (light, off-white color), apricot (red) and brindle (striped). In brindles, there are dogs with fawn (sometimes looks like silver) in the stripes, and others with apricot in the stripes. But there is so, so very much more possibility in Mastiff coat colors that are latent genes, just looking for an opportunity to express themselves. The expression becomes possible, apparently, with the pairing of the Lab genes.

Black & tan, an ancestral Mastiff coat color in a 2nd Generation Mastador.

Between 1883 and 1916 there were Mastiffs registered with the AKC as Blue Brindle, Black and Tan, Cream, Chocolate and White Spotted, according to one source I looked at. Eventually, standards were imposed by AKC and The Kennel Club (UK) and many of these color variations were bred away from. So, it makes sense that any color variation seen in the Mastiff world could still be expressed in a modern English Mastiff, as we see ancestral markings in Labs. That, in turn, most likely explains how a small percentage of 1st Generation Mastadors can come out in any number of variant colors and markings. There is some genetic piece in Lab DNA that occasionally finds a match with one of the ancient color gene possibilities of the Mastiff, and it comes out in the puppies.

Our own stud, Charlemagne of Covenant Farm is just such a color anomaly. He is tri-color, apricot, black, and tan, and comes from a fawn English Mastiff dad, and a black Labrador mom with chocolate markings on her legs.

Chocolate 2nd Generation lass with cinnamon sox and muzzle, colors of both Lab and Mastiff.

Breeding into the next generations

In the second and third generations of Mastador breeding, the huge plethora of available color genes start showing up in every litter, often with various color combinations that outnumber the black puppies. The possible combinations are nearly endless, because of the color genes of the Mastiff, previously explained. How many of these colors will still be here a century from now is anybody’s guess, just as so many of the original Mastiff colors are no longer seen. On the other hand, ancestral colors and markings of the Mastiff that are now showing up in the Mastador, may well see a revival because of the genetic makeup of this new breed!

The Launch of The PuppyMan Blog!

B&B_blogWell, I’ve procrastinated long enough! My Facebook friends and puppy owners have been encouraging me to start this blog for two years, and it’s finally launched.

There’s not much up here to look at yet, but I will try to post something every day or two. Something useful. Something interesting. Something challenging. Something you didn’t know.

So much of what I have learned about puppies and dogs, caring for them, using natural remedies to help and cure everything from parvo virus to seizures to skin allergies, has been virtually lost in old Facebook posts I will never be able to find again. So I begin the job of putting down everything I have learned in this blog so it can be accessed and shared easily.

Some folks (kindly) call me an “expert”.  That’s overstating the case. I know a lot and have learned a lot, but I’m always still learning, and always running up against issues I have never seen and have no clue to deal with. As I encounter those, I will share that info with you. Think of me as a “resource” rather than an “expert”.

But besides the useful information about care & feeding, behavior and such, I want to have some fun here as well. So hopefully there will be some chuckles along the way, especially in the “Puppies” category.

I encourage you to ask questions and respond to my posts, and feel free to request blog posts on topics of particular interest to you.

The True Source of “Honest Business Practices”

We periodically receive accolades in one form or another for our “honesty”. It has been noted that folks are wcfp_logoilling to drive in their cars over 1,000 miles to come get a puppy they have never seen  (except in photos) or have a puppy they have only seen photos of, shipped clear across America. People trust us this way because we have built up “a good reputation”. But why? And how?

I want to take this opportunity to point you all in the direction any discussion of this topic needs to go: God’s Word, the Holy Bible holds specific business principles and rules, which if followed, will always result in “honest business practice”. If you practice them, you will ALWAYS be thought of as a business or person with “honesty” and “integrity” who can be “trusted”.

Most people are not aware that God’s original covenant (the Old Testament) contains specific instructions regulating business behavior. Many Christians erroneously ignore or avoid the Old Testament as being “no longer in force”. But this is serious error, not just doctrinally, but in every other way. The Bible has instructions, guidelines and rules for the conduct of EVERYTHING we do in our lives.

Some of our staunchest defenders (at those odd times when we come under attack) are actually folks that have had a problem with a puppy they got from us. That is because we see the value in running towards a problem in business, and solve it to everyone’s satisfaction, rather than running away from it. Running away from responsibility is human nature, and God’s Word tells us we need to fight and put off that natural tendency, and adopt His rules of behavior.

When I post here about topics that are perceived as “religious” I often get private (or public) comments from some of my friends and puppy owners that, “we are here for the dogs, not for the politics or religion. We would prefer not to see that here”. What you don’t understand is, the very thing you like about us and our business is BECAUSE of these very things you think you don’t want to see or hear!

Everybody knows folks that profess to be Christians, but are not honest in their business dealings. That in NO WAY reflects on Biblical principles, it only reflects on the people who profess Christ, yet are disobedient to His word. When you meet an honest non-Christian businessman, you will find that he is honest because he is following Biblical principles, whether he knows he is or not.

So folks, you will hear this stuff from me from time to time because I would be remiss and derelict in my responsibility to YOU, if I did not say the things which must be said.

The bottom line: You like me and my business because we follow Christ and His word, and run our business according to its precepts, whether you realize that’s the reason or not.