Dominant White (Wh)

The author learned about the inheritance of dominant white pigeons in a breeding project to transfer color traits to a breed, now more than 50 years ago. The project and the kind of inheritance was despicted 40 years ago in the German language brochure 'Inheritance in Pigeons'. Essential findings such as the dominant epistatic effect of Wh can already be seen from the results of the first two breeding years of the project.


Fig. 1: The way to colored (non-white) Pomeranian Eye-Crested Highflyers excerpt from the breeding plan shown in ‘Pigeon Genetics. Applied Genetics in the Domestic Pigeon’, Achim 2012.

White pigeons with orange or pearl eyes are not always homozygous grizzles G on an ash-red (dominant red) basis as was believed in early days and from many fanciers still today. That can be seen in some of them at the black feathers in the neck area and dark or dark-flecked beaks. It can be concluded also from young with dark stork tails that sometimes are raised from pure white couples. At least the cock is then not homozygous ash red and the couple is heterozygous Dominant White only.

The explanation does not lie in the dominance of the white factor in respect to the traits detected, but in the complete or partial coverage of non-allelic other traits. And that even in the case that Dominant White is only present in heterozygous state – thus ‘dominant’.


Fig. 3: Youngster with black tail marking from white parents

What is covered in the most recent finding at white Flying Stralsund in addition to the base color is left to speculation without tests. Candidates for reedy, grizzle appearance in whole or parts of the plumage are always undergrizzle, flash grizzle, pencil, veined, etc. There is still a lot to question here. Dominant White was described alongside recessive white, albinos and others as early as 1925. The findings of Walker have been forgotten for a long time and despite later confirmation have not yet got around in the fancy when we follow the recent discussions in the social media about unexpected results in the mating of white pigeons. For a deeper understanding of the relationships, however, you also need to know more than just dominance and recessiveness, you should also know something about covering (epistatic) effects and other mechanisms of the interaction of genetic factors. Detailed discussions can be found in the books 'Pigeon Genetics' and in German, particularly detailed, but out of print and only available in antiquarian books or libraries, in 'Genetics of Pigeon Colors' (Genetik der Taubenfärbungen).


Fig. 4: Dominant White F1 Pomeranian Eye Crested Highflyer and veined variants at Danzig Highfliers, Source: Sell, Pigeon Genetics, Applied Genetics in the Domestics Pigeon, Achim 2012


Sell, Axel, Pigeon Genetics. Applied Genetics in the Domestic Pigeon, Achim 2012.

Sell, Axel, Genetik der Taubenfärbungen, Achim 2015.