The transfer of the Stipper factor in domestic pigeons to another breed: Almonds, Multi-colored and Stipper

How can I breed good Almond in my breed? Most people who ask that do not want Almonds according to the standard for fancy breeds and the first standard for the Almond Tumbler from 1764 (Fig. 1). First standard paintings like that at Eaton 1851 show how the standard was understood (Fig. 2).

Fig. 1: The first Standard for the English Short Faced Almond Tumbler

Fig. 2: Englischer Short Faced Almond-Tumbler at Eaton 1851

Most fanciers today, however, want colorful, sprinkled pigeons in some beige basic color, which they call Almonds. They do not want a few outstanding individuals only, but a greater number to share with their friends and which are qualified to be shown at the exhibitions. If Almond then ‘Almonds-Light ' would be the better term!

The creation of multi-colored

These breeders who want nice colored sprinkles can be helped quickly. The sprinkling and lightening of the relevant Stipper factor St is sex-linked dominant (Christie & Wriedt 1925). You only need one individual with that trait, preferably a cock, and get a whole range of stipple variants when mated with blue-check, red and others, in half the progeny.

Fig. 3: Danish Tumbler Stipper (Staenkede) yellow and cross-breed progeny in later generations with self Pomeranian Eye-Crested Highfliers in the process to create Pomeranian Sprinkles (Stippers)


Most are the first young from such crosses of whitish basic coloration (Fig. 3). These can be enriched in color by mating with partners with bronze factors. With the aim to breed black stippers (white with black flecks) you will select against color and mate with black partners. Two stippers should not be mated with each other because of the lethal effect of homozygosity at cocks. The re-pairing of these young to the own breed will result in additional Stippers with improvements in the desired breed characteristics. In the fancy pigeon standards they are listed as multi-colored, sprinkles or stippers (Fig. 4).

Fig. 4: From Danish Stipper towards Blue and Black Sprinkles

In a few breeds, there are also some individuals among the multi-colored with a brown-yellow basic coloration, which corresponds to the almond-class. They are found in Debrecen (Fig. 5) and Oriental Rollers. The somewhat irritating Brown and Yellow Stipper called Danish Tumblers (Fig. 5 at the right) correspond to them also largely, however, primaries and tail on a light background mostly have black spots only and no brown / yellow as is strictly required in the standard for English Short Faced Almond Tumblers.

Fig. 5: Debrecen Roller multi-colored and Danish Tumbler yellow Stipper and a golddun hen


The creation of Almonds

Almonds in the true sense with the in the standard required intensive yellow (almond-colored) basic coloration, the black sprinkles and tri-color in primaries and tail, are another matter. One could introduce the coloration by mating with a well colored Almond or DeRoy of the English Short Faced (Fig. 6). That brings in addition to the stipple factor also the other necessary color modifiers.



Fig. 6: Englisch Short Faced Almond Tumbler, old cock with typical at that age darkened primaries and tail feathers, but still indications of tri-colored feathers, at the right a Red Agate, a Kite and an Almond cock from the book ‚Pigeon Genetics‘


In the often recommended further approach, the mating of two young of F1 among themselves, the required modifiers are quickly out of the breed. One could get the coloring by rejoining a kite. The backcross is a big step backwards for the desired breed traits, but helps to preserve the complex coloration. Many descendants from the young of that generation, re-pairings and strict selection can lead to success. From the complexity of the task it is no wonder that most who try it do not succeed.

Almond and / or Multi-color?

In Germany Stipper with beige or yellowish-reddish basic coloration is called 'multi-colored'. That leaves a relatively large lee-way for the coloration that is used by the breeders of Oriental Rollers (Fig. 7).



Fig. 7: The range of colorations at Oriental Rollers at German Shows, from Almond-Mimic to light beige with some stippling

In practice this is sometimes overused by irregular piebalds, bluish colors, dominant red appearing colors and grizzle variants (Fig. 8) similar to the tricolor (bronze grizzles) in Portuguese Tumblers. Also individuals with complete blue tails and primaries are shown that are considered Hickory, an allele of the Stipper-gene.


Fig. 8: Bronze grizzle at at Fantail and und Hickory at German Modeneser and a Fantail in the class for multi-colors at German Shows


In the first standards in the USA, the ‘Vielfarbige’ were literally translated "multi-colored". This was renamed later from the Club of the breeders of Oriental Rollers, and probably all breeds, today in 'almond'.


Fig. 9: Standard description for color classes inclusive multi-colored for Oriental Rollers in the US-American Standard of Perfection 1979

From the current discussion about the color-class one can assume that the breeders of that time misjudged two things.

·         For one thing, they overestimated their own breeder art. Probably they assumed that in a few years they could breed almond-colored in the sense of the original standard description, which did not succeed up to now.

·         On the other hand, they have not seen that many breeders of stippled Oriental Rollers were not so much interested in Almonds at all. They found their multi-colored, sprinkled pigeons at least as attractive.

However, why should not both color-classes coexist in a breed, each with its own name?

The meaning of appealing names

Multi-colored in English language for some breeders seems not to sound attractive. Younger breeders even do not know that this was the original name in English standards. Are there alternatives? 'Magnani' as in the Modena Pigeons could be one. ‘Arlequin’ in the French language, 'harlekin' or 'harlequin' in the sense of a colorful iridescent appearance can be found in ancient literature as another term. The harlequin owls and Vienna Short Beaked Tumblers appearing in the German literature could have been something similar, namely silver sprinkles or multi-colored respectively (Sell 2015, p. 116). A harlequin Prague Tumbler may be found at collection of cards about Prague Tumblers edited in 2006 by Ladislav Seidl.


Fig. 10: Harlekin Prague Tumblers in a collection of cards from Ladislav Seidl, Prague 2006 und Harlequin Wikipedia SAND_Maurice_Masques_et_bouffons_01



Eaton, John Matthews, A Treatise on the Art of Breeding and Managing the Almond Tumbler, London 1851.

National Pigeon Assn. Inc., Book of Pigeon Standards, Revised 1979.

Sell, Axel, Genetik der Taubenfärbungen, Achim 2015.

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

Wriedt, C., and W. Christie, Zur Genetik der gesprenkelten Haustaube (On the Genetics of  the Sprinkled Domestic Pigeon). Zeitschrift für induktive Abstammungs- und Vererbungslehre 38 (1925), pp. 271-306.