Golden rules and laws of inheritance in Stipper and Almond breeding

I'm off then, said the Stipper gene and disappeared!

Many breeders expect phenotypes lost in breeding to reappear when grandparents had looked like that. And that even if the parents no longer show the colouration. Their belief, after all, it is empirical knowledge that grandchildren resemble their grandparents!

A look at heredity shows why this is sometimes true, but not always. Such a look can prevent time and money from being invested in hopeless projects. In more complex colourings, such as Almond, probabilities for desirable breeding results can be determined with different breeding strategies.

This can be illustrated with simple examples. From the mating of a Black Stipper cock with a Black female pigeon one will get both Stippers and Blacks in both sexes. In the picture of the supplement of the exercise booklet to the brochure 'Introduction to Heredity in Pigeons' a black stipper and a black female with one black and one stippled young.



Fig. 1: Black stipper family (heterozygous black stipper cock and black hen with black and stipper youngsters) and cover of the brochure ‘Introduction to Heredity in Pigeons, demonstrating the interaction of genes in color genetics

In Punnett's square as a didactic form of representation it is as follows. A heterozygous Stipper male in the left column with the genes St and the wild type + is mated with a female without the Stipper gene (●//+) in the upper row. All combination of genes of sire and dam in the kittens can be read in the inner fields of the matrix. Pigeons with the symbol +//+ do not have the Stipper gene. Half of the female pigeons do not have it either (+//●).

Source: Introduction to Inheritance in Pigeons.

The black male (+//+) and female (+//●) pigeons from such matings also have a stipper for a father. Nevertheless, when mated with each other, they will not give any stippers. Where should the stipper gene come from in the grandchildren? None of the parents possessed it.




+ //●

+ // +


+ //●

+ // +


The Stipper gene is gone, at least in this branch of the family. The breeder can put together as many such pairs as he likes. He will still not raise any Stippers.

Almonds as stippers

Almonds have the stipper gene like the Black Stippers. However, they have other complementary colours with Agates and Kites in breeding, which provide for the special colouring of the Almonds. DeRoy is a speciality. They are Agates with the stipper gene. The dilution factor is also present in many strokes, but this will not be discussed here.

Fig. 2: Almond cock and the complementary colours DeRoy, Red Agate and Kite (Source: Introduction to Inheritance in Pigeons 2022)

The lottery of Almond breeding

Already in 1876 Fulton wrote of the 'lottery of Almond-breeding' in his recommendations for the mating of the colourings in the breeding of the English Almond Tumblers. One knew of many cases in which breeders had put together animals of the best quality, which nevertheless had not produced an Almond throughout the whole season. No one can predict if and that two animals put together will produce almonds.

Fig. 3: Fulton on the ‘Lottery of Almond-Breeding’, (Source: Fulton 1876)

In the Almond breedings, Almond coloureds and DeRoy have the stipper factor. The secondary colour strokes Agates and Kites do not have it.

The term 'lottery' at Fulton 'limps' a bit. It's no longer a lottery if you put only studs in a lottery pot. In civil law it would be fraud, in the vernacular it would be dumbing down. It is not possible to predict that individual pairs will definitely raise almonds in the current breeding year. But one can determine probabilities. And for some pairs, one can say with certainty that no almonds will be raised from them.

Fig. 4: Agate (Agate Mottle in the terminology of Fulton) and Kite (Source: Fulton 1876)

Such a lottery pot with all rivets, if the aim is to get Almonds, is the mating recommended by Fulton of a red or yellow agate mottle with a Kite hen (p. 153). Like the two blacks from the Stipper breed, neither has the Stipper gene. So, it is an aerial number. Nevertheless, this mating is mentioned among the Almond matings by Metzelaar in his book 'Colour Breeding in Pigeons' from 1926. It is also printed in the anthology 'The Short Faced Tumbler Club Centenary 1886-1986 Part I from 1987 and as a guide they are still mentioned today.

Almond females from kite-tumblers?

Little was known about heredity in Fulton's time. Sex-linked inheritance as in the stipper gene was only discovered after 1900. Breeding recommendations are derived from observations and records. And this was mostly done in open lofts where cross-fertilisation could not be ruled out.

The assumption that it is possible to breed particularly good Almond hens from a Kite and an Almond hen can probably also be traced back to such cross-fertilisation.

„Then to breed Almond hens we would … putting a good Almond hen to a Kite cock. This is now seldom done, but is one of the best matches we know for breeding what is so rarely seen and so difficult to produce – an Almond hen of good sound colour all through the body.” (Fulton 1876).

Fig. 5: Almond-Weibchen aus Kite-Täubern? (Source: Fulton 1876)

This too is an aerial number. Punnett's square tell us something different in theoretical analysis. Nevertheless, they are mentioned again among the Golden Rules by Metzelaar and in later sources and recommendations.

Rules of Experience, Colour Calculators and Inheritance Theory

As one can see from the examples, many rules of experience handed down over decades should be critically questioned. This is not only true for the stipper colour strokes. Enumerations of the presumed results of colour crosses and colour calculators are a helpful crutch for some breeders. In some respects, however, they are also an indictment. One can easily learn the basics.

It should be more satisfying to be able to classify colourings genetically and to understand inheritance processes than to look them up in a rule book. This is the prerequisite for systematic breeding. One becomes familiar with the mechanisms of inheritance through exercises. Therefore, the 80-page booklets published in English, French and Dutch is accompanied by a 30-page exercise booklet. https://www.taubensell.de/003_Neu_Buchshop/taubenbuch.htm


Fulton, R., The Illustrated Book of Pigeons, London, Paris, New York, Melbourne 1876

Metzelaar. J., Color Breeding in Pigeon Plumage 1926

Mullan, Jim (ed.), The Short Faced Tumbler Club Centenary 1886-1986 Part I, Inglewood 1987. Published as a free supplement to ‘Fancy Pigeons’ Issue 7

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

Sell, A., Introduction to Heredity in Pigeons, Achim 2022 (80 pages with supplement ‘Comprehension Questions’, 30 pages)

Sell, A., Introduction à l’héredité chez les pigeons, Achim 2022 (80 pages plus ‘Questions de comprehension pour chaque chapitre’ 30 p.)

Sell, A., Inleiding tot de erfelijkheid bij duiven, Achim 2022 (80 pages plus ‘Begrijpelijke vragen over afsonderlijke hoofdstukken’ 30 p.)