Pigeon Breeds and Color Classes: Juggling with colors in practice

Colors in the licensing process

Crossing pigeons with different colors is for some a taboo according to the motto 'breed pure and breed real'. For some it is a lottery game and for others it is combinatorics that is applied to genetics. For organized pigeon breeding it is rather a horror. The specific colors that occur automatically at crossings pigeons from different standard colors, each have their own genetic code, are treated in the general exhibition provisions (AAB) as if each color  was a separate breed and had to go through special licensing procedures in order to be allowed to be exhibited. And if it has not been exhibited for a while, the organisation even reserve the right to delete it in the standard. The next person who 'stumbles' over such a rarity at crossings and finds it interesting can then go through a licensing procedure again. Some manageable combinations from our own breeding pen, in part about 20 years ago. Even if 90% of the breeders will not believe it, and those responsible for the AAB do not anyway, the example of the Pomeranian is exemplary for all other breeds. There is no inheritance theory for individual breeds, the knowledge gained from one breed can be transferred to others. And by pairing pigeons with different hereditary factors, there is no mixing, but factors are recombined and original combinations may come back unaltered in the following generations.

Examples of mating different colors at the author’s strain of Pomeranian Eye Crested Highflyers

Ash red bar x Blue check

The Ash red bar cock x blue check hen results in the first generation in the red-checked dominant red shown in Fig. 1). They are not a standard color in this breed. It's a typical intermediate-color class and doesn't bother anyone, just the AAB, the provisions of the fancy poultry breeding organization. It can be meaningfully mated with the other colors and thus not reduce the breed’s base. If you love a stock of uniformly colored pigeons, you can continue to breed them in large numbers.

Fig. 1: Ash red bar x Blue Check = Ash red check

Spread Ash x Blue bar

Spread Ash can be a pure surprise bag of inheritance. If you know from the lineage what is genetically in it, you can also estimate what colors will come out. The heterozygous Spread Ash cock shown, mated with a blue-bar, has a blue checkered and an ash red pale bar in a round (Fig. 2), and a Spread Ash and a blue bar in another round (Fig. 3). And in very clean colors! If you did not know beforehand what he was genetically, then some of him is known from the offspring. The adult cock is heterozygous for the color spreading factor, it is heterozygous for the black base color, and thirdly it is also heterozygous for the bar and check pattern.

Fig. 2: Spread Ash (heterozygous) x Blue bar = Blue Check and Ash red bar


Fig. 3: Spread Ash (heterozygous) x Blue bar = Blue Bar and Spread Ash

Spread Ash x Spread Ash

The Spread Ash, mated with a Spread Ash hen, resulted also in a black hen (Fig. 4). Pigeons only inherit the color gene from the father, so the dominant red base color of the female is irrelevant for the daughters.

Fig. 4: Spread Ash (heterozygous) x Spread Ash = Black (a hen)

Spread Ash x Sprinkle and Sprinkle x Black

Finally a mating of the Spread Ash with a black sprinkle hen in the terminology of the oriental roller in Fig. 5. A blue bar and a blue check in the documented brood. The clean basic color of the young should also be noted here, especially for the blue bar. Geneticists know that both are hens. More common ist he mating of black sprinkles with black, resulting here in sprinkle and black offspring in Fig. 6.


Fig. 5: Spread Asch (heterozygous) x Sprinkle (white with black sprinkles) = Black and Blue bar (hens); Fig. 6: Sprinkle x Black = Sprinkle and Black

Black x Black

Word has got around for most pigeon fanciers that a black check or blue-bar youngster occasionally is produced out of two blacks and is not so surprising. That was also the case with the black pair shownin Fig. 7, a relatively dark blue check young. Next to it a black with recognizable bars. After moulting it will appear more intensely colored. Now the darker bars are clearly recognizable, which are not completely covered by the color spreading factor S. The parents are both heterozygous for the color spreading factor.

Fig. 7: Black x Black = Black and Blue Check

Ash red bar from Blue bar and Black?

Interesting a pairing, in which an inexperienced observer could suspect that ash red from two blacks, that shouldn't be! It is also not, the young in Fig. 8 is a barred platinum. The black parents are obviously both heterozygous for the hereditary factor platinum and also for the color spreading factor. The difference between platinum-bar and ash red bar is best seen in the color of the wings.

Fig. 8: Blue bar x Black = Platinum bar

Fig. 9: Platinum bar (at the left) and ash red bar - youngsters

Spread Ash and outcrossing upon other breeds in part with undesired traits

However, you can also take on too many and not suitable factors in the play. Like a juggler who wants to keep too many rings in motion at the same time and then starts spinning. With some combinations it is already clear in the 1st generation that negative traces remain and have to be laboriously deleted by selection. From the pairing of the Spread Ash with the red Tschinny Uzbek (Fig. 10) a dark Spead Ash has been produced. The plumage color goes into the dark, which can have different reasons.

Fig. 10: Spread Ash x Uzbek flying type, Tschinny with a Spread Ash youngster

The smoky factor that all Pomeranian Eye Crested Highflyer have is not present in the Tschinny. The dominant hereditary factor dirty has been added. Probably the gene for T-pattern and not bar or check. The young is heterozygous-recessive red, and it is likely that there are other dominant and recessive modifiers that are undesirable for a nice ashen coloring of pigeons. Selection against such modifiers is nothing more than eliminating undesirable factors or enriching the strain with positive modifiers.

A current update of the history of the strain

At the end of the year, a practical report from the own strain of Pomeranian Eye-Crested Highflyer. Pigeons shown at the special show in Grimmen in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania on December 14th and 15th. For experts obvious the color difference between Spread Ash (cock with 97 points V) and Platinum (cock with 94 points sg).


Fig. 11: Pomeranian Eye-Crested Highflyer Spread Ash cock, Special Club Show 2019 V 97 points; Fig. 12: Pomeranian Eye-Crested Highflyer Spread Platinum cock, 2019 sg 94 points

A main feature of this color-class is the gender-related difference between the lighter cocks and the darker hens (the hen with 95 points sg). Finally a black cock with 93 points. On the lower plumage of him, some feathers indicated that he is split-platinum. Without mating different colors from time to time with each other, the strain still by inbreeding depression would have perished.


Fig. 13: Pomeranian Eye-Crested Highflyer Spread Platinum hen, Special Club Show 2019 sg 95 points; Abb. 14: Pomeranian Eye-Crested Highflyer Black cock sg 93 points.

For the genetic background and history http://www.taubensell.de/art_visions_and_genetic_limitation…


Sell, Axel and Jana, Vererbung bei Tauben, Oertel + Spörer, Reutlingen 2004/2007

Sell, Axel, Genetik der Taubenfärbungen, Achim 2015

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

Sell, Axel, Taubenzucht. Möglichkeiten und Grenzen züchterischer Gestaltung, Achim 2019