Stages of the Thuringian Self Pigeons

From the first mention in 1856 to recognition in 1951

As early as 1856, Ludwig Storch named white-owled and ground-colored pigeons among the most popular colors in Ruhla in the Thuringian Forest. Including owls in numerous variations. The later cock-colors can be seen in the Thuringian Selfs in Groundcoloured, Groundcoloured Spotted (stöpflich – slight hint of check spots) and Yellow Groundcoloured Spotted.


Fig. 1: Storch, Ludwig (anonymous), Land und Leute Nr. 5 Die Ruhl und die Rühler, Die Gartenlaube 1856, Heft 27-29 (Country and people No. 5 The Ruhl and the Rühler - List of the most popular colors in Thuringian dialect)


Afterwards, colors of the pigeons in Ruhla can be found in similar words in the tourist guide by Alexander Ziegler in 1869. The misprinted 'Grunzfarben' in Storch was corrected with Grundfarben = ground color. Today, groundcoloured is the name of the exclusive cock-colors. These pigeons are not mentioned in pigeon monographs such as Neumeister/Prütz 1876 and others from the time.

Official recognition in 1951

The breed was recognized equally in East and West in the German pigeon standard in 1951. The breeders knew from experience that some colors were only found in cocks. In the standard, light-colored, yellow-colored and blue-colored cock-colors were singled out as 'sex-related'. All other colors including the grizzles (owls) were open to male and females.

Fig. 2: Thuringian Selfs in the first standard. Origin: Thuringian about 1850. Overall impression: Strong, fairly high-standing color pigeon with thick muffs and clearly visible vulture feathers, or clean legged, noble and sleek appearance… Color-classes: Light groundcoloured, yellow groundcoulered (wine yellow) and blue groundcoloured as cock-colours, and silver, larked, blue, blue check and owlish for cocks and hens.

Increase in knowledge about sexual dimorphism

In the 1930s and 1940s, the sexually linked inherited color sexual dimorphism by 'Faded' was discovered. The effect on males who have the gene twice if they are pure, with a stronger lightening than on hens who only have the gene once. Consolidated knowledge only came to Europe with the Texans with the hereditary factor 'Faded'. These were recognized as 'auto-sexing pioneers' in the USA in 1962. With pure breeding, you can already tell in the nest what gender the young are. Andreas Leiß (2000) found that the main color classes of the Thuringian Selfs followed the same pattern of exclusive male and exclusive hen colors. However, with a smaller color lightening effect in both sexes, caused by 'Frosty', an allele of Faded. Probably identical to the factor that Tim Kvidera examined in racing pigeons in the USA.

Fig. 3: Blue Groundcoloured cock (right) with his hemizygous frosty blue bar dam (left)

The new knowledge at the time was partially taken into account when revising the standard (ring binder 2004) for the Thuringians. Only partially, because as an exception to the exclusive male and hen colors in the other color classes, grizzles in the hen color were recognized in both sexes.

Fig. 4: Standard for Thuringian Selfs 2004

Why the exception for mold?

Thomas Oschmann from Finsterbergen in the Thuringian Forest had already pointed out that there was also a cock color for grizzle: the white owls or white storks. The reasons for not addressing this when revising the standard were probably the low prevalence of grizzles and a lack of imagination. The majority of breeders probably couldn't imagine that homozygous-bred blue grounded cocks would be lightened into white owls or storks due to the grizzle factor. Even if they were heterozygous grizzle only. Apparently, there was no willingness to investigate the question empirically. With traditional inheritance tests one could have recreated and understood the inheritance process in two successive pairings.

The current status: The pigeon color of the grizzles in the AOC-Class

The inheritance process can also be traced today using the family trees when Frank Zetzsche re-bred the clean-legged Thuringian grizzles. The first grizzle cocks that are homozygous for Frosty will probably be seen at the upcoming Lipsia 2023 in the AOC class in clean-legged and short muffed as 'white storks'. Paradox to find a pure cock-color in a sex-dimorph breed in the AOC class instead of in the regular class.


Fig. 5: Sex-Dimorph Thuringian Selfs clean-legged. Cock- and hen color in grizzles, homozygous Frosty male (left) and hemizygous Frosty hen, both heterozygous grizzles. Photos and breeding Frank Zetzsche

Fig. 6: Sex-Dimorph Thuringian Selfs. Cock and hen colour in grizzles, homozygous Frosty male (right) and hemizygote Frosty hen, both heterozygous grizzles. Photos and breeding Frank Zetzsche


Ilgen, H., und Bernd Herbold, 100 Jahre Sonderverein der Thüringer Farbentauben, Sonneberg 2010.

Sell, A., Genetik der Taubenfärbungen, Achim 2015.

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

Sell, A. und J., Vererbung bei Tauben, Reutlingen 2007.

Storch, Ludwig (anonym), Land und Leute Nr. 5 Die Ruhl und die Rühler, Die Gartenlaube 1856, Heft 27-29, S. 352-355, 374-376, 386-388.

Ziegler, Alexander, Das Thüringerwalddorf Ruhla und seine Umgebung, Dresden 1867 (Reprint)