Siberian huskies are a favorite of many dog lovers. Aside from their cute antics, this dog breed is super attractive thanks to their striking blue eyes. Not to mention, they come in various shades.
Interestingly, red is among the eye-catching coat colors of huskies. However, the former variety isn’t as popular as black and white huskies. That can make you wonder: are red huskies rare?
In this article, we’ll explore the curious case of red huskies. From their genetic information to the rarest husky fur color, keep reading for all the details!
We understand that huskies are unique and require special care, so we’ve created this one-stop shop to help you find the must-have items for your furry friend.
- Grooming Tools
- Dog Food, Treats & Supplements
- Toys & Enrichment
- Training Aids
- Comfort & Safety
Are Red Huskies Rare?
Yes, red huskies are rare compared to common husky colors like black and white. Red huskies also used to be much rarer before breeders started breeding red huskies on purpose. Now red huskies are relatively common because of breeding practices that have increased the red husky population.
However, red huskies aren’t the rarest color (more on this below).
Another misconception about this dog variety is that they’re not purebred. However, that’s not true.
Like black and white huskies, the red-coated dog is also a Siberian husky; they have the same ancestors as the former.
However, instead of inheriting the dominant genes responsible for black and gray coats, red huskies carry the recessive red pigment gene. The latter has been a part of the Siberian husky’s DNA for thousands of years.
Must read: 👉 Best Dog DNA Test Kits for Huskies
Now, if you’re talking about sable huskies, that’s a different story. While red huskies come in various hues, sable huskies are still different. Typically, they contain a red undercoat that can vary in shade. Covering the top layer are some hints of black.
Such a coat type is considered rare. That’s because the red pigmentation is a result of a mutation in the gene MC1R. This process doesn’t occur frequently since the body contains various mechanisms to prevent the mutation from occurring.
Why Are Red Huskies Rare?
Genetics is the primary factor behind the rarity of red huskies compared to black and white-coated huskies.
As mentioned earlier, the trait behind the red color is recessive, while black pigments are dominant.
For those who don’t know, each trait comes from two gene copies. That makes sense since each parent provides one copy.
Now, that genetic material can be either dominant or recessive. As the name implies, a dominant gene is strong; it cancels the weak, recessive trait.
For instance, if a husky with brown eyes (dominant) mated with a husky with blue eyes (recessive), their babies could only have blue eyes if they had two copies of the recessive gene.
If the parents pass one copy of the brown gene and another of the blue gene, the baby inherits the former eye color.
Likewise, for huskies to have a red coat, they must carry two copies of the recessive red gene.
Of course, that’s possible when two red huskies mate. However, even then, you can expect black-white puppies. That’s because all canines have two basic pigments that influence their coat color.
What Are the Pigments That Control Dog Coat Colors?
Regardless of the species, two primary pigments control the coat colors of dogs. Those are eumelanin (black pigment) and phaeomelanin (red).
Now, you might wonder why other coat colors exist, although only two pigments influence them. And that brings us to the next factor contributing to fur color: pigment locus.
In the world of genetics, locus refers to the location of genes on the chromosome, a thread-like structure that carries the DNA. In canines, only eight genes modify the two pigment colors, producing various coat shades.
- Agouti (A) locus: It’s responsible for the agouti appearance in huskies.
- Extension (E) locus: This gene expresses the eumelanin, or black, pigment. Dogs carrying this gene have a black facial mask.
- Dominant black (K) locus: It gives dogs black, fawn, and brindle coat colors.
- Brown (B) locus: The B locus creates brown, chocolate, and other related hues. It takes two recessive B genes (bb) to make the dog’s coat brown.
- Dilution (D) locus: It contains a melanophilin gene (MLPH) that dilutes the black pigment, but it doesn’t affect phaeomelanin (red) as much.
- Merle (M) locus: It creates irregular patterns of diluted black pigments on the fur.
- Harlequin (H) locus: This gene determines whether a dog can have a patched pattern. It’s not found in purebred Siberian huskies.
- Spotting (S) locus: It causes white spotting on the dog’s coat.
Which Locus Causes Red Coat in Huskies?
As surprising as it may sound, the Extension (E) locus gives red huskies their striking coat color. You see, the former has four alleles, different gene versions. Among those variations is the recessive e3, which expresses the red pigment phaeomelanin.
The problem is that out of all E locus genes, e3 is one of the rarest. Not only that, but a husky must contain two copies of the recessive gene to have a red coat.
The chances of the former process occurring are lower than inheriting dominant black pigment genes. That’s why red huskies are fewer compared to the black-white mix.
What Is the Rarest Husky Color?
A full white coat is the rarest color a Siberian husky can inherit. Those dogs don’t produce any melanin, a condition known as albinism.
That trait happens due to mutations inhibiting the function of melanocytes, the cells that produce pigments. Such a genetic condition is extremely rare in dogs. For that reason, you won’t find many white huskies walking in the street or even being sold by breeders.
Do Red Huskies Change Color?
Yes, red huskies can change color as they age. However, it won’t be a dramatic change; your dog will still be some shade of red. Other factors like medications, diet, and sunlight can also alter the dog’s fur color.
If your husky is changing color, especially if their fur develops pink or brown patches, it might be a sign of an underlying medical condition. That’s especially true if your fur buddy is licking his paws excessively.
So, are red huskies rare? Everything is relative. So yes, red huskies are rare compared to the most common black and white husky colors. Red huskies are rare in nature but are now relatively common because of breeding practices encouraging the breeding of red huskies.
Generally, red Siberian huskies are relatively uncommon compared to black and white huskies. Primarily, that has to do with genetics. Red pigment is a rare trait. Not to mention, genes that code for such colors are recessive.
Mating two red-coated huskies is probably the easiest way to have red puppies. That’s because both parents carry the recessive red gene. Some would say we are lucky that red huskies aren’t as rare as they used to be! 😍
Do you have a red husky?
Share your love for them in the comments below.
Wondering whether your husky