Inheritance of coat in the Ibizan Hound
When I first became involved in the Ibizan Hound breed in 1973 there were basically Smooth dogs in the United States, with few exceptions. Walter Bush had some nice divish Wires but he never went forward with them. All Preux dogs were Smooth, some had longer coats as in a Beagle, but not Wire. Wire is a texture not a length. The Smooth coat should be hard and slick. The Wire coat hard and rough, with a slight crimp. Soft and silky is incorrect for either. The only Wire that was used in early pedigrees was Canela de Can Gosch imported from Ibiza by Jane Mitchell, behind Suda de Can Gosh. Suda had one Wire parent, his mother Canela, his sire was Kiba, a Smooth. There was one other Wire in the American pedigrees, Alchardon Anunnaki Anubis. We will come back to this. There has always been much controversy about him. He has no AKC registration number.
When Sue Fegan imported Wires from Mallorca in the 80s the coat variety had a Renaissance of interest. Others imported fresh Wires also from Spain and from Europe. This importation was wonderful and exciting. Over the years they have been cross bred with Smooth. This is very acceptable here, but not in FCI countries. What I started to observe is that breeders did not quite have an understanding of coat inheritance and expectations of coats in their litters.
Wire is dominant, that is how we lost it previously because we did not use for one reason or another the Wire get from Suda and Anubis. When a dominant is gone, it is gone. I will use WW to represent a homogeneous Wire, Ws to represent Wire carrying Smooth, and ss to represent homogeneous Smooth. The early Wires, Canela herself was Ws. Suda was Ws, and Anubis was Ws. We had no pure Wires at this time except perhaps Bush who did not bring them forward.
If you breed two really homogeneous Wires WW you will get only WW If you breed a homogeneous Wire WW to a heterogeneous Ws you will get only Wire expressed but one quarter possible carriers of Smooth generally with a less heavy coat. If you breed a homogeneous Wire WW to a homogeneous Smooth ss, you will get all Ws. This is generally a less heavily coated Wire, sometimes referred to as a “broken” coat, what we had thought of as Wire back in the day. We were not seeing the glorious full coated Wires and we thought of them as long coat. This is incorrect. Three inches is not a long coat. If you breed two Ws you will get approximately one quarter WW, half Ws, and one quarter ss Smooth. If you breed a Ws to a ss, you will get half Ws, and half ss. Two ss bred together cannot produce Wire. What is confusing is a dog that show even a little Wire tendencies is Ws. If there is any Wire coat it is Ws. Sometimes this tendency is even transient. Look very carefully at photos of old Sin’s dog and many are lightly coated Wires, Ws, I asked some divish breeders and they said they thought that Smooth could produce Wire, but in retrospect they could see the Wire in one parent. It can be quiet subtle. My own dog Eridu Vela back in the 80s, an English import I got as an older dog, had looked Smooth as a puppy and at a year developed funky guard hairs. They were especially on her neck, but then reverted back to smooth, but you could feel them. She is listed as Smooth. I suspect Divels Licha behind her was similar as behind her there is Wire. Vela was never bred. What I am seeing is the belief that pure Smooth to pure Smooth can produce Wire, or that Smooth can carry Wire as a recessive. This is not the case. Look hard and you will find the Wire. It does not skip a generation.
I have no agenda about crossing coats. As a matter of fact it can be very useful. I had considered using a Wire in my breeding because of a type I pursue. Here is what you can do, Sue Fegan did this. Breed to whomever you believe is your best choice, then select the coat you want to keep. If you have used a WW you will have to breed another generation to get back to ss. If you like Sue, want to go Wire you choose a Ws and continue to breed back to Wire. True WW and true ss will breed true. A ss from Wire heritage cannot produce Wire or be a better choice in your Wire breeding than any other Smooth in regards to producing Wire. Again, it is not easy to tell a Ws from a ss as a puppy sometimes. But there are subtle clues, especially if back lit. The range of coat in heterogeneous Wires is very broad, from barely discernible to an overall wiry coat. Generally the very heavy coated Wires would be expected to be homogeneous Wire.
I do not want to see the breed separated, but I think some predictability is called for especially for your breeding program and for puppy buyers.
Now back to Alchardon Anunnaki Anubis, a short coated Wire in almost all American pedigrees. Including mine. Dick Edwards, Maestro's later owner put forward a complaint to the AKC that Eridu Maestro was not, and could not be the sire to Wires, Suda de Can Gosch was also on premises at time of breeding. Maestro never produced Wire ever again no matter how much they inbred on him. He was not a Wire. The dam of Anubis was of pure Smooth breeding. With what I know now, I believe Dick was correct. That means Canela de Can Gosh was the source of both our early Wires. Get out that red pencil! In actuality Maestro and Suda are so checkered through our pedigrees it basically all comes out in the wash. And that is history.
No matter the manner of coat inheritance, selection is paramount. My first Ibizan, a smooth of Preux breeding back in 1973 had a silky soft coat. Even the Smooth should have a hard coat. I bred her to a dog of Belmonte blood that had the correct short, hard, slick coat. As these two bloodlines intermingled, I got a couple of dogs with slightly longer softer coats. They were not bred. The same goes for breeding the Wire coat. The coat must be harsh, not soft. I do not believe that breeding Wire to Wire will eventually necessarily produce softer coats. I do believe selection is paramount. Even Scottish Deerhound breeders get off coats, too long, too soft. They must choose to breed the correct harsh coat. Just because an animal is born of two purebred individuals does not mean it is correct. Always we choose what we wish to perpetuate.
I believe that if we forcefully separate the two varieties, we will end up with two separate breeds. I don't want this to happen. Neither coat variety is to be preferred to the other. But what are we to do with the dog that looks smooth and is actually Ws? If there are classes for varieties, where does it go? Some of my favorite dogs have been sparsely coated wires. Unfortunately, many of these are stripped out to look like Smooth. I hate to see a full-coated Wire sculpted like a topiary tree. Even the Smooth should not be razored like a Smooth Fox Terrier. Many Ws puppies are very hard to recognize as such. But if you have expectation of Wire, you can see it around the muzzle and edges of red and white markings. I believe we have come to a time in our breeding in the United States with the influx of Wire that we should consider our options carefully.