To "carry" a color generally means that a dog has a gene that can create a specific trait, without them physically expressing it. In most cases, a "carrier" is referring to a dog with a single copy of a recessive gene, and recessive genes can only impact phenotypes if two copies are inherited. A dog who "carries" one recessive gene should not show the associated physical trait.
Sometimes, however, you may also hear this same term used to describe a dog that has the required genetic result but simply does not express the associated trait. In both scenarios, the dog could pass the gene to their offspring and their puppies could potentially express the associated trait if they inherit the required combination of genes from each parent.
Here are two examples:
- A dog with a genotype of Dd on the D locus “carries” for dilute color. This is because they have one copy of the recessive allele that dilutes black pigment to grey/blue. If bred to another dog with at least one “d” allele, they could produce dilute “dd” puppies.
- A dog with the genotype of EmEm on the E locus and KBKy on the K locus may be described as a “carrier” for melanistic masking (two Em alleles). They have both dominant alleles for masks, but do not express them because their KB allele makes their entire coat solid black, so the mask is not visible. With the right pairing, this dog could produce masked puppies.
To find out what coat colors your dog carries, first check out our article on interpreting your trait results. This article walks through each of the different coat traits we test for, how they are inherited, and how they interact with one another. You can also read more about coat color genetics in our blog: Coat Color Genetics 101
Embark uses generic terminology for most coat traits; you may need to speak with other breeders of your breed to determine the breed-specific terminology for different colors. As an example, “brown” coat color (genotype of bb at the B locus) could be called Brown, Chocolate, Red, Liver, etc. depending on the breed. Same gene, different name!
How to Determine What Coat Colors Your Dog Carries
In your dog's results, click on the “Traits” section. If you have a Breeder Profile (you tested with a Breeder Kit), genotypes for each trait will be automatically displayed. If you have a Pet Owner profile (you tested with a Breed & Health or Purebred Kit), you will need to click “See Details” next to the different Trait result sections to view your dogs’ genotype. If you’d like to switch to our Breeder view to make traits more accessible, you can always add a Breeder Profile in your Account Settings.
Once you can view genotypes, you can determine what coat colors your dog could produce, depending on the other dog they are paired with. Here’s a quick example showing some of the traits we test for. This dog carries Recessive Red (Ee on the E locus), Brown (Bb on the B locus), and Dilute color (Dd on the D locus).