Yellow Australian Shepherds
Breaking the myth through science and education
Yellow coated Australian Shepherds are gorgeous dogs who are starting to make a come back after almost being bred out of the gene pool due to misinformation and ignorance on the part of breeders and kennel clubs back before genetic testing was widely available to us. It was mistakenly believed that yellow colored Aussies carried some fault or genetic defect which occasionally caused puppies to be born with hearing or vision problems.
THIS IS FALSE!
There is no health issue associated with yellow. They are as sound as any other color. I will explain to you why this myth persists even to this day among uneducated breeders.
Yellow is inherited as a recessive at the E locus, it restricts the dog's body pigment and will obscure the tan point pattern if present. It often obscures merling in the heterozygous merle, though not always. This is what caused the myth that yellow Aussies carried some fault or genetic defect. Breeders have always known that breeding two merle coated dogs together could (and usually does) cause hearing and vision defects in the offspring. Before genetic testing was widely available people would breed these yellow Aussies without being aware that their particular yellow dog was genetically a merle. So they would accidently produce Double Merle litters with the associated defects. They had no way to test them and see that the yellow hid that dogs true color.
This is why trait and color testing done on all breeding dogs is so very important. It is a key value in our program to be as up to date as possible on all of the current science (not myths) related to breeding Australian Shepherds. We always test for all hereditary issues as well as for color and traits. This way we can make educated choices resulting in the healthiest (and prettiest) pups.
Yellow varies tremendously in shade from the very light yellow of some Labradors, through the golden shade of Golden Retrievers, to the rich mahogany red of the Irish Setter. Probably the yellows persist in the gene pool because liver nosed yellows can strongly resemble lighter reds and are mistaken for them. Yellows can result from the mating of two Aussies of any colors who carry "e" recessively - solids, bis, tris, merles. Yellow x yellow produces yellow. It is very likely that multiple early Aussies were carriers. So even though early breeders mistakenly tried to eradicate the color we are lucky that the "e" allele can be passed as a recessive for many generations, and all of a sudden one or more yellow puppies can appear in a litter when two carriers get together.
Some breeders, like ourselves, are trying to help yellow Aussies make a comeback. Thanks to modern science educated breeders who understand genetics can do so safely and bring back a gorgeous color trait that almost was lost through ignorance and misinformation.