Silver or Light Silver.—Silvery all over, except the neck;
dark below and white only on the tip of the tail.
Silver Black or Dark Silver.—Black all over, except the tip
of the tail and the silvery hairs on the hips and Silver forehead.
Black.—Pure black all over, except the tip of the tail, with, perhaps, dark silvery hairs only discernible on close examination.
No two foxes are exactly alike in colour. Three silver foxes examined had no white tips on their tails and others had only a half dozen white hairs—yet the white tip is one of the marks of identification for the species. Others had white patches on the legs or breast, while the rest of the colouring was almost pure black.
A silver fox usually produces silver pups when mated with a pure red in two crosses. If the first cross produces all red pups, two plans may be adopted:
A male and a female pup may be crossbred, producing, on the average, one silver pup to three reds.
A red pup may be bred to the silver parent, producing, on the average, 50 per cent. red pups.
It is a more unusual occurrence to secure a blend or intermediate colour from crossing a silver and a red. By breeding the pups for four generations to a silver, the red colour is eliminated from the pelage markings. The segregation of the red and silver colour appears to be very common in many localities, but, in others, the roan or intermediate form of colour is produced quite frequently, the parent characters blending and the hybrid breeding true.
In this connection it will be of interest to quote from a letter dated August 2, 1912, received from Professor W. Bateson of Cambridge University, England, a naturalist of high repute and an authority on hair pigmentation. In the early stages of the investigation the usual opinion of naturalists and breeders was accepted and it was thus stated to Professor Bateson that silver parent foxes would produce an occasional red pup. This popular opinion has since been found to be usually incorrect. Professor Bateson's opinion has, therefore, been proved correct in every detail by subsequent development,
Professor Bateson says:
"At first sight I should suppose silver to be a recessive to red and that it would always breed true. This, however, you say, is not the case. If silvers, really, when mated together, throw reds, there must be some complication which we cannot yet represent.