Many people are confused on how you get a blue eyed white from a chestnut, black, harli, blue….the list could go on for days. Yes, you can get a beautiful blue eyed white bunny from any color, although shaded colors can dilute the eyes. The best way I have heard it described in simple terms is think of it like throwing paint on a rabbit, or in this case, paint on genetics!
The Vienna Gene
So lets start with the basics. You have a bunny with all the basic color genes (basic color genetics of a rabbit are represented by an A-E genetic system.) One of your bunnies also carries an gene for Vienna (BEW gene). This is represented by the letter V.
“V” = Non Vienna “v” = Vienna
So instead of a normal “V” she has a “v”! Now this will either show on her with some of her normal color being covered up by white. (See top chestnut in photo below…that white stripe would not be there if not for the Vienna gene).
Chestnut Vienna Marked Kit
Same kit at 7 weeks. Vienna mark and blue eyes disqualify it from showing.
What is the difference between VM and VC?
Vienna Marked is like the kit above. They carry one copy of the Vienna gene and it is shown. This can be with white markings or with blue eyes.
Vienna Carrier is a kit that carries the Vienna gene but looks like a normal colored Holland lop.
See the above photos? Both are siblings and both carry Vienna gene. The one on the left doesn’t show any abnormal coloring of white (ignore the spot of pollen on the head) and is VC, the one on the right has the white markings on her nose and is a VM. Both carry the gene and are capable of passing it on so this is why it is of utmost importance that if you choose to breed Vienna you disclose this to all buyers. No one wants Vienna popping up in their line if they are working on show torts, or blacks, etc.
Note: I occasionally breed non Vienna rabbits as torts and broken have been refined for years and tend to have better conformity to ARBA standards. As such I have non carriers in my herd but any offspring bred to a carrier is listed as such for full disclosure.
So how do you get a BEW then?
Simple, they have to inherit both Vienna genes from the parent. Thus both parents must carry the Vienna gene or you will only get carriers or non. So for example:
Non Vienna carrier Doe (VV) x Vienna Marked Buck (Vv): Since the kit will inherit one gene from each, based on simple statistics the kit can be VV, VV, Vv, Vv. Of these the VV kits will be normal colored (determined by parents genetic colors) while the Vv kits will each carry one “v” gene and therefore be a Vienna Marked (VM) or Vienna Carrier (VC). So you would be looking at half carrying the gene and half not. Except for the Vienna marked though, you won’t know who is or is not carrying it.
Two Single Carriers:
Vienna carrier Doe (Vv) x Vienna Marked Buck (Vv): Gives you stats of VV, Vv, vV,vv. Whoa! Wait, is that a vv? Yup, that is your BEW kit! So statistically speaking, two parents each carrying the Vienna gene give you a 25% chance of producing a BEW, 50% chance of a carrier, and 25% chance of a non-carrier.
Now lets look at what happens when you have a BEW parent.
Single Carrier to BEW:
Vienna carrier Doe (Vv) x BEW Buck (vv): Gives you stats of Vv, Vv, vv, vv. So now your looking at 50% chance of a BEW and 50% carriers. You will have no non-carriers in this litter.
Now I know what many of you are thinking, why not just breed a BEW to BEW all the time and get BEW? NO! Unless you have the crème de la crème of rabbits and your BEW is the most amazing in the world, please do not do this! BEW is relatively young in the show world as far as being extensively worked on. It is very hard to get a BEW to place at shows because their genetics are still not tip top to match up to ARBA standard. Don’t get me wrong, their are beautiful BEWs out there, but the goal as a breeder should always be to improve the lines. Therefore breed your best BEWs to your best from strong show lines and improve the breed standard! Don’t breed just for color.