Cassia was a real surprise to us in our first litter. She was a different colour to the other pups right from birth - more gingery than the darker browns, and her nose leather, foot padding and lips were brown rather than black like the others, and she did not have the usual black mask. After showing around the litter photos to more knowledgable breeders, we were told we had a "brown" leo in the litter which we later found out is a "colour fault" in the current breedstandard description.
We're not racist (judging by colour only), and since we found it a lovely, attractive colour, plus also Cassia was a perfectly healthy and intelligent puppy, Paul decided he'd keep her as his personal pet anyway. It's always nice to have something very unusual.
Cassia has attracted a lot of attention (both very positive, as other people also love the colouring, and some negative, nasty comments from other breeders), with some puppy enquirers hopeful of getting a puppy just like Cassia. But she's been speyed as we had no intention of breeding from her. We were most blessed again though and have had seven chocolates in a following litter, and one more in the last of that combination. So we have been able to provide eight other people with a very rare chocolate pup, one of which is also a breeder who liked the colour and just wanted one for a pet as well. Five of the nine chocolates born at Leonburns were exported to Australia, so they are very much a desirable colour :-).
Unfortunately for the poor "chocolate colour gene" leo puppies that are occasionally born around the world, there are several breeders who want to hide the fact that they have had chocolate pups and murder them at birth. In some European countries, I'm told, it's because they are not allowed to be registered as pedigrees. So what? Not a good reason for killing them. There are plenty of people who would still prefer a chocolate puppy and give it a great home - registered or unregistered.
In other breeds, (e.g Newfoundlands, Labradors, Dobermanns, Australian Kelpies to name but a few), the chocolate colour gene is permitted as part of the normal acceptable variety in colours available within the breed, but not so inLeonbergers (nor Landseers and Dalmations), more's the pity. Sometimes this colour in other breeds is referred to as Bronze, Liver, Red,
Chocolate, Brown etc. but they are all the same colour gene, in which there is no black pigmentation, neither in the coat nor skin, but everything that would be black on another pup of the same breed, is substituted by brown.
Cassia is our pride and joy and an important part of our leonberger family. She is extremely astute and intelligent, healthy and fun-loving. We wouldn't be without her, and see her as a special rare blessing.
20th January 2008