- Sheen is on paper a recessive. So if you breed a rabbit with no sheen, to a rabbit with sheen, there will be sheen carriers. Now, when you breed the carriers, you'll end up with 50% sheen, 25% sheen carriers, 25% clear. Except, it's a lot more complicated than that.
- It appears to be a modifier stacking gene. After talking to several people, including judges who were on the standards committee when satin angoras were developed, mixing in ANY non-sheen rabbits, seems to mess with the sheen gene, especially as it shows in wool. You'll get rabbits showing sheen on their face, feet, and belly, but not to the depth of the wool. More than that, sheen is a FEELING in the coat, not just a shine. It will feel Teflon coated and slick, even in wool! IF the rabbit has excellent sheen. I was sold a buck one time, with French 5 generations back. He was sold to me as a lower sheen buck out of a doe with lower sheen. I bred the buck to a high sheen doe, and at two days old noticed half the litter seemed to have sheen, half the litter did not. I ended up selling one buck in the litter, the one with the highest sheen overall. The buyer in turn, bred her buck to a high sheen doe. In that litter, again 50% of them appeared to be sheened. This brings a lot of questions to mind. Obviously the modifiers stacking such as in a refused coat aren't completely true. Is there something to the coat texture or composition of the fiber than allows it to manifest.
So how does this translate to our beautiful satin angoras.
Oftentimes people think sheen means soft. They miss the fact that sheen is separate from soft. Yes, a satin is soft, and yes a satin angora SHOULD feel soft. But soft does not mean a lack of guard hair, simply a fine guard hair. People often mistake sheen for a 'soft' coat which is why satin angoras have the reputation of matting. In reality, it should have the same mix of guard and underwool as any other breed. A coat lacking this, will be limp and often lacking the density of a good correctly sheened coat. The entire thing should feel Teflon coated and slick. It should have the same feeling as a satin. If not, you are not going to have enough sheen. This may be why the original writing of the satin angora standard puts so much emphasis on density overall.
Another type of coat often seen and as incorrect as a soft coat is a hairy coat. Guard hairs on any rabbit have a shine, which is easily mistaken for sheen. A hairy coat will often be shinier but shorter, lacking wool and finish. In addition, this coat is not as suited for spinning regrowth tends to be slow, and the coat lacks sufficient undercoat to make excellent yarn.
The first issue is generally caused by rabbits crossed with either French or German. The latter is often from satin closely related in the pedigree.
So where does this leave us? It leaves us with the responsibility to judge satin angora coats on the same level as satin coats. By placing the emphasis on sheen and density while selecting away from incorrect hairy and soft coats we will make progress. When it comes to cross breeding my experiments here have led me to thing that it will take at least 6-7 generations to fully restore correct sheen, when using French. When crossing to satin, my expectation would be that it would take the same amount. So unless cross breeding is the only option culling is most likely the best idea for getting satin angora coats to the best most consistent level possible.
In my own herd I started with rabbits with good sheen, but once I started selecting for the texture of the satin coat, I started improving sheen a lot more. I didn't understand that texture till I got my hands on standard satins. The last show I was joking that they're getting slippery, when carrying them to the table.