There are a number of different "Blue" rats. Russian Blues are distinctive from the others in a number of ways. The AFRMA standard describes Russian Blue as: "RUSSIAN BLUE Color to be similar to the blue mice or blue cats, a very dark slate blue color with dark ticking throughout. Eyes black."
Russian Blue is distinctive in that it looks very similar to other blue animals. Blue mice, rabbits, and cats all appear to have the same coat color as Russian Blue rats. Unlike the slate Blue, Russian Blue does not vary much in intensity of color. You do not find lightly colored or darkly colored Russian Blues. Instead, some Russian Blues are an even blue-gray color and others have a brown tint to their coats. They also rarely have much Silvering in their coats, quite unlike other Blues.
Also unique to Russian Blue rats is an almost ticked appearance to the fur. Though the individual hairs are not banded like the agouti group of colors, the pigment is unevenly dispersed along the hair shaft. This often gives each hair a dark tip and lends itself to a distinctive appearance. Often the fur of a Russian Blue has a slightly different texture than that of other rats. It tends to be short and dense, having a plush feel to it. This difference is not distincitive enough to consider it a unique coat type, and it is unknown whether it is caused by the clor itself, by the Russian blues' Velvet background, or by some other unknown cause.
Breeding Russian Blues is quite easy as a simple recessive gene causes this color. Because this color more closely resembles the Blue (dilute) seen in other animals, we symbolize it as d.
If two Russian Blues who do not carry any other recessive genes are bred together, they will produce an entire litter of Russian Blue babies (dd). If a Russian Blue is bred to another rat that does not carry the gene for Russian Blue, none of the babies will be Russian Blue. They will however carry the trait (Dd). If two of these babies are then bred together, you will once again get Russian Blues in the subsequent litter.
When breeding Russian Blues for show, several things must be kept in mind. Of primary importance is to choose breeding stock with little or no brown tint to their coats. You also want no patchiness or unevenness to the color. As with all colors of rats, type is very important, and should be kept in mind. Most Russian Blues are nice, big boned, attractive animals, so rats that are weedy and light boned should be avoided as breeding stock. As always, no rat that lacks a good temperament and perfect health should be bred.
When combined with other genes, Russian Blue produces a whole rainbow of other colors. Many of these are real favorites among fanciers; most of them resemble, but are darker than, the same combinations seen with regular Blues.
aa dd Russian Blue The dilute gene acting on a non-Agouti background
A_ dd Russian Blue Agouti The dilute gene acting on an Agouti background. Resembles
Blue Agouti but much darker and without the washed out effect
seen in the red part of the coat of regular Blue Agoutis
CchCch dd (the ch should be superscript) Russian Blue Point Siamese. Russian Blue acting in
conjunction with Siamese. Proposed Standard: "Body
color to be ivory with a deep gray cast (the darker the
better) graduallynd evenly shaded over the saddle and
hindquarters towards the belly, being darkest at the
base of the tail. The points (nose, ears, feet, tail, and
tail-root) to be a dark gray-blue. They should not have
a definite or distinct line of demarcation but rathr a
toning or merging with the remainer of the coat. There
should be no white hairs, blotches, streaks, or
mealiness of the color. Eyes red or ruby.
dd rr Blue Beige Russian Blue combined with Beige. "Color is a grayinsh-tan, not
too dark, with a blue cast running throughout, not to be confused
with Beige. Eye color is dark ruby." (Standardized 3/13/99)
dd gg Silver Blue Russian Blue combined with regular Blue. A very pretty color
somewat resembling Silver Mink/Lilac, only blue instead of
brown. The coat has an even number of hairs that are light with a
colored tip and white hairs. "Color to be a medium blue with
silver-white hairs evenly distributed throughtout the coat. They
will have a whitish undercoat to be as pale as possible. 'Eye
color is black." (Standardized 8/7/99)
dd mm or bbdd Dove Russian Blue combined with Mink/Lilac or with Chocolate. Both
of these combinations appear to produce different shades of
Dove. It is a warm brownish-gray color. The proposed standard
reads: "Color to be a chocolate-blue, similar to Dove mice. Not
to be confused with Platinum or Lilac. Eye color s Black."
ddggmm or bbddgg Silver Dove Dove combined with Blue. Proposed standard reads: "color
to be a warm dove with ticking throughout similar to
Russian Blue. Not to be confused with Platinum or Lilac.
Eye color is Black."
ddpp Blue-Champagne Russian Blue combined wiht Champagne. Creates an
unexceptional muddy looking Champagne color. Not
Russian Blue can also be combined with all the markings including Irish, Variegated, Bareback, English Irish, Dalmatian, Capped, Berkshire, Hooded, and Masked, and all the coat types (Rex and Satin) as well as Dumbo and Tailless.
Showing Russian Blues is similar to showing most of the other dark Self colors of rats. On self colored Russian Blues, the judge will be looking to see if there are any white markings which would disqualify the rat. We see anumber of Russian Blues disqualified at shos because of small white spots on their chest and this seems to be a common problem. Colored feet are also important with white feet and toes being a fault.
Choosing a Russian Blue to show is much like choosing one for breeding. Many of the same concepts apply. Color is very important. There should not be a brown cast to the coat, it should be evenly colored throughout, and the rat should not be in the middle of molting. Type is, likewise, very important.
Preparing a Russian Blue to be shown is a relatively simple process. Like most other dark colored rats they do not show dirt easily. Young Russian Blues often do not need a full bath before a show, just their tails cleaned and nails trimmed. If a bath is deemed necessary, it should be done at least a week prior to the show so that the oils in the coat can return to normal. Some people have seen an added benefit from using shampoo made for black dogs and cats on their Russian Blues. Just prior to placing your rat in its show box, it is always a good idea to run a satin cloth or a shammy over your rat. The dark Russian Blue caot shows dust easily and this will shine them up and show them at their best.