This article is from the WSSF 2009 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.
By Virginia Pochmann
From Mouse Review No. 14, Dec. 1989. Permission given to reprint article.
Q Why do the American and British standards differ on the name for the pink-eyed grey mouse? (Lilac in America; Dove in England).
A As nearly as I can discover, the British nomenclature follows that of the Rabbit Fancy, where ‘lilac’ refers to the animal produced by both blue (d) and brown (b) genes upon a non-agouti (a) background. This is not a standardized color in England, not being found particularly attractive. [It has since been standardized and is in current 2009 Standards. KR] The Rabbit Fancy does not have the gene for pink-eyed dilution (p) found in the Mouse Fancy, so the name Dove has been given to the color produced by (p) on a non-agouti (a) background. In the latter case, the homozygous (p/p) pink-eyed dilution factor changes the eyes from black to pink and the coat from black to grey, producing the very beautiful Dove mouse.
Now, as to why we reverse the names in this country, I’m not certain, but I believe it is because we are following the lab scientists’ early designation of the a/a p/p mouse as a ‘Lilac.’ It is called Lilac in some of the early scientific papers from this country in the 1930s and even earlier. (Possibly because the animal has a warm hint of lavender or lilac in the color.) This difference in nomenclature has certainly caused fits for fanciers trying to understand the articles written across the Atlantic. To further confuse the issue, American fanciers have adopted the name ‘Dove’ to mean the a/a b/b d/d mouse (blue and brown combined on a non-agouti background). It is a standardized color over here in most mouse clubs.