Black Velvet Chinchillas

Black Velvet Chinchillas

The Gunning Black Velvet mutation appeared between 1960 and 1961, in the herd of Robert (Bob) Gunning of Davenport, Washington. The first animal to show the phenotypic characteristics of the Black Velvet gene mutation had only a dark area on the top of the nose. Through years of hard work, Bob Gunning was able to extend the dark veiling back, along the entire grotzen to the base of the tail. The gene did more than affect a black color. It also gave the fur within the veil a silky texture; thus the name ‘Black Velvet.’ Bob Gunning was one of the few Americans who was able to obtain a permit to import the protected Brevicaudata ‘Brevi’ chinchilla from South America . Whether the Gunning Black Velvet chinchilla mutated among these imports, or conversely acquired the typical Brevi-type characteristics from the cross-bred members of the herd, is unknown. What is known is that when a chinchilla presents with typical Bredicaudata characteristics, it is most often a Black Velvet. These distinguishing characteristics include short ears and tail, a distinct convex profile in the front of the head, slow maturity, and sluggish reproduction.

Black Velvet ChinchillaThe Gunning Black Velvet is sometimes called simply ‘Black Velvet’ or ‘Black.’ Additionally, it is sometimes called (incorrectly) TOV. The acronym TOV is ‘Touch of Velvet.’ The term TOV or Touch of Velvet was coined by pelt producers for marketing purposes, and applied to the first Gunning Black Velvet hybrid - being a heterozygous Black Velvet & heterozygous or homozygous Tower Beige chinchilla.

The Gunning Black Velvet gene is a heterozygous-only dominant. When breeding dominant color mutations it is important to keep in mind that there are genetic lethal factor associated with both the Gunning Black Velvet and Wilson White genes. Neither of these two color mutations can exist in the homozygous form. When a Gunning Black Velvet or a Gunning Black Velvet hybrid is bred to another Gunning Black Velvet or Gunning Black Velvet hybrid the result is 25% less offspring produced than anticipated. The failed conception occurs when both the sire and the dam throw the mutant Gunning Black Velvet gene.

Gunning Black Velvets are among the most well developed of the chinchilla mutations. The early Black Velvets had the benefit of a high quality outcross herd used for their development, the benefit of being a dominant thus easier gene to improve, and the financial benefit of having a high value in the fur market. Subsequently, the mutation is now greatly valued among hobbyist breeders because a well bred Gunning Black Velvet can contribute both color and quality to its offspring. The existence of the genetic lethal factor limits the supply of Black Velvets, resulting in consistent high demand for the best quality Black Velvets.

The depth of black color along the grotzen of the Gunning Black Velvet is unrivaled by other chinchilla mutations. Even the darkest ebonies do not compare. In the rare instances that a truly competitive dark ebony challenges a black velvet, it is not uncommon for the ebony to be a TOV Ebony, or Black Velvet/ebony hybrid, thus also possessing the Gunning Black Velvet veil.

Breeders should be aware that some females have difficulty littering kits with the Brevi-type head. Therefore, it is better to cross a large brevi-type Black Velvet female to a quality Lanigera-type male of equal or smaller size. A Brevi-type Black Velvet male, especially a large one, should only be crossed with even larger females possessing the conformational capacity to litter such kits.

show quality black velvet chinchillaA well bred Gunning Black Velvet chinchilla should have good clarity, a bright white belly showing no creaminess and no grey/brown tip on the white hairs, especially between the front legs. This grey/brown tip often indicates the presence of the charcoal or ebony gene in the background of the animal, and is undesirable unless the chinchilla will be going into breeding with other ebonies or ebony hybrids. Chinchillas with the Gunning Black Velvet gene should show complete silky textured veiling from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail with little to no break in veiling at the back of the neck or elsewhere. There should also be a distinct gradation from black on the grotzen, to grey, to a white belly. There should not be an abrupt change directly from a black grotzen to a white belly. It can take a year or (frequently) more for a Gunning Black Velvet or hybrid chinchilla to completely mature and veil out. Additionally, Black Velvets can be slow to produce offspring.

The Gunning Black Velvet produces some of the most attractive hybrid chinchillas, including TOV (or TOV beige), TOV white, TOV pink white, TOV sapphire, TOV violet, TOV blue diamond, TOV ebony, and TOV tan. However, among all agouti/natural, mutation, and hybrid chinchillas, it is difficult for any of them to rival the aesthetics of a finely bred Black Velvet. Their simple beauty is perhaps unsurpassed.

Visit the Auction database to view additional pictures of Black Velvet or Black Velvet hybrid chinchillas, or see new chinchillas for sale in the Sales Gallery.