I'm not a geneticist and I don't study it directly. I'm just trying to follow their logic path
. At face value, the "KK=lethal" assumption just seemed like a convenient way to make the K locus work for the game.
Well, since KB/KB wolves almost never succeed in reproducing, one might say they are
effectively dead from a population-genetics perspective, which is probably where the advisors are coming from.
Re: Coyotes. We do know that all black coyotes tested have been KB, but do KB/KB ones reproduce successfully?
Now I really want to see photos of the tested wolves and coyotes, to see if KB/Ky ones are less black than KB/KB ones. When you look at a black dog, say a black lab, it's all an even black. Black wolves and coyotes have ticked and banded hairs, not an even black.
Check out this guy: http://www.doggenetics.co.uk/photos/ghosttan1.jpg
He has 'ghost' tan-point markings. He's KB.
This guy: https://www.wilsongbordercollies.com/si ... 12x190.jpg
is 'seal' (ignore his white markings, those are another matter entirely) which is pretty much sable or agouti 'bleeding through' KB black.
We don't know why 'ghost markings' happen. There's a theory that they /always/ happen in wolves and coyotes because of a structural difference in the hair affecting the banding/ticking pigment distribution being present in wolves and coyotes and absent in most dogs. It's supposedly why black wolves turn much much lighter in colour as they age, too.
Here's an excuse to look at lots and lots of pictures of wolves. Look at ones who look more brown than grey, and you'll see that agouti pattern tends to place more black/more red colour in spots consistent with black-and-tan on dogs. Less black on the underside, inside legs, chest, pips over the eyes. Also notice that all non-black wolves display a pattern where the red is faded to cream on the underside, inside legs, chest, and eyebrows:
https://www.shibas.org/images/judgeseds ... dintro.png
This is called 'countershading' in English but dog-people are starting to call it urajiro, the Japanese term, because Shiba Inu are cute. People used to think that it was some sort of variation on black-and-tan, but this is obviously not so, as a dog can have both. Some of those browner wolves with noticeably redder spots where tanpoints go have two sets of eyebrow pips, a brown set and a cream set.
Those eyebrow pips, as you've probably noticed when talking to a dog, enhance the dog's facial expressions. Tan and/or urajiro pattern on the muzzle does, too, by making the fur around the (typically) black lips light coloured, so the curve and expression of the lips is easy to see.
If KB/Ky wolves typically display more 'ghosted' agouti-and-urajiro than KB/KB wolves, it's possible that they're unsuccessful because other wolves can't see their facial expressions and so don't pair with them. That would explain why KB/KB is not associated with reproductive troubles in dogs, where a number of breeds are always KB/KB.