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The A series - all cockers have two of these genes either homozygous or heterozygous. These genes are only expressed ( visible ) on black/brown cockers. They restrict the amounts and locations of dark (black/brown) pigment.

A - allows the distribution of black/brown pigment over the whole bodysurface.
a/y - restricts the area of pigment (black/brown) and in its most complete

(homozygous) expression produces a clear sable. 
a/t - produces the bicolor varieties 
( black and tan or brown and tan ). Both of these are described as tan points.
A - gene is dominant to the a/y and a/t genes. The a/y gene is dominant to a/t
There has been some discussion on the web of whether sable and buff were the same thing or they graded into one another here is an explanation and what would happen if they were

bred together
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