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Tan is a dominant gene, so mice with one copy appear tan just as those with two, although the depth/colour may suffer. Show mice are bred tan x tan for many generations and are almost certainly homozygous (two copies of the tan gene). This is one way that is likely to help improve tan. As you say, a great way is obviously to start with strong tan or buy some in if you don't have any. However if this is impossible one recommendation has been to breed fawn into the tans to help with the strength of yellow pigment - the problem being that you're in the US and won't be able to get hold of that gene. The only real option is to keep breeding mice with the strongest tan together in your case but this is likely to be a long and difficult process. If the mice are for show it may be worth getting in touch with those who imported from the UK a little over a year ago and see if you can buy stock, whether from an organised show or by internal shipping, which I know a lot of US breeders do. I guess it all depends how much you want good tans!
 
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