NEW UPDATE!!-January 30. 2007
Scroll down for the newest updates
is a copy of an letter
received from Dr Alvin Grossman,
Clyde Shaw is now President
of ASC and from what AKC has told us, after intense
From The President
Hello to all who read these pages. I assume that, since you are reading this, you have an interest in spaniels.
We cocker spaniel breeders have a problem that may seep into the other flushing spaniel breeds. The board is researching the topic and, with input from the Cocker Spaniel standard committee, will have a plan of action by the end of the July meeting. The issue is the merle pattern. As many of you know, I am not a fanatic and am not the least bit paranoid about "rare" colors. However, this is an entirely different matter. Cocker breeders who care nothing for the health and integrity of the breed have discovered that there is a big market for these unusual dogs.....especially those with blue eyes!!! Since their only motive is the astronomical prices they can get for these animals, they turn a blind eye (you should forgive the pun) to the health issues that the merle gene carrries with it.
I don't think it is within the scope of this letter to educate the reader on these points, but I would refer you to any number of websites that can be found by a Google search for "merle cockers." Briefly, merle is a dominant gene, which means that if a dog has the gene, he should have the pattern. This is good news, in that it should be easy to eliminate. But there are some animals where the gene is poorly expressed. Should two of these "masked" merles be bred, the resultant homozygous offspring will be blind, deaf, or both. Some may even be born without eyes (this according to one of the websites).
Suffice it to say these are problems we don't need in any flushing spaniel. But we might get it whether we want it or not.
There is no option on cocker registration papers for the merle pattern, so they are being registered as roans. It is easy to see what havoc this will create in future pedigrees. We could breed what appears to be a perfectly legitimate animal, that could in truth be a masked merle.
Education is part of the answer, and if we get inquiries from potential puppy buyers about the color, we should help them understand that these unfortunate animals should not exist and anyone breeding them does not have the best interest of the breed at heart. They are simply lining their pockets at the breed's expense. We certainly will not be able to alter the behavior of those who see big profits.
Ponder the issue and let your zone rep know how you feel about the issue and what you think can be done.
NEW UPDATE FROM ASC JULY 2005:
-Merle cockers: After discussion, the board decided to delay acting on the standard committee's recommendation to allow these dogs to be registered as merles by including this color pattern on the registration form. A dominant color cannot simply appear in a breed. Unlike a recessive, it can't remain hidden for generations. As guardians of the breed, we would be negligent if we accepted these animals simply because they are here. A subcommittee has been appointed to research the pedigrees and hopefully determine exactly where and when the pattern began. Even the merle websites say they don't know this. If it can be proven that the pattern could not have arisen from the mating indicated by pedigrees, the registration status of all merles would be in question. Then we would look to AKC on what the next step would be. Perhaps a "Z" registry like DPCA has for white dobermans.
of November 1, 2005- No decision has been made....AGAIN
(buff, brown, or brown with tan points)
(buff, brown, or brown with tan points)
announcement, no comments, no z-list proposal, no action taken.
UPDATE!!-February 22, 2006
This is where the issue stands right now. While the next step is not clear, the board will discuss it further at the Spring meeting.
other words, let's stick our heads in the sand and maybe they will go
What would have happened if we refused to acknowledge rabies? We would never have come up with a vaccine to arm our dogs and ourselves against it's ravages. If we didn't acknowledge cancer, how would we fight it and save so many lives.
Dr. Grossman, acknowledging something is not the same as accepting it. We must acknowledge our enemies. If the merle gene can hurt our breed, whether accepted or not, we must, MUST face it to protect our breed's future.
You can call them "pure bred mutts" all you want. They are being registered as pure bred American Cockers. Your job, as President of ASC is to help us protect this breed. You seem to be allowing your own personal biases to control your common sense.
I've heard of tunnel vision before, but this is no vision at all.
Merle is being bred now. It has been being bred for a while now. It will continue to be bred, because human nature makes us a versatile being and some like things others don't..... Whether it came from the introduction of another breed or from some accidental or purposeful breeding, doesn't really matter. The fact is, it's here now. We need to deal with what we have now.
Just try to remember....................acknowledging is NOT the same as accepting. Try to think of it this way, the weather bureau tells you a tornado is on the way. You do not want a tornado to come, ie, you do not want to accept it, but you acknowledge that it may happen, so you take precautions to prevent injuries to yourself and your loved ones. Those few who are stubborn and won't acknowledge that the weather bureau could be correct, are in a position to be hurt terribly, and often are.
is very sad and really
does nothing at all to help the hundreds of puppies that will
be bred in the meantime and will be registered as
had the opportunity to
step up and take on a touchy subject and save hundreds of puppies lives
now and in the future. Actions to make sure that the
me personally I love
the roan color and hate the thought of merles registered as roan.
As a breeder who would like to breed roan litter myself I
Comments from the Fancy regarding ASC's "Announcement" on their website
thought that merles
sometimes appeared in litters which also contained solids and/or
Is a solid or parti littermate of a merle cocker purebred? Only if ASC
is assuming multiple sires.
Where is ASC going with this logic? Are we going to have to go further up the pedigree to see which line is contaminated? What if the grandparents, etc., are dead and unavailable to supply DNA? Are we going to have to cancel the registrations of any dog who has a suspect ancestor in its pedigree? What if a big winning dog was a distant cousin of a merle???
ASC had formed a committee and was going to study the matter. Looks like they did, lol.
They can stand on their heads, like it or not, after 5 generations of pure and documented breeding a dog is considered purebred and it doesn't matter what was in the mix before that as far as AKC reg. goes. That is the ONLY logic I can see, everything else is wishful thinking on ASC's part. Why should this AKC rule apply to all dogs, except merles!???
As far as appearing in litters with solid or parti litter mates, yes, they do but they don't just appear. One PARENT has to be merle to express the color pattern in the offspring so you don't have to go back terribly far in the pedigree to find the culprit.
To me it seems like a very rash statement to make, and while I understand ASC's underlying meaning (that merles will NOT be registered as Cockers), I think they are going about it the wrong way. I think there must be a better way to handle the situation, but not sure what that way is.
Let's don't forget the sheer craziness of a parent club labeling any dog with AKC papers many with DNA numbers on sire and dam as non purebred. Can we trust AKC to provide us with registrations or not? If we can't we are in real trouble. Wait until someone gets a lawyer and sues ASC for saying their AKC registered possibly even champion sired sable, sable and white, blue, blue and tan, or merle puppy is not really a purebred DESPITE AKC papers? Talk about a Pandora's box!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And I am 10000% against merles but they aren't going away and need to be properly identified.
I understand that merles have been registered as roans because there was no other place to put them. And I know that this is the big concern WRT health issues - because you don't know that they are in a pedigree.
If you see the parents, of course an educated eye could tell if it was a merle. But if all you have to go on is a paper pedigree, how would you know?
is going to become
more and more important knowing ones pedigrees and BREEDERS. …Breeders
and their ethics are even more highly valued than the pedigree itself.
Even when seeing both parents it may not be 100% possible to identify a
merle. If they have blue eyes or/and the typical merle pattern all over
the body yes but
Since merle is a dominant gene, we really would only have to know the sire and the dam and not anything beyond that.
- are we setting the
stage for a witch hunt? Is the ASC going to petition AKC to cancel the
registrations of ANY cocker with merles in the litter? You would also
to go up the pedigree ladder to get the cousins - those who had a
who might have come from a litter which contained merles. And a
And however far back
not saying that genetically
- in the strictest sense - merles are purebred - but they are probably
past that 5 generation AKC guideline.
The American Spaniel Club recognizes three varieties of Cocker Spaniels ONLY:
(buff, brown, or brown with tan points)
The sable is missing from this list, so we could have to infer they are not purebred either, when in reality they just can't be shown. Also, IT DOES matter how many generations have gone by to be able to designate the term, mutt, on a dog. All dogs came from cross breeding varieties and colors, often fairly nilly willy but after so many generations of breeding true, they were considered, purebred. Looks alone can't determine that either. If you look at the cockers we as a fairly small minority are used to and compare them to the pets being bred in great numbers, they still look like the English type, resembling our old type prior to 1950. Show breeders have selected for totally different criteria and the pet and show type don't even look like the same breed anymore but they are still purebred. Like we are always ready to point out, having *papers* is not guaranty for quality.
As lying goes when registering merles as roans, is it really lying? The AKC encourages breeders to reg. a color that most closely describes the dog and that would be roan in the absence of another choice. Also take into account that some *breeders* don't know what they are looking at. For that reason colors have traditionally been an iffy matter with AKC as far as accuracy. AKC itself has entered merles as roans from pictures sent to them and that didn't even involve the breeder's opinion. The AKC is of course not the problem but the ASC is. The best interest of the breed would be served if merles could be IDENTIFIED as such through a separate Z list. Just accepting the color with full reg. but non showable (like the sable) could not achieve the purpose of keeping them separate and would not be desirable IMO.
I am sure we all wish the whole mess would just go away but that is not going to happen. Also, the roan pattern and to some degree parti breeders have the biggest stake in this unpleasant affair and I hope they have some input with this current committee to study the merle issue. The July 20, 2005 minutes state that the Standard Committee (headed by Beth Speich) should try to determine if there is evidence that these are not purebred cockers. In the same paragraph the Public Education Coordinator is addressed to develop a web page to the effect that the merle in NOT a purebred cocker and does not have proper colors. Soooo, it's not clear to me if the Standard committee had already concluded it's research and if indeed it had, what is still to be studied except the cause of the health problems that were mentioned? PDF file July 2005 Minutes of the Regular Board Meeting
It was my understanding (I could have misunderstood) that the Standard Committee concluded it's research and advised the board that they felt the merle gene could have an impact on our breed, so we should identify it so that it could be registered with the AKC as a merle color. The board decided it did not agree with that conclusion and did more research and have (I guess) come up with the idea of ignoring it.
From a purely logical standpoint, I think the board overstepped its duties here and should have accepted the committee's report. Very few breeds are pure. Whether these deliberately bred merles are pure bred or not, is really a long way off from being the issue anyway. The fact is, this decision has inadvertently made it MORE likely someone could breed into one of these lines. It is important for all breeders to have as much information as possible when they plan a breeding. The ASC has just made that a little more difficult.
I understand the board wanting to, and feeling it is important to, insure the purity of cocker spaniels. That is, after all one of their jobs. Another job is to insure we know that the pedigrees behind our dogs have been properly registered. The American Kennel Club cannot change what our parent club insists be listed on our registration forms.
If these dogs are properly registered, there will much less chance of anyone breeding into those lines. With this decision, pure or impure, this color is hidden and the chances of accidentally breeding that gene is more likely. It would seem to me the ASC board would more concerned in protecting us from this insidious type of gene roulette, than it appears they are, or they're understanding of what could be at stake is limited.
You can say "those dogs are just mutts" all you want. The facts are, these "mutts" are being registered with AKC as purebred cocker spaniels and it's a toss up as to the choice of color. Somehow, I think we're fighting the wrong battle here.
ASC hasn't finished their work on this in my opinion. Either these dogs should be registered the color they are, or ASC needs to work to prevent them from being registered at all. This is not fun and games. The merle gene can be a "lethal gene". We, cocker breeders have enough health problems now, we surely don't need anymore.
Has it ever occurred to anyone that if they would work with the merle breeders, it's possible to come up with a solution? A new breed? The Merle Spaniel? They are doing something we, as cocker breeders don't want, but that doesn't make them from outer space. Why not give it a try? It's a sight more constructive than sitting around calling them names. We have a problem here, let's get off our duffs and solve it. And, truthfully, the merle breeders are (for whatever reason) proud of their dogs and their color. They would probably be delighted to be able to register them as what they are. They would be happy, and we would be relieved. Sounds like the direction to move in.
Interesting to note -
Here are the minutes from the asc july meeting.
If you look under section "O", it is the standards committee. There was a "report" given by the committee that was "rejected" by board members.
asked ASC for a copy
of the "report". The standard's committee actually suggested allowing
to be "registered" as such through AKC so they
was the ASC Board members
that rejected that report. They now want the standards committee to
the color in pedigrees to determine if there
A few of us have suggested that they make it a separate breed. Calling it a "Whitlow" spaniel after the name of the breeder that had Rusty Butch.
INSIST that they
are purebred cockers, that they PAID AKC for registration on these dogs
and they are DUE the benefits of a full
Even those who do say it might have been another breed think that after this many generations that they have a purebred cocker spaniel.
agree that ASC needs
to recognized the color, maybe not in full registration, but possibly a
"Z" list. We can almost guarantee that
am MORE than willing
to help, with the help of AKC.
If you accept AKC as your registry and you acknowledge it as the most reliable source of record keeping for purebred dogs then how can you also publicly ridicule its registration process. If a merle cocker is not really a pure bred and a blue and tan is not a purebred and a sable and white is not a pure bred and a solid sable is not a purebred and a dilute blue and white is not a purebred despite AKC papers then what is to stop anyone from saying if a dog has slips he is not a purebred, blind not a purebred and, etc., etc. Think of the much bigger picture. Either AKC is the registration source of choice or we find another way to register dogs. It is like a district attorney that allows DNA evidence to free one man but does not allow it used in the next case. After five generations which we are way past now the color is here. Find a way to identify it to preserve the health of future generations or stick your head in the sand and say you don't give a damn. Either way the color is here and we will suffer greatly for sitting on the problem for so long. Now we not AKC hold the sole responsibility for the erroneous color entries into its stud books.
will add only that I
find the fact that sables and blues all lumped into the same non
label as merles no accident . We are so worried about color we are
the health of our future generations.
There may be a legal issue here. If a party waits an unreasonable amount of time to enforce its rights, it may be unable to do so (Doctrine of Laches).
did not take the position
that merles are not purebred until they had been registered for more
5 generations. At this point, according to AKC, even if another breed
been introduced it
don't see how ASC could
defend the position that merles are not
it have made
so much more sense if ASC had put the picture of
. I am just shocked at the failure of some to see the bigger picture
But if YOU care about and place value and trust in AKC papers announcing to the world that you (meaning ASC or dog breeder) that AKC is registering dogs that are not purebred even ones whose current papers list DNA numbers what do you think that says about YOUR dogs papers? AKC is reliable only when you approve of the color? Many breeds have issues with color parti color Chinese Shar Pei, Rotties, Dobermans, Danes and so many others but all the parent clubs have found a way to deal with this without claiming to the world AKC is registering non purebreds and has been for 20 plus years!!!!!!!!!!!!
I am sorry but if someone thought my dog’s papers are good and meant something. That my dog’s championships are all AKC and mean something. That all my dogs are registered with AKC and I support AKC events But if they bought a sable, merle, sable and white, blue and tan cocker I would say the papers and pedigrees are worthless how would you react?
ASC does NOT in any way have a registration process they never determine who gets or doesn't get papers. AKC does not issue papers based on quality.
ASC decides which dogs can walk into the show ring and what a cocker SHOULD look like. AKC does not. ASC determines the color options available to register a cocker AKC does not. AKC cannot identify a problem of color if ASC continues to insist that all merles be registered as another color. ASC is responsible for the color cover-up not AKC. ASC is responsible for burying the identity of the lethal genes not AKC. Merles are not the only color that is not available as a choice.
I had the funds available
I would think seriously about challenging ASC for publicly claiming my
sable/white dog's papers are not legitimate and my dog is a
That only colors ASC list on the official website are purebred.
ASC has sidestepped the real issue and taken it to a whole new level and one that is not going to help resolve any of the health concerns but only further alienate many. It is not about color and really never was.
else has said
that the breeders are deliberately registering them
can't anyone see this?
Everyone is trying to punish the merle breeders.
needs to sit
back a second and think.............. Think hard
gene should be registered
with the AKC as something other than whatever
stop a minute and
think. I can't possibly be the only one in this dam
we accept AKC
as the ultimate authority when it comes to registration
about all those colors
not include as purebred in the website warning
(buff, brown, or brown with tan points)
Since ASC has posted
on their website that only posted above are considered PURE-BRED
cockers. then where does it leave these dogs, and their descendents?
this is so..then sounds
like most cockers are mutts.LOL
has delayed the merle
issue and have mentioned possibly a Z-List
the doberman club has done for the white dobermans.
August 19, 2006
ASC website removed their notice and photo of the merle dog. Apparantly
NO ONE knows how it got on there, or no one is taking credit for it
ASC Nationals are over and they had their meeting again on the merle
Apparently they were able to get several merle owners to submit their
cockers for testing.