About Breeding Merle
First, Some general
information..to read more indepth on the merle gene, click on the About
is no such thing as
a sable merle gene or a red, brown or blue merle gene.
is only a merle gene.
Merle is an INCOMPLETE DOMINATE gene, which means this gene will
up in it's offspring. Merle is also a dilution gene, that is, it lightens
whatever the coat color would otherwise have been.
lightening is not spread
evenly over the coat, but leaves patches of undiluted color
over the dog's body. Also, the lightening seems to work primarily
the dark pigment in the coat, so any tan on the face stays even.
dose of the merle
gene on an otherwise black dog produces a blue merle - a more
less bluish gray dog dappled with black spots.
brown cocker, you would
have a light grayish tan with normal colored brown spots or
same with a RED cocker,
only this could be harder to see.You would see a light buff color
with plotches of the darker red in it.
points - the tan spots
over the eyes, on the sides of the muzzle, on the legs and under the
of a tricolor dog - will still be there in the merled cocker that has
dose of the merle gene
on an otherwise sable dog produces a sable merle.
merles are less predictable
in color than blue merles, and may range anywhere from an apparent
often with a pinkish or orange cast to its coat, to something
looks like a very rusty
blue merle. White markings remain on the merled dog, and may even be
is also a form of merling
that is a combination of different patches of color spread thoughout
much like a calico
also can act on
the dark pigment in the iris of the eye just as it does on the coat, so
merle dogs often have part or all of the eye blue. (This does not
their vision, though since it happens to some extent in the retina as
it may make it harder to diagnose certain eye problems.)
to other colors
are many different colors and patterns the merle gene can produce and
is why people like them.
main idea when breeding for merle is to produce the merle pattern, and
not to hide it.
order to produce a merle that will look merle and not be hidden or
as the dog ages, it is best to follow the guidelines listed below.
our page on cocker merle colors..
to breed merle to:
NOT breed merle to:
Not to breed to these colors:
||Buffs and Silvers
||Buff and silver
|Black & Tans
||Sable often HIDES
pattern, often eventually the sable blends over the merle as the dog
and the merling fades out or disappears
||Breeding merle to
can produce a lethal gene and you can end up with dead, deformed or
with tiny or missing eyes, or possibly other problems
|Black or Brown
||Roans often mix
merling and it will hide the merle
||Very open marked
||White hides all
The excess white can also possibly lead to deafness
||Red & White
& White Partis
||Buff and red hide
as does white
the parent club, American Spaniel Club is responsible for what colors
patterns are allowed to be listed with AKC, merle owners have been told
in the past by AKC to register their merles as roans. THIS IS INCORRECT!
NOT register a merle
as a roan. They are not roans. And this is becoming a very upsetting
for roan breeders as well as most all breeders and fanciers.
website has attempted
to educate merle owners to the differences between roan and merle.
would be like somebody
registering a buff cocker as a black.
lot of breeders have realized
this, but there are still many, many merle breeders and owners who
insist on registering their merles as roans.
merle can be listed
as a pattern for American Cocker Spaniels, it is best to register your
merle as the color it would have been if it did not have the merling
brown merle is simply
a brown cocker with the merling pattern. it should be registered as a
"blue merle" is a black
cocker with the merling pattern-Register it as a black cocker
Black, White and Tan Cocker
(also known as a Tri or a black tri) with the merling pattern should be
registered as a tri
black & tan cocker
with the merling pattern should be registered as a black & tan
Many breeders and owners
are wanting to add something to designate their cocker as a merle, and
they can do this by adding the word, "merle" as part of the registered
name or some are spelling it backwards as Elrem, or just adding "M" to
alerts other breeders
that there is a merle cocker in the pedigree.
FAQ on breeding
|Q: I just bought
that the breeder said was a roan. How do I know if it really IS a roan
or a merle?
look at this website and compare your cocker with the merle and roan
on the Differences Pages.
at the pedigree or get one if you don't have one and see if you can
it to known merle cockers on this website. If still confused, please
a photo and/or the pedigree to the websmaster at this site. You can
join the Merle Cocker Discussion list. There are many on there who can
help you. Instructions to join is on the home page of this website.
Q: Are merle cockers purebred?
jury is still out on this one.
Yes because IF the merle gene was introduced, it was AT LEAST back in
of 1988 or before.Genetic experts say that a dog is considered purebred
after 4 or 5 generations. Most merles now are at 12 generations or more
from this breeding.
the merle gene is an ancient gene and is present in all dogs although
activated in all breeds, unless it mutated, which could be a
in the merle cocker.
say a dog of another breed was introduced to the cocker gene pool in
and they feel the merle cocker is not purebred even after 22+
Maybe-Again, it could be a genetic mutation that happened
Q:How did merle cockers come
one knows for sure, and no one will probably ever know for sure. It
have been a mutation from 1988, actually the dog in question was born
1979, 31 years ago. Whether this was a mutation, or something jumped
fence, no one will ever know for 100% certainty.All merles go back to
breeding. If it does not, then it is a fudged pedigree.There has been a
case of somebody attempting to say that their merle does not go back to
this breeding. This breeding was done with fake papers from another
and not the female that was actually the dam and who did go back to
Q:I have a pedigree on my
merle. How do I find out if it goes back to Rusty Butch?
can check the pedigrees on this website and many should be able to help
you trace your dog back to Rusty Butch. If not, contact the webmaster
we'll see if we can trace it for you.
Q:If I have a cocker that
is a normal color, but after looking at the pedigree, I see that there
is a merle in there a few generations back. Can it be safe to breed my
cocker even though it isn't merle? What are my chances a merle will pop
your dog is not a merle nor are it's parents, your dog is as safe as
dog without merle in the pedigree. The lethal gene is only carried on
merle gene,if your dog is not merle, then there is no lethal gene nor
your dog ever produce merle, unless it is bred to a merle.
Q:My dog isn't a merle but
it's mother was. Can I breed/show this dog?
your dog is not a merle cocker, and it is an allowed color and quality
for conformation, then yes, it is perfectly fine to show your dog or
it. If your dog is not merle, then it does not carry for merle and is
normal as any cocker whose parents are any other color.
Q:I have a cocker but it's
a normal color but it has 2 blue eyes. Is this normal? Is this a merle?
is not the norm for a cocker to have blue eyes. Chances are it is
a merle cocker. Sometimes the only place merle will show up much is the
is also a dilute gene in cockers than can also turn a cocker's eyes
or lighten them significantly. The best thing to do to know for sure is
to look at the pedigree or ask the breeder of your dog if one of it's
were merle.If still uncertain, you can have your dog tested to see if
is a merle at Genmark
Q:I have a cocker that has
double merles behind it. I thought all double merles would die when
this is not true. Some double merle pups can die soon after they are
or be born dead. But we are finding that double merle cockers seem to
fairly healthy and have not really presented with any unusual
when bred together. It is still not a good idea to breed 2 merle
together because of the lethal gene when 2 are bred, there is still a
problems could happen.
Q:If I breed 2 merles together,
would I have all merles in the litter?
from research, you can have as many merles from a merle to non merle
as you can from merle to merle and without the potential health
Q:Are there any health problems
associated with merle cockers?
have been occasions of some merle cockers having iris coloboma, which
a basicly a misshapen pupil, which generally cause no eye problems.
has also been found in non merle dogs too.
than that, there could be a possibilty of deafness when breeding merle
to merle or merle to very white open marked cockers. Any other genetic
problem is a problem that could be considered normal to any color
Q:How do I know if my dog
is a hidden merle? I want to breed it.
can get a genetic test now to see if your dog is a merle.Genmark
thing to do, is test breed your merle to a non merle dog. If no merles
appear in the litter, your dog is not merle.
Q:How many merles are in
a normal merle to non-merle cocker litter?
varies. Some have had only 1 or 2 merles in a normal (5-6 pup) litter,
some have had 70-80% merles.
Q: If the non-merle cockers
in a merle litter are bred, will they produce merles?
Only merles can produce merles. The only way a non merle can produce
is to breed it to a merle.
Q: Because merles can carry
a lethal gene, I am terrified that I may get or breed to a dog that has
a merle in it's pedigree.How can I feel safe?
only way merle can carry and produce the lethal gene is to breed it to
another merle. If there is no merle to merle breeding, there IS NO
GENE. If the dogs coming from that merle back in your pedigree are not
merle, then you have lost the merle gene.
takes 2 to tango, so to say. If your dog is not merle, you do not have
the lethal gene nor do you have to worry about it. The gene stops with
you have a dog who has a merle 3 generations back, but the offspring of
that merle in your pedigree is not merle, then there is no lethal gene.
That gene stopped 3 generations back. It is NOT recessive and cannot be
carried and then produced. Even if this was a double merle breeding, if
your dog is not merle, there is NO LETHAL GENE and you are safe.
Word of advice
to merle breeders
|Merle is a very
right now, not only in Cockers , but it's showing up in many other
has been a lot of
controversy about the lethal gene associated with the merle pattern.
is and can be very
striking, unusual and often very pretty.
it should be bred by
responsible breeders who understand the merling pattern, are ready to
any consequenses both health wise and from the public.
breeders need to learn
to understand color genetics, even the basics, to be able to breed
and correct cockers.
should also be able
to read and understand pedigrees and what is involved to breed safely.
be undertaken just for the money aspect. These are warm loving caring
that depend on us to make the right decisions for them, and this also
breeding healthy and correctly.
one should be breeding
strictly for color or just the money. Health, temperament, and
should be the top priorities.
is just the icing
on the cake, but with merles, there is a lethal gene associated with
so breeders need to be careful and knowledgable about what they are
just as easy to breed
a quality merle cocker that is both lovely in appearance as well as
and function, than it is to just throw 2 dogs together.
who breed merles
love the unusual colors and markings, so they need to strive to produce
the best quality they can. Especially if we want to be able to register
these dogs correctly.
a bad attitude towards
the parent club and not caring about health and quality will never get
your dogs registered and they will always be considered outcasts.
the fancy that merles can be as nice or nicer than other colors will be
a huge plus in the merle breeders and owners favor.
breed these merles
as something we all can be proud of.:-)