merle cockers
 Merle Cocker Updates 
merle coc
             American Spaniel Club's Solution to the Merle Issuekers


About Breeding Merle Cockers
Merle Cocker Coat Colors
Merle Updates
Updated March 26, 2011


IS  this newest statement from the President of ASC something you also feel about in YOUR breed about merle?
Anyone who owns a merle who doesn't register it on the merle markings area are going to have to be DEALT WITH for LYING by AKC???
That MERLES are a HORRIBLE GENETIC DEFECT and those who have them are breeding DISEASE???

 "Charles" <ascpresident@...
Date: Sat Mar 26, 2011 10:47 am 
Subject: Re: Merle Ballot  ascpresident 

  ...  Speaking as a member and not as an officer
of ASC, as you said - there will be those who will deliberately withhold the
information that is needed to avoid perpetuating this horrible genetic
defect....and they will have to deal with the AKC why they lie on their
registrations.  But the larger question is - why would you knowingly bred
disease?  Why?  For the money?   Because the unsuspecting public is unaware of
the health issues caused by their wanting crazy patterns and monter blue eyes in
their 'cockers'?   Whether you agree with Z process or not - this is a genetic
mutation that must be eliminated from our breed.   There is NO reason to breed them.

The ASC has now sent out the ballot to all the ASC members (who also HAVE to sign their name to them so ASC knows who and how each voted..)
They want their members to vote YES for the Z-List or NO, no Z list and no allowance for the desigination on AKC paperwork.

It appears to me that if merle is such a "horrible disease" as the ASC president has repeatedly said over and over on the ASC list and in the ASC Bulletin as well as the ASC website, you would think that they would WANT the merle cocker to be registered with OR without the Z designation. 

But NO, it's either THEIR  way or no way.

It's not about caring about the dogs it's all about control and private agendas.

This website is copyrighted. Any comments you wish to use in a forum, website, etc..are fine to use AS LONG AS CREDIT is given back to this website.

This page was created as an update on the merle cocker issue. 
We'll try to update this with any new information and current going-on's regarding Merle Cockers

The merle is finally making an impact with Cocker breeders in the show community.

It's out in the open and ASC is trying to figure out what to do about it.
There are still several who REFUSE to discuss it, and hope if they put their head in the sand it will go away, which of course, it isn't going to.
Some show breeders are absolutely hysterical over the issue, some think all merles and their offspring should be killed, 
and feel that merle owners FALSELY register their merles with AKC and should be thrown out, suspended, tarred and feathered and run out of the universe.
Others have stopped screaming and are trying to learn about the merle gene, and how it will impact future cocker pedigrees and health.
Some show breeders are quietly in the "closet" breeding and/or owning merles,( while a very few )others have come out and said YES!
I own a merle cocker and YES I do breed them.
Others are curious and think the merle is interesting.
All in all, people are listening now, although many are still rather confused,being many have never owned a merle of any breed.
The bottom line is merles are now a part of the cocker breed, whether introduced or whether a mutation, or whether it has always been there, no one knows for sure.
But we CAN trace merles back for at least 20+ years now. They are breeding true, and don't appear to have any more health issues than "regular" cockers.

NEW UPDATE: June 2010

This is the latest message from Charles Born , the current ASC President. This was written (in black) in the June 2010 issue of the Bulletin, published on the ASC website.
Below, I added my thoughts (in red) to this outrageous letter he put in there. It goes to show that after all these years of trying to educate the Parent Club on the merle gene, they STILL have no idea what they are doing. *sigh*
Join us on Facebook..look for The Merle Cocker Issue.

President’s Message-June 2010 ASC Bulletin:

In  my  report  at  the  January  Annual  ASC  meeting,  I expressed  to you my  concern  about  the damage the merle color can have on our breed.  As you are most likely aware, the merle color gene is a dilution to lighten whatever color would otherwise have been expressed, the lightened effect is not  spread  evenly over the coat and  produces  patches of undiluted color scattered over the dog’s body. It began  to appear  in  our  breed  in  the  late  80’s. WRONG! Proven Merle cockers were traced down as far as 1981. There are also cases where in the old AKC stud books, that some cockers (show lines)were registered with what looked like merle markings..this was even before Am cockers split from the English cockers. Additionally, there are several reports from just the publc stating they saw or owned a merle cocker back in the 1950's. A noted AKC judge who has been involved in the fancy for decades, has also stated that merles have always been around but were "bucketed" much like the chocolates many years ago.

In  the  view  of  the American  Spaniel Club  this  is NOT  a  normal  spaniel  color and we feel there is no debate about this.   But, by far the most worrisome issue is that accompanying the merle pattern are significant  health  risks. A  report  by  Scot  E. Dowd  Ph.D., (A microbiologist who is anti merle and owns Pit Bulls and reads genetic studies like the rest of us do) compiled  for  AKC,  indicates  that  deafness,  eye  defects, immune system defects and night blindness, are just a few of the issues that are resulting  when breeding this color gene.   True, just like EVERY other cocker whether merle or not. BTW, it's NOT a COLOR gene, it's a PATTERN.

Some  research  by  ASC  members  discovered  that  most cockers that had the merle color pattern could be traced back to a buff dog named Rusty Butch who was mated to two buff bitches in March, 1988.  Timberline’s Betty produced a merle dog named Rog’s Snuffy, and Penny Locks produced a merle bitch named Carrie’s Muffin II. These breedings occurred in a USDA facility in Missouri which housed cocker spaniels and Shetland sheepdogs, among others.
THIS is not altogether true. There has been NO actual research into the merle lines, pedigrees, dogs or with the old breeders, other than what I and a couple of other people have done. This was all compiled and literally spoon fed to Jeff by me, over the phone and via email. NO ONE ever proven that this facility was USDA, nor was there any PROOF this kennel owned shelties or any other merle breed. This is an outright LIE! NO one knows if the 2 bitches bred to Rusty Butch were owned by the same person, both girls were bred by different breeders. People only ASSUMED this was the situation but it was NOT fact as ASC is attempting to portray. Plus ALL current cockers that are merle have ALL been traced back to Rusty Butch, not just most. Which either means this was a mutation, which was what some genetic laboratories have told me, or something could have "jumped the fence." No one knows, nor will they ever know for sure 100% what happened. Dr Murphy in his merle studies, stated that ALL dogs have the merle gene, it is an ANCIENT gene and in some breeds it is turned off, others turned on, BUT by mutation, the gene can turn on or off and it has happened in other breeds.

Whether a genetic mutation or something else, dogs from these  litters  have  consistently  produced  merle  cocker spaniels.  In the view of the American Spaniel Club, breeders of  this  coat  pattern  that  know  of  these  health  issues  are breeding without concern for the genetic negatives this gene carries with it. This is NOT true. A merle cocker carries 1/2 (one half---50%) of the lethal gene. It takes 2 to create the lethal gene. Most who have any sense know not to breed 2 merles together in ANY breed. In cases that 2 merles have been bred together, in several incidences, nothing was wrong with any of the offspring. When a pup has the lethal gene, it is known almost immediately after birth. Not a few years later, like all the other problems cockers have. Yes, the merle can create too much white when 2 merles are bred together and can cause deafness. This is also true for the parti gene.(Extreme piebald)

This comment  from the President of ASC appears to state that ASC feels that ANY person who breeds the merle pattern is breeding without concern about the genetic negatives. So in other words, Charles Born and the ASC Board feel that all breeders who breed the merle pattern are what, unethical? irresponsible? I'm quite sure the people in all the other breeds where merle is a allowed pattern will be very impressed by this scathing statement.

And because merle is not an allowable color (IT IS NOT a is a PATTERN) for our breed,  the breeders of  these animals have registered the offspring as a parti-color – we believe generally as a roan in one  form or  another  (or  some other  color pattern). Yes they have... many register the dog as the COLOR it actually is; which can be any color or variety. The AKC told the breeders to register them as roan. This was not the breeders ideas, it was AKC, because there is no merle pattern marking to check.

This lethal gene thus has the potential to disrupt legitimate parti-color breeding programs.
Only if you breed 2 merles together. Merle is NOT recessive. Once it's gone, it's gone.

A few years back, the ASC board approved research in the form of DNA  testing  for  the merle gene marker along with micro-chipping 4 dogs believed  to be merle.   These animals were taken by an ASC member to a vet to be micro-chipped, photographed  and  DNA  tested.    Their  pedigrees  were obtained.  The  DNA  materials  were  sent  to  Genmark  with testing  results  indicating  that  three  of  the  four  dogs  were merle.  It so happens, they were registered as Brown Tan and
Roan as there was no other color available. The DNA tests were done because? It was obvious these dogs were merles. One dog that was obviously a merle came back as non merle and it was tested 3 times! Another DOUBLE merle came back only as a single merle. This was  a total waste of ASC funds and more time wasted dragging this situation out.

Under the current registration options, there  is no way to  identify merle cocker spaniels  or  carriers  of  this  gene. Cockers do NOT CARRY for the merle gene. It is NOT recessive. Either the dog is merle or it isn't. One of the parents to a merle cocker HAS to be merle. It cannot be carried down in a pedigree and produced, nor are any of the non merle littermates in a merle litter merle "carriers.". The non merle littermates cannot produce merle. If a dog is not merle, it cannot produce merle.

Thus  breeders  suffer  the possibility  of  introducing  significant  health  problems unintentionally.  Only if you breed merle to merle. Why is it that merle breeders in other breeds have been breeding and producing merles that are healthy and doing this responsibly and successfully for over 100 years?  Why is it ok for cocker breeders to continue to breed known cataract, PRA & epilepsy producers and that is ok, but not ok to breed merle that is safe unless you breed it to another merle. If this is the reason, then ASC should ban breeding known carriers of health problems.

The  American  Spaniel  Club  Board  of Directors in a unanimous vote asked that we talk to the AKC about  this  issue  and what we might  do. There  are  some options which for the short term would perhaps not stop these questionable  breedings  from  occurring  or  having  them registered – but would at least identify the offspring so as to not poison the legitimate gene pool. This sounds like ignorance at its best.. There is no poisoning the gene least any worse than it already is.

This suggestion is what is  called  a Z  registration…it was used  in Dobermans  in  the past to identify white Dobermans which had the same issues for that breed as merle has for cockers.   ASC had spoken to AKC about the Z-List over 5 years ago, and was told then, they would not do this. There is no funding or way or interest to go back into thousands of cockers who have come down from these 2 known merle breedings. Some of these dogs are not merle and pose no issue at all. This is 30 years of breeding, no DNA to prove whether these early breedings were pure or not. How is this any worse than the Norbill kennel breeding poodle into their cocker lines which was well known back then...
AKC already has a program in place called conditional registration. Which is registration of dogs with unknown parent. After 3 generations it is considered fully registerable with AKC. ALL of these cockers coming down from Rusty Butch are up to their 12-15th generation now from this breeding.

This would require the Board of the American Kennel Club to add merle as a color choice on the registration certificate while identifying it with a Z registration number.   We are awaiting their input.   Without this….Merles cannot be identified… quantified….. tracked…. tested…. and future decisions made on what further actions to take.   Merles are already being identified, pedigrees online to trace to, many breeders are putting merle or elrem in the dog's registered name. These merle owners and breeders want to be able to register merles correctly. Why is there an interest to test, track etc? They are cockers, considered pure bred and many are as nice if not nicer conformationally than what you see winning in the ring. Of course there will be poorly bred merle cockers as well as normal colored/patterned cockers not bred with the standard in mind, but you see this in ALL breeds and all colors and varieties of cockers.This is nothing new.

Again – same objectives as the white Doberman issue. As we just submitted this request to AKC – I do not have any feedback  at  this  time…but  will  keep  the  membership informed. 

I do not  think  the Board of  the ASC believes  this  to be  a perfect  solution….it  may  be  distasteful  for  many  that  we
allow the rogue color at all on a registration certificate…Rogue? This sounds almost racist. Why is color the most important thing in cockers? The dog can be an excellent specimen of the breed, but oops, it's not an approved color so it is not worthy. Think about sounds utterly ridiculous!
but in past  decades  an  owner  could  write  in  any  color  they wished…so  this  should  not  be  viewed  as  tacit  approval  or
acceptance of this color.(ya mean pattern..)   That's right, and if your so-called committee had actually looked at some of the old actual AKC stud books, they would have found that several cockers were registered with what sounds like merle. These were show lines. Such as  CH Waverly Sweetheart..registered as a black & blue roan back in 1900! Both parents were listed as black & white. Banner Ronald was listed as a black/blue/roan/tan in 1896. Waverly Combination was registered in 1905 as a Black/Tan/Blue& Red Roan. Brookside Norma was registered in 1905 as a blue/fawn! Brynwood of Ware was registered as a blue/black in 1931. Robinhurst Zone was registered as BLUE GREY in 1932. One of his parents was red, the other black. And Robinhurst Tanblue was registered as Blue Grey Tan. in 1933. Parents were black & red.

Bottom line - after years of inaction– we  can’t  let  the  problem  continue without  some  plan  of attack.  ATTACK? Like merle is a monster?
And, these registrants are coming from two pure bred previously registered cocker spaniels….so until we have more
tracking we  can’t  identify where  these problems are  coming from.  Problems? Again, if ASC had been paying attention these past several years to what we told them, there IS a way to to trace a pedigree. ONE parent has to be merle to produce merle. How hard is THAT to figure out? Yes merles are being bred to Champions and Champion lines and offspring are being bred back to Champions. There are very few show lines that are not somewhere in a current merle cocker's pedigree now.

And, most  importantly  –  a Z  registration  allows  any breeder  to  make  informed  decisions  on  breeding  stock.

Nothing to be informed of. If the dog they are buying is not a merle, then they will never produce merle, unless they breed it to a merle. You can have a half dozen merles back in a pedigree but if the end result is not a merle, you have lost the gene and you will not produce it. It's gone.

Finally – I think the Board will need to make some decisions on public education.   How in the world can the ASC Board provide ANY kind of public education when they don't understand the merle gene or anything about it themselves? Talk about the blind leading the blind. Or are they planning on putting  up another picture of a merle dog again on their website stating if your cocker is this color,it isn't purebred. That stunt went over quite well, and it's amazing ASC wasn't sued over this intelligent statement they pulled.

There are over 50,000 URL  listings for Merle cockers on the web if you do a search.  The innocent buying public should not be subjected to these issues. 

ASC board: You are slamming ALL people who own a merle dog, by these statements you put in the Bulletin.
You forget there are MANY other breeds that have merle in them. The message ASC powers that be is putting out is basically this:
 The ASC feels that all merle patterned dogs are not purebred, all merle breeders are irresponsible and unethical and Cocker owners, especially, are TOO stupid to breed or understand genetics of merle cockers.
Presidents message on website:
.................. Tandem to this are the health concerns of designer cockers like the current merle issue – which brings with it a genetic nightmare we must confront.  FYI, the AKC Board will only in July consider the proposal that was outlined in the last Bulletin issue.  With the ASCF – the mission is never done – but its work important to our breed – and to all of us as ethical breeders.  ...................................
All I can say, is if ignorance is bliss, then you are some really happy people.

 July 10, 2008

This letter was sent to me from an email list. Names and such have been removed to protect this person who is highly involved in the breed.

I normally don't get involved in this type of discussion but here goes, foot in mouth.  This history of merles is nothing but a big fable and not true.  Not one dog can be traced back to this so called start of merles.  Merles have been around in many breeds for hundreds of years but the breeders drowned the puppies at birth.  The exact same way we did with chocolate cockers not so many years ago. This fable is very similar to the lies XXXXXXX harped on when she told everyone that sable cockers were the result of mixing a beagle with a cocker.   Very shortly (this ages me) before I started in cockers, breeders "bucketed" tri colors as they were undesirable. All dogs originate from the same beginning, hundreds, thousands of years ago.  A recessive gene can exist for many, many generations.  Francis Greer, of cocker genetic fame, was my mentor in cockers.  My first cocker, XXXXXXX produced chocolate.  There was no chocolate behind him so, of course, something must be mixed in.  Francis did a 25 generation pedigree and found dozens of crosses to chocolates, and dogs known to have produced chocolate. It only takes the right gene combination and you will have any color.  When I was breeding, I could produce sable in any litter if the unsable parent carried the tan points. Over the past 45 years, I have watched breeder after breeder euthanize (a more politically correct now that "bucket) the unusual and undesirable colors.  Now, all these colors are the "rare" colors and worth lots of money, lol.  ................................................

In the ASC Board Minutes from April 2008, Zone V commented that they were still discussing merles.*NOTE See ASC Board Minutes page on the merle issue
Plus, they had a copy from AKC's Mr Gladstone who wrote a letter to the Chihuahua Club of America encouraging them NOT to vote the merle pattern out, and why.
You can read the letter here (opens in PDF)
Here is a copy of the letter the President of the Chihuahua Club wrote to AKC with some GREAT ideas, and which ASC should follow.

It seems VERY simple to most of us, doesn't it?
Merle cockers are NOT going away no matter how much ASC wishes it so.
It seems ASC is more concerned about falling memberships, not getting new people to join, the new president requesting mentoring programs.
Yet, if a "known" merle owner wants to join, they are not allowed in. Imagine that!!
Sources say that ASC thinks that merles are no longer a "problem" and they are fading away. 
This is so not true. Breeders are breeding them to Champions and back into champion lines. 
The quality in many merle cockers is just as good if not better in some circumstances than what is in the ring.
ASC NEEDS to wake up and allow AKC to list the merle pattern, NOW!

 May 5, 2008

The ASC now has it's new President and Board, and from word from the "front lines" is that the current board is anti merle and
have mentioned they plan to do NOTHING about the issue of the merle cocker spaniel. They THINK if they ignore it they will go away.
They THINK it is a back yard breeder and puppy mill problem and it has no bearing on Show Lines.LOL
Boy that could be nothing further than the truth, as many many good breeders INCLUDING show breeders (abeit hiding their merles)
have been and are breeding their Champions and other Champions to merle cockers. The quality is quite nice and
many of us wouldn't be the least bit surprised if a hidden merle or 2...have already obtained their Championship.LOL
Quite legally...since according to ASC merles don't exist....Melres are now being regsitered their correct color.Since ASC hasn't ALLOWED AKC to list the merle pattern as a marking..then who is to know.Of course, everyone will know if they breed unknowingly to a merle and end up 
having to renig with a potential futurity nominated MERLE litter.LOL
We THINK that ASC doesn't know how to THINK.

July 06, 2007

 The Summer Nationals are getting ready to start soon, in OKC, and the ASC meeting will be held there as well.
Of course much of the meeting will probably be about their latest embezzlement fiasco, but they are also supposed to be deciding on what to do about the merle cocker.
At their last ASC board meeting, it was written in their Minutes that "The ideal goal is to eradicate merle gene from the cocker spaniel gene pool. "(1-2007 Board Meeting)*NOTE See ASC Board Minutes page on the merle issue

Well, it's a little too late for that since merles have been bred for going on 20 years at least.
And most lines including many many show lines are now in a merle pedigree.
It's time for the ASC to buck up, lick it's wounds and allow this pattern to be listed with AKC.
First of all, they claimed it wasn't purebred and actually set themselves for a big slander lawsuit by posting a photo of a merle dog with a notation that cockers who were that color were NOT purebred.
We are all glad to know that the Powers that BE at ASC are all well respected and revered geneticists that can give such a solid statement
about DNA. NOT!
Then they decided to contact Dr Murphy, who basically told them the merle gene is an ANCIENT gene and is in all dogs, even though some do not manifest the pattern.
So THAT didn't work. 
ASC decided to get merle owners to submit photos and blood for DNA in hopes they could prove they weren't purebred and get AKC to throw them all out.
This also did not work.
AKC told them "They will register merles however they can and will not refuse to register a cocker based on color alone.” Nor will they revoke any registrations unless we can show color pedigree proof that they are not purebred." (April 2006 Board Meeting)
 Now they are dragging their feet, hoping it will go away. They are now saying they wish to put it off so they can get another DNA sample from another merle cocker whose owner says does not go back to Rusty Butch. Many of us already know this story. They bred a merle bitch to their dog but they didn't have papers on her, so they put the papers from a dead bitch on these pups, made up the story about it being a cryptic or hidden merle,LOL and falsely registered the litter.
Even if they do DNA on this dog, the dog will still come back as a cocker it just won't have the correct dam. But They won't take our word for it
It's pretty much just another excuse to drag their feet.

But that's ok.
On the American Spaniel Club: Views on Merle Cockers page,  there is a tidbit of information written in January 2007 
about a new program the AKC is implementing.

This program is now up and running.

It's called Conditional Registration

What it says in short, is that AKC will register a dog from an unknown parent,  who appears to be purebred and had full AKC registration and the same breed as the other parent.
These dogs with a conditional registration call still show in performance events, be bred and offspring registered, but cannot be shown in conformation or Field Trial events.
After 3 generations, the dog is considered purebred and the next generation will be able to have FULL registration and compete in all venues including conformation shows.

This means ASC cannot get out of this now. 
It also states on the AKC website that "If the dogs in question do not appear to be purebred, an impure breeding complaint can be made to the Impure Breeding Committee, which will open an inquiry and take appropriate action."
Rusty Butch would be nearing his 28th birthday this October, so it is going to be rather difficult to get DNA on him to prove he or his offspring weren't "purebred".

These next 2 or 3 weeks may prove interesting, and I know that AKC wants to wrap this matter up. Let's hope ASC gets off their duffs and does something
They have certainly shown the apathy they have in the other events that have recently taken place.


MetaMorphix Introduces Canine Heritage(TM) -- The First DNA-Based Diagnostic Test to Identify Canine Breeds
Link to article

Because this is a large article and there are many comments as well as an interview with the company, this will be on a new web page


I am doing a private study along with 3 others, 2 who own merles, on any health issues with merles. especially double merles or dogs from double merles.
From what I am hearing, there really hasn't been many problems, even from the double merle cockers. Not much that can be attributed to strictly the merle gene.
Anyone who wishes to participate and will send me info on their dogs, would be greatly appreciated. It is totally anonymous,
I don't care who you are, no one is going to tell anyone. This is a private study. And Test results, CERF papers are needed if possible.

Now for comments:
This is merle basics and a FYI  for those who don't have the time to read through this site.
We have spoken with several merle breeders both in Cockers and in other breeds who have had merle and have bred them successfully for years.
Recently, we invited a guest speaker on the ShowCockers list who raises and shows merle Border Collies to try and dispel rumors and educate the fancy on merle.

To read the transcript, click here. It will download in MS Word format.

Genetic Inheritance of the Merle Gene It is only recently that 
investigators at the Texas A&M University (reference: PNAS, 2006, 
103(5):1376-81) discovered a mutation in the dog SILV gene and found it 
to be responsible for the merle coat color patterning in ALL dogs. The 
merle gene (/M/) is inherited in an autosomal fashion.  In other words, 
the trait is not linked to gender and can be passed on from either the 
mother or the father.

More info out there..just Google it.

FYI on Merle

1. A cocker who has 1 merle parent and one regular parent..Does not have any problem of being defective other than the normal negative health genes afflicting our breed.
But to go into it farther,  breeding merle in with the piebald and extreme white piebald gene can produce deafness.In other breeds, the more white the dog has, the more potential problems it could have when bred to a merle.
So far, I haven't heard anything about the merle/parti problem in cockers.
Although many have suggested to breed merle to a solid in order to better determine merle at birth, as well as not hide it, as buff, silver, 
white and sable can often hide the merling in a cocker. It can also avoid problems associated with the piebald gene found in some other breeds.

2. ONLY MERLE to MERLE breeding can bring out potential lethal genes, and some, even all in the litter may not be afflicted with anything.
The 2 lethal genes have to be paired up in order to possibly produce a problem.

3. The "lethal" gene associated  with the merle pattern CANNOT be passed down in a pedigree. It HAS to be a merle to merle breeding.
If it is a non merle to merle breeding, there IS NO PROBLEM

4.Merle is an incomplete dominant gene..if the parents are not merle you won't have merle, one of the parents has to be a merle in order to produce merle
The "lethal" gene associated with merle stops with the merle. It doesn't go any further, nada nothing.

5.I've been researching the merles for a few years now, and from what I can gather, no one has reported that there has
been ANY special health problems assocated with merle breeding in cockers, nor even with merle to merle breeding in cockers. 
Yes, some could have lied but many were very upfront about this.
From pedigree research, some of todays merle cockers are from double merle breedings, some have this 
2 or 3 times in a pedigree.Apparantly the dogs weren't sterile or had any problems.

6. Yes merle has been bred successfully for many many years in other breeds and they all say that if you do not breed merle to merle you should not have any problems.

I know some do not wish to look at other breeds, but by investigating merle in other breeds, we can learn about it and apply that knowledge to our breed.

Merle cockers are not going to go away, so we need to learn as much about this as we can. Screaming at each other, pointing fingers, 
hurling insults do not help in any way towards trying to understand the merle pattern and any problems that could be associated with it.

Merle does need to be identified and allowed to be listed with AKC or there very well could be some real problems 
down the road IF there is a problem in cockers with merle to merle breeding.
As for people lying about the color with AKC, there are several colors that ARE currently acceptable that ARE NOT listed with 
AKC on cockers, so does this mean they aren't "pure-bred" either? 
No, this means whoever made up the acceptable list didn't do their homework before it was presented to AKC.

Current COMMENTS about the merle issue-Oldest to newest
Many breeds have  faced similar issues and they do choose to ignore them or hope they resolve  themselves. Many breed clubs are facing color issues and many web  sites are informative as to why certain colors are not shown.  Many breeds  have colors available to register within the breed but do not allow the color to be shown. For example a white Doberman, a flowered Shar Pei, or a merle  Dane the list is rather long.  In all the national breed sites you don't  see the cry/banner/attitude these dogs are not pure breed and the papers were  issued by AKC based on lies. But you read genuine concern and guidance for those who own a dog of the undesirable color.  If you go to the parent clubs  web sites nearly all educate breeders, they warn buyers, they are aggressive in trying to halt the progress of colors they deem detrimental to their breed.. none take the position they are mutts and have invalid papers, they are not our problem, they are on their own. These clubs say with all the class and professionalism that these colors are not  correct, desirable, preferred  but if you buy one you should know this. More flies with honey theory at its  best. 
Obviously many breeds have merles and continue to thrive despite  the merle genes because their breeders are educated. Pet breeders in  all merle breeds continue to raise deaf, blind or have dead litters. But then  many non merle puppies have whelped with the same problems. You cannot be  responsible for them all but you can step up and say if you have a merle  please use caution, identify your dog  and educate your buyers. AKC can and  will continue to register them and will eventually persuade ASC to come to  terms with the issue. Many have already been DNA tested. ASC can try and  publicly wage a war with AKC and tell the public that AKC is registering  dogs that are not purebred  based on a improbable result of a  mating that took place 25 years ago and take on the PR nightmare and backlash it  will cause.  Some where a merle breeder will find a lawyer and sue ASC for claiming that AKC issued a false registration paper and ASC has destroyed the  value of their paperwork. Look at any stud book in the last two years and those aren't all roans being whelped or the hundreds of puppies on numerous classified  web pages. And there is no way to tell how many breeders are using other colors  to identify  their merles. AKC is often the deciding factor in how to  register the color, breeders send in photos and AKC registers the animal to the  closest color. Which by the way is what each one of us does. As I wrote  before,  many cockers are not registered properly. 
Reds that are no where  near red, Silvers not even close. Black/tans as blacks. Black and whites that  are tris or even clear sables. Brown sable and whites as just sable and white.  And how do you register a brown and tan roan? And what about a sable roan or  what about a dilute red/white. a red/tan or a blue and tan or blue and  white or blue tri ?????  Face it, the current list leaves many colors  some of which CAN be shown to register to the closest color. And as to  the breeder who registers a dog not approved in the standard or a color not  on the list as being liars I take great offense to that statement. I  am aware sables are not approved to be shown but they do and have existed for a  long time and  so have other colors in spaniel stud books that are not mentioned in the standard. MERLE IS A COLOR NEVER FOUND IN ANY SPANIEL/SPORTING GROUP STUD BOOK 
but comments like those made by some are sure to  offend many who have sables, brown/tan roans, blues and dilutes Some of the very  people who 
are the most vocal against merles  have these  colors themselves. You can't say if you register OR BREED a color not  within the standard you are 
unethical. Somehow that isn't really logical given our choices. 

The list of champion bloodlines now behind merles being whelped in August  2006 are  mind blowing. Do your own web search and look at the pedigrees  see first hand.  It doesn't matter solid, buff, parti, brown or  sable nearly every bloodline with any success is now in a merle  pedigree somewhere. I haven't bred a litter in 15 years and it didn't take long  to find a merle pedigree that went back to one of my old pedigrees. They have  had a good 10-15 years to get the PEDIGREES there and it only takes one  generation and one breeding to get the color.  So breed a merle to a  champion and then her puppy to a champion and that puppy to a well bred dog and  it takes maybe 6 years at that. By the way XXXX is not the only person  on this list breeding merles just the only one to come out to take the heat.

A Z list was possible 15 years ago when ASC was first alerted but in  my  telephone discussion with AKC I  have been lead to believe that  the sheer number of dogs now descending from Rusty Butch is in the thousands and  far too expensive to go back and issue Z list additions. Plus Rusty Butch was  not the source himself only his name was used it seems and DNA testing  is not possible. AKC would need some genetic research to back the  theory up.  The bigger issue is those breeders who are breeding sables to  merles and roans and buffs all of which HIDE and distort the pattern. Making  double merle breeding more likely not less likely.  This is just setting  the stage for problems. Having thousands of puppies registered as roans is not  an answer either but now maybe a third of the merles are not even partis. Many  of the ones being bred now are solid merles or sable merles. Obviously not  acknowledging the problem has in no way slowed the progress of the merles. The  breed has a few choices let the situation continue as is and watch the genes  spread unchecked, identify them as merles on registration paperwork and  aggressively educate the public to the dangers, or raise funds ourselves and  force AKC to dig through 25 years of paperwork and Z list all descendents of  Rusty Butch which I could never get a clear answer on if that would even be acceptable to AKC. But it will be VERY expensive. Would that money be better  spent on researching health issues? 
Most of the breeders are not in favor of  merles and I am in no way approving of the color. Yet I am troubled by the  spread of the gene without identifying it and trying to slow its spread. Most of  the people on this list  know from life the more something is forbidden or  unusual the greater the demand. Even 
if you had the power to block every merle  cocker trying to become registered what would you do about the generations  before do you really think AKC will revoke that many papers???? AKC papers  are not really important anymore to many pet owners because we ourselves so  often withhold them that pet buyers don't care they just want a puppy without  hassles.  This maybe only a  fad but like many other fads it is  here for a long while, Gee how many years did it take the hula hoop to fade or the slinky? There is no easy answer and it will take many  people to work side by side to find a good solution that will benefit all cockers not just  protect the show ones. Why shouldn't the cocker world look to the ASC to resolve  the dilemma because in reality they are the only ones who can? 

One further note as show breeders we should  feel a  responsibility to the whole breed not just show dogs. Taking part in rescue,  public education, 
performance, field work and the cocker world as a whole.  Even though show breeders make up a small very small percentage of cockers being  born we can have the greatest impact.

I wish that we could be more appreciative of the fact that there are AKC breeds that accept merle, consequences and all, BECAUSE 
attitudes which portray using merles as irresponsible or always unhealthy will alienate all the breeds that do accept merle.

I am not on one side or the other as far as merles, although I can appreciate the ability to register the color in order to identify 
it. However this whole argument that all merles are going to produce portions of litters that will have deformities is demeaning to those 
breeds that do accept merles on one hand while being demeaning to all other breeders on the other hand. It is demeaning because it is 
almost as though the predetermined assumption is that no amount of education on how not to use merles in a pedigree could work in 
cockers. I guess we are assuming that our breed has breeders who are not as smart as those breeds which manage to accept and even show 

I understand that some people can't handle the idea of a merle and that's okay, I personally don't care. I wouldn't have sables because 
I only wanted to have dogs I could show if I wanted to, and that's okay also. BUT I am not demeaning towards those people who do. 
Further, and more importantly, because Shetland Sheepdogs, Collies, Cardigan Welsh Corgis, Australian Shepherds, Border Collies accept 
merle, I cannot accept the use of the arguments being tossed around. 
I believe these arguments to be demeaning to the breeders of those breeds and I do not think that being demeaning toward other breeders 
in any breed is good for any dog breed, including ours. Identify the color if you like but do not portray every breeder that deals with
merles as bad, that simply is not true as there are nice merles in shelties etc and they came from good breeders.

As far as lying on a pedigree goes, if the color is not represented on the registration form (which obviously occurs in both acceptable 
and unacceptable colors) why should the dog loose its ability to be registered? If someone has a blue I would love to see a picture, but 
I would not love to see it removed from the gene pool simply because the color selection is not on the registration forms even though it 
is an acceptable color. 
I would like to know how or if you all would have registered Crig-Mar's Crazy Quilt? I have no idea if that dog was ever bred but I 
wonder if you all think it should have been removed from the gene pool. As I recall, the first brown was a result of a brother/sister 
breeding and would not have existed if laws like the one recently proposed in NJ existed around the country back when the brown color 
emerged. Would that have been a good thing? Are we starting to sound like maybe it would have been? That is scary because in today's 
climate the government seems to want to determine these things for us. Is that what we want? I think that is exactly what we do NOT 
want, I think that all some people want is to be able to recognize merle on a pedigree and not in a show ring. I think some are saying 
they want this because doubling up on merle can be dangerous, and that is a rational reason. However, making it sound like breeding 
merles is, in general an irresponsible, terrible, always unhealthy thing to do is irresponsible as it is an overboard reaction to try 
and discourage merle but it does not take into account all the wonderful breeders in breeds that accept merle and manage to do 
alright with them. Breeders of cockers should not be bashing patterns that are acceptable in other breeds for the reasons I have 
been reading here because it is bashing ALL breeders of merles regardless of what breed they are in. Bashing breeders of merles in 
other breeds that accept the pattern is dangerous for all breeders because of the political climate we are in. It is not in our best 
interest to say that show breeders in the breeds that accept merles are purposely breeding unhealthy dogs, because we are show breeders 
also and we do not need to fuel the anti breeding opposition that we try to overcome every day.

There have been no health studies done with merle Cockers and there is no scientific data to back-up allegations that merles are unhealthy or that they have a lethal gene.  As another pointed out, the issues that are considered "lethal" in merle to merle breedings in other breeds generally occur in utero or at birth and in no way affect the pet buying public.  Nor do the puppies suffer as those in question are stillborn and were never alive outside of the womb.  Additionally, how can anyone claim to know why a puppy is stillborn or why a litter is smaller?  I've had stillborn puppies in MANY non-merle litters as well as small litters from bitches that threw large litters previously.  Saying that these problems are related to the merle gene is difficult if not impossible to substantiate as care and condition of the bitch (different food, injury, extreme heat or cold - and any number of health issues - viral or bacterial infection, disease, medications, etc. - can and do affect the health and size of a litter. 

While anyone has the right to make an ass of themselves, those that do so by spouting half-truths and hysterical gibberish are not helping our breed.   Anyone that wants to help our breed should realize that alienating a large part of the rest of the purebred dog community (by disparaging all merle dogs and all merle breeders) is NOT going to help anyone.  The fact of the matter is, any number of other breeds have the merle pattern, these dogs are healthy and the breeds are thriving (the pattern is obviously NOT a detriment to their breeds) and the merle breeders that are involved in these breeds are responsible, caring breeders who produce quality, healthy, happy puppies.  These breeds focus on educating their breeders and the pet buying public and have made great strides in minimizing any risk associated with merle breedings.  Making poorly researched, unsubstantiated statements that paint all merle breeders (of any breed) as uncaring, money hungry, puppy-killers is detrimental to purebred dogs as a whole.  This type of attitude only serves to further split the ranks of dog breeders and to fuel the public's belief that show breeders are selling unhealthy, inbred and over-priced dogs. 

Merle breeders register their dogs as they have been instructed to do by AKC.  Almost every merle breeder I have ever spoken to has tried to register at least one of their dogs as a merle.  We have sent pictures, alternate codes, we have called, blah, blah, blah.  AKC says "choose the color listed on the registration form that most closely describes your dog".  And that is what we do. 

AKC doesn't decide if pictures sent of a dog show that it is a "registerable" color.  They look at the pictures and choose the color that they believe most closely describes the dog.  If the AKC employee doing the registration sees a red/white, it's registered as a red/white.  If the dog appears black/white or tri, the person working for AKC chooses black/white or tri.   For merles that have the mottled coat pattern, AKC most often chooses ROAN!  THE BREEDER DOESN'T MAKE THE CHOICE!  Many of those arguing about merle registrations and complaining about merle breeders "lying" or doing something dishonest refuse to listen or absorb what we have said over and over again!  AKC is often the one deciding how these dogs are registered!!  Many of us have sent pictures to AKC trying to register our dogs correctly and AKC has chosen the color that is on our dogs' registrations.  AKC chose to register my red/white sable merles as red/whites.  AKC has chosen to register brown sable merles as browns, brown/tans and as sables.  AKC has chosen to register merles as every other color that is listed as acceptable. 

Additionally, for those that don't think merle Cockers are entitled or deserving of registration privileges, AKC plainly states on their web-site that they WILL NOT deny registration of any dog due to color alone!  Maybe some of the color Nazis ought to rethink registering THEIR DOGS with AKC if they don't like the registry's rules and regulations!

 Having or not having these dogs within the breed is NO LONGER ACHOICE.  We HAVE merles within our breed and we MUST deal with the situation
as it stands.  This does not mean that you have to own or breed merles, but it does mean that for the health of the breed and the integrity of our
pedigrees, you and every other Cocker breeder and owner MUST insist that ASC allow the dogs to be correctly registered.

It doesn't matter whether you personally think merles should have a placewithin the breed.  (You are entitled to your opinion, but your personal
beliefs are not necessarily relevant to the situation as regards the breed
as a whole.)  Merle Cockers already have a well-defined place within thebreed and they are firmly established as registered members of our breed
(like any number of other unlisted but well-known colors!).  AKC is notgoing to pull these dogs' papers or institute a "Z" list.  The inclusion of
merles in the breed was decided 25 years ago when the first KNOWN merles(not necessarily the first merles but the first known merles) were
registered by AKC.  Since these dogs were not challenged initially and since they and their descendents have been bred and registered with AKC
continuously for the last 25 years, there is NO way to successfully challenge their inclusion within the breed at this late date.  The only
question left to resolve is how to register the dogs to prevent health issues that might be associated with the merle pattern. 

BTW, there is no PROOF as to where the merle gene did or did not come from.
Nor is there a test to determine if a cross-breeding occurred.  A mutation IS a possibility as, by definition, a mutation is a previously unseen
condition/characteristic that appears suddenly within the gene pool.  As I have also already addressed, there are several possibilities for how this
gene could have remained hidden within OUR breed - keep in mind that the multitude of colors within our breed is somewhat unique in the purebred dog
world and this may play a role in the expression of the merle gene.  It has also been acknowledged that culling of puppies with "different" colors has
been a common practice within our breed and one that could help explain why merles were not seen earlier in the breed's history.

Others also asked: "If they are not a registered color, not a showable colorwhy breed them at all? "  Again, several people have already addressed this
question, but I will try to summarize this for you. 

First, while some purebred dog owners choose to show their dogs, the majority of purebred dogs are owned as pets and are never shown.  Showing is
a personal choice and not one that is right for everyone or for every dog.This holds true whether the dog has an acceptable color or not.  Not every
purebred dog owner has the same interests and no one has the right to determine that an owner must pursue one show venue or another as a deciding
factor in whether a dog can or should be bred!  Please keep in mind that enforcing personal beliefs of breeding ethics onto every breeder endangers
EVERYONE's right to breed!  We are facing major attacks on our rights as animal owners and we MUST support EVERYONE's right to breed as they see fit!
(This does not mean that I feel everyone must sell their dogs for breeding purposes to anyone that asks.  We are all entitled to sell our dogs as we
see fit too!)

Second, there are numerous colors in Cockers that are considered acceptable but which are not listed as choices for registration.  Additionally, there
are some colors listed for registration that cannot be shown.  If your argument is that any dog with a color that cannot be correctly registered or
any dog whose color does not allow it to be shown cannot/should not be bred, then you must intend to stop the breeding of ALL sables, dilutes and/or
brown/tan roans, mis-marks AND merles.  If, instead, you wish to discriminate against just the merles, then this is really not about whether
the dogs can be registered correctly or shown.  It is merely a personal prejudice against the color.  Which is perfectly fine.  You are entitled to
your own opinion and the choice of whether to own or breed merle Cockers isentirely yours.  However, please keep in mind that not everyone shares your
prejudice.  Some of us have different interests and beliefs and choose topursue a different path.  This does not make either of our choices "wrong",
it just means that we are different people with different beliefs.  (It is important to remember that show breeders produce a VERY small percentage of
the total number of registered dogs in most breeds.  While we might like to iimagine we are the largest part of the breed, we are the minority and cannot
ASSUME that our way is the only way that matters!). 

I do not believe that this color is going to go away or that we can bury our heads in the sand and pretend that they don't affect us just because we
can't show them.  Many people have and do breed mis-marks and sables andover the course of our breed's history, many other colors have been bred
that were not allowed in the show ring - tris, browns, black/tans.  We allknow that not every dog meets the criteria for the show ring or carries
markings that are conducive to finishing a championship title (sables,mis-marked solids, half-faces, extremely open or close-marked partis), but
these dogs can and do contribute to the breed from the whelping box. 

I think merles can also contribute to the breed.  My merles have excellentdispositions and exhibit correct breed type.  I believe that the merles I am
producing are as sound and healthy as those of any other color Cocker from my kennel and that these merles have the ability to promote our breed as
public examples of loving pets and/or as outstanding performance dogs.  And while many of you may not want to face it, the day is coming when acceptably
colored dogs from merle lines ARE being shown and finished!  As has been mentioned repeatedly, something like 85% of show lines are ALREADY behind
the merles being bred today!  How long do you really think it will be before someone finishes a tri, a black/tan or a brown from merle bloodlines?  (I
think it only fair to point out that I am only one of SEVERAL breeders on the show lists that have and breed merles. 

You also say. "There are not that many pet family buyers out there."
Again, show breeders are a SMALL minority of the dog world.  There ARE that many pet buyers out there!  And not only buyers, but pet breeders as well.
The reason the show world cannot hope to remove merle dogs from the breed is BECAUSE of the number of pet people involved in the breed.  They may not be
members of ASC or at a show every weekend, but these "pet" people are everywhere and to a great extent, they are the ones in control of the breed.
Just look at the merle situation and try to deny it - 25 years ago a USDA kennel produced 2 litters of merles.  From those TWO litters of pet puppies,
we now have thousands upon thousands of AKC REGISTERED merle Cocker Spaniels.  This is just ONE line of "pet" Cockers that was started 25 years
ago.  Try to imagine how many other "pet" lines of Cockers exist today and the number of Cockers represented by these numbers.  It is a staggering
number!  (Just look at the number of "pet" litters advertised on the internet and in every newspaper across the United States every week.) 

This huge group of Cocker owners and breeders are not freely allowed to joinASC (without sponsors and being voted in), thus they are not allowed to
participate in the decision making processes of this club.  Most of these owners also do not show their dogs.  Yet the majority of the show world seem
to believe that this huge majority of Cocker owners and breeders should meekly follow the beliefs and guidelines of the minority show crowd.  How
screwy is that?  Why do show breeders assume that they have the right to decide that their opinion on Cocker coat colors and other breed issues is
the only opinion that matters?   Show breeders are NOT the only ones affected by these decisions and show breeders ARE the minority within our
breed!   Again, we must respect EVERYONE's right of dog ownership and

Another comment that I must disagree with was: "it is not a issue worth
fighting".  Well, I guess that may depend on which side you happen to be on! LOL  Personally, I think that all of my rights are worth fighting for.  I
also think that if I do not stand up for my beliefs, then I cannot expect anyone else to respect my choices.  (If I don't believe in something enough
to fight for it, then why would I be doing it?) 

I also disagree with comments that: "Many breeder are being hurt personally by their show stock being bred to merle's against their
knowledge."   I'm sorry, but I find this a ludicrous accusation.  If someone sold a dog with full registration, then they accepted the risks that go
along with that choice - i.e. the dog being bred in a manner that is inconsistent with their beliefs.  If a breeder sold a dog with full
registration and someone bred it to a merle, then how is the breeder at fault?  How is the breeder hurt?  Will the Cocker Police come knock on the
breeder's door and give him/her a black eye?  Would the breeder be "hurt" because someone else questioned his/her decision to sell a dog as he/she saw fit?  Good grief, if a breeder isn't adult enough to stand up and say I sold my dog and that was my right and it is NOBODY else's business, then that
breeder needs to quit breeding!  And/or quit selling dogs with full registration! 

Someone somewhere is ALWAYS going to disagree with what someone else does.
If you (the breeder) have "friends" in the dog world that choose to berate you for where or how you sold your dog and you are willing to take this kind
of crap, then that is nobody's fault but your own.  Don't blame the dog buyer if you aren't capable of making adult decisions and living with the
consequences.  As has been repeatedly stated, about 85% of show kennels have dogs in merle pedigrees.  If you don't want your dogs bred to merles then make this a stipulation of the sale or don't sell dogs with full registration. 

Another comment I'd like to address is, where many have said: "Out of respect for those who paved the road for us to own and show and with
luck and success breed our own show litters it is a disgrace! It is not fair to the builders of the breed to have their pedigree mixed up in this crap
and you all know this is true."   Again, you are entitled to your opinion,but I don't know anything of the type.  I think the builders of the breed
would be happy to see such happy, healthy, beautiful merle Cockers.
Personally, I think it would be a disgrace to allow a small percentage of the Cocker world to railroad a color down the drain when there is absolutely
no PROOF that merle is not a naturally occurring color within the breed.
Many of those you speak of with such respect fought long and hard for what they believed in and I'm sure there were many that considered their choices
a "disgrace".  Many other breeders of today have and still are fighting for what they believe is right.  We ALL have the right to fight for our beliefs.
If you choose to add your name to the list of those that would like to spay/neuter all merles, then that is your right and I will respect your
choice.  However, I also expect you to respect my decision to fight for this
color to be recognized and for these dogs to be correctly registered

I don't get why it's assumed that something 'must' have been mixed in. Some dog somewhere was the first right? Some dog somewhere at some point had the gene just 'pop up' in order for the first  merle ever to be born. (whatever the breed) If it happened once, it can certainly happen at random down the road. Just like everything , it's a political control issue. ASC knows all of this, and unless it starts hitting them where it hurts (the pocket!) they're going to stay stubborn as mules.

If everyone that really wants merles to be allowed as a pattern  (and were also members of ASC), dropped membership (stating clearly the reason WHY they dropped it, and stating clearly  that they will NOT re-join until this is accomplished ) ASC would get nervous. If everyone that wants merles allowed boycotted AKC as well, and started registering with other groups (also stating in writing publicly and privately to AKC the reason they stopped using them) well then....AKC would get pushy with ASC and they would be hit from both ends. Unfortunately both AKC and ASC have their members by the you know what's, and to do any of this the individuals would suffer as well. No AKC shows for one thing,,,,,harder puppy sales without AKC papers,,,,persecution by other breeders that simply don't like/want merle cockers and on and on.    Maybe even a little public ridicule aimed at ASC/AKC?? Perhaps turning the tables on them by making it clear that the problems that they associate with merles are cause by THEM and NOT by people who breed them. There will always be breeders that just don't care, but the majority of problems are caused by people who don't have a clue what they have, which is a direct result of THEIR refusal to recognize merle, and not a result of the breeding....and on and on.. don't believe ASC is stupid, but I disagree.   Merles are not going to go away and refusing to address the issue is a stupid and childish reaction.  Merle breeders do not need ASC to "validate" our dogs.  They are recognized and registered by AKC and as registered members of the breed they are entitled to inclusion within the breed.  Period.  End of story.  Unless or until ASC or someone else PROVES these dogs are not purebred (and thus not eligible for AKC registration) then they are ENTITLED to inclusion within the breed.  (Frankly, if I'd been an attorney and had some spare time and cash, I'd have sued the pants off of ASC when they posted the Sheltie or Border Collie or whatever it was on the ASC site and declared that "if your Cocker looks like this it is not a purebred Cocker Spaniel.") 

Since merles are recognized and registered with AKC as American Cocker Spaniels, they  need to be registered correctly to avoid health problems and to preserve the integrity of the stud books.  As for the color registration chooses of merle breeders/owners, blaming merle breeders/owners for incorrect  color registrations and claiming they should be excluded because they "lied" is ludicrous.   ASC is responsible for the availability and/or lack of color choices breeders are given.  (What about all those blues registered as blacks?  Mis-marks registered as partis?  Roans registered as black, brown or red/whites?  Sables registered as buffs?  Should we throw all of these dogs out as well?)   How about the fact that AKC is often the one to decide how merles are registered?  Is AKC "lying"? 

AKC registration rules state that owners should choose the color that most CLOSELY resembles their dog.  They also stipulate that NO dog will be refused registration based on color alone.  Again, merle Cockers are duly registered members of the breed and are entitled to registration.   Most merle breeders register their dogs as their base-coat color.  This is the CORRECT way to register these dogs.   The only thing that should be changed is that ASC should add merle as an acceptable marking for registration.   .......

Why don't we open ASC up for anyone to join (no sponsors, voting or other BS), make it JUST for American Cocker Spaniels and then let the membership decide breed issues.  Voting to acknowledge ALL known colors/patterns could be done on-line for next to nothing by using membership numbers.  Instead of a politically corrupt, elitist country club, why don't we embrace a breed club that actually represents the ENTIRE breed, not just the 2-5 percent that show dogs?    I bet this type of breed club could do more for the breed than a couple of shows a year that are tailored around a small minority! 

In summation, merles and many other colors/patterns exist within the breed and are not being registered correctly.  Yet ASC promotes the premise that ALL duly registered members of the breed should be properly registered in regards to their color/pattern.  As the parent breed club for American Cocker Spaniels and the entity responsible for providing color registration choices in conjunction with AKC, ASC has a responsibility to ensure that correct color choices are available to ALL American Cocker Spaniel breeders.  This includes ALL known colors/patterns outside of those presently listed as appropriate for registration.   Without definitive proof that merles are not equal to and deserving of the same registration privledges as presently accepted colors/patterns, there is no excuse for ASC to withhold correct color registration.  Instead of sponsoring another show, maybe ASC should concentrate on cleaning up its act and doing something to actually benefit the breed!