merle cockers
Merle Coat Colors
merle cockers


About Breeding Merle Cockers
Merle Cocker Coat Colors
Merle Coat Colors 101

A merle is a merle is a merle
Right? Wrong!

Originally most people called merle cockers "blue merle", once they stopped calling them roans.
This was just a catch-all phrase for merle.
Since AKC still has not been allowed by the Parent Club to list merle as a pattern in cockers,some have elected to either put the word "merle" in the registration name, and/or some are attempting to list the merle cocker as the actual COLOR it is.
Remember-MERLE is a PATTERN, not a color. Much as sable and roan are both patterns and not a color.Even though some who doesn't appear to be well versed in color genetics in the Parent Club have managed to get AKC to list certain patterns as colors...

So we have a merle cocker in front of us.What color is it? It's pretty simple in MOST cases to figure out the color, providing it is just a merle pattern and not mixed with sable pattern, roan pattern or what some of us merle cocker fanciers call the "calico" cocker.

This page will be a work in progress as we show different colors of merles so you can decide what color your merle is and register it correctly, instead of registering it as a roan, which it isn't.

Here are the easiest ones to help determine what color your merle is

There are more examples on the Photos page

Blue merle also known as a black merle
A blue merle or black merle is a black cocker with the merle pattern
Remember merling is like throwing bleach on a colored garment and
everywhere the bleach hits, it dilutes the color. Merle is just like the bleach.
When you look at the blue/black merle, you will see shades of gray or silver splotches
where the merling "bleached" out the black hair. 
The black that you see, is the actual color of the dog.

Brown merle Also known as a chocolate merle
A brown or chocolate merle is a brown/chocolate cocker with the merle pattern
When you look at the brown/chocolate merle, you will see
shades of grayish or light tan splotches
where the merling "bleached" out the brown hair. 
The dark brown that you see, is the actual color of the dog.

Brown or Black or particolor merle with tan points
A brown or black merle is the same as a black and tan
or brown and tan only it has the merle pattern.
The dog would be listed as a black & tan or a brown & tan
For some reason, the tan points are not
merled in a dog.
BUT some of the same color in tan points can show
up as a patch on the dog's body where it wouldn't 
normally have this color.

Particolor merles
Black & white particolor merle
is a black & white parti color cocker that has the merle pattern. White hides merle, so the only
place merle will show up is in the colored spots of the parti.
Again, the parti that is black & white merle, would have the ligher grayish color with the black spots in it.

Brown & White parti color merles
Brown & white particolor merle
is a brown & white parti color cocker that has the merle pattern. White hides merle, so the only
place merle will show up is in the colored spots of the parti.
Again, the parti that is brown & white merle, would have the ligher grayish/tan color
with the dark brown spots in it

This classification is a little more complex


Buff or red merle including particolors
Sometimes the merling is extremely hard to see in a buff cocker
Especially since buffs have lighter shading. Generally if you look at the 
back of a buff merle, you will see the swirled splotches
of a light light color, almost lemon or off white mixed in with the buff.
Other times, you may have to look for a blue eye, a blue chip of color
in the eye or a butterfly nose.
Buff like white, often hides the merling. If your buff is a merle, 
You will register it as a buff.or red & white particolor if it is a parti.

Sable Merle
Sable merle are 2 different patterns mixed together.
You have your base coat color either way,
The overlay like you would see in a normal sable, is the color the dog is.
Red, brown or black.
Merle tends to blend in with the sable as the dog ages and it will look more 
like a sable than a merle in many cases.You still often can see the merling 
of the hair in the undercoat, and/or if you shave the dog..
It's up to you to list the color. Since AKC has sable listed as a color,
you would either have to register it as a sable or the actual solid color.
Sable merles can be solids or parti.

A word about Mismarks
Some solid cockers have quite a bit of white on their chest, neck toes, even a small amount on their faces or belly.
These are considered a solid with white markings. NOT a parti. 
A parti is 2 well broken colors with one of them being white.
Not a solid dog with white markings.
A black and tan or a brown and tan (tan pointed dogs) are NOT parti colors either if they are a solid colored dog with some white markings.
These would be listed as black & tan or brown & tan with white markings. 
Not a tricolor or black tan & white or brown tan & white.
If you have a merle you would list it as above.
Merle can cause white markings as well.
If a double dose of the merling diluted the same spot.

"Calico" Merles
What we call a calico merle is a merle with several patches of different color on their body. 
Much like a patchwork quilt.Some breeds call this patchwork, mottling, mosaic, and some harlequin.
Some have so much white on them some believe it to be a parti, and some don't. 
You would have to do some pedigree research to see
if this could be a parti or not.
Deciding what color to register this can be somewhat baffling.
Some say register the dog as the base coat color.
In other words the color that shows up the most. If the dog has black on it, 
then it is a black. Same with brown.
If the dog is a parti, then register it as the dominate color and
if it has tan points register it as a tricolor.

Double Merles
Double merles can be almost completely white, many have a large amount 
of white from the merle pattern hitting on the same area
different times. Each time the merle gene hits an area, it dilutes it, 
a second time and it turns that area white.
Sometimes only part of the area, so you have several shades in one spot.
You have to comb through the coat to find any darker coloring. 
Generally, the dark color you see, even in tiny amounts, would be the dog's 
actual coat color if not for the merle.
It is advised not to breed double merle because of the potential health 
problems it could produce.However, our advice if you do have a double merle
would be to put double m or double merle in the dog's registration name
so others will know.