Merle is a very controversial issue, not only in Cockers, but other breeds as well.
Where did it come from? Was it always around and just no one noticed the merling? Was it because it was on the SILV gene and passed down basicly unnoticed?
Were they noticed way in the past and simply culled, like some of the other colors ?
Was it introduced by another breed? Was it a mutation that suddenly appeared in the past few years?
No one can seem to come up with a proven answer.
What we DO know, is
that merle cockers are here, have been around awhile and will probably
be around for some time to come.
Merle is in most lines and all varieties of cockers.
Breeders are breeding their
merles to champions and champion lined dogs.
Whether we like the merles or not, they are here and in our pedigrees.
What we ABSOLUTELY HAVE
to do, is to demand that these merles are listed with AKC AS MERLES!
We HAVE to get the
merle listed with AKC as a merle, and not a roan!
But whatever we do, it needs to be done NOW.
Below are some links on site to comments on merles. Some for and some against.
I think the issue isn't where the merle gene came from, but more importantly where it's going.
The fact is merle's are here and have been for many generations. They are registered with AKC as purebred cockers spaniels. By now, after this many generations of breeding, they actually are purebred cocker spaniels, no matter the origin. Whether you and others like it or not, when bred they breed true. The only problem that we can address is how they are registered. They are being registered often as roans, which most decidedly they are not, and that is what we need to remedy. Arguing about where they came from is beating a dead horse and wasting time, in my opinion. It doesn't matter anymore. A dollar short and a day late kind of thing.
The merle gene can be lethal if not bred carefully and correctly. There are definite defects linked to this gene in other breeds if doubled up on. Eventually, we will destroy our roans if this matter is not attended to immediately. Our parent club has decided to turn it's head and pretend there is no issue here because they do not believe they are purebred. Hogwash and bullcorn, I say. Merles are here. Face reality. It is the responsibility of the American Spaniel Club to see that they are properly registered, so that they can be readily identified by responsible breeders and not confused with our roans.
The breeders who do happen to believe in the merles, would be happy to see such an option. They are proud of the merle and are not deliberately trying to hide behind another color. Because of the narrow mindedness of the ASC, they are left no option except to register them as roans for the most part. Breeders are often told, when trying to register their litters, (by AKC) to choose the color they most closely resemble and of course, that would usually be roan.
Whether or not merle breeders would ever push for the opportunity to show in conformation is surely unknown to me. Because of the genetic problems associated with breeding merle to merle, I would personally not encourage such a thing and would vote against it should it ever come up. But for the protection and purity of the 3 varieties we have now, they should be, at the least, properly registered.