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When A Breeder Has A Double-Merle

Discussion in 'Sheltie Chat' started by Demi's Human, Jul 11, 2017.

  1. Demi's Human

    Demi's Human Forums Novice

    Jul 11, 2017
    Hi, all. This is my first post. I got my first sheltie, Demi, when an ex-boyfriend showed up at my home and said "Take this dog or I'm taking her to the shelter."

    Demi went to heaven last month after 13 wonderful years and a very short illness. I'm starting the search for a sheltie puppy. And wow -- there's so much to consider!!

    In the course of my search, I got a lead on a litter of puppies. All merles because .... Daddy is a double-merle. This concerns me for two reasons:
    1. Why would a breeder even have a dm in the first place? He either created one on purpose, or created one by accident (either scenario shakes my confidence in the breeder). Or, maybe he "rescued" one which would be laudable, but you certainly wouldn't breed a rescued dog, right? I guess I'm just a little disturbed that the breeder has a dm.
    2. Are descendants of a dm, or merles in general, more prone to health problems?
    Please let me know your thoughts! Since I didn't "choose" Demi, I'm learning this stuff for the first time!
  2. SheepOfBlue

    SheepOfBlue Premium Member

    Oct 15, 2009
    There are others that understand the impact more than me but my opinion. If you had two merles breed by accident you should care for the puppies and so having one would be fine (though shows a lack of control maybe for the accident) However I would think they should all be fixed once of age and never bred. I have seen some double merles and yes they are pretty but what a cruel thing to do on purpose. If memory is correct one was blind/deaf, the second deaf and the third healthy. The world has enough challenges to intentionally add that kind of risk seems heartless.

    Condolences on Demi and I would avoid the breeder.
  3. Cara Sandler

    Cara Sandler Forums Enthusiast

    Jul 11, 2015
    I would run not walk away from a breeder who bred a double merle!
  4. Ann

    Ann Moderator

    Feb 25, 2008
    Western Connecticut
    I'm very sorry to hear about the loss of your Demi. She sounds like special girl.

    Breeding DMs is never a good idea. There are too many potential health issues. Here's a link to an article I wrote about breeding merles. It will give you some basic information on a very confusing topic. I hope it's helpful! Good luck with your puppy search.
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2017
  5. Calliesmom

    Calliesmom Moderator

    Mar 29, 2008
    near Mobile, AL
    to answer your questions, 1. some people breed for a double merle so that they can get all merle litters when they breed to that dog.
    2. merles and descendants of double merles do not have more health problems than a non-merle. the only real health issues arise when a dog has 2 copies of the merle gene (double merle)
  6. Hanne

    Hanne Forums Enthusiast

    Nov 13, 2014
    Sorry to read about the loss of your beloved Demi !

    I would stay away - There is a reason why Denmark has these breeding restrictions :

    Two Shetland Sheepdogs with the color blue merle must not be paired together.
    A Shetland sheepdog with the color blue merle must not be paired with a zobel. (sable)
  7. Chris

    Chris Premium Member

    Feb 25, 2008
    Northern Virginia
    I agree with everyone. Please find a reputable breeder in your area.
  8. corbinam

    corbinam Moderator

    Oct 14, 2008
    I am certainly not a proponent of it myself, but did want to bring up that there are certain breeders here in the United States that I would say are fairly well-respected within the fancy that breed DMs. In fact, there is one that's pretty prolific in a lot of AOAC pedigrees.

    I don't know if we as pet/performance owners are less "okay" with this than conformation owners/breeders, or that's just how it feels. For those that show in conformation on the board, are these people ostracized within the breed ring? For example, one I'm thinking of was placed at the ASSA National (10+ years ago). Have we moved away from this? Or could this still be the case today?
  9. Ann

    Ann Moderator

    Feb 25, 2008
    Western Connecticut
    To my knowledge, they aren't ostracized, Ashley. And certainly some products of these breedings do very well in the show ring. Any research you find will say that only very experienced breeders should attempt these breedings because of the chance of pups with vision or hearing problems. Pedigrees must be carefully and thoroughly researched before breeding a DM dog, and that's why so few breeders undertake it.

    Double Merle Problems
    Geneticist Lee Anne Clark says merle-to-merle breedings may be difficult to detect, but health issues in their puppies are usually the result. Breeding two merles creates a pigment disorder, explains Clark, which affects the color and shape of eye development and inner ear nerve endings. These two issues cause light blue eyes and vision problems for the offspring of these breedings that can result in blindness and, sometimes, deafness or hearing problems.

    If a breeder is unaware of the merle gene in a dog being used for breeding and that dog is bred to another merle, it's a recipe for creating health problems. It's impossible to assess the dog's genetic background just from the coat color. The breeder must know the pedigree to be aware of the existence of merles in the dog's lineage, or the pair must be tested for DNA to determine whether the merle gene is present. The only way to identify the merle gene is through the dogs' pedigree or DNA testing.
  10. Pam

    Pam Forums Enthusiast

    Mar 4, 2017
    Out of curiosity what is the chance (percent) in a litter of having blind and/or deaf puppies from a DM breeding. And the respectable breeders that do breed them, what do they do with the resulting puppies that have issues? It would seem that the potential for breeding many more puppies than would be acceptable for show would create many puppies difficult to place in companion homes. So I am curious.

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