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When A Breeder Has A Double-Merle

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

  1. tofu pup

    tofu pup Moderator

    Aug 28, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    There are two separate issues at play here:

    Issue 1. It is often difficult to tell that a sable merle (ie. a brown dog with a dilution factor) is a sable merle: they can look like washed-out brown dogs. Theoretically, if you don't know that you have a sable merle, and you breed your brown dog to a blue dog (which, honestly, few people do), you may - whoops - end up with double merles.

    Likewise, rarely (rarely) a black dog that is genetically a merle may only have a little bit of diluted color, so you may not realize that it has the merle gene. Again, you could breed it to a blue dog and - whoops - end up with double merles.

    This is a scenario where knowledge and experience will help you avoid creating animals that will suffer. Think chess.

    Issue 2. Breeders may choose to breed a merle dog to a merle dog. They may do this to make a double merle stud dog, which will produce all blue when bred to black bitches (but it's not like there's anything wrong with black Shelties). They may do this because they feel that there is no other mate that is a suitable match (but it's not like we have a tiny pool of Shelties, at least in the US).

    This is a scenario where - once you have decided to breed merle to merle - no amount of knowledge and experience will help you avoid creating animals that will suffer. Think shooting dice.

    There seems to be a belief that "experienced" and "knowledgeable" breeders will (magically?) avoid producing deaf and blind puppies in their merle-merle litters. But really, that's just a conflation of Issue 1 and Issue 2. If you know the merle status of both parents, you have all the knowledge you need to make the right and ethical choice.
    SheepOfBlue and Ann like this.
  2. tofu pup

    tofu pup Moderator

    Aug 28, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    The odds of a double-dilute puppy from a merle-merle breeding are 1 in 4 - that's statistically speaking, so it may shake out differently in a given litter. So in our statistically-even theoretical merle-merle litter of four puppies, you could expect one to be non-merle, two to be regular "single" merle, and one to be a double merle.

    And yes, sure, some double merles can see and hear (...or their breeders claim they can). But if you knew - knew - that you stood a 25% chance of producing an animal that couldn't see or hear, would you still do that breeding?

    Some do. Most don't. If you are buying a puppy, consider what your choice would be, and vote with your dollars.
    Ann likes this.
  3. tofu pup

    tofu pup Moderator

    Aug 28, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    (I'm just posting up a storm here! Forgive me, it's something I have a lot to say about.)

    I think the best answer is that merle-merle breedings and the promotion of double-merle stud dogs is "tolerated", no more and no less than it was 20 years ago. Very few people actually breed merle-merle, but no one complains too loudly about those who do.

    I think you will find that power and politics go a long way towards supporting tolerance. If a backyard breeder is doing it, the practice is soundly condemned. But if it's a breeder who produces beautiful dogs that win, the story is different, even though the statistics are the same.
    corbinam likes this.
  4. Cara Sandler

    Cara Sandler Forums Enthusiast

    Jul 11, 2015
    My question would be how a reputable breeder wound up with a double merle in the first place. I'm assuming they research their dogs very carefully and are fully aware of the genetics in all the dogs they choose to breed.
  5. Ann

    Ann Moderator

    Feb 25, 2008
    Western Connecticut
    Great explanation, Megan! I can't say it any better than that.
  6. Cyllian

    Cyllian Forums Regular

    Feb 7, 2012
    Nebraska USA
    Well I would think they might end up with a merle to merle pairing by accident just like some have had just a normal litter by accident. Not realizing the female is in heat for some reason or...a male getting in where they are not supposed to be would result in an accidental litter regardless of their merle non merle status. Even if careful nature may try to find a way if you understand my meaning.

    Still one would hope if they had both sexes with merle gene they would be more careful knowing the risks. Regardless they should be responsible for the results of the pairing.
  7. Piper's mom

    Piper's mom Premium Member

    Jun 26, 2015
    Winnipeg Mb
    I went to visit Piper's breeder this evening and she was telling me about a reputable breeder in my area who purposely bred two merles (quite recently)...she ended up with 2 pups deaf, one with an eye abnormality one with a heart defect and one blue that seems ok (seems, only time will tell) Why a reputable breeder would purposely do this I find hard to understand, those poor pups! They are no better than a backyard breeder, doing it for the almighty dollar.
    Hanne likes this.
  8. Sharon7

    Sharon7 Premium Member

    Oct 31, 2009
    Southern California
    Ai Yi Yi!!! Beyond horrible! Bringing life into this world that you know darn well has a good chance of being a disabled dog, and then what? Is she going to keep these poor dogs for their lifetime? I think this person lost their title of "reputable breeder". :mad1: :gaah
    Hanne, Cara Sandler and Piper's mom like this.
  9. Piper's mom

    Piper's mom Premium Member

    Jun 26, 2015
    Winnipeg Mb
    I totally agree Sharon, even the other breeders are questioning why she would do this.
  10. Pam

    Pam Forums Regular

    Mar 4, 2017
    My question then is: what happens to those poor pups? Does the breeder keep them for their lifetime and treat them as pets? Or are they relegated to kennel life? Perhaps if lucky they find forever homes I guess...but that is not always possible, is it?

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