What Are Double Merle Dogs?

Many aspiring pet owners have grown interested in Merle dogs and puppies for their beautiful coats. However, you may not realise that this coat comes at a cost. The beautiful white coats of a Merle are due to a recessive gene. Many breeders have been trying to get this coat by breeding two Merle dogs, leading to an influx in Double Merle dogs. 

In this article, we’ll help you identify the issues between Merle and Double Merle dogs and how it is unethical to produce the coats of a Double Merle. These puppies will grow to have multiple health issues, and why this has become a steadily growing problem.

What Is The Difference Between Merle And Double Merle Dogs?

Merles are known for having white patches that combine with their blue/grey or red/tan fur throughout their bodies. However, all Merle dogs carry recessive genes allowing two Merles to breed and have a unique white coat. 

When two Merles are bred together, they pass on these recessive genes. There is a 25% chance of these genes passing on that will allow a Double Merle puppy to be born.

Unlike Merles, Double Merles have larger patches of white on their bodies, with some having a completely white coat. It’s this white coat that many breeders have sought out. 

Why Is It Unethical To Produce Double Merle Coats

Genetics isn’t something to be toyed with, and it’s hard to predict how a puppy will turn out. While two Merles can produce a Double Merle, it is unethical to produce these puppies without researching the possible outcomes. These can lead to an onslaught of medical issues that doesn’t promise a good quality of life for each puppy and its owners. 

Any responsible reader should run health tests on their dogs before breeding them and understand how genetics can play a role in the process. You can tell if a breeder hasn’t done the correct research or looked after their puppies. It’s always best to inquire about the health checks each breeder has done to ensure their dogs’ best quality of life.

What Health Issues Do Double Merle Dogs Have?

What Are Double Merle Dogs

While you may think that breeding a Double Merle will only affect their coats, other issues can happen with recessive genes. However, Double Merles are more susceptible to lifelong health issues that can impede their quality of life.

Double Merle dogs have a higher chance of being affected by light eyes, which can struggle with exposure to sunlight. They are also likely to struggle with blindness and deafness. Due to their coat, they might also have a lack of pigmentation in their skin and severe skin issues. 

Not all Merle dogs carry this recessive gene, as the dominant gene may overcome it. However, if you breed two Merles which have the same recessive gene, there is a higher outcome that your Double Merle puppy will suffer these health issues.

It all depends on genetics, which is more complicated than it seems. This is why breeders need to conduct health checks. 

Why Is This Such A Problem?

Many people aren’t aware of what happens when Merles and Double Merles are bred. It is all due to not enough education from breeders who assume that by breeding the same breed, they will have a litter of totally Merle puppies.

Many unethical breeders will also charge more for the rare white coats of a Double Merle and prey upon the lack of knowledge from customers.

If you see someone advertising rare white Merles, you should report them to the relevant authorities. Pure white dogs are likely to be Double Merle or albino. Responsible breeders should be breeding to improve the breed of dog and not to expand on any lifelong health issues. 

Final Thoughts

Although they have a beautiful white coat, it’s imperative that you purchase your puppies from a responsible and well-educated breeder. If a breeder is reluctant to share information about their process, they could have something to hide.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, especially if you suspect something isn’t quite right. With the right information, we can prevent the health issues that these puppies may face over their lifetime. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can You Tell If A Dog Is Double Merle?

Double Merle dogs have a larger amount of white fur in their coat and may struggle with deafness or abnormalities in their eyes. It is all down to the recessive genes found in Merles. 

What Is A Double Merle Gene Litter?

A Double Merle is born when two Merles are bred together, regardless of the colour or breed. If two Merles are bred, each puppy has a 25% chance of inheriting a recessive gene which makes them a Double Merle, meaning they inherit this gene twice. 


  • Jonathan Spaeth

    I'm a professional business person who loves dogs. I'm motivated by a passion for dogs and a deep understanding of pet care and behavior. I have more than 10 years of experience in animal healthcare—my lifelong passion for helping dogs.

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