Merle pitbull: What Is It And How Does It Relate To Health

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As all Pitbull lovers know, these beautiful puppies come in a rainbow of colors and patterns, from a beautiful blue to striking brindle. But there is increasingly a look that has people talking positively and negatively. That's right: We're talking about Merle Pitbulls.

 We know the controversy is fierce, but since there's a lot of talk about them, we wanted to bring you the inside scoop.

Below we will discuss what merle pitbull are and explain what they are.

 What's Wrong With Merle Pitbulls?

Merle pitbull is simply a Pitbull that exhibits the merle color mutation. The merle color pattern varies widely, but it usually causes dogs to have spots and swirls of full, dilute the color.

 Sometimes the gene also affects things like skin coloring or eye color, but it can also cause problems with a dog's eyesight and hearing.

Technically, according to the UKC breed standard, Pitbulls should not display a merle coat. However, plenty of these oddly colored cuties are available for people who love this coat pattern.

merle pitbull

What is a Merle Pitbull?

A merle pitbull is precisely what its name describes: a Pitbull in the merle coat pattern. There is no particular benefit or advantage that comes with the color other than the eye-catching look of the merle.

For those unfamiliar with dog coat patterns, merle fur coats often feature a patchy appearance with various sections of light, fully pigmented colors, usually consisting of shades of black or red dotted or swirled over blue and dusky. White.

Also known as the dapple, the merle is most commonly seen in Australian Shepherds, Shelties, and Catahoula Leopard dogs, but there are many others. 

Although handsome, the merle is a bit of a controversial pattern due to the gene that causes the coat pattern. In addition to changing a dog's color, the merle gene can affect everything from your dog's skin color to their hearing and eyesight. Crazy, right?

Worse, your dog may carry the merle gene without the wild coat pattern (known as the cryptic merle phenomenon).

Why is this a bad thing? Because two dogs with the merle gene should never be bred together to avoid serious complications. These double merle offspring risk being born deaf or with severe eye problems. Due to these hidden or so-called ghosts or cryptic merles, genetic testing before breeding must avoid difficulties.

merle pitbull

How to tell a merle pitbull from a brindle?

Distinguishing a Merle Pitbull from a brindle Pittie is relatively easy as they are very different coat patterns. Dogs with brindle patterns look a bit like tigers, with a brown base and black stripes, while merles have an overall mottled appearance. Both ways occur in Pitbulls, although brindle Pitbulls are much more common. Eye color is another indication here, with blue or bicolor eyes sometimes seen in merles. This trait is not usually seen in brindles.

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Is merle a natural coat color?

 Now, we think all dogs are beautiful and worthy of belly rubs, but with the rise of merle pit bulls, many people wonder what the official word is about them in show circles. 

With Merle Pitbull, it's a gray area. Why? Because some people confuse the American pit bull with other breeds of bullies.

Per the UKC Breed Standard for the American Pit Bull Terrier, merle is prohibited with albinism. The similar American bully is also forbidden in the merle pattern, by the UKC Breed Standard. The AKC does not recognize the American Pit Bull terrier, but their cousin, the American Staffordshire terrier, is. Unfortunately, Pitbull terrier is listed as an alternate name for these in the breed overview.

 The American Staffordshire terrier is allowed in any color and pattern, according to the AKC standard. Dogs that are more than 80 percent white, black, and tan or liver are considered less than ideal by the official standard.

Long story short: Officially, merle is a prohibited color in American Pitbull Terriers and is not naturally occurring, but similar bully breeds may have the pattern and still be registered.

merle pitbull

Does merle color cause health problems?

Dogs with only one copy of the merle gene rarely suffer from deafness and blindness, but double merles (those with two copies of the gene) are at a greater risk of deafness, total blindness, and others. eye problems due to a lack of skin pigment. This lack of skin pigment can also put them at high risk for skin cancer or sunburn.

If your merle pup's parents were not genetically tested before breeding, that's cause for concern. Not because we think deaf or blind dogs aren't great but because eye and skin problems can be painful for your puppy and expensive to treat in the long run.

merle pitbull

Is it okay to buy a Merle Pitbull?

Buying or adopting a dog is a huge decision, and you must make him with your future puppy in mind. If you want a merle pitbull and have found a breeder who has done genetic testing to ensure he won't suffer from any health issues, then go for him.

However, if you want to register your American Pitbull Terrier in a breed registry later, we will keep looking, as merle is a UKC disqualifier. The choice is yours.

 The merle gene in Pitbulls does not appear to have more severe adverse effects than in other merle breeds, such as Australian Shepherds or Collies. The problems come from breeders knowingly ignoring the standard, which leaves the door open for other things that can be ignored as well, and perhaps not in the animal's best interest.

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