Double Merle Breeding

Discussion in 'Dogs - General Dog Chat' started by vandog, May 1, 2012.

  1. vandog

    vandog Merlie Girlie!

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    The merle gene exists in numerous dog breeds, and is gaining popularity all the time with it's introduction into Cockers, Poodles, Chihuahua, Pitties ect.

    Seeing the debate starting on another thread, I thought best to move it onto a thread of it's own.

    Read up on the gene here:
    Lethal White link

    White Angels Rescue

    Personally I think it is a deplorable practice, but I have boarded and interacted with another double merles to see the horrible impact it can have on them.

    Comments?
     
  2. momto8

    momto8 New Member

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    I do not agree with it. We had a double merle aussie, she was a rescue dog and was fully deaf and partially blind and had severe neurological issue's. Was very sad :( She was not with us long, was one of the hardest things we ever dealt with, falling in love with such a special dog only to lose her.
    I do know alot of breeders do it to produce better merle dogs or more merle, but I do not think it should be done, the 25% that do come out double merle suffer and so do those who love them :(
     
  3. Cardi4851

    Cardi4851 New Member

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    I think it is extremely unethical and deplorable. I would never buy a dog from a breeder who breeds double merles, or other breeders who cross their lines with that breeder. I do know what breeder produced "Casper" mentioned in the other thread. Chekhov does have some dogs from that breeder in his pedigree, but several generations back.

    I do understand that accidents happen even amongst the best, but a) I don't think most double merles are an accident (including Casper, for reasons stated in my next point) and b) If they are an accident, they should be fixed and adopted out to a pet home only (or performance if they happen to be healthy enough), not sold to another breeder.

    I won't comment on the Koolies as I don't know enough about the situation. I personally wouldn't buy one, but I also realize that the situation is different from that in the cardi, aussie, etc.
     
  4. Tortilla

    Tortilla Blonde Raccoon

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    It happens in Collies a lot. I'm sure a lot of you remember the whole situation at Westminster, when the son of Wyndlair Avalanche won best of breed. His double dilute (deaf and blind) sire is at stud. Seriously. He's advertised on the breeder's website. And nowhere on the website does it say that he's double dilute or deaf and blind.

    I think it's absolutely atrocious.
     
  5. Beanie

    Beanie Clicker Cult Coordinator

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    Same with shelties... I know of a breeder who bragged about how "scared" they were of doing a double merle breeding because they knew FULL WELL what could happen. And they did it anyway. And were "so proud" of the results.
    It makes me feel physically ill.

    As far as koolies and breeds like catahoulas go, I think unless a LOT of stuff is being swept under the rug, there's obviously something going on there that has resulted in a lower risk from merle x merle breeding, just out of the nature of those breeds in their development. Theoretically it might be possible, then, to replicate the same lower risk in breeds like shelties and collies and aussies - however, there's really no need to do so. I find it highly HIGHLY unlikely in those breeds there would ever be a situation where the ONLY good match for your merle dog is another merle... therefore it's not necessary to do merle x merle.
    There is a certain part of me, from a scientific standpoint, that would find it interesting to try and do just what other breeds have done and develop a way where it's not nearly as high risk to breed merle x merle. But the moral part of me acknowledges that it's not necessary therefore can't really find a good reason to do it. And the realistic part of me knows that many breeders now wouldn't be that good or disciplined... the instance of the blind and deaf double merle collie being HEAVILY used as stud being proof positive of that...

    I really want to know the WHY behind why it's not nearly as bad in some breeds as it is in others from a genetic standpoint. But I don't think our genetic knowledge, particularly of coat colour genetics, is at a point where we can know that "why" yet.
     
  6. OwnedByBCs

    OwnedByBCs Will Creep For Sheep

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    Nope- no double merles for me either. I love deaf dogs but if I ever bred one I would be an emotional wreck. My puppies mean the world to me and I can't imagine knowingly going forward with a mating that had that sort of risk associated with it.

    I don't own any merle dogs. I probably wont, because I don't really like the color that much. In BCs (and I know in Aussies, Shelties and maybe Collies? I'd assume so) there are hidden merles. Sable can make seeing a merle pattern hard, and I've heard of sables being cryptic merles, but I haven't seen it myself. Australian Red (EE Red) in Border Collies can mask merle. In aussies, sometimes the only merle pattern is on the tail which is docked. People in my breed have been doing Australian Red x Merle breedings and ending up with Lethal Whites- because the AU Red covered it up. Why the HECK would you breed an Australian Red dog to a merle, when the AU Red had a merle parent?? Ugh.

    It is never, ever something I will agree with. However, the problem with everyone getting up in arms about the Collie, is that the judge *should* have no way of knowing that. So, its not the judges fault, its the breeder's fault. Honestly, I usually keep quiet about other people's breeding programs, because I know its not my business what someone else chooses to do, but so help me if I ever see someone planning a double merle breeding, you better bet I will step in.
     
  7. OwnedByBCs

    OwnedByBCs Will Creep For Sheep

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    I wouldn't be surprised if some stuff is being swept under the rug... I mean, it is the dog world, but I think you have an interesting point.
     
  8. vandog

    vandog Merlie Girlie!

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    I think a lot of sweeping is going on!

    Catahoula's produce plenty of double merles. "Leopards" -- the proof is in the results. It's not uncommon to see puppies with bilateral hearing, funky eyes (starburst pupils) and the white "lighting" patterns that I've come to notice are common in that breed. One thing I HAVE noticed in Catahoula's is that the double merles tend to have heavily marked coats. The giveaway to their double merle genetics is their pupils and/or hearing.

    Koolies I can't really comment, but it is a genetic impossibility that merle to merle won't produce double merle puppies. It's crippling to a breed's gene pool to only bred one incomplete gene to another, not only is this perpetuating double merles, but it is weakening the breed. Thankfully I know of a few Koolie breeders who refuse to do merle to merle, and they will be the ones getting my business when the time comes.

    The point of breeding is to improve your breed, with genetic tests and the amount of information available, any breeder should be capable of now recognizing and reacting to the proven risks of creating double merle dogs.
     
  9. Cardi4851

    Cardi4851 New Member

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    My understanding (and I could be wrong on this) is that the reason the Cardigan Welsh Corgi club only approves of merle to black and white (with or without brindle points) is to try and avoid accidental double merle breedings with a cryptic merle.
     
  10. Aleron

    Aleron New Member

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    This is an interesting article about merle in Catahoulas: http://www.donabney.com/issue_merle.php

    The Aussie breed has some pretty influential merle to merle breedings in their history. And considering the breed used to be called "little blue dogs", I'd guess that merle to merle breeding was probably fairly common historically. Of course, those were working bred Aussies so the situation was likely more similar to Koolies than comparing it to such breedings in show Aussies, Collies or Shelties. Blue merle seems to change when people are selecting it for looks. The more natural merle seen in working dogs tends to be "muddy" looking compared to the clear, less patchy merle seen in dogs selected for show. Although, there have been merle x merle breedings throughout history in show bred dogs as well as working bred dogs.

    This old Cardi breeder talks about breeding merles and says she had done merle to merle breedings: http://www.cardicommentary.de/Coloursandcoats/BlueMerles.htm

    I'm not suggesting merle to merle is not big deal but it is part of the history of many breeds which have merle. And it's a common part of modern breeding practices in breeds with a merle heavy population. I have a dog who has a double merle grandsire, a happy, healthy dog (normal vision/hearing) that I happen to really like and would have definitely gotten a puppy from. It is easy to come up with strict rules suggesting what breeders should or shouldn't be doing in any given breed but breeders have reasons for doing things that seem controversial too. And it isn't always for simple reasons like "to get pretty puppies". Breeding is seldom easy or black and white. If you know enough about any breed, you find everyone is taking risks of some sort because there are no genetically normal dogs - every dog has the potential to produce less than ideal health or temperament.

    I'm not saying that breeding merle to merle is acceptable. Or that it isn't. I don't really have plans to become involved in breeding a breed where merle is an option, so in that way it isn't really for me to decide. It is for the people actively involved in merle breeds to determine the limits of what is or isn't acceptable in their breed in modern times. Just like any other potential risk with any other breeding, the pros and cons have to be weighed and serious consideration needs to be given to if the risk is worth it, how great it is and if there is a less risky but just as compatible option to consider.

    FWIW I'm pretty sure that people who are breeding show collies (and thus, the people looking at him as a stud) can tell he's a double merle by looking at him. It is pretty obvious. So I don't think anyone is being tricked into thinking he's something other than what he is.

    Without a doubt, there are always people in any breed who aren't going to 100% honest about what their dogs are producing be it health, temperament or structure.

    However, with a color based issue it's a bit easier to see with your own eyes what is going on. Like I said about Avalanche, he's obviously a double merle. You can also look for pupil abnormalities, and the tell-tale white merle markings. And consistently small litter sizes can mean that either puppies are getting reabsorbed, there is some sort of reproductive issue or a number in each litter are being culled.

    That is not so much the case with late onset issues with no screening that are never obvious to the observer. Such issues can easily be denied or just not talked about and no one other than the breeder or dog's owner would ever know the difference.

    Breeders should be able to see and make note of merle in colors which hide the pattern as adults when puppies are born. You can absolutely see merle on neonatal sable/fawn puppies.
     
  11. SaraB

    SaraB New Member

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    I'm going to talk about it in the two breeds I have personal experience with... No sense talking about things I don't know a lot about. I have fostered deaf/partially blind danes, so yes I have experience with dealing with the consequences of merle x merle breeding.

    Here is the reason why great dane breeders breed harl x harl (a harlequin is genetically a merle but with a modifier, 25% of the pups will be white). Great Danes are solely bred within their color families, very rarely do they cross color families as it will lead to recessive colors popping up generations later. The harlequin color family includes harlequins, merles, and mantles. Any combination of breeding a harlequin with a merle or doubling up on either color can result in puppies with sensory deficits. However, breeding a harlequin with a harlequin doubles the odds of getting a harlequin puppy. Harlequins and mantles are the only showable colors in this color family, not only that but they can be faulted and very difficult to finish if they don't meet the specific pattern guidelines. Things like a full collar on mantles and a clean white neck/front on a harl significantly increase the odds of breeding dogs with excessive irish trim. I firmly believe that excessive irish trim greatly increases the chances of have a dog with sensory deficits.

    Ideally, mantle and harlequins would be bred, excluding the chances of producing white puppies. However, when you factor in the costs of breeding giant dogs, the duration of the reproductive viability, for some breeders it does not make sense to breed litter after litter just to wind up with few show quality prospects. Remember, they need to breed not only for structural and temperamental soundness, but color and pattern as well.

    I do not blame the breeders for this. I blame the AKC and the Great Dane Club of America for omitting merles from the showring and for creating a breed standard that faults the natural by-products of responsible breeding. This is the sole reason why I will not breed danes until something changes.

    It's not right but that's how things are in a breed that is bred solely for conformation purposes. Maybe if the dane community was more focused on performance it would be different.

    As far as koolies go, I would just copy and paste Linds' post from the other thread. It sums up my thoughts on it perfectly. As far as future breeding plans for my puppy, I will weigh the risks and benefits of any breeding thoroughly before deciding which route is best. Breeding to a solid will be ideal, but with the limited number of koolies on the continent worth breeding to is rather small, I will have to cross that bridge when I come to it. Hopefully there are other options to my disposal at the time, otherwise she may not be bred.
     
  12. Saeleofu

    Saeleofu Active Member

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    I don't know if you just used poor word choice or if you have no idea how genetics works. Breeding two merles together has a 25% chance of producing a non-merle, 50% chance of producing a heterozygous merle, and a 25% chance of producing a double merle. That means there is a 75% chance of NOT producing a double merle! You can have an entire litter with NO double merles even if both parents are merle.
     
  13. stafinois

    stafinois Professional Nerd

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    Or, you can have an entire litter of nothing but!
     
  14. Shai

    Shai & the Muttly Crew

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    I assume she meant "won't ever produce double merles" but I could be wrong.

    ETA: Though since no one I've seen is saying that at all, I don't know what her point would be in saying that anyway...
     
  15. momto8

    momto8 New Member

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    Ace my blue merle Aussie boy's dad was a cryptic merle. He looked like a black tri, but had a patch the size of an adult hand on his shoulder of merle. Ace is not a double merle, just an excessive white..but thought i'd share that :)
     
  16. Dizzy

    Dizzy Sit! Good dog.

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    Risky business....

    I don't think koolies are exempt from that risk either.

    Surely they should have the same ethical breeding as any other merle breed?

    Not to mention the rest - titles, conformation, work ability - whatever it is you're breeding FOR.
     
  17. sassafras

    sassafras mushinois

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    I don't care for it.
     
  18. ~WelshStump~

    ~WelshStump~ New Member

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    For anyone talking about Catahoula's, one just need click on the second link in the first post, to find this:
    [​IMG]
    http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/15459174

    He almost has no eyes at all!

    For my opinion? I just don't agree with it, in any way shape or form. I do not, nor will I ever believe that there isn't ever a normal-merle option available in any breed. One just need look at a little something called "The Harlequin Pincher" to know why dealing with merle is risky business, and what happens when one decides it is "the only way to go".
    As for that Westminster collie I agree with Owned-by, the judge is not supposed to know "who" he's looking at, just what. If, big if, the AKC would do what the Kennel club in the UK has done, and stopped allowing Merle-Merle to even be registered, then obviously that dog wouldn't even have been allowed to be shown in the first place. But, we all know how topics like that go with the AKC.
     
  19. Xandra

    Xandra Active Member

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    What do breeders usually do with double merles? I imagine all of the old school breeders cull them, is that still done or are they sold as pets?
     
  20. ~WelshStump~

    ~WelshStump~ New Member

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    Well, if you look back at the Westminster thread about that collie, some breeders are using them at stud for people who desperately want "all merle litters, guaranteed!" *gag*

    But for the average breeder, if "oops" does happen today they are spay/neutered and placed into pet home usually. And many BYB's who end up with them hock them on add sites as something special with a special price tag :rolleyes:.
     

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