What is a Merle Labradoodle?
Merle is a color pattern in a Dog’s coat, not a color by itself. The Merle gene creates multi-color patches in a solid coat and the dogs that carry merle gene can often have blue eyes. The labradoodles with Merle gene and color patches are called Merle Labradoodles. It is one of the most complicated gene but very fascinating.
Merle is actually a heterozygote of an incompletely dominant gene. If two such dogs are mated, on the average one quarter of the puppies will be “double merles”, which is the common term for dogs homozygous for merle and a high percentage of these double merle puppies could have eye defects or be deaf or both. To avoid these common health issues, knowledgeable and responsible labradoodle breeders mate a merle with a non-merle dog. In this way half the puppies will be merles, and none will have the vision or hearing defects associated with double merle dogs.
So, when you adopt a Merle labradoodle puppy make sure to check with the breeder that one of the parents is a solid color only.
Merle Labradoodle Puppies
Poodles don’t have Merle gene. A labradoodle puppy with merle pattern usually has an infusion of a different breed in it’s breed line.
Merle Labradoodle Health Issues
Labradoodles with two copies of the merle gene (homozygous merle or “double merle”) have higher chance of being born deaf. The UK Kennel Club has acknowledged the health risk associated with homozygous merles and stopped registering puppies produced from merle to merle breeding in 2013. Research indicates that the majority of health issues occur in dogs carrying both piebald and merle genes.
Labradoodles who are homozygous for the merle pattern gene often have visual and auditory deficits. These merle labradoodles are sometimes referred to as ‘double merle’. Ocular defects include microphthalmia, conditions causing increased ocular pressure, and colobomas, among others. Double merle labradoodles may be deaf or blind or both, and can carry ocular defects in blue or colored eyes.
A study by German researchers found partial hearing loss in 54.6% double merles and 36.8% of single merles and 9.1% of double merles were fully deaf.
Certified labradoodle breeders will only breed one merle with a non-merle to produce normal healthy merle labradoodle puppies.
Merle Labradoodle Colors
Merle labradoodles are absolutely gorgeous and because of the color patterns on their coats they look rather exotic. Merle Labradoodles come in various colors patterns like chocolate merle, blue merle, black merle, red merle or brown merle. It also possible to have merles in other colors such as sable, fawn, yellow and diluted reds.
Blue Merle Labradoodle
Blue Merle labradoodles are the most popular among all the merle labradoodles. Blue Merle labradoodles have irregular black patches by gray. The grey or the lighter part of the coat can also vary from a very light powder blue to very dark steel blue.