The Merle pattern in English Bulldogs is no doubt controversial, for a number of reasons. However, it seems that most of the concern is due to the health issues associated with the gene.
This is why it is extremely important for those producing Merle Bulldogs, as well as offering stud service, to educate those interested in the gene, prior to breeding.
It’s very concerning to see people using Merle studs that have little to no knowledge about the gene. This becomes extremely obvious when listings are placed describing puppies as Merle ‘carriers’ (more on that in a minute).
Long before we added Beta, our Seal Merle Bulldog stud, to the Bulldog Pros family, months of research was completed to fully understand the Merle gene, and what to expect when breeding.
So, What is the Merle Gene?
Merle (Mm on the M Locus) is a gene that ‘dilutes’, or lightens, various areas of black in the coat, leaving only patches of the base coat color. This pattern can occur in any location and the size of the markings can vary greatly.
It is a dominant gene, that cannot be ‘carried’, and only affects black, or modified black (blue tri/seal and chocolate tri/seal), in any area of the coat, as well as the eyes and nose. Any red (fawn) on the dog will not be affected by the Merle gene.
In fawn merles, you will most likely only see a faint pattern of Merle as newborns. As the dog grows, the pattern will fade, creating what is called a phantom, or cryptic, merle. Brindle can also mask Merle, as the patterns tend to blend together.
Any red or brindle Bulldogs produced from a Merle should be DNA tested prior to breeding. It is very important to avoid a Merle to Merle breeding, as this results in what is known as a Double Merle, which has the potential to cause a number of health issues, including deafness, blindness, and skin problems.
When looking to use a Merle (or any) stud, take your time and talk to several breeders. It’s very important to choose one that you feel comfortable working with and one that will take the time to answer your questions.
For more information on our Merle stud, Beta, please feel free to visit his Stud Page, or call us at 573-873-4293.