Home PET BREED Double Merle Dogs: A Lethal Genetic Combo That’s Totally Preventable!

Double Merle Dogs: A Lethal Genetic Combo That’s Totally Preventable!

by Philip Mckinney
Double Merle Dogs

I came across a picture of a tiny white dog looking for a home while browsing through my Facebook feed. She was an Australian Shepherd dog breed, which aren’t often white dogs, the message claimed. I previously owned a blue merle Aussie named Kai, so I didn’t need to see much of the puppy to fall in love. I called the owners right away, and they told me the dog was perhaps blind and deaf. This little dog had a challenging early life. She was blind and deaf, and I later discovered that her original breeder had intended to kill her as a result.

Owning a Disabled Dog

My heart sank. Although I was in love with the puppy, I couldn’t bear the idea of owning a dog who had “issues.” After extensive research, I came to the conclusion that Australians shouldn’t be white. It almost always serves as a poor indicator. In white Australians, Merles are usually homozygous (double). This is a widespread problem, not just in the breed I adored.

I did further research and decided I didn’t care if the dog was blind, deaf, or both. I wanted this little white fluffy person in my life because I had fallen in love with her. To be sure Kai would appreciate the puppy, we set up a meeting, and then we sped off. Nearly two hours were spent traveling to Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Double Merle Dogs

Double Merle Dogs

Journey to Pennsylvania

When I got to the designated meeting spot and saw this white little fluff ball scurrying about on the grass, my heart almost burst open. She had no flaws. It exceeded my expectations in every way. She didn’t do justice in the pictures I’d seen of her. It would be an understatement to say that I was smitten. The woman finally admitted she was mine after a protracted introduction, and we went home to begin our new lives together.

After Spending 2years with a Disabled Dog

Now, almost two years later, here we are. In honor of Helen Keller, I gave the tiny white puff ball the name Keller. My daughter has very limited vision and is completely deaf.


Everybody who encounters Keller is captivated by the amazing girl. She is lavishly loved and spoiled. She has a very typical life. She walks, swims, and practices obedience and agility as well as learning her commands (around 15 in total) by hand and touch signals. She is amazing in every way. Many of these dogs, though, are not as fortunate. Because they were born with disabilities, they are rejected and sometimes even killed.

What Happens If 2 Disabled Dogs Mate?

A double merle is produced when two merle dogs are bred together. It doesn’t matter what kind of merle they are or what color they are. Each pup in the litter has a 25% chance of being born a double merle when two merle dogs breed. In a double merle, the merle gene is passed down twice. A solid color coat with one copy of the merle gene has lighter patches and a marbling appearance. In a double merle, the marbling/lightening effect occurs twice, turning the coat predominantly white. Due to a lack of pigment where it should be, double merles are also more likely to be blind, deaf, or both.

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