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  • Deb Bauer

Preventing Blind/Deaf Double Merle Puppies

Did she deserve to be born blind and deaf?

Mostly white, fluffy puppy with small unformed eyes cuddles in a person's arms.

It’s time to revisit the situation that caused this darling puppy to be born without sight and hearing. No, it wasn’t a fluke or a mistake that caused this. It was a poor breeding decision.

Delight is the product of someone trying to breed designer dogs for a particular coat color pattern. The merle pattern to be more precise. This pattern is showing up in many breeds and mixed breeds where it never used to be.

Merle can show up as very stunning color patterns in a dog’s coat that many people find attractive. Some breeders charge more money for puppies displaying “fancy” colors or patterns. Thus, the popularity right now of trying to breed for these traits.

Now, before you tell me that merle isn’t in your breed, let me tell you that many purebred breeds that didn’t used to show merle, now have breeders adding it into their breeding stock. Also, merle and the way it shows up may have different names in different breeds - dapple in dachshunds, for instance.

It’s fairly easy to find information about best practices for dog breeders thanks to the internet. It’s also fairly easy to find information about the safe way to breed dogs with the merle coat pattern. This is the first step in preventing blind deaf puppies.

Yet, daily I see post after post about puppies being born that are affected with visual and/or hearing impairments due to breeding merle to merle. Why is this continuing to happen? Why are breeders (I use the term very broadly to mean anyone who is allowing their dog to be bred) still doing this? Why are they taking chances with their puppies' futures?

Today, we have more resources available to us than ever before. Information is literally at our fingertips. We are fortunate to now have access to specific genetic testing for dogs that can identify merle from other sometimes similar coat patterns and can give specifics about how each dog’s merle pattern will be passed along (or not) to its puppies.

If you are a breeder working with the merle pattern in your breeding program, please do genetic merle testing on both parents so you can make informed decisions.

If you are a puppy buyer and you are looking for a merle puppy, or you notice the merle pattern in the breeder’s dogs, please take the time to ask questions. Ask if they do genetic testing. Don’t support breeders who produce impaired puppies or who are doing merle breeding without testing.

If you are a breeder and would like support in finding genetic testing and merle information, please reach out to me. I will help you. If you are a potential puppy buyer and you’d like more information about the questions to ask or how to find a responsible breeder, please reach out to me. I’d love to help.

If you live with one of these special dogs with visual and/or hearing impairments and want to give them the absolute best life, I’m here to support you too. I have a lot of online resources to help, and I offer in-person as well as virtual teaching sessions to meet your needs and goals.

I'm also available to do in-person and virtual presentations and demonstrations regarding double merles, prevention, and how to provide the best quality of life for affected puppies. Reach out so we can talk more about your needs.

If we work together, we will be able to continue to enjoy the wonderful merle coat patterns that we love, and we can completely eliminate puppies being born with these preventable impairments.

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