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Merle English Bulldog: Paying A High Price For Good Looks

Merle English Bulldog: Paying A High Price For Good Looks

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They’ve been around for centuries. They’ve always been considered dangerous and aggressive. But, that time has come to an end. English Bulldogs may look tough, but they’re sweethearts looking for understanding.

If English Bulldogs were served injustice, then merle English Bulldogs are completely misunderstood. Sadly, they’re a work of messy genetic plays resulting in numerous problems.

Now, I know the merle English Bulldogs look stunning. Honestly, I’ve fallen for them several times. But, then I think about how healthy or unhealthy they are. If you knew what I know, you’d think twice before getting a merle Bully.

But, for someone who doesn’t know what merle is or how serious it is, reading this article will be of great help. Merle isn’t just a coat color… merle is a genetic condition.

Why are merle English Bulldogs so problematic? What makes a dog merle? What can youexpect from a merle pup?

Keep on reading to find out the controversy behind the merle English Bulldog. You’ll be surprised with what you’ll learn.

Meet The English Bulldog

merle english bulldog sitting looking at the camera

English Bulldogs are one of the oldest dog breeds in the world. Dating back to the early 13th century, the English Bully was first found on the British Island. These mighty paws were used for the bloody, so-called sport, bull baiting. However, English Bulldogs are more than that. They’re not aggressive just because.

This dog breed is sweeter than you think. They’re kind, sociable, and quite gentle despite their tough looks. English Bullies are huge human lovers. They love pleasing their family members and seeing them happy.

And, you’ll love their protective attitude and excellent watchdog traits! I do have to warn you that some of these dogs will act aggressively towards other, unknown dogs. But, they will never show aggression to people, especially not if you socialize them early.

Another thing I have to warn you is linked to their appearance. English Bulldogs are medium-sized dogs. Both males and females can grow up to 16″ at the withers, and weigh 50 to 60 pounds.

They have a big head with a short muzzle. This makes them snort a lot and breathe heavily. Because of their big jaws and chubby lips, English Bulldogs are droolers. You might wanna have a towel or a rug near you all the time.

All in all, I highly recommend owning an English Bulldog if you want a confident, cuddle buddy that will keep an eye on the situation around you.

What Kind Of Coat Does An English Bulldog Fashion?

English Bulldogs are dogs fashioning a short coat. As you can’t see, they’re not fluffy and cuddly because of their coat; it’s their body mass that makes them poofy. Okay, muscular, if you will.

English Bulldogs do have an undercoat, which is rather thin and short compared to their harsh top coat.

Having this kind of coat type means your English Bully won’t require extensive grooming. A casual brushing session here and there, followed by regular cleaning and bathing will do it.

Which Coat Colors Are Accepted By Official Dog Clubs?

happy merle bulldog playing with owner on bed

The official dog clubs, the AKC, the UKC, the CKC, and the FCI all agree on the following coat colors and markings for the English Bulldog:

– fawn

– fawn and brindle

– white and fawn

– red

– fawn, brindle, and white

– white

– red and white

– red brindle

– red, brindle, and white

– fallow

– brindle

– piebald

– black tips

– black mask

– ticked

– white markings

The rare colors and color markings are as follows:

lilac

blue

– chocolate

– black

– merle

When a breeder lists a coat color as rare or unique, you should be careful with such dogs. You see, many breeders choose these words because they want to mask their unethical breeding practice. Before you buy a rare coat color, do thorough research of whether those “rare” colors are actually accepted by official clubs and up to breed standards.

Is A Merle English Bulldog A Special Breed?

merle or mottled english bulldog lying down on close up photography

No, the Merle English Bulldog is as much a Bulldog as a fawn or a red one. This is a different coat color. Merle is not a separated English Bulldog breed.

The Merle pattern presents patchy coloring in a different shade than the base coat.

However, the merle pattern can affect the dog’s skin, not only the coat. Also, it brings many health problems along the road, but more on that later.

Defining The Term “Merle”

The term “merle” refers to an incomplete pattern that occurs not only on the dog’s coat, but also its skin. These are irregularly-shaped patches of a diluted color. Such dogs appear to be “washed out”.

You will recognize merles by their pink skin, blue eyes, and grayish patterns all over their body. Yes, they do look adorable, but at what cost?

Which “Merle” Types Exist?

merle english bulldog pup running in the fields

A merle English Bulldog can come in several types of this pattern. The merle gene is not always visible, meaning the puppies will have it, but the coat color will stay standard as with other Bullies.

The three types of merle pattern are:

– dilute merle

– cryptic merle

– Merlequins

A dilute merle dog has no dark patches, coat, or nose in black. This is actually a blue merle, and it has no dark shades present.

Cryptic merle Bulldogs can also be found under the name “ghost merles”. You know how some dogs have merle genes, but they aren’t visible? Yes, those are cryptic merles! They’re only carriers of this genetic mutation that can be transferred to the puppies.

Lastly, Merlequins are dogs that carry merle patches on their coat in a standard color. It’s always a combination of an acceptable English Bulldog color, i.e., a white and black base with gray merle.

Lilac Tri Merle English Bulldog

Lilac is considered a rare coat color with English Bulldogs. But, a lilac tri merle is even rarer!

These dogs have gone through dilution twice. The first dilution happens from black to color brown. The second dilution is from black to the color, blue. The end result of these dilutions is a purple-gray shade of coat. Even the eye rims, lips, nose, and paw pads are in purple!

Lilac tri merle English Bulldogs have an undercoat. This undercoat is usually in a shade of fawn. Most dogs fashion a lilac white coat with tan points. But, this is not the only special thing about these dogs. In fact, they can also have lovely icy blue eyes.

Chocolate Tri Merle

happy english bulldog playing in the flower field

Chocolate English Bulldogs aren’t recognized and neither are chocolate tri merles. These dogs have a lovely deep brown base coat, with liver or brown eye rims, nose, and pads. You can usually find a chocolate tri merle Bully in choco and white, with tan points.

Black Tri Merle

We’re used to black being one of the most common coat types with other dog breeds. However, that’s not the case with English Bulldogs.

Black tri merle Bullies have a soft, shiny black coat, with an undercoat that comes in fawn. Their markings are also in black.

You can spot a black tri merle pup because it usually has a black and white coat, covered in tan points. With black tri merle, there’s a chance for pups to be mostly black, or to have 50% black and 50% white on their coat.

Blue Tri Merle

The blue coat color is actually a diluted black color. There’s no such thing as a deep black coat color. What you see is a game of light. For instance, blue tri merles appear gray in direct sunlight. Their paw pads, nose, and eye rims are also gray. This makes you wonder if they’ve chosen the name “blue tri merle” correctly, doesn’t it?

Tracing Back The First Merle English Bulldogs

resting english bulldog inside the home office

Since the merle coat doesn’t appear naturally with this dog breed, you shouldn’t expect merle to be recognized. Still, merle dogs have been around for many years. It takes at least one merle ancestor in the line for a puppy to turn out as a merle.

I can’t really tell you when the first merle English Bulldogs turned up. In fact, no one can! We can only assume that the breeding of this coat color has been around as long as any other English Bully color.

Why Is Merle So Undesirable?

The merle coat color is so undesirable because puppies carrying it are also carrying numerous defects and health conditions. Even though the merle gene might not be visible, the pups will still be carriers, meaning they will transfer the genes to further offspring.

The official clubs are very much against coat colors that aren’t naturally derived. Merle is a result of crossbreeding somewhere in the past. This also means such dogs aren’t completely purebred.

I know the coat color might seem appealing and unique. Trust me, having such a coat color isn’t worth the health problems a dog might be facing.

I consider breeders who breed merle dogs to be very unethical and unreliable. I wouldn’t give them a penny because I always put a dog’s health first. But, this is only my personal opinion. You do as you want.

The Controversy Behind The Double Merle

Regular merle English Bulldogs are not desirable. But, wait until you hear about the double merle!

A double merle puppy is born when the two M genes get transferred from the parents to the puppy, right? Right. Well, such puppies are a holy mess. They’re more prone to developing severe health problems. Double merles often have issues with hearing and vision, and are born with limited ability or blind/deaf.

The vast majority of double merle English Bulldog puppies are born deaf or blind. That’s a huge number of puppies impared, not having a normal life.

Double merle English Bulldogs have a generally poor life quality and a shorter lifespan than other English Bulldogs. You should think through your decision on getting a mere English Bulldog. I mean, is the coat color absolutely worth it?

Kennel Clubs And Their Stand On Merle English Bulldogs

english bulldog enjoying a trip in a boat ride

The official kennel clubs are strictly against merle English Bulldogs. They do not support breeding merles nor buying them. Of course, they’re not allowed at official dog shows.

The official clubs are always against colors that don’t appear natural within a dog breed. Merle is one of those coat colors. It’s a work of messy genes that have to come from some mixed breed ancestors from the past.

For example, the AKC doesn’t support merle English Bulldogs because they believe the merle gene is very harmful for the dog. I must agree with them. Even though I’m for all kinds of coat colors, I can’t say “yes” to those who bring many health problems along. Merle dogs are, sadly, prone to numerous severe health conditions.

Try listing a merle English Bulldog at an official dog show. Even if your dog doesn’t have visual merle genes, the judges will still go through your documentation. If they find hidden merle genes that aren’t dominant, your dog will still be disqualified.

Even though your merle English Bulldog doesn’t have any health problems, he still carries the M dominant merle allele, and will transfer it to its offspring.

How Do The Merle Genes Work?

To understand how merle genes work, you need to have at least some knowledge in dog genetics. But, I will try to bring this matter as close to you as I can.

Merle genes are considered to be recessive. This means they’re not that dominant. Precisely, the merle gene is a heterozygote of a gene, but that gene doesn’t have full dominance.

We can tell apart two merle genes: Merle “M” and merle “m”. If a dog carries even one copy of the M gene, the dog can become a merle. The m gene can also be inherited, but since it’s not visible, it will stay hidden.

Simply put, two m’s will result in a non-merle puppy.

One M and one M will result in a merle dog.

Two M’s is a way to get a double merle dog.

Are Merle English Bulldogs Healthy?

merle english bulldog sleeping

Photo from: @luna_mia_777

The biggest controversy behind the merle coat color is the many health issues it brings. The English Bulldog breed with merle genes has an increased risk of complicated health problems.

This coat pattern brings many conformation defects. But, even without these genes, purebred English Bullies still have many problems with hereditary diseases.

The biggest health problems these dogs are suffering from are the following:

patellar luxation

– BOAS or Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome

– eye problems

– cardiac problems

allergies

Trouble with English Bulldog puppies starts at birth. Female English Bulldogs have a narrow pelvis, meaning the big Bully puppies have to be born via c-section.

But, the problems don’t end here.

If you have a merle English Bulldog, you can expect it to have one or more of the following health conditions:

– deafness

– blindness

– skin cancer

– Coloboma

– Anophthalmia

– Microphthalmia

Deafness is hereditary with Bulldogs. It can either affect one ear or both of them. Blindness or poor eyesight is a common issue. It may either affect one eye or both of them. These conditions bring a lot of other health problems related to a dog’s ears or eyes.

The lack of skin pigment with these dogs causes skin cancers and even hypersensitivity to light. Always protect the pink skin if your dog has some in order to prevent skin cancer.

Coloboma is a defect when a cleft of the eye’s iris occurs. This is only because eye tissue has failed to develop properly, but doesn’t affect the dog’s vision. The only problem can occur in direct sunlight, when dogs experience pain.

Anophthalmia is another eye condition when a puppy is born without one eye, or even both of them. Sadly, this condition happens in the womb, and it can only be prevented by breeding dogs without hereditary problems.

Microphthalmia is a defect when one dog eye is smaller than the other. This is another issue that develops in the womb. Such dogs can have vision problems that may lead to blindness.

Merle Bulldog Puppies For Sale: What’s The Purchase Price?

little english bulldog puppu sitting in dark background

We know how much standard English Bulldogs are, but how expensive are merles?

On the market, the average merle English Bulldog will cost a lot of money. That’s because people aren’t really aware of how problematic merles are. Unreliable dog breeders have seized the opportunity and plumped up the price of this Bulldog. But, those people are not to be trusted.

If you see a Bulldog breeder listing a merle English Bulldog as an AKC-registered puppy with 100% clear health testing, run… fast! That’s a scam since no merle Bully will ever be accepted by an official club. Also, there is literally no chance that your mere English Bully will be completely free from hereditary issues. Seeing such dogs listed for a small price is a warning sign of its own.

The purchase price for a merle English Bulldog ranges from $4,500 up to an incredible $15,000! That’s not a lot. That’s just too much for a dog that’s very likely to develop health problems.

Other coat combinations with a merle can also have a plumped up price.

For example, a sable merle English Bulldog is the cheapest one, ranging from $4,500 to $5,500, followed by black, blue, chocolate, and lilac tri merles for $7,000 to $10,000 (black and blue tri merles), and $8,000 to $12,000 or $10,000 to $15,000 for choco and lilac tris.

These prices are simply ridiculous since you won’t get a registered dog. This means you’re paying only for the breeder’s effort to get a different color than the standard Bulldogs’ color. Breeding only for the sake of money should be forbidden by law. I know I’m a bit harsh, but I put my dog’s health and overall status first.

Can Two Merles Engage In Breeding?

headshot of a merle english bulldog in close up

Yes, it’s absolutely possible to breed two merle English Bulldogs. But, that doesn’t mean these dogs should be bred together.

If you breed two merles, their puppies will also be merle dogs. This means you’re intentionally bringing dogs with a huge predisposition to genetic problems into the world. No reliable breeder would do this.

People who breed two merles to get more merle puppies are only doing it for the money as their price has gone way up high.

What Other Dog Breeds Are Merle?

The canine world knows many different breeds of dogs that can appear to be merle. The merle color isn’t strictly reserved for the English Bulldog. However, usually, merle is not a part of the breed standard for any other dog breed.

Dogs carrying the merle coat are the:

Great Dane

Border Collie

Chihuahua

– Poodle

Corgi

– Merle French Bulldog

– Dapple Dachshund, etc.

Before purchasing one of these dogs, I recommend you research whether the breed standard for these dogs allows a merle coat.

Should You Get A Merle English Bulldog?

merle English bulldog adult purebreed closeup horizontal head shot

Honestly, I would think twice before getting a mere English Bulldog.

As you can see, this English Bulldog breed already has many health problems because of their heritage and their body construction. But, merle English Bulldogs have even more health problems than regular English Bullies.

I’d like to urge you to think about whether a spectacular coat color is worth the many troubles you and your dog will face. Getting a new puppy is a wonderful chapter in everyone’s life. We get attached easily, enjoying our blissful life together. But, problems are inevitable.

Every dog breed can become ill. Dogs are carriers of many diseases, but it’s not 100% safe if they’ll become ill or not. But, with merle English Bulldogs, there’s a huge chance, almost certain, that the pups will have some kind of health condition.

Most merle English Bulldogs are visually impaired, deaf completely or in one ear, or even suffering from tumors.

I wouldn’t like owning a merle English Bulldog and seeing him suffer in pain just because I liked the color.

Would you?

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