Merle Laradoodles are rare but they inherit the risks associated with this appealing coat. These dogs don’t come cheap and the merle gene raises a lot of questions in the Labradoodle community about their health and safety.
A Merle Labradoodle is one which bears a heterozygous merle gene (Mm). Labradoodle receives the merle gene when a non-merle parent is bred with a merle parent.
Do note that the merle is not naturally present in both the Labrador Retriever and the Poodle dog breeds. This means a merle Labradoodle contains more than Labrador and Poodle genetics.
Genes from another dog must be present to introduce the ‘merle gene’ into the equation. Most often, a healthy Labradoodle is crossed with a merle Australian Shepherd or a merle Cocker Spaniel.
Health Issues Associated with Merle
With the advent of designer dog breeds, special colored coats with the Merle pattern have become a norm.
When a Labradoodle receives two homozygous merle genes (MM), health issues are inevitable. These particular dogs are called “Double Merle Labradoodles”. A double merle Labradoodle has high chances of being born deaf or blind.
Additional risks include skin related problems. Blindness or deafness usually exist due to lack of pigment in cochlear (ear) or pupil (eye).
Double Merle Labradoodles are bred by Labradoodle breeders who carelessly cross two merle Labradoodle dogs. This action affects the gene pool that can carry these health issues for several generations.
If only one Merle gene is passed, your pooch should be ok. Thus it is essential for you to check that your pooch has at least one parent whose coat is a solid color.
Merle Labradoodle Coat Colors
Merle is not a color but the coat pattern.
In fact, there are 4 coat patterns to choose from. Some are rarer to find due to high popularity among dog owners.
Blue Merle Labradoodle
Blue merle Labradoodle dogs are the most popular of all merle Labradoodles. They have a distinct appearance that is characterized by black, silver, and grey patches. These patches bear a slight blue tinge hence the name “blue merle”.
It is quite common to see these Labradoodle dogs around and breeders specifically breed these dogs to cater to the high demand for them.
Chocolate Merle Labradoodle
Like the ‘blue merle’, the chocolate merle bears many colors. You can expect brown and tan patches on the Chocolate Merle Labradoodle.
Red Merle Labradoodle
Although they are an appealing sight, Red Merle Labradoodles are not as common as the other merle coats. This dog features reddish-brown (brick red) patches across their coats.
Seeing a Red Merle Labradoodle is not a common occurrence and getting one will not be any easier! This is because merle Labradoodle puppy breeders usually have a fully booked waiting list for such dogs.
Parti Merle Labradoodle
Like Merle, ‘Parti’ is another appealing Labradoodle coat pattern characterized by a white coat with random patches of a solid color. In the Parti Merle Labradoodle, the solid patches (black or brown) are replaced with merle patches.
Merle Labradoodle Sizes
A known fact about the Labradoodle is that there are different size options, due to the various Poodle sizes.
You can easily pick between a Standard and Miniature Merle Labradoodle. Factors that will influence your decision should include family size, free time available to you, and house size.
Standard Labradoodle weighs 55 to 65 pounds with a weight of 22 to 24 inches. Mini Labradoodle weighs 15 to 25 pounds with a height of 14 to 16 inches. You can easily pick the size that is easier to manage and better suited for your home.
Love the Labrador Retriever but think the Labradoodle is not right for you? Read about Other Labrador mixes.
Merle Labradoodle Cost
Merle Labradoodles can cost between $2500 and $3000.
They are not readily available, and when they do become available, they come at a high price. They cost more than the regular colored Labradoodle and you usually have to join a long waiting list!
Merle Labradoodle breeding is not simple as some litters may not produce any merle Labradoodle puppies. It could be several litters before you get your Merle Labradoodle puppy, even after giving a deposit!
Are merle Labradoodles healthy?
Assuming the Labradoodle receives a normal merle gene (Mm), the Labradoodle will be healthy. There are slight chances of visual impairment and deafness, but these chances are quite low.
Is the merle Labradoodle recognized?
The American Kennel Club (AKC) does not recognize or register “designer dog breeds”. Hence, the Labradoodles let alone merle ones are not recognized at all.
This has not decreased their popularity at all and should not be a reason not to get a Labradoodle.