Welcome to our yet another blog on the beautiful regal pups – the Cocker Spaniel. However, today, we will be discussing the rather controversial and hugely popular Merle Cocker Spaniels. So, without any further ado, let’s start.
‘Merle Cocker Spaniels’ in reality is a term that is used to denote Cocker Spaniels with a merle colour pattern. These patterns appear as spreaded colour patches in a solid coat and are caused by a genetic mutation of the parent’s DNA.
Moreover given its dominant traits it can also affect the colour of the eyes, snout and even paw pads in the canines. Thus, the puppy may turn out to have a different coat or even separately coloured eyes, giving it a rather odd appearance.
What is the history behind Merle Cocker Spaniels?
Considered to be passed down from wolf ancestors, the exact origin behind Merle Cocker Spaniels is still under scrutiny. There is no absolute record of when and how these pooches were originally found or bred, although some also suppose it to be the result of cross-breeding.
These breeders claim the pupper to have been designed through breeding between a purebred Cocker Spaniel and a ‘Rusty Butch’. However, studies have found that the dog in question was actually a strong hunk breed with only a single solid coat texture and no merle genese, whatsoever.
Therefore, until and unless there are any further reports, the breed and its special appearance will most probably stay a secret.
How does a Merle Cocker Spaniel look like?
Only differing in colour, there isn’t much difference between a Merle Spaniel and a purebred Cocker Spaniel’s appearance. Both the breeds have fluffy, thick, wavy coats, a short muzzle, a pair of the most beautiful and soul-reading doe-eyes, a somewhat elongated body, short legs and a furry tail.
But, in case of cross-breedings, the breed may represent physical appearance of any of the parents, so when it comes to height and weight proportions there could be some variations. The coat often has unevenly distributed bold colour patches all over their body, and can be of many colour combinations, including red and black, white and black, white and brown, black and white, etc.
Similarly, this genetic variation may also cause them to have contrasting eye lens colours that gives the breed even more popularity and rarity.
How long does a Merle Cocker Spaniel live for?
While generally, these pups have an average life expectancy of 10-12 years, there are many factors that may affect their quality of life.
Generally associated with a mutated SILV gene, canines with merle patterns are at high risk of hearing problems. The effects which start from their very puppyhood can swiftly deteriorate to much bigger problems. And this is why pet parents with these particular patterned Cocker Spaniels need to properly find the parent’s progeny and medical histories before bringing one of these puppers home.
Some other health conditions that they might be prone to include:
- Eye problems progressing to blindness
- Colour dilution
- Baldness and unexpected hair loss
- Reproductive, cardiac and skeletal system defects
- Hip and elbow dysplasia, etc.
Even more, breeding a merle Spaniel with another creates a double Merle offspring which has a comparably higher susceptibility to diseases, and hence makes them a highly expensive pupper.
Merle canines are also at the risk of getting severely sunburned due to the absence of the essential pigmentation gene in their DNA. As a result, even a little bit of sun exposure or environmental change can easily make them require expensive professional attention, thereby putting a huge dent in your pockets.
Are Merles Hypoallergenic?
No, unfortunately they aren’t. With no certainty on whether the puppers are the result of a selfish cross-breeding farce or are genetically mutated, these pups can never be considered to be hypoallergenic. This is because no matter the other gene, their dominant gene is that of a Cocker Spaniel which scores a zero on the hypoallergenic scale.
Why are they so popular?
Mismarketed for profit only, it is wrong to say that Merle Cocker Spaniels are popular. Instead the whole breed’s existence is a huge controversy as such woofers typically have a compromised life and are at higher risks of death. Thus, the only pet parents that invest in these uniquely patterned Spaniels are generally beginners with not much idea on them or those who have enough sources to give them a better healthier life.
Is the breed recognized by the American Spaniel Club?
Sadly, for Merle owners, the pattern doesn’t pass the breed standards of the American Spaniel Club. And no this is not just because of the mystery behind their origin, their special colour nor does it have anything to do with other regulatory institutions. Instead, by not welcoming the recognition of such peculiar patterned woofers, the ASC focuses on stopping further preference of Merle Spaniels.
As discussed previously, the merle canines have a strong vulnerability to various health conditions and thus the decision to not support breeders who deal with these inhumane breedings.
How much does a Merle Cocker Spaniel cost?
Due to their quirky appearances, the rate of these pups can vary anywhere from $6000-$8000. Additionally, the cost may even go sky high if the pup has odd colour eye lenses, with atypically coloured nose and paw pads, or has parents with good pedigree.
These woofers are often marketed as ‘rare Cocker Spaniels’ by greedy and uneducated breeders and then sold to innocent pet parents with no prior Cocker Spaniel experience.
Are all Merles bad dogs?
Even though the presence of a dominant merle trait in a Cocker Spaniel may make them prone to health conditions, it is necessary to understand that this notion doesn’t apply on all Merles.
Donna Zygarclike, a proud owner of two Merle cocker spaniels, has stated that these woofers are appearance, personality and health wise as good as purebred Cocker Spaniels, given that they aren’t double merles. Just like other Spaniels they are little fluffy dogs with boundless amounts of energy, unwavering loyalty towards their families and a calm, reserved side.
No breeder can ever forecast the probability of genetic mutations in a Cocker Spaniel breeding and hence if the parents are in their best of health, it also dramatically reduces the offspring’s risk factors. She also states that the breeder should possess the required knowledge of dealing with such breeds and should also inform the same honestly to pet parents wanting to have a merle companion.
What are Blue and Red Merles?
Similar to their name, Blue merles are black canines with the merle pattern while red merles are pooches who have a liver coloured coat with the merle pattern on it. The pattern design can vary from small to large ones and is never restricted to a certain size and area. This means it may be all over their little bodies or targeted to a specific place only.
So, this was all about the recently highly searched Merle Cocker Spaniels. In case you want any more clarifications, don’t forget to comment down your questions and we will be more than happy to assist you with answers. You can also suggest interesting topics related to canines in the comment section.
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