Blue Blue Merle

Wyndlair Cherokee Vindication aka Vinnie Westminster 2012 Best CollieWhile watching the 2012 Westminster dog show, this dog was the one I wanted. What a beauty! Then a Collie-knowledgeable friend commented that he should never have won Best of Breed because of his merle-to-merle breeding. Huh?

I started googling. 2012 Best of Breed Collie GCH Wyndlair Cherokee Vindication, Vinnie for short, is son of Wyndlair Avalanche, aka Aiden, top breeding collie in the US. Aiden was the only pup born from a deliberate merle to merle breeding, and he is deaf and almost if not fully blind. Because of that, Aiden has never been shown. But being AKC registered, his pups from a registered female can be registered, shown and bred.

The patterns of white and colour called merle are produced by a congenital glitch that might be accompanied by blindness, or partial vision, and deafness. It’s like white blue-eyed cats being deaf. Lots of dogs, including non-merle looking ones, carry the gene for merle coats, so it may or may not come out in their pups. Mixed with non-merle genetic material, the chances of getting the physical problems of the merle gene are not significantly great.

Breeders take a dog’s full lineage into account in choosing parental pairs in order to minimize congenital problems. That’s why pedigree papers go back so many generations. You do not deliberately breed a pair likely to pass on major physical problems. Well, to produce Vinnie’s dad, his kennel did.

Double Merle Collie

Wyndlair Avalanche aka AidenIt seems I’m not the only one starstruck by a dog like Vinnie. The demand for merles has increased, but getting them is luck of the draw. It goes against all good breeding practices to breed two merles together in hopes of increasing the odds of getting a greater proportion of merle puppies. Wyndlair Avalanche, Aiden, is the product of such a breeding choice. The only pup of the litter, Aiden is vision- and hearing-impaired, but he has a magnificent merle coat.

ad for all merle litterMaybe from him would come the jackpot – an all merle litter, as was advertised  by another kennel about pups sired by Aiden.

This is breeding to supply market demand. That is what puppy mills do.  A movie makes every kid want a Dalmatian? Let’s get the assembly line moving and fill that demand! Labradoodles become the new fad? Crank ‘em out! The exotic look of merle Collies becomes the new must-have? A reputable breeder takes chances with the physical soundness of their pups and the future of the breed? Apparently so. Aiden’s pups sell like hotcakes.

With his son Vinnie winning Best of Breed at Westminster, dad and son’s stud fees just went way up. Vinnie produces beautiful puppies, I’m sure, and with him Wyndlair Cherokee Vindication, Vinnie, Westminster Best of Breed Collie 2012not being a double merle, they might be physically sound. But they carry in their genetic structure the ticking timebomb of deafness, blindness and other congenital problems. That will affect the health and wellbeing of Collies for many years to come.

I had been hoping Vinnie would win the Herding Group so that he could vie for Best in Show. I am very glad now that he didn’t. Sorry, Vinnie.

darlene austin and magic sept 2010 st thomas fire musterFrom my St. Thomas Dog Blog Feb. 23, 2012, reposted with fond memories of Darlene Austin, my “Collie-knowledgeable friend”, and her beautiful Magic.

The 2017 Westminster Dog Show was held Feb 13th and 14th. Congratulations to  Rumor, the German Shepherd, and all the dogs.

(see comments below)

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0 thoughts on “Blue Blue Merle”

  1. I do not know where you get such information but honestly
    there is no excuse for accidentally breeding a double merle; and there is never a good reason to do it intentionally. In French, the world merle means “blackbird” and “le merle blanc” (“the white blackbird”) is an expression meaning “a person or thing that doesn’t exist or cannot be found.” This should also be the definition of the white merle dog.

    1. Hi Kathy, from what I read about double merle genetics, I agree with you. I didn’t know the meaning of the word merle or the expression “white blackbird” so thanks for the explanation.

  2. The defects caused by double merle ONLY AFFECT THE DOG WHO IS A DOUBLE MERLE. If a double merle is mated to a sable who is NOT a sable merle or if a double merle is mated to a tricolor, the result. For breeders wanting blue merles, double merles offer the advantage that when bred to a tricolor, the resultant litter will be entirely of normal merles carrying the tricolor recessive.ant progeny will NOT HAVE THE DOUBLE MERLE DEFECTS.

    Double merle defects are only seen in a dog who IS ITSELF A DOUBLE MERLE. The severity & degree to which a double merle is affected by the defects caused by the double merling also varies.

    Defects caused by doubling on a gene such as the merle gene in collies are not uncommon.

    For example, tailless Manx cats aren’t as a rule, bred to other tailless Manx cats because of severe & often lethal defects caused by doubling the tailless Manx gene. Tailless Manx are usually bred to Manx cats that have tails. The same is true of Scottish Fold cats, Scottish Fold cats with folded ears are usually bred to Scottish Folds with normal ears because doubling on the folded ear gene causes severe defects.

    These are just two examples of similar situations where doubling on a certain gene causes severe defects except for the fact that in the case of double merle collies, individuals do survive to become breeding adults.

    1. Hi and thanks for explaining this clearly. So Vinnie, being the product of a double merle and tri-colour breeding, should be ok, and his progeny too as long as his pedigree is remembered. And knowing the lineage is the point of pedigrees after all. Thanks for writing.

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