Many of us like Labradoodles but aren’t fond of how mainstream they are. It seems like everywhere you look, someone is getting another Labradoodle. Some people might be hesitant about owning a fantastic breed simply because they are popular. But what if we told you that you could own one of these adorable puppies but in a unique coloring? Merle Labradoodles are beautiful and unique. What is it like to own a Merle Labradoodle?
What Is Merle?
Before we get ahead of ourselves, we need to define what merle is. Merle is technically not a color of its own. It is a recessive genetic factor that makes a pattern of patches in dark hair colors. A dog with the merle gene has a dark coat, usually chocolate or black, and a series of lighter patches. Since this gene affects dark pigments, merle dogs will often have one or two blue eyes. But on rare occasions, a merle will still have brown eyes.
What Are Merle Labradoodles Mixed With?
Since neither the Lab nor Poodle carries the merle gene, a Merle Labradoodle is not a 50/50 mix. To introduce the merle genetics, breeders had to introduce a new breed to the bloodline. Most often, you will find Merle Labradoodles mixed with Australian Shepherds or Cocker Spaniels. Both of these breeds pass the merle gene to the Labradoodle bloodline. But how this is done depends on the breeder.
Some breeders produce healthy Labradoodles and then breed them back to the Spaniels or Shepherds. Some might start with breeding the Poodle to a merle Spaniel for a hypoallergenic Doodle. Breeders often label these mixes as Merle Australian Shepherds for full disclosure. Some breeders breed known Merle Labradoodles to a non-merle Labradoodle to create an F2 generation. If you are looking for a merle, you should ask your breeder exactly where the merle lines come from. Knowing this bit of information can help you choose the best hybrid for you.
Which Generation Is Right For Me?
Choosing which combination and percentage of all the breeds depend on what you are looking for in your dog. If you have an ideal dog in mind, talk with your breeder. They can point you in the right direction of which combination is right for you and why. You might even find a breeder that breeds multi-generation Merle Labradoodles that look and act exactly like a Labradoodle. The only thing passed down from the infused breed is their unique color.
Whatever route you choose, just be sure that your breeder is reputable and knowledgeable. Breeding for merles can be a tricky business. You can’t breed two merle dogs together, for instance, because of genetic deformities. As long as the breeder is breeding for safe and healthy dogs, any generation Labradoodle will work for you.
Some owners might even have a merle and not even recognize it. In some instances, a solid-colored Labradoodle will have a spot or two of light color. But it goes unnoticed by most because the merle gene isn’t affecting the coat as a whole. So how do you know if your dog is genuinely a merle?
Many breeders who try to breed specifically for Merle Labradoodles perform a DNA test verification. While they don’t test every litter, they do test all breeding pairs. If you have a Labradoodle with a singular spot, you could get the same DNA test done to verify merle genetics. But is testing relevant?
For responsible breeders, testing is essential. As mentioned before, you can’t breed two merles together because of the risk of deformities. So most breeders will test any dog that they intend for breeding to prevent any mishaps. But if your solid-colored Labradoodle has two patches of light hair, chalk it up to character. If you have no intentions of breeding, having a fancy merle name won’t mean much.
We briefly touched on the fact that some mutations come with merle dogs. In addition to all of the common health concerns Labradoodles have, you also have to worry about eyesight and hearing. Merle dogs are 15% more likely to be visually impaired and deaf. These chances increase when you breed two merle dogs together.
The science behind this is that the merle gene affects eumelanin. Eumelanin is responsible for brown and black coloring in dogs. The merle gene takes the color away from these dark pigments giving your day the patches and blue eyes. If you breed two dogs with the merle gene, you are breeding two dogs without eye pigmentation, which leads to eye deformities, blindness, and even deafness. These dogs are called “Double Merles.”
Even merles bred according to the proper protocol can have a greater risk of eye problems. These greater risks come with the fact that most Doodles are prone to eye problems in general. So breeding a double merle is taking a high chance that shouldn’t be attempted. But generally, Merle Labradoodles are healthy and live a long life. So what is it like to own a Merle Labradoodle? Healthy, strong, and full of energy and fun.
Colors And Sizes
The Blue Merle Labradoodle is the most common of all the merle types. A Blue Merle is all black with silver or grey patches with an almost blue tone. These beautiful dogs are also the most common types to have pale blue eyes. The second most common is the Chocolate Merle Australian Labradoodle. These puppies will remind you of chocolate, and peanut butter swirls with a rich coat and tan patches.
The least common is a Red Merle Labradoodle, but don’t be fooled by the name. Red merles are reddish-brown with the signature patches. Merle Australian Labradoodles also come in black, sable, fawn, and yellow. Some of these colors are hard to come by, and others are in very high demand. But don’t be fooled to think that this makes it easy to find them. Most breeders have a long waiting list and high prices for their Merle Labradoodle puppies.
Another fantastic thing about Merle Labradoodles is that they come in standard and mini sizes. A standard Merle Labradoodle weighs in at 55-60 pounds and is perfect for those with plenty of space. But if you need something a little smaller, you can get a Merle Mini Labradoodle. A Merle Miniature Labradoodle stays around 15-25 pounds and fair well in apartments.
What is it like to own a Merle Labradoodle? Well, not that much different than a regular Labradoodle. Everything you love about Labradoodles will be in your merle because coat color doesn’t change the temperament. Your Doodle will still love to spend all of their time with you. They are energetic and need at least an hour-long walk daily to keep fit.
Labradoodles are also very intelligent and excel in training classes. Combined with high energy, and you can get these working dogs to do all kinds of tricks. They will love agility training, outdoor activities, and even hunting. As long as they are with their families, they don’t care what activity is on the agenda.
Most Merle Labradoodles have wavy to loose curly hair. They are hypoallergenic because they don’t shed as much as short-haired dogs. But with being hypoallergenic comes regular grooming. Just like any other Doodle, you will need to invest in home grooming supplies.
Simple combs, slicker brushes, and de-matting rakes work well to detangling daily. You will have to brush your Doodle daily to keep mats and tangles from getting too large. Brushing can become a tedious task, but keeping the hair short and training your dog early helps speed the process up.
In addition to daily brushing is getting hair cuts. Your dog will need a trim every 6-8 weeks to keep them fresh and healthy. Your dog will also get a nail trim and bath during this time. After a day at the puppy spa, your Merle Labradoodle will look and feel amazing.
As you can see, Merle Doodles are a coveted thing. And since they are harder to come by, you should prepare yourself for a higher price. The average cost of a Merle Labradoodle puppy is $2,500-$3,000. Merle puppies are hard to predict. Since only one parent has the merle gene, it is possible to have litters with no merle puppies at all. So you can also expect long waiting lists for merles.
But the good news is that most breeders have a system for their waiting list. Once you put a deposit down, you are in line to choose your puppy. If the next litter doesn’t have merles, it transfers to another litter. Or you could change your mind and select another color if you don’t want to wait any longer.
Merle Labradoodles are fantastic pets for most families. If you don’t have a problem with loyalty, energy, and emotional bonds for life, then Labradoodles are a perfect match. It doesn’t matter what their hair or eye color is. A Labradoodle is a Labradoodle, and they all make the perfect friend. So you can have your standard Doodle, but with a unique twist.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Doodle Board!