A Guide to The Merle Bully – What They Are And Are They Acceptable?

They certainly can catch your eye. With their unique coats, strong looks, and piercing eyes, a Merle Bully looks unlike other dogs in many ways, but what are merle bullies exactly? Are they recognized? are they healthy?

And more importantly, should you consider getting one?

So, what is a Merle Bully? A Merle Bully is an American Bully with the merle gene that gives the dog’s coat a unique pattern of mottled colored patches in a solid or piebald coat. Merle Bullies have three main types: Blue, Red, and Cryptic. Merle Bullies are not recognized by the AKC and have many health problems.

Merle Bullies are truly unique dogs in so many ways, and I will try to do them justice to explain what exactly are Merle Bullies. what makes them different from other Bullies and from other dog breeds in general, and why there are so many controversies around them.

So, grab a cup of coffee (or tea if it’s your thing), and let’s take a journey into the fascinating world of Merle American Bullies.

What is a Merle Bully?

the types of the merle bully

To truly understand what makes a Merle Bully so unique, we need to take things from the beginning. A Merle is not something that’s specific to the bully breed or even the Pitbull family.

So, what is a Merle?

What is a Merle Coat Pattern?

A Merle is a genetic pattern caused by a genetic mutation that can change the dog’s coat color, eye color, and health, and it’s not breed-specific. The merle gene creates unique mottled patches of color in a solid or piebald coat along with blue or odd-colored eyes. The merle gene can affect skin pigment as well.

With the Merle gene, health issues are more typical and more severe when two merles are bred together, resulting in a double merle. That’s why it is recommended that a merle dog is only ever bred with a dog with solid coat color. We’ll discuss double merles in more depth later in the article.

So, it’s not only bullies or Pitbulls that can have merle coats. But Merle Coats in Bullies are really rare.

Dog Breeds that have merle coats

Here are some of the breeds that can have the merle gene and its attributes (the coat, the eye color, and the health problems):

  • Australian Shepherds
  • Pyrenean Shepherd
  • Great Danes
  • Koolies
  • Collies
  • Shetland Sheepdog
  • Catahoula Leopard Dog
  • Welsh Cardigan Corgi
  • American Pitbull Terrier
  • Olde English Bulldog
  • Pomeranian
  • Poodles
  • French Bulldogs

Is A Merle Bully Considered a Pitbull?

No, Merle Bullies are not considered Pitbulls, however, the American Bully does belong to the Pitbull family as they are originally bred from the American Bulldog, English Bulldog, and the Old English Bulldog alongside other bloodlines from breeds like Mastiffs.

The American Bully is just one of four dog breeds that fall under the umbrella of Pitbull-type dogs, which is why many people confuse Bullies for Pitbulls.

Is the Merle Coat Accepted in the AKC?

Merle Coats are not accepted by the AKC in most dog breeds and are only accepted in breeds where the merle coat naturally occurs such as Leopard Dogs, and Border Collies. The same goes for the UKC in the United Kingdom with the exception of Poodles as the UKC stopped accepting them in 2020.

Here are the only dog breeds with the merle genes that are accepted by the AKC:

  • Australian Shepherds
  • Border Collies
  • Cardigan Welsh Corgis
  • Catahoula Leopard Dog
  • Chihuahua
  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Rough Collies
  • Smooth Collies
  • Dachshund
  • Great Danes
  • Mudi
  • Old English Sheepdog
  • Pomeranians
  • Pyernean Shepherds
  • Shetland Sheepdogs

Merle Dogs that are NOT accepted by the AKC:

  • Poodles
  • Bulldogs
  • American Staffordshire Terriers (Pitbulls)
  • Australian Koolies

And, of course, any designer breeds.

Why do some American Bullies Have Merle Coats?

An American Bully can have a merle coat because of the merle gene mutation, just like any other dog. The Merle Gene will alter the pigment in the American Bully’s coat and cause it to have the merle pattern. The Merle Pattern is unique to every dog, so no two merle bullies will look exactly the same.

Merle Bullies can be bred with both solid-coated dogs and merle dogs, and the litter in both cases can have merle dogs. However, a merle dog that is the result of the breeding of two merle bullies is called a double merle and is frowned upon in the American Bully Community right now, but more on that later.

The Characteristics of Merle American Bullies

There are some unique characteristics that you can only find in American Bullies with the merle gene. These are their:

  • The unique pattern of diluted colors on their coats
  • Their eyes- usually blue or odd-colored
  • Their health issues can be more likely and more severe

But every other characteristic is going to be the same. They are still going to be strong, protective bullies that will do whatever it takes to defend their homes. They are still going to be kind and affectionate to their owners and gentle and patient to kids and small children.

So, really, the only real difference is in their looks, so let’s discuss this in a bit more detail.

What is the eye color Merle American Bullies

Merle American Bullies will usually have two blue eyes, but sometimes they can also be heterochromatic, meaning they will have one blue eye and one brown eye. On rare occasions, Merle American Bullies will have two brown eyes or completely different eye colors.

Blue eyes are usually one of the main identifiers of Merle Bullies as they are the most common eye colors for Merle Bullies, but lately, heterochromatic dogs with blue and brown eyes have been gaining in popularity, and not just in American Bullies.

Now, let’s talk about the different types of Merle American Bullies.

The Types of Merle American Bullies

Although not recognized by the AKC, there are three distinct types of Merle American Bullies. These are the blue, red, and cryptic merles, but they are not actually those colors. Let’s quickly discuss each of these and see what they look like:

Red Merle Bullies

Don’t be confused, Red Merles are not really ‘red’ in color, but are more tan and black than red. They can have very dark patches on their coats. Red Merles are rarer than blue merles because they are not as easily produced as blue merles. That’s because a smaller portion of the population can product red merles.

Some red merles will not even have tan markings on their coat and still be considered red merles.

Blue Merle Bullies

Just like the red Merles, Blue Merles are not actually blue. This should not be surprised, because, well, there are no blue dogs.

A Blue merle is gray with patches of black and the reason they are called blue merle is that their patterns can look blue-ish under some lightning conditions, so they were given this special name.

Blue merles are often confused for tricolor bullies because they look very similar and the opposite happens as well, but blue merles will have the Merle gene while the tricolor Bullies will not. You can learn about Tricolored bullies here and find out how they are actually very different from merle bullies.

Blue merle bullies are the most common type of Merle American Bullies.

Cryptic Merle Bullies

Cryptic Merles are American Bullies that have the merle gene without the coat. They may not look like Merle bullies, but they can still pass the merle gene to their offspring.

It’s not really known why they can’t show the merle patterns if they have the merle gene, but from what we know is that the merle gene is a dominant one and that a dog with this gene can only get it from a parent with the gene and will definitely pass it to some of its puppies.

What is a Double Merle American Bully?

A Double merle American Bully is the result of breeding two merle American Bullies. Statistically, 25% of the puppies from two merle parents will be double merles. Double merles usually have white coats and will have more severe health problems than normal merles, and these issues will include being deaf and having vision issues.

Double Merle dogs have the genotype MM, while single merle dogs will have the genotype Mm.

Here is an image that can illustrate the double merle:

The dog with the white coat is double Merle, having the MM gene.

Double Merles can not be produced from breeding a solid dog to a merle dog, and here is an image that illustrates this very well:

As you can see in this case, double merles can not happen.

Double merles will not look like merles at all and instead will have mostly white coats. Their white coats can still have some small merle patches here and there, but they are not in the same density that they are in merle dogs.

The reason behind this is the marbling or lightening effect of the merle gene, which is twice as strong in double merle dogs.

The Health Problems of Merle American Bullies

Double merles are very controversial and some consider breeding them to be unethical because of the health problems these dogs suffer throughout their lives.

Although there is no clear explanation for double merles seem to have more health problems than other dogs, experts agree that double merle dogs, including double merle American Bullies, seem to have more problems, and their health problems seem more severe than in their counterparts.

Their health problems include vision problems, hearing problems, and the potential to developing serious health conditions later in life. These conditions include serious allergies and epilepsy, for example.

Here are the health problems of double merle American bullies in the order of commonality:

  • Deafiness
  • Blindness
  • Allergies
  • Sensitivity to Sun
  • An increased risk of skin cancer
  • Skeletal abnormalities
  • Heart (Cardiac) abnormalities
  • Reproductive system abnormalities
  • Epilepsy

Deafness is the most common ailment with double merles, and it occurs from the gene mutation and not anything else. Some people think that double merles are deaf because they have blue eyes, this is not true.

They also do not have vision problems because of blue eyes – they may have vision problems because of the double merle gene, but not because of their eye color.

While we’re on the myths, merle dogs – and blue-eyed dogs in general – are not any more aggressive than dogs with eyes of a different color. Again, the color of the eye affects none of these.

The UKC (the kennel club of the UK) has completely banned merle-to-merle breeding and refuses to register any double merles. This aims to discourage breeders from breeding double merle dogs as they can’t sell them for as much money as they normally could if they have no papers for the puppies.

The Truth About Double Merle American Bullies

Double Merle American Bullies have a very rough time. Because they are so undesirable due to their health problems, some breeders choose to euthanize them once they are born because they wouldn’t be able to sell them.

The breeder will often not even wait to know for sure if the dog has any health problems. They will just euthanize the newborn puppy as soon as they could, which is one of the worst things I’ve learned about, and it must be stopped.

Sometimes the dog will make it to the shelter, but the chances of a double merle American bully dog getting adopted are incredibly slim. Some people even call them “lethal whites” because of their health problems, but this is a misconception, lethal whites are horses, not dogs.

Some unethical breeders will sell the double merle bully as an “albino” pup instead of a double merle because it’s very hard for new dog owners to know the difference. And some other merciless breeders will sell the dogs as “baitdogs” in dogfighting matches.

Why are Double Merle American Bullies treated so harshly?

The reason breeders treat double merle American Bullies so harshly is to protect their reputation. Unethical breeders will try to get rid of double merle dogs as quickly as possible in whatever horrible way they could to protect their reputation and keep making as much money as possible from their breeding programs.

But if breeders hate double merle dogs so much, why make more of them?!

Why do Breeders Still Breed Double Merles, then?

The simple answer is ignorance and negligence. Most double merles, at least recently, are the result of the mating of two merle dogs without the intention of the breeder. They are mostly done accidentally, and this results in all of the horrible situations discussed earlier.

Sometimes they are born intentionally when the breeder breeders two merle dogs together to produce a few single merle dogs that will have a unique color they can sell for a higher price because people still find the coat patterns and coloring quite attractive, and so when double merles happen – whether the breed knew they would happen or not – they try to get rid of them as explained earlier.

The practice, unfortunately, persists. Unethical breeding practices are more common than we would like them to, and they result in many disabled American Bullies that never get a chance at a good life.

How Can We Stop The Breeding of Merle American Bullies (And Should We Even)?

We should, as a community, fight the unethical breeding of Merle American Bullies, and the easiest way to do that is by killing demand and creating no market for them. If the breeders can’t sell them, they are much more likely to ensure their merle American Bullies don’t reproduce in the first place.

To kill demand, we need to educate as many people as possible about the truth of American Bully Merles, how they come to be, what causes the unique look, and what health problems they will suffer in the future.

We also need to educate people on how to differential between albino or rare white dogs and double merle ones or to not get them altogether.

The American Kennel Club and the United Kennel Club are moving towards restricting the breeding of merle dogs but they are moving quite slowly to make a significant difference, but with enough education from people, we can stop these practices.

The American Dog Breeders Association did ban the registration of merle puppies in 2005, and the UKC moved towards banning more merle dogs in 2020, which means that all merle breeding is banned in the UK currently.

Merle VS Brindle – What’s the difference?

Merle is a coat color that results from the lack of pigmentation as a result of the mutation of the merle gene, but brindle is a coat pattern and not a color. Almost all dog breeds can have a brindle pattern but few dogs can have a merle coat. Dogs can, theoretically, be both merle and brindle but they are incredibly rare.

Conclusion on Merle Bullies

A Merle American Bully is a unique and quite attractive dog, but they are unnatural and the practices resulting in merle bullies are unethical and should be stopped and prevented. Merle Bullies often have tough lives due to their health problems, and most of them will not live a normal life like any dog.

Double Merle Bullies have the worst lives of all, as most of them will not make it to adulthood as breeders will try to get rid of them or their health issues will be too severe for them to survive on their own.

The best way to fight these breeding practices is by educating the public, so please talk to your friends and family about it, educate them, or share this article with them.

At the end of the day, our belief remains the same;

All dogs are good dogs, and every dog is a special one. Please consider adopting from your local rescue or shelter and save a life instead of spending money that will support unethical breeding practices. #adoptdontshop

Related Questions

How Much Does a Merle Bully Cost?

A Double Merle American Bully can cost more than $5,000 and up to $10,000 or more. The price will change depending on the bloodline quality and the reputation of the breeder, and the reason for this ridiculously high price is that merle bullies are quite rare. You can get an average American Bully for around $8,00 but they are may not be purebred.

How Much Does a Merle XL Bully Cost?

You can expect to pay around $7,500 to $1,000 (or even more) for a Merle XL Bully cost, but the price can go up or down (a few thousand dollars) depending on the quality of the bloodline and the reputation of the breeder themselves.

Are Merle Dogs Rare?

Merle dogs are rare, and the merle gene is rarer in some dog breeds than others. Some breeds where the Merle Gene can occur naturally include the collies and poodles, while the merle gene is rarer in dogs like Pitbulls and American Bullies.

Helpful Resources

What is a Merle Dog?

Double Merles

Double Merle Dogs: A Lethal Genetic Combo That’s Totally Preventable!

Merle Color Pattern Policy – The American Dog Breeder Association

The American Bully – the UKC

The Genetics of Deafness in Domestic Animals

Do Dogs with blue eyes see differently?

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