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Merle Bullies are not a separate breed of American Bullies; they’re simply Bullies who carry the merle gene, which causes a change in their coat color and eye color.
These dogs are rare and certainly unique, with the beautiful patterns on their coats and their piercing eyes. However, since the coat results from a genetic mutation that affects the dog’s health, some owners may be skeptical about getting a Merle Bully.
In this article, I’ll be breaking down everything you need to know about the Merle Bully and what makes them so unique.
Quick Overview of the Merle Bully
|Other Names||Red Merle Bully, Blue Merle Bully, Cryptic Merle, Double Merle|
|Weight||30-140 pounds, depending on the class|
|Height||13-30 inches, depending on the class|
|Lifespan||10 to 12 years|
|Colors||Red, Blue, Cryptic|
|Good for apartments||Yes|
|Average puppy cost||$5,000 to $10,000+|
- Size: 13-30 inches, depending on the class
- Weight: 30-140 pounds, depending on the class
- Colors: Red, Blue, Cryptic
- Type of Coat: Single-layer coat with short hair
As mentioned before, Merle Bullies are not a separate breed, so they’re physically similar to all American Bullies.
Most American Bullies, including Merle Bullies, have muscular bodies with heavy bone structures and block-shaped heads. However, some Bullies might have leaner builds and lighter bone structures, and some may be taller or shorter, depending on their genetics, gender, and class.
They’re classified into 4 main classes; here’s a quick breakdown of the average size and weight of each class.
|American Bully Class||Size||Weight|
|The Standard American Bully||Males:17 to 20 inches |
Females: 16 to 19 inches
|40 to 130 pounds|
|The Classic American Bully||Males: 17 to 20 inches |
Females: 16 to 19 inches
|60 to 80 pounds|
|The Pocket American Bully||Males: 14 to 17 inches |
Females: 13 to 16 inches
|30 to 60 pounds|
|The XL American Bully||Males: 20 to 30 inches |
Females: 19 to 22 inches
|80 to 140 pounds.|
You can learn more about the American Bully’s size and growth rate here.
While the merle gene doesn’t affect the Bully’s size, weight, or build, it does affect the color of its coat and eyes, and these are the two features that set Merles Bullies apart from regular American Bullies.
Let’s start with their coat.
Merle Bullies have the same single-layered coat with short hair that all Bullies have; it’s the color of their coat that’s unique, as the merle gene causes the pigment in some areas on their base coat to be diluted, forming a pattern of merle patches or swirls with different colors.
Bullies generally have different colored base coats, so the merle pattern formed will depend on the color of the base coat. What makes it even more unique is that the exact form of the pattern is different from one dog to another, so no two Merle Bullies will look exactly the same.
The merle coat pattern in American Bullies can be classified into 3 categories based on color: red merle, blue merle, and cryptic merle.
Red Merles are not literally red; they have reddish-brown or tan base coats, and the merle pattern appears as patches or swirls of brown or orange. They’re considered the rarest type of Merle Bullies.
Blue Merles are also not literally blue they have darker base coats with different shades of grey, and the merle pattern appears as patches or swirls of black. They’re considered the most common type of Merle Bullies.
Finally, there are Cryptic Merles, which are American Bullies that carry the merle gene but do not have the merle pattern on their coats. Even though they do not look like Merle Bullies, they can still pass the merle gene to their offspring.
Now, let’s move on to Merle Bully’s eye color.
Typically, American Bullies have brown eyes. However, the merle gene will dilute the dog’s eye color just as it did with its coat, causing them to become blue. So, Merle Bullies tend to have either one blue eye or two blue eyes.
American Bullies are considered a Pit Bull breed as they’re a cross between American Pit Bull Terriers and American Staffordshire Terriers. They also have genetic influences from some Bulldog breeds; check out my article on what American Bullies are mixed with, where I discuss this in more detail.
When it comes to Merle Bully’s parents, one or both of them must carry the merle gene in order to pass it on to the offspring.
The merle gene is considered very rare as it results from a specific gene mutation, and it’s uncommon for it to happen naturally in American Bullies. So, the merle coat is often achieved through selective breeding, and breeders have to use a narrow gene pool.
There’s a common myth that Merle Bullies are more aggressive than other Bullies; however, the merle gene only changes the dog’s physical appearance and has no effect whatsoever on its temperament.
Merle Bullies, just like all Bullies, were bred to be companion dogs, so they generally have a friendly temperament toward their humans. With proper training and socializing, they’ll make the sweetest companions.
They are often assumed to be aggressive by nature because of their associations with Pit Bulls and their violent history (since Pit Bulls used to be bred and trained to participate in dogfighting); however, Bullies will not show any aggressive tendencies unprovoked as long as they’re properly trained.
The dogs may feel provoked if they are physically abused or if they feel like someone is threatening their family or territory. In this case, they’re likely to lash out and behave aggressively as a way of coping with fear and defending themselves.
Health and Lifespan
Unfortunately, the Merle gene mutation that gives the dogs their beautiful, unique appearance has a major negative effect on their health and puts them in a lot of danger.
Merle Bullies are prone to developing more health issues compared to non-merle dogs, especially eyesight and hearing issues, since breeders tend to use a narrow gene pool for breeding them.
Other serious health problems that Merle Bullies are prone to develop include reproductive abnormalities, increased sensitivity to the sun, skin allergies, and an increased risk of epilepsy and skin cancer.
It’s especially dangerous to breed two Merle Bullies because their offspring will be a double merle, meaning it will carry double the merle genes, which will significantly increase the risk of developing extra health issues.
This caused a major controversy regarding the deliberate breeding of Merle Bullies. It’s deemed highly unethical to risk the dog’s health just to achieve a certain coat pattern, so most reputable kennel clubs do not recognize the merle coat as part of the official breed standard for dogs.
On top of that, dog owners should do their part and fight unethical Merle breeding. 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 they don’t reproduce in the first place.
When it comes to their lifespan, American Bullies tend to live for 12 to 14 years on average. However, Merle Bullies tend to have a shorter lifespan, 10 to 12 years, as they’re more prone to developing health problems, especially if they carry double the merle gene.
Merle Bullies have the same nutritional needs as any other American Bully unless your Merle Bully has an allergy or a stomach problem that prevents it from eating a certain kind of food
Generally speaking, the calories Merle Bullies eat in a day will depend on their size and energy levels, and their diet should be mostly made up of natural foods with a wide range of nutrients, including proteins, carbohydrates, fibers, fats, vitamins, minerals, etc.
If you’re going to feed your Merle Bully dry food, make sure that it’s made of high-quality natural ingredients with little to no artificial additives or preservatives.
Shedding and Grooming Needs
Shedding frequency is always a concern for dog lovers, especially if they have allergies; however, it’s not a concern with Merle Bullies, as they have single-layered coats with low shedding frequency. Learn more about how American Bullies are hypoallergenic here.
As for their grooming needs, Merle Bullies are very low maintenance as their hair is short and doesn’t grow fast. It doesn’t take much to keep their beautiful coats clean and in good shape.
All you need to do is brush them at least once a week to remove any loose hair from their coats and bathe them once every month or so to prevent the accumulation of dirt or debris on their coats.
Their grooming routine should also include cleaning their ears, brushing their teeth, and clipping their nails as regularly as possible.
American Bullies are typically energetic, and Merle Bullies are no different. They need a regular exercise routine to help them release their energy and keep them stimulated.
The easiest and most effective way to exercise your Merle Bully is to take it out on daily walks. You can also play games that involve physical movement, such as fetching or tug of war.
Regardless of the kind of exercise your dog is doing, you need to consider its age, as younger puppies do not have fully developed bodies, so they shouldn’t be doing high-intensity exercises for long durations.
If you exercise your Bully too much, especially at a young age, it will be at risk of various injuries and health problems. On the other hand, if you don’t exercise your Bully enough, it will become hyperactive, which will cause it to act out and display destructive behaviors in an effort to release excess energy.
Merle Bullies are generally not hard to train; they’re the same when it comes to behavior and training as any other American Bully.
To make their training process as smooth and effective as possible, it’s crucial to start when they’re very young. You can still train older Bullies, but it will be significantly more challenging.
Training dogs involves various stages, and one of the first and most important stages is socializing them. This stage is detrimental to the dog’s overall behavior as it grows and will help reduce its anxiety in different situations.
To properly socialize your Merle Bully, you need to take it out and expose it to different surroundings where it can learn new scents and sounds. You also need to introduce your Bully to new people and dogs so it can learn how to behave around others.
Another important stage in the dog’s training pross is disciplining its behavior by encouraging good behavior and discouraging bad behavior.
The best way to encourage good behavior is to use positive reinforcement, which involves rewarding the dog with traits or praise whenever it successfully follows a command or does anything you deem good.
Meanwhile, the best way to discourage bad behavior is by ignoring the dog and withholding traits and praise until it realizes that it needs to stop misbehaving to get on your good side again.
No matter what your dog does, avoid using harsh methods, such as yelling or using physical violence, to discourage bad behavior. This will cause the dog to lash out even more and become aggressive.
Finally, training your Bullies involves teaching them to follow basic commands such as “come,” “sit,” “stay,” etc. These commands will make disciplining the dog’s behavior easier, and once the dog masters the basics, you can start teaching it to follow more advanced commands or even do tricks.
If your American Bully is stubborn during training, then you’re not using a good enough incentive, or you’re not being consistent. Remember that you need to remain consistent with the discipline methods and command words you use throughout the training process to avoid confusing your dog.
As Family Dogs
American Bullies are generally bred for companionship, so Merle Bullies will definitely make good family dogs as long as they’re properly socialized and trained.
They will be good with kids as they’re friendly, energetic, and overall fun to be around. However, it’s risky to leave your children alone with any dog because accidents can still happen, so you must supervise their interactions with any dog breed
They will also be good around other pets. However, make sure to introduce them properly; otherwise, the dog or the other pet may become aggressive or territorial. You can learn more about how to introduce your dog to another pet here.
As Guard Dogs
American Bullies, Merles included, can make decent guard dogs with proper training. They’re highly devoted to their owners, and they can be very protective of their territory, so they may react aggressively when faced with any threat to their families.
Where to Find Merle Bullies?
It’s not common to find Merle Bullies in rescue shelters, given the controversy around intentionally breeding them and how rare they are.
So, your best option is to get your Merle directly from the breeder. However, it will be considerably expensive, as the price of Merle puppies ranges from $5,000 to over $10,000, depending on the reputation of the breeder.
The American Bully’s price can also vary depending on factors like its class and bloodline. Take a look at the following tables for a breakdown of how much American Bullies can cost on average based on these factors.
Based on the dog’s class:
|Standard American Bullies||from $2,000 to $5,000.|
|Classic American Bullies||from $2,000 to $5,000.|
|Pocket American Bullies||from $3,000 to $8,000.|
|XL American Bullies||from $5,000 to $10,000.|
Based on the dog’s bloodline:
|Bloodline Quality||Average Cost|
|Pet quality without registration papers||from $1000 to $2500.|
|Pet quality with registration papers||from $2500 to $5000.|
|Show quality and breeding stock||from $5000 to over $10,000.|
Before you purchase a merle Bully from any breeder, keep in mind that paying more money doesn’t guarantee that the dog was bred through ethical practices or that it will be perfectly healthy. So, make sure to research the breeder and ask for client references.
To help you further, here’s a list of some of the best Merle Bully Breeders in the US:
If you are getting a bully soon, make sure to also check out our bully name guide (with more than a 1,100 names) with the bully name generator here to pick the perfect name for your new four-legged companion.
All About the Merle Bully in a Nutshell
American Bullies have gained much popularity, not only because they have a unique appearance but also because they’re friendly, energetic, easy to groom, and easy to train, which makes them excellent family companions.
However, getting a dog is a big responsibility, and you shouldn’t get a merle dog just because of its appearance. You need to consider the burden of health issues that come with Merle Bullies and put in enough effort to take care of the dog and maintain its well-being.
My Top Picks for American Bullies!
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