Merle Pitbull Guide – What Truly Makes Them Special?

Merle Pit Bulls are considered to be the rarest form of Pit Bulls. Some dog owners might be skeptical about getting a merle Pit Bulls due to their genetic problems, while others seek them out for their beautiful and highly unique appearance.

So, what is a merle Pitbull? A Merle Pitbull is a Pit Bull that has a merle coat. This coat has a unique pattern as some areas on the dog’s base coat will be diluted to form dots or swirls with different colors. This kind of coat results from a genetic mutation and puts the dog at risk of various health problems.

Continue reading to learn everything you need about merle Pit Bulls, including their origin and appearance, how to take care of them, and where to get them.

What Is the Origin of Merle Pit Bulls?

Merle Pitbull Puppy

Merle Pit Bulls are not a separate breed of Pit Bulls, and the term simply refers to Pit Bulls that have the merle coat pattern.

This coat pattern has existed since the beginning of the Pit Bull breed; however, various records pinpointed its origin in 1922.

It results from a mutation in the dog’s genetics that causes a dilution in some areas forming dots or swirls in different shades of color.

While merle coats look very beautiful and unique, they are not recognized as part of the official breed standard for Pit Bulls by any of the reputable kennel clubs, including the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the United Kennel Club (UKC).

Are Merle Pit Bulls Rare?

Mere Pit Bulls are very rare. In fact, they’re considered to be the rarest form of Pit Bulls.

The reason merle Pit Bulls are so rare is that this coat pattern is the result of a specific mutation in the dog’s genes. It’s highly uncommon for this mutation to appear naturally in Pit Bulls, so it’s often achieved through selective breeding.

For a Pit Bull to be born with a merle coat, one or both of its parents need to be carrying the gene responsible, which requires breeders to use a very narrow gene pool.

What Is the Controversy Around Breeding Merle Pit Bulls?

There’s a lot of controversy around the intentional breeding of Merle Pit Bulls, which is why this kind of coat pattern is not recognized as part of the official breed standard for Pit Bulls by any of the reputable kennel clubs.

The main reason for this controversy is that the gene that alters the dog’s coat color and causes the merle pattern affects other aspects of the dog’s health, including its hearing and eyesight.

Since the gene responsible for the merle coat is very rare and doesn’t appear naturally in Pit Bulls, breeders have to use a narrow gene pool for breeding merle Pit Bulls which puts the dogs at a high risk of developing serious issues with their hearing and eyesight.

It’s especially dangerous to breed one merle Pit Bull with another merle Pit Bull as their offspring, commonly known as “double merles”, will be carrying more of the merle genes which will significantly increase the risk of them developing health issues.

I discuss the dangers of the Merle genes more in this article on the Merle Bullies, so make sure to check it out. 

It’s also worth mentioning that some Pit Bulls might also be carrying the merle gene without displaying the merle coat pattern, which is commonly known as the “cryptic merle” phenomenon.

What Do Merle Pit Bulls Look Like?

As mentioned before, Merle Pit Bulls are not a separate breed which means they look similar to any other Pit Bull when it comes to their size and certain physical features.

The only thing that sets them apart from other Pit Bulls is the color of their coats and eyes.

So, let’s take a closer look at the main aspects of the Merle Pit Bull’s appearance:


When Pit Bulls reach full growth at the age of 12 to 18 months, their weight will range from 30 to 60 pounds, while their height will range from 17 to 21 inches.

The dog’s growth rate and size have nothing to do with the dog’s coat color. It mainly depends on the dog’s gender, as male dogs tend to be larger in size than female dogs. It can also depend on the dog’s diet and how much exercise it gets.

Physical Features

Pit Bulls of all coat colors and patterns share similar physical features, which include muscular builds, round heads, small ears that are quite far apart, big almond-shaped eyes, and short muzzles with flat noses.

However, keep in mind that some of these features might vary slightly from one Pit Bull to another, depending on the dog’s genetics.

Coat Type and Color

Since the merle gene doesn’t affect the type of the dog’s coat, merle Pit Bulls have the same coat type as other Pit Bulls, which is a single-layered coat with short, coarse hair. 

However, the merle gene does affect the color of the dog’s coat, causing some areas on the dog’s base coat to be diluted to form a pattern of dots or swirls with different colors.

Since Pit Bull base coats come in many colors, the merle pattern will appear in many shades. The merle coats will mostly be classified into two main categories, which are blue merle and red merle.

Blue merle Pit Bulls have darker basecoats, including different shades of grey and blue. Red merle Pit Bulls, on the other hand, have reddish-brown base coats.

Eye Color

Typically, Pit Bulls have brown eyes. However, the gene responsible for diluting the color of the dog’s coat will also dilute the color of the dog’s eyes, causing them to become blue.

Merle Pit Bulls can have two blue eyes, one blue eye, or even random colored eyes.

What Kind of Temperament Do Merle Pit Bulls Have?

The merle gene doesn’t have any effect on the Pit Bull’s behavior, so merle Pit Bulls tend to have the same temperament as any other Pit Bull.

Pit Bulls are generally presumed to have bad temperaments due to their intimidating appearance and history of being bred and trained to participate in dog fighting rings and other violent activities.

However, the kind of temperament they have will depend mostly on their living conditions. 

With proper training and socialization from a young age, these dogs will grow to have sweet temperaments and be the best companions to any family.

Now let’s take a look at some of the positive aspects of a Pit Bull’s temperament:

  • They are very friendly and loving. They tend to communicate their affection with their family in various ways, such as cuddling with them or licking their face.
  • They tend to seek companionship, and they enjoy getting lots of attention from their owners. They will not tolerate being left alone for long periods as they are prone to developing separation anxiety.
  • They are highly energetic and excitable, and they love being outdoors, which makes them excellent playmates for children. Pitties can also get along well with other dogs as long as they are properly introduced to each other.
  • There can be extremely loyal and protective of their family. However, they can also become territorial around strangers, which will cause them to react with more aggression.

You can learn more about the truths and myths about aggression in Pitbulls here. 

Are Merle Pit Bulls More Aggressive?

Merle Pit Bulls are not more aggressive than other Pit Bulls as the merle gene doesn’t have any effect on the dog’s behavior or temperament.

No Pit Bull is aggressive by nature. With proper training and socialization, they will not become aggressive unless they are provoked by others attacking them or threatening their territory.

Are Merle Pit Bulls Smarter?

Merle Pit Bulls are not smarter than other Pit Bulls as the merle gene doesn’t affect the dog’s intelligence levels.

All Pit Bulls are considered to be smart as they can quickly learn new commands and tricks, which makes training them a lot easier.

How to Take Care of a Merle Pit Bull?

Taking care of a Merle Pit Bull, or any Pit Bull, involves providing them with what they need for their bodies to grow and remain healthy, whether that’s nutrition or exercise.

In order to do that, you first need to learn more about the dietary and exercise needs of Pit Bulls. So, let’s discuss both of them in more detail:

Dietary Needs

A Pit Bull’s daily calorie intake ranges from 922 to 1,740 calories, on average. The exact number of calories they need to consume will depend mostly on the dog’s age, size, and activity levels.

Their diet should contain balanced meals prepared from natural ingredients that contain different nutrients. It’s recommended to avoid canned dog foods as much as possible as these products contain high levels of preservatives and artificial additives that will cause the dog to have digestive problems.

When establishing your diet plan for your dog, it’s recommended to divide its calorie intake over two main meals along with some snacks and treats over the course of its day.

This will help establish a sense of routine for your dog as well as ensure that you’re not feeding it more than what it needs. Overfeeding your dog can be very harmful as it might result in obesity in the long run.

It’s recommended to be careful about introducing new foods or making any sudden changes to the dog’s diet, as this could trigger an allergic reaction or cause your Pitbull to have some digestive problems. 

Exercise Needs

All Pit Bulls are energetic by nature, and they have high stamina that will allow them to remain active for a long time. So, they need to be exercised regularly to release their high energy through healthy outlets and also remain in good shape.

When establishing an exercise routine for your Pit Bull, you need to take the dog’s age and energy levels into consideration, then adjust the duration and intensity of the exercises accordingly.

Young Pit Bulls, from the ages of 6 to 12 months, should be exercised for about 30 minutes a day. While adult Pit Bulls, from the ages of 12 months and older, should be exercised for about 60 minutes a day.

You can check out my complete guide to how much exercise Pitbulls need at every age here. 

It’s generally recommended that younger Pit Bulls exercise for less time and with less intensity as their bodies aren’t fully developed yet. Over-exercising a Pit Bull at a young age will significantly hinder its growth and put it at risk of developing various health problems, including bone damage and disproportionate muscle growth.

If Pit Bulls don’t get as much exercise as they need at any age, they will start to become hyperactive, which will cause them to display various destructive behaviors in an effort to release excess energy.

Some of the most effective exercises you can add to your Pit Bull’s routine are going on daily walks, climbing stairs, or playing any games that involve a lot of movement, such as fetch or tug of war.

It’s also recommended to divide the dog’s exercise routine into short intervals, and each interval should have a different kind of exercise. This will help prevent the dog from getting bored, keep it active throughout the day, and prevent overexerting it.

What Are the Common Health Problems in Merle Pit Bulls?

All Pit Bulls, including Merle Pitbulls, are prone to develop various health problems, including hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, parvovirus, cerebellar abiotrophy, and various skin types conditions and allergies.

However, Merle Pit Bulls, in particular, are more prone to develop these health problems as they come from a narrower gene pool. They’re also at a high risk of developing problems with their hearing and eyesight, which might escalate to complete deafness and blindness.

Merle Pit Bulls that come from breeding one merle Pit Bull with another merle Pit Bull will carry twice the merle genes, which makes more at risk of developing health problems than merle Pit bulls who carry only one copy of the merle gene.

That’s why breeders must run genetic tests on their dogs before breeding them to ensure that their offspring won’t inherit any diseases.

It’s also important for owners to vaccinate their dogs at birth, monitor their behavior for any symptoms of disease, and take them to the vet for regular check-ups to ensure that they’re in good health.

How Long Do Merle Pit Bulls Live?

Pitbulls typically live for about 12 to 15 years, depending on their living conditions. However, merle Pit Bulls tend to live shorter than other Pit Bulls as they’re more susceptible to developing health problems, especially if they’re carrying double the merle gene.

If you want your Merle Pit Bull to live longer, you need to take care of it properly and provide it with good living conditions. This includes training it, establishing a regular exercise routine, and improving its diet.

How to Groom Merle Pit Bulls?

Grooming is another significant part of taking off your merle Pit Bull to keep it clean and maintain its beautiful appearance.

The grooming process involves various aspects, and they all need to be done regularly, so let’s discuss them in more detail:


All Pit Bulls, including Merle Pit Bulls, have single-layered coats with short hair. Their coats don’t require a lot of effort to groom as their hair doesn’t grow fast, and they don’t shed too frequently.

When it comes to brushing your Pitbull’s coat, it’s recommended to do it once or twice a week to remove any loose hair that was shed and prevent it from getting tangled with the rest of the hair on the dog’s coat.

 When it comes to washing them, on the other hand, it’s recommended to bathe your Pittie once every few months to prevent any dirt or grease from accumulating over the dog’s coat.

The frequency of the baths will depend on how dirty the dog tends to get as dogs that play outside more tend to get dirtier more quickly and, therefore, will require to be bathed more frequently. Keep in mind that bathing your dog too frequently will irritate its skin and cause it to shed more hair.

When grooming your dog’s coat, make sure that you’re using the right kind of brushes as well as dog-friendly shampoos that won’t irritate its skin or trigger any allergic reactions. 


Pit Bulls have sensitive ears, and they need to be cleaned regularly to prevent them from developing any infections.

When cleaning your dog’s ears, you need to avoid using water directly. Instead, it’s recommended to use specialized cleaning solutions that will break down earwax and remove any accumulated dirt.

These solutions are made from natural ingredients that won’t irritate the sensitive membranes inside the dog’s ears.

You need to apply the cleaning solution on a cotton pad, then gently wipe the inside of the dog’s ear with it until all the dirt is gone. Make sure to switch to a clean cotton pad when cleaning the dog’s other ear to prevent spreading any bacteria.


Regularly cleaning your Pit Bull’s teeth is very important to maintain its dental health as it will help prevent tooth decay and other oral disease caused by the accumulation of food remains, plaque, and tartar on the dog’s teeth. 

It will also prevent the dog’s breath from smelling too bad.

To clean your dog’s teeth, you need to use a toothbrush and toothpaste that’s made for dogs to avoid causing irritation to the dog’s gums. It’s recommended to brush the dog’s teeth daily or as frequently as your dog will allow you to.


Even though it’s usually overlooked, clipping your Pit Bull’s nail is an important part of its grooming routine as dirt and bacteria might accumulate underneath the dog’s nails and put it at risk of developing infections and other health problems.

It’s recommended to take your dog to a professional groomer or a vet to get its nails clipped, as it can be challenging to do it by yourself. The area near the dog’s paws is also highly sensitive, so you might accidentally injure your dog while trying to clip its nails.

How to Train a Merle Pit Bull?

The merle gene doesn’t have any effect on the dog’s behavior, so training merle Pit Bulls won’t be different from training any other Pit Bull.

Pit Bulls are not particularly challenging to train due to their high intelligence and ability to learn quickly. 

However, you can still make the training process easier and even more effective by starting when the dog is very young and remaining consistent throughout the dog’s life.

A Pit Bull’s training process involves various aspects, so let’s discuss them in more detail:


Socializing your Pit Bull involves exposing it to different environments and allowing it to interact with people and other dogs.

It’s a very important part of the dog’s training as it will teach the dog to be more adaptable and more at ease when faced with anything unfamiliar. It will also reduce the dog’s anxiety and make it less prone to becoming aggressive.

To properly socialize your dog, the most important thing is to start from a young age. It would be best if you let your dog spend some time in different places where it can be exposed to different sights, scents, and sounds as well as meet new people and dogs.


Disciplining your Pit Bull involves encouraging it when it shows good behavior and discouraging it when it shows bad behavior.

When disciplining a dog, you need to ensure you’re using the proper techniques; otherwise, you might confuse the dog and cause it to lash out.

The most effective method to encourage good behavior in dogs is to give them praise or treats whenever they successfully follow a command or do any kind of behavior you deem good.

Over time, they will begin to associate getting praise and treats with good behavior, which will motivate them to continue displaying that behavior in the future.

On the other hand, discouraging bad behavior can be a little trickier as some methods might backfire and cause the dog to lash out even more.

It’s generally advised to avoid using any harsh punishments such as yelling at your dog or beating it when discouraging bad behavior, as this method will only cause your dog to feel threatened and provoke it to become aggressive.

It’s best to find a method that works well with your dog’s personality. For example, using a firm tone to admonish bad behavior works for some dogs, while withholding treats and toys work with other dogs.

Another effective method is to ignore your dog whenever it displays bad behavior. 

This might be ideal for Pit Bulls, especially since they love getting attention from their owners, and they usually behave badly as a way to get their owners to pay more attention to them.

Once you stop giving your dog attention when it displays bad behavior, it will learn over time that bad behavior isn’t the right way to get you to pay attention to it.

Commands Training

Teaching your Pit Bull to follow specific commands is an important part of its training process as it will help you discipline the dog’s behavior better.

Before you teach your dog to respond to a certain command, you first need to establish a simple trigger world that your dog can easily associate with the action you want it to perform. 

It’s recommended to start teaching your dog to follow basic commands such as “sit,” “stay,” “down,” or “come” at the beginning of its training process. As the dog grows older and masters those basic commands, you can start teaching it to follow more advanced commands or even do tricks.

To get your dog to associate the trigger word with a certain action, you simply need to repeat the word whenever your dog performs that action, and they will eventually make the association.

Make sure to keep the tone of your voice firm when repeating the command word and to maintain direct eye contact with your dog. Some also recommend using a certain sound or hand gesture along with the trigger word to enhance the association.

Whenever your dog responds successfully to a certain command, make sure to reward it with treats to encourage it to continue responding to that command in the future. 

Leash Training

Another important part of your Pit Bull’s training process is teaching it to walk properly on a leash, as this will help you gain more control over the dog when you’re outside and reduce the chance of getting into any accidents.

Before training your dog to walk on a leash, make sure that the collar you’re attaching the leash to is made from high-quality materials and fits comfortably around the dog’s neck; otherwise, the dog might not respond very well to the training.

First, you need to let your dog wear the collar for some time so it can get used to it. Then, you can attach the leash and walk your dog around the house to see how it responds.

If your dog responds well to having the collar on and doesn’t try to pull on the leash, you can start taking it outside on short walks.

Try to walk slowly with your dog at first and stick to areas that are not too crowded to avoid overwhelming the dog. You can gradually increase the speed and duration of the walk as your dog grows more and more comfortable with walking on a leash.

Make sure to keep your grip firm on the dog’s leash so that it wouldn’t run away from you during the walk, and avoid pulling too harshly on the leash or dragging your dog when you want to go in a certain direction.

If the dog starts pulling on the leash or walks in a different, it’s best to stop and wait for it to calm down before continuing on with your walk.

Where to Get a Merle Pit Bull?

Merle Pit Bulls are very rare due to the controversy around intentionally breeding them. You’ll hardly find them in rescue shelters or pet stores because of how rare they are and the monetary value they bring, so you might need to buy them directly from the breeder.

There are two categories of breeders which are backyard breeders and reputable breeders.

Backyard breeders don’t breed dogs for profit, so they tend to cost less compared to reputable breeders.

However, keep in mind that they don’t always have a lot of experience with ethical breeding practices, and their litters mostly come from accidental pregnancies.

Reputable breeders, on the other hand, specialize in breeding dogs for money, so they will cost more, depending on the extent of their reputation.

These breeders for ethical breeding practices to maintain their reputation and ensure that their litters are healthy. They tend to genetically test their dogs before breeding, and they keep detailed records of the dog’s bloodline.

Before buying your merle Pit Bull, you need to carefully consider all your options to ensure you’re getting a healthy dog for a good price.

Make sure to confirm the legitimacy of the breeder and the state of the dog, whether it’s a backyard breeder or a reputable breeder, by looking asking to see the dogs and person before purchase, as well as looking at references from previous buyers if there are any.

How Much Do Merle Pit Bulls Cost?

They tend to be considerably expensive given how rare and unique merle Pit Bulls are. While the price of a non-merle Pit Bull normally ranges from $500 to $2000, the price of merle Pit Bulls might reach $10,000 to $15,000.

The exact price of a Pit Bull depends on factors like the purity of the dog’s bloodline and the color of its coat. It can also depend on the place of purchase and the breeder’s reputation.

One thing you need to keep in mind before purchasing a merle Pit Bull is that paying more money won’t guarantee that the dog was bred through ethical practices or that it will be perfectly healthy.

Conclusion: Should You Get a Merle Pit Bull?

Getting a dog is a big responsibility, especially with a rare breed like merle Pit Bulls.

You shouldn’t get a merle Pit Bull just for its unique appearance. You need to make sure that you have the time and resources required to provide them with good living conditions the same way you would with any other dog.

Keep in mind that, in addition to being expensive to purchase, it will cost more to maintain their wellbeing as they are at a higher risk of developing various health problems because of the merle genes they’re carrying.

Another thing to keep in mind is that merle Pit bulls cannot be registered to any of the major kennel clubs as they do not fit the standard breed official for Pit Bulls, which means they cannot participate in any dog shows or competitions.

Related Questions

How to Tell Merle Pit Bulls Apart from Brindle Pit Bulls?

You can tell merle Pit Bulls apart from brindle Pit Bulls by simply looking at the different patterns on their coats. The brindle coat pattern is more uniform as it looks like tiger stripes over the dog’s body. Meanwhile, the merle coat pattern is more random as it looks like dots and swirls over the dog’s body.

What Coat Colors Do Pit Bulls Come In?

Pit Bull coats come in various colors, including black, red, brown, reddish-brown, blue, fawn, or tan. They also come in different patterns, such as brindle, sable, or tricolor. These colors and patterns are recognized by major kennel clubs as part of the official breed standard for Pit Bulls.

What Coat Colors Are Not Part of the Pit Bull’s Breed Standard?

The coat colors that are not part of the Pit Bull’s breed standard include black, liver, pure white, merle, and albino. These colors are considered to be a breeding fault which is why they are not recognized by any of the major kennel clubs as part of the breed standard for Pit Bulls.

What Kind of Markings Do Pit Bulls Have?

Pit Bulls have different kinds of markings, including colored spots on certain areas of their bodies, dark pigmentation on their face that looks like a mask, or a colored spot over one of their eyes that looks like an eye patch. The appearance of these markings on the dog’s body depends on its genetics.

Do Pit Bull Coats Change Color with Age?

Pit Bull coats do change color with age, and they will gradually become lighter or darker as the dog get older. The change in coat color can be the result of frequent exposure to direct sunlight or taking certain kinds of medications. It can also be related to the dog’s overall health and diet.

What Other Dog Breeds Have Merle Coats?

Other dog breeds that have mere coats include Australian Shepherds, Catahoula Leopard Dog, Shetland Sheepdogs, Old English Sheepdog, Collies, Welsh Corgis, and Great Danes. The appearance of the merle pattern is completely natural for these dog breeds, and it’s not considered to be a genetic fault.

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

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