Merle Pitbulls are beautiful and controversial. They have a unique look. Unfortunately, they are also at a risk of health issues associated with the merle coloring.
Merle Pitbull Facts
Merle Pitbulls are striking, which makes them popular among some Pitbull lovers. However, breeding them is strongly discouraged, because they are at a higher risk of health problems.
What is a Pitbull?
Technically, Pitbull is a type of dog, rather than a breed. Pitbull dogs are descended from English Bulldogs and Terriers. Pitbull breeds include American Bulldogs, American Bullies, Staffordshire Terriers, and the American Pitbull Terrier.
However, the American Pitbull Terrier is usually called a Pitbull. Other Pitbull breeds are typically known by their breed name.
What is a Merle Pitbull?
A Merle Pitbull is a Pitbull with a merle coat. Their coat has spots or splotches of color. They typically have a darker color, which can be black, red, or brown. They also have a lighter color, which can be blue, liver, or tan.
The most common merle color is blue. A Blue Merle Pitbull will have black, blue, and white colors in their coat. Their eyes are typically a very light blue or silver color.
A Red Merle will have cream or liver in their coat. They can also have blue eyes.
No dog registries recognize Merle Pitbulls. This means Merle Pitbulls can’t be registered. This is done to discourage breeding them. There are also concerns that Merle Pitbulls are not pure bred.
This is because the merle coloring is rare in Pitbulls. However, it’s common in a few other breeds, including the Catahoula Leopard Dog and the Australian Shepherd.
Pitbulls with the genetics of these dogs are more likely to have the merle gene.
The Merle Gene
The merle gene is similar to the dilution gene, because both dilute coat color. However, a dilute gene will dilute the color throughout the coat. For example, a black dog with a dilute gene will appear gray or blue.
The merle gene dilutes the color in patches. So a blue merle will have black and blue colors in their coat.
The merle gene will also completely dilute the pigment in some areas, which causes white patches on the coat.
Merle dogs have the merle gene. Some dogs with one copy of the merle gene will have the merle coat. However, some dogs who carry the gene don’t display the merle coloring. These are known as “ghost merles”.
This is important because of “double merles”. Double merles inherit the merle gene from both parents, which greatly increases the risk of health complications.
If a dog with one merle gene is bred with a non-merle, about 25% of the puppies will be merle. If both parents are merle, about 50% of the puppies will be double merle.
Dogs with one merle gene are only at a slightly higher risk of health issues. Breeding them is so risky because of ghost merles. This means you can breed a merle dog with a ghost merle unknowingly, which results in double merle puppies.
This can be prevented with genetic testing, which reveals the merle gene, regardless of coat color. However, not all breeders perform this testing, so breeding merles is heavily discouraged.
Merle Pitbull Price
Merle Pitbulls cost more than the average Pitbull. A registered Pitbull pup usually costs between $1,000-$3,000. Nonregistered Pitbulls can range from $200-$800.
Because Merles are rare and controversial, they can cost between $15,000 to $30,000 if they are from a well known breeder. Generally, they cost 2 to 3 times the price of other Pitbull colors.
Merle Pitbull Rarity
Merle Pitbulls are very rare. The Merle gene isn’t common in Pitbulls. This, combined with the fact that breeders are discouraged from breeding merles, makes them very rare.
Merle Pitbull Life expectancy
Merle Pitbulls have the same life expectancy as other Pitbulls, which is 10-16 years. The average lifespan is 12-14 years. Rarely, Pitbulls will reach 20 years or even older.
The oldest Pitbul documented was Max, who lived to 26 years old.
Double Merles have a shorter lifespan because they are prone to serious health complications.
Merle Pitbull Size and weight
Merle Pitbulls are medium sized pooches. Females are a bit smaller than males, and reach 17-20 inches in height. They weigh 30-50 pounds. Males can grow to 18-21 inches tall, and weigh 35-60 pounds.
Merle Pitbull Health
Pitbulls are considered a healthy breed, but they do have a few common health issues. In addition to health issues common to Pitbulls, there are some concerns with merle Pitbulls specificially.
Medium and large sized dogs are prone to hip dysplasia. The condition is inherited, but lifestyle also affects your dog’s risk.
Hip dysplasia occurs when the hip joint doesn’t form correctly. This means it can come out of place easily. This leads to problems with mobility and pain.
You can reduce your dog’s risk of hip dysplasia by giving them exercise and ensuring they maintain a healthy weight.
Allergies and Skin Issues
Pitbulls are prone to allergies, particularly skin allergies. These can be caused by environmental allergens, including grass or dust. They can also be caused by foods, including wheat and dairy.
Skin allergies cause itching, which leads the dog to scratch or lick themselves frequently. They can also cause a rash, skin lesions, or hair loss.
Pitbulls are also prone to Demodex Mites. These are parasitic mites that can affect any dog. Generally, they cause red, scaly skin, and patches of hair loss.
Some Pitbulls have a more severe reaction, which causes symptoms over their entire body.
Pitbulls are at a higher risk of Progressive Retinal Atrophy, which causes vision loss. This typically occurs at 2 or 3 years old. They can also develop cataracts in old age. Cataracts causes a film to form on the eye, which impairs vision.
Bloat can occur in any dog, but Pitbulls and large breed dogs are at a higher risk of the condition. Bloat occurs when gas can’t be released from the stomach.
This causes increased pressure. If it’s not treated, it can quickly become fatal. The symptoms of bloat include bloating, intense stomach pain, and retching or gagging without productive vomiting.
Feeding your Pitbull several smaller meals a day can reduce the risk. If your pooch tends to eat their food very fast, you can get a slow feeder bowl. This will get them to eat slower, which also decreases the risk of bloat.
Merle Pitbull Health Concerns
Merle dogs can have health problems that aren’t common in other Pitbull colors. Dogs with one merle gene are at a slightly higher risk of problems with eyesight, hearing, and heart health. However, double merles are much more likely to develop health problems.
Double merles have a 50%-75% higher risk of being deaf or blind compared to other Pitbull colors.
Merle Pitbull Behavior/Characteristics
Unfortunately, Pitbulls have a bloody history. The breed was originally created to participate in blood sports, including ratting and dog fighting.
This leads many people to assume they are aggressive or dangerous. However, this is not true. They are very gentle and loving dogs.
American Temperament Test
The American Temperament Test is a great way to understand the temperament of Pitbulls. 86% of Pitbulls pass the test, which measures temperament factors, including friendliness and aggression.
Many breeds don’t do quite as well, including German Shepherds and Beagles. Some breeds are much more aggressive. Chihuhuas, for example, only pass 70% of the time.
Are Merle Pitbulls Good Family Dogs?
Merle Pitbulls are great dogs for families. They bond very closely with their owners and other members of the family. They love to play, which makes them great companions for energetic children.
They also have lots of patience, particularly when it comes to children. They don’t mind being laid on or having their tail pulled.
Their protectiveness also makes them a good dog for families. They will protect their families with their lives if necessary. Unless provoked, they have a very gentle nature.
How to care for a Merle Pitbull
Pitbulls are relatively low-maintenance dogs. However, there are some things you should know about caring for them.
Pitbulls do best with a high protein diet. You should feed them a high quality dog food, preferably one with a protein content of 30% or higher.
Puppies should be fed a puppy food 3 times a day. Once they are 1 year old, you can transition them to an adult dog food twice a day.
Pitbulls have a great appetite, and they aren’t picky eaters. This means you should feed them the proper proportions to prevent them from becoming overweight. Check the dog food package for feeding guidelines.
Pitbulls need daily exercise, typically 1 hour a day. You may want to split this up into a few shorter exercise sessions. Walks, jogging, and playing games like fetch or tug of war are great ways to keep them active.
They also need plenty of mental exercise. Without it, they will get bored, and can become destructive. You can give them mental stimulation by training them or teaching them new tricks, playing games with them, and giving them puzzle toys.
Training and Socializization
Pitbulls live to please their owner, so training is as important for them as it is for you. They are strong and easily excited, so they must be well trained to avoid behavioral issues.
Pitbulls were originally bred to fight other animals, including other dogs. Dogs who were aggressive towards humans were undesirable, and often eliminated.
This means that human aggression is rare in Pitbulls. However, they are protective. If they aren’t socialized with people, they may become aggressive towards strangers.
They will often be aggressive towards other dogs unless they are socialized from an early age. Aggression is rarely a problem when a Pitbull is properly trained and socialized.
Because Merles, particularly Double Merles, are more likely to have health issues, routine veterinary care is very important for them.
Merle Pitbulls are low maintenance when it comes to grooming. They do shed year round, but only lightly. Brushing once or twice a week is all they require to keep their coat healthy.
They do need a bath once every 1 to 2 months. Bathing them too frequently can irritate their skin.
How do you buy a Merle Pitbull?
Most Pitbull breeders are ethical. Unfortunately, not all are. Ethical breeders prioritize the health and temperament of their dogs, while unethical breeders focus on profits.
Unfortunately, this means buying a merle Pitbull carries more risk. If they aren’t bred very carefully, they can have an increased risk of health issues.
Many reputable breeders refuse to breed them for this reason, so there’s a greater proportion of unethical merle Pitbull breeders.
Pitbull registries have standards that weed out most unethical breeders. Merle Pitbulls can’t be registered with the United Kennel Club, or UKC, because they go against the breed standard. This means you can’t simply look for registered pups. This makes it more difficult to find a reputable merle Pitbull breeder.
Finding a Merle Pitbull Breeder
The best way to find a Merle Pitbull breeder is through an internet search. Once you find a breeder, you’ll need to do some research to be sure they are ethical.
Determining if a Breeder is Ethical
One way to determine if a breeder is ethical to ask questions. How do they determine which dogs to breed? How do they ensure their dogs and puppies are healthy?
You should also expect the breeder to ask you questions. Reputable breeders will ensure that their puppies are going to good homes. Expect them to ask you about the living conditions the puppy will have, as well as why you want a Pitbull.
You should also take a look at their web presence. Reputable breeders treat breeding as a professional. They should have a professional looking website.
Lastly, you should visit the breeder. The conditions the dogs live in can tell you volumes about the breeder. Ethical breeders ensure that their dogs have good lives, and this includes healthy and comfortable living conditions.