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Merle Poodle: An In-Depth Guide

Besides being one of the most popular dog species on the planet, Poodles come in a variety of sizes and colors.

This includes white, black, beige, apricot, red, and more! Not only that but they also exist in various unique patterns, including Merle. 

This one is a unique gene that affects the hair coat pattern in addition to eye color and skin pigmentation.

If you’re curious about the Merle Poodle, this guide will have you covered with everything you need to know about the dog. So without further ado, let’s dive right in!

History and Where the Merle Poodle Comes from

Let’s start by having a brief overview of the history of the Poodle and how the Merle Poodle came into existence.

Poodle History

According to many historians, Poodles hail from Middle Age Germany, despite being the national dog of France.

Back then, the dog was a hunting dog that specialized in catching and retrieving waterfowl and lost arrows. 

The name of the dog is even derived from the word “Puddeln”, which roughly translates to “to splash”.

The long wavy hair of the Poodle, combined with its obedience and intelligence, allowed it to spread a breed across Europe.

At first, Poodles were only available as large-breed dogs (now called Standard). However, after years of selective breeding, smaller varieties of the Poodle now exist, such as the Miniature and the Toy Poodle.

Besides color, the color range of the Poodle also expanded to include various colors and patterns.

Merle Poodle History

Although the exact history of Merle Poodles is unclear, they have only been around since the 1970s. 

The merle pattern is originally a gene that affects the dog’s pigmentation. This one creates a pattern of mottled patches on the dog’s hair coat. It also has an effect on other body pigments, such as eye and skin color.

Since this gene exists freely in some breeds like Australian Shepherds and Border Collies, it’s speculated that these dogs were introduced into the Poodle gene pool to gain the Merle coat pattern.

Merle Poodle Quick Facts

Now that you know more about the origin of Merle Poodles, here are some critical facts that you should keep in mind about this dog breed.

There’s Controversy About the Dog’s Bloodline

As previously established, the merle gene doesn’t naturally exist in Poodles. However, the gene is extremely dominant, so you’ll only need one Merle parent to have it.

A lot of people believe that Merle Poodles are not purebred because merle is an introduced gene that needs dogs from other breeds.

On the other hand, most kennel clubs believe that 3 to 5 generations of the same breed are enough to make a dog purebred. Since Merle Poodles has been around for many years, they fulfill this requirement.

Also, some breeders believe that the merle gene is a mutation that has remained hidden within the Poodle gene pool for ages. However, there’s no evidence to support that claim.

Breeding Merle Poodles Can Be Very Risky

Breeding Merle Poodles can be problematic and is frowned upon by many dog communities. Despite being a very attractive pattern, it can cause some serious side effects.

Ideally, a puppy that inherits the merle gene from one parent will have a merle coat because it’s a dominant gene.

However, when a puppy inherits the merle gene from both parents, it’s called a “Double Merle”. Unfortunately, double-merle puppies are prone to extreme birth defects, especially in the eyes and ears. (some puppies are even born blind and deaf)

They’re Not Standardized

Since Merle Poodles are surrounded by health problems, almost all dog societies don’t recognize them as a standardized variety of the Poodle. 

This includes the American Kennel Club (AKC), which recognizes 11 colors and some of their mixes. Yet, the merle pattern isn’t one of them.

They’re Different from Parti Poodles

Parti Poodles are another variation of the Poodle that also has mottled patches of different colors on their hair coat.

The main difference between the two is that Merle poodles are lighter color patches of the same hair coat color while Parti Poodles have different colors over a white hair coat.

Unlike Merle Poodles, you can breed two Parti Poodles without worrying about congenital birth defects. However, you can’t predict the pattern of the litter.

Merle Poodle Size and Weight

Merle Poodles usually have the same build of their corresponding size variety. In other words, Standard Merle Poodles will be the same height and weight as other standard Poodles, which is between 15 to 22 inches and 40 to 65 lbs respectively.

Miniature Merle Poodles are smaller than standard ones, ranging from 10 to 15 inches tall and weighing around 15 to 30 lbs.

The smallest Merle Poodle is the toy variety, which is usually under 10 inches tall and weighs anywhere between 5 to 12 lbs.

Merle Poodle Appearance

A Merle Poodle will have the same curly long hair as standard Poodles. The only difference here is that the coat pattern will be mixed with patches of diluted versions of the same color.

In addition to the intriguing coat pattern, the Merle Poodle’s eyes and noses can also manifest some variation.

For instance, instead of brown, their eyes could also be fully or partially blue. As for the nose, it can have hues of dark blue or pink. The rest of their physical features are nearly identical to regular poodles.

Merle Poodle Behavior and Temperament

As you can see, the effect of the Merle Gene extends beyond the Poodle’s hair coat. However, when it comes to temperament and behaviors, the dogs are more or less the same as any other Poodle.

Is the Merle Poodle Intelligent?

Merle Poodles are quite smart and quick on their feet. This makes them friendly and very easy to train. However, the level of intelligence of the Merle Poodle can vary from one dog to another. 

In all cases, you must train and socialize your puppy from an early age to prevent them from developing bad habits and behaviors.

Is the Merle Poodle Aggressive?

Poodles are quite friendly and get along very well with other family members and pets. They rarely resort to aggression unless they’re anxious or frightened.

They’re also prone to separation anxiety and don’t like to be left alone without interaction for a long time, which may encourage them to act a bit aggressive.

Does the Merle Poodle Make a Good Family Dog?

Poodles are fun-loving dogs who enjoy forming strong bonds with all family members. They get along well with children and can match their high energy while playing.

they’re available in Miniature and Toy varieties that are perfect for apartments, although they can be a bit vocal

Remember, early socialization and continuous training are still critical to develop a mentally healthy Poodle that can be a good family dog.

What Are the Unwanted Behaviors of the Merle Poodle?

In general, Poodles are very obedient and sensitive breeds, so they’ll rarely engage in unwanted behaviors if you train them to avoid such acts.

With that being said, Poodles can quickly become restless and anxious when they don’t get enough daily exercise. This may result in some unwanted behaviors, such as chewing, licking, and soiling carpets.

Merle Poodle Price and Expenses

As you now know, breeding Merle Poodles can be quite a risky business. This is because some Poodles may carry a hidden merle gene, which is known as “Phantom Merles”.

These Phantom Merles may increase the risk of disease-ridden double Merles in the litter. For that reason, a lot of reputable breeders choose not to sell Merle Poodles for ethical reasons.

Since the demand for these dogs is still incredibly high, a healthy Merle Poodle can be extremely expensive, regardless of its size.

For example, a decent purebred Poodle may cost you anywhere between $1,500 to $2,500. However, a Merle Poodle puppy can easily surpass the $5,000 mark!

The price may even increase for rare and special Merle colors, such as Blue Merles, which may sell for tens of thousands of dollars!

However, a lot of people recommend against buying Merle Poodles to avoid encouraging the unethical breeding of these dogs.

Merle Poodle Annual Expenses

Although Merle Poodles are on the higher end of the scale when it comes to initial costs, their annual expenses are somewhat similar to any regular Poodle.

While annual expenses are much lower, they’re still relatively high because the poodle is a high-maintenance breed.

As a rule of thumb, the larger the Poodle, the higher the annual expenses will be. This is because they need more food in addition to frequent and costlier grooming sessions.

Depending on the size of the Merle Poodle, it may cost anywhere between $800 to $1,500 per year.

Merle Poodle Lifespan

Ideally, a healthy Poodle should have a lifespan of around 12 to 16 years. You can even extend the dog’s lifespan a couple of years longer with proper care.

However, since Merle Poodles are prone to some common health issues, especially when it comes to vision and hearing, the average Merle Poodle lifespan is usually limited to 10 to 16 years.

Merle Poodle Common Health Issues

The Merle gene in Poodles comes with a wide variety of health problems that vary in severity. The most serious side effect of the double Merle gene is birth defects such as missing eyes or ears. 

Even with existing eyes and ears, a double Merle Poodle puppy is prone to partial or full blindness and deafness.

Additionally, Merle Poodles are also prone to other birth defects and health problems in their bone formation, reproductive systems, and circulatory system.

Besides congenital health issues, Merle Poodles are prone to common Poodle health issues, such as:

Merle Poodle Care Tips

Caring for your Merle Poodle is essential to improve their quality of life. Here are some helpful tips to help you take care of your pooch:

How Much Exercise Does Merle Poodle Need?

All Poodles are quite active and require daily periods of exercise to stay healthy and happy, and Merle Poodles are no exception here.

Ideally, you should allow your dog a period of around 60 to 90 minutes of daily exercise every day.

However, this period doesn’t have to be a continuous one. Instead, you can break it up into 2 to 4 sessions throughout the day.

How Much Does Merle Poodle Shed?

While most long hair dogs have a double-hair coat that sheds all the time, Poodles only have a single-hair coat. This means that their hairs only fall after they grow to full length.

Although the color of the Merle coat is different, its growing pattern remains unchanged. For that reason, they don’t shed as much as some other dogs.

This makes the Merle Poodle an excellent choice for anyone who suffers from minor respiratory asthma but still wants a canine best friend!

How Often Do You Need to Groom a Merle Poodle?

Although Merle Poodle hair coats don’t shed, you still need to brush and groom them to prevent matting and tangling.

For a shiny and healthy hair coat, you’ll need to brush your dog once every 1 or 2 days. Also, you should bathe your dog once every month and treat them to a grooming session every 6 weeks.

Merle Poodle Training

Proper training goes a long way in keeping your Merle Poodle happy and healthy. That’s why you should start training your puppy as soon as it reaches the age of 1.5 to 2 months.

Merle Poodle Diet

The Merle Poodle diet is similar to regular Poodles but you’ll need to invest in high-quality food to support the dog’s susceptible health.

The size of the poodle plays a major role in deciding the amount of food your dog needs to eat.

Generally, a large adult Merle Poodle should eat around 1.5 to 3 cups of food every day, split into 2 meals.

On the other hand, smaller Poodle varieties, such as Toy and Miniature Merle Poodles, require less food. Around 1/4 to 1 cup of food daily is enough.