1. Merle is a very interesting and exotic looking fur pattern present in some dogs breeds.
It is a pattern in the fur rather than a fur color. This pattern expresses itself as random dark patches of fur over a lighter solid or piebald coat. Merle is also known sometimes as “dapple”.
2. Merle actually appears in many dog breeds
Including; Australian Shepherds, Shetland Sheepdogs, Collies, Catahoula Leopard Dogs, Great Danes and Cardigan Welsh Corgis. Merle can also be found (but less commonly) in Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, Border Collies and Cocker Spaniels.
3. Merle is not a naturally occurring color for pugs.
The merle coloring is not a naturally occurring color and it needs to be bred in over generations to maintain the pug look but with different coloring. It isn’t the most rare pug color out there though. That trophy goes to brindle. Most pugs are usually either fawn or black.
4. Merle Pugs are not purebred
If you breed two purebred pugs together you will never be able to produce a merle puppy. This is because the gene required to produce merle (M) cannot be found in a purebred pug’s genetics.
So, for pugs to be merle they must have one or more ancestors who have been bred with another dog breed that does have the merle gene. The M gene is now introduced into the bloodline and a merle (Mm) dog and a non-merle (mm) dog can be bred with a 25% chance of producing merle.
Some people may think that merle pugs are purebred because they still look the same as other pugs but this is just due to the careful introduction of the merle gene and selective reproduction to maintain the pug look, but with the merle fur pattern.
5. Merle Pugs are not recognized by the AKC
If you take a look at the American Kennel Club website, you’ll see that they only accept fawn or black pugs as these two are the only naturally occurring colors.
6. Merle Pugs varies in price
The price of a pug varies greatly depending on the area you’re in, who you’re purchasing the pug from and the quality of its ancestry just to name a few factors but in general, you can buy a standard pug for $1000-$3000.
If you consider this is for a healthy, purebred fawn or black pug, then a merle pug should not cost more than this! However, there are some dishonest and tricky sellers out there who market merle pugs as exotic, rare and trendy to try and get a higher profit.
7. Merle Pugs do not have additional health problems compared to regular pugs
Merle pugs are just the same as regular pugs but with different color fur. This is a standard merle pug with the genes Mm. These pugs do not have any additional health problems however, the presence of the merle gene does increase the chances of pugs developing the health conditions usually associated with them. The pug breed alone has some significant health conditions that should be taken into consideration.
Pugs are a brachycephalic breed meaning they have very short noses/faces which comes with a set of health concerns of its own. The Kennel Club places pugs in Category Three meaning they’re at the highest risk for health problems among other breeds of dogs. These health concerns may include:
- Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS): This can cause severe breathing difficulties due to their flat faces
- Eye problems: including dry eye and corneal ulcers
- Hip Dysplasia
- Skin Infections
- Pug Dog Encephalitis: This condition can cause blindness and a host of other ailments and can eventually be fatal
If you wanted to take a look at this in more detail check out the PDSA website. All of these health concerns are for any pug, including merle pugs.
8. Double Merle: What Happens When you Breed Two Merle Pugs?
Double merle is what happens when you breed one merle dog with another merle dog. Both dogs have Mm genes and therefore there is a 50% chance that the puppies will be double merle.
In any case, double merle dogs have a much greater chance of developing health conditions. It usually involves blindness and deafness due to a lack of pigment in the eyes and ears. One article iterates that “One study found that deafness affected 9.2 percent of dogs with the merle allele, with 3.5 percent in single merles and 25 percent in the double merle dog.” This is a huge increase in probability that a double merle puppy will develop some serious health problems and for what? Some extra splotches of dark fur on their back.
9. Merle pubs live just as long as regular colored pugs
It’s hard to find a definitive answer for how long merle pugs are expected to live. Regular fawn or black pugs are expected to live between 12 and 15 years, however, the presence of the merle gene does increase the probability of pugs developing some serious health conditions and it can exacerbate some conditions that pugs already surfer from.
For these reasons, we can safely assume that merle pugs might run into some health issues sooner rather than later but with the right health treatment and care there’s nothing to say they can’t live just as long as their fawn counterparts.
10. It is not ethical to adopt/purchase a double merle pug
If a pug has pups and some of them happen to be merle, there is no ethical reason why you shouldn’t get one. However, a double merle pug would certainly pose some ethical problems due to all the health issues that they have. It simply isn’t fair on the animal to breed them with such a high chance of them being deaf, blind and having trouble breathing.
11. Breeding for color
When you start breeding dogs for a specific color or a rare color, you start running into some issues. Colors that aren’t natural to the breed can carry different genetic material which could manifest in certain ailments like dry skin, patchy fur or even more serious conditions such as with double merle dogs being more prone to blindness and deafness.
So, what is the verdict? Should you get a merle pug? Is it ethical? Are they rare and exotic? Ultimately, you should never purchase a dog just based on its aesthetic appeal anyway and you should always do your research to figure out if choosing a certain color means that animal will have a poorer quality of life.
In any case, if you can, adopt don’t shop!