Merle Bernedoodle: All About This Rare Colored Designer Dog


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A Merle Bernedoodle playing in the park

Bernedoodles have been extremely popular for the past two decades due to their multi-colored coats and teddy-bear curls. Intelligent, goofy, compassionate, and devoted, Bernedoodle supporters trust that this crossbreed has the most extraordinary qualities of both its Bernese Mountain Dog and Poodle parents. 

To understand the Bernedoodle, first, we have to understand the typical characteristics of the two parent breeds; the Poodle and the Bernese Mountain Dog. 

Despite their deceptively fancy appearance and fluffy hairdos, the Poodle was originally bred in Germany by hunters to retrieve waterfowl. 

Their popularity soon spread throughout Europe, and soon, circuses were training them for shows. They started getting bred down in size to make transporting them easier for traveling circuses. 

Today, the Poodle is an active, athletic dog known to be on top of the list for canine geniuses.

There are three sizes of Poodles recognized by kennel clubs worldwide; Standard, Miniature, and Toy.

The Bernese Mountain Dog is descended from the Mastiff and other guarding breeds. First brought to Bern, Switzerland by the Romans some 2,000 years ago, the Bernie was developed as a multi-purpose farm dog to herd, pull carts, and guard property.

Rapidly growing in popularity, the Bernese Mountain Dog was brought to the United States in 1926 and recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1937. 

Intelligent, affectionate, and loving, the Bernie makes excellent family pets and suits most households.  

Cross them both, and you get a Bernedoodle, a designer dog breed currently not recognized by the AKC but recognized by the American Canine Hybrid Club, the Designer Dogs Kennel Club, and the International Designer Canine and the Designer Breed Registry.

Why A Bernedoodle?

Bernedoodles are versatile, active dogs that are loving, affectionate, and highly trainable. Smaller Bernedoodles bred with Toy or Miniature Poodles might do well in apartments, while the larger Bernedoodles will be happier with a yard.

With modest exercise requirements for smaller Bernedoodles, they might suit city life or apartment dwellers. 

Their generous, loving nature makes them ideal family pets. With a possibly hypoallergenic coat, Bernedoodles have a low shedding rate and might suit people with allergies. 

Despite their pleasant, happy-go-lucky nature, early socialization is always necessary to ensure they are calm and adaptable to unfamiliar situations. 

While a good romp in the park or nature is always appreciated, Bernedoodles can also be lap dogs and couch potatoes. They are people-oriented dogs that should not be left alone for long periods.

What is A Merle Bernedoodle?

Merle is not a specific color but refers to the dappling pattern in a dog’s coat. The merle gene lightens the coat’s color, creating a mottled pattern. For example, a patch of light gray in a merle dog might come from a solid base color of black. 

In addition, merle dogs tend to have blue or odd-colored eyes. Breeds that commonly carry the merle gene include Australian Shepherds, Shetland Sheepdogs, Great Danes, and Border Collies. 

The merle gene is represented by a single copy of the M, or “allele.” It is created by the heterozygote of an incomplete dominant gene. 

Merle dogs with a single merle parent are denoted Mm, meaning they have one allele for merle and one for non-merle. 

If two merle Bernies mate, it results in a litter of MM puppies or double merle. Double merle puppies come with a host of health problems and have a high chance of being born blind, deaf, or both. Two merles should never be bred.

The merle gene suppresses pigment cells in the iris and inner ear, and while the gene causes beautiful blue eyes, it can also cause sensory loss. 

In addition to altering the coat, the gene also causes blue or odd-colored eyes and pink noses and paw pads. 

Double merle puppies are often pure white and not the standard merle mottled pattern. 

While responsible breeders take great care in ensuring two merles are never bred, some patterns are subtle and can be easily mistaken for a solid color. 

When looking for a merle dog, it is crucial to inquire about bloodlines and ensure with 100% certainty that one parent is a solid color. The genetics of a merle Bernedoodle is complicated, and a breeding program has to be executed with great care to ensure a healthy litter. 

The merle gene can affect all coat colors, but blue and red are the two most common colors. 

Which is The Rarest Color of A Bernedoodle?

While the Bernese Mountain Dog is often a tri-colored dog, the Poodle can range from apricot, white, black, tan, cream, bi-colored or tri-colored. The rarest variations are bi-colored black and white, merle, and solid black or white. 

While technically, merle is not a color but rather refers to a pattern, it is a rare gene that can affect Poodles but is not known to affect Bernese Mountain Dogs. 

While most noticeable on black coats, the merle gene can affect any coat color, turning black into gray and dark brown into light red. 

The merle color combination in the coat goes off a solid color such as brown or black, causing light blue or red patches in a mottled, speckled pattern. 

In addition to the typical blue and red merles, other color combinations include: 

Bi-colored – A combination of two colors, often black and white, apricot and white, or any other coat with two colors. 

Tri-colored – A coat with three colors, often black, white, and tan. 

Solid white or black – White coats often contain a small splash of color. A completely white Bernedoodle is extremely rare. 

Phantom – A phantom coat predominantly black with tan markings around the chest, legs, and muzzle.  

Chocolate: A chocolate coat is solid brown and might have some splashes of white around the paws, chest, and forehead. 

Sable – Sable, like merle, refers to a pattern rather than a color. They can contain darker colors like brown and red on the head and chest that lighten as the coat goes towards the paws. 

How Much Do Merle Bernedoodles Cost?

Much rarer than their non-merle littermates, merle Bernedoodles can cost between $3,000 and $5,000 due to their scarcity and popularity. In addition, merle dog lovers often are willing to pay a pretty penny for a merle dog, further driving up the prices.

Several factors can determine the price of a merle Bernedoodle. 

Color

There are many different color combinations for Bernedoodle coats, and the price will vary depending on how many different colors are desired. Apart from merle Bernedoodle, a tri-colored Bernedoodle, parti Bernedoodle or phantom Bernedoodle will be significantly more expensive than a single or bi-colored Bernedoodle.

Demand

Behind the Goldendoodle and Labradoodle, the Bernedoodle is currently the third most popular Poodle crossbreed. Reputable breeders don’t overbreed their dogs, but instead, they’ll raise the price of popular litters.

Breeder Trustworthiness and Performance

The price of a Bernedoodle puppy rises in proportion to the breeder’s track record. A Bernedoodle from a reputable breeder will have gone through a series of health tests to ensure the quality of their Bernedoodle puppies. 

Every reputable dog breeder will conduct health checks on their adult dogs to ensure that they have healthy hips, joints, hearts, patellas, and eyes.

Be wary of a lower-than-normal cost. This usually warns of puppies from backyard breeders and puppy mills.

Bernedoodle Size

The little Bernedoodle, medium Bernedoodle, and standard Bernedoodle are the three sizes of Bernedoodles, depending on the size of the Poodle parent. 

Smaller Bernedoodles can cost several hundreds or even thousands more, while a tri-colored, teacup Bernedoodle can cost upwards of $5,000.

Standard Bernedoodle:

  • Height at the shoulder: 23 to 29 inches 
  • 50 to 90-lb weight range
  • Average life expectancy is 12-15 years

Miniature Bernedoodle:

  • Height at the shoulder-18 to 22 inches
  • 25 to 29-lb weight range
  • Average life expectancy is 17 years

Tiny/Teacup Bernedoodles or Toy Bernedoodles:

  • Height at the shoulder: 12 to 17 inches
  • 10 to 24-lb weight range
  • Average life expectancy is 18 years

Coat

Coats can range from straight to wavy or curly, depending on which parent the litter takes after. Wavy and curly coats are generally more expensive than straight coats. This is because wave and curly coats indicate that the litter takes after the Poodle parent, signifying a possible hypoallergenic coat. 

Are Merle Bernedoodles Rare?

Yes, merle Bernedoodles are much rarer than their non-merle, or mm, counterparts. The merle gene is not too prevalent in the Poodle bloodline and is almost non-existent in the Bernese Mountain Dog breed. 

The merle gene is relatively common in other herding breeds like Australian Shepherds, Border Collies, Shetland Sheepdogs, and Great Danes. 

Merle, like sable, is not a color, but rather, it refers to the mottling pattern in a dog’s coat. It lightens patches of coat on top of the original color. 

While merle isn’t a recognized color in the Bernese Mountain Dog nor the Poodle, you can still find the gene in both breeds, however rare.

Any litter of Bernedoodles carrying the merle gene is likely to have 25% to 50% of the puppies turn out merle, with blue and red being the most common colors. 

Are Merle Dogs Unhealthy?

No, a merle dog can be as healthy as its solid-colored littermates, and live equally long, happy lives. However, a double merle dog bred from two merle parents can have many health problems. Great care must be taken to ensure two merle dogs are never produced. 

A merle (Mm) crossed with a solid-colored (mm) results in 25% to 50% of the litter getting the merle gene. The merles from this litter will be similar in genetic makeup to the rest of the litter.

However, breeding two merle dogs risks having 25% of the litter becoming double merle dogs. Double merle dogs, or MM, have a vast range of health problems, including the possibility of being born deaf, blind, or both. 

Is Merle A Defect?

No, carrying the merle gene is not a defect but rather a dominant trait that creates patches of mottling on the coat and blue or odd-colored eyes. A merle dog bred to a single merle parent will be prone to other genetic health issues prevalent in its parent breeds. 

However, a litter from two merle parents can have some severe defects, including the possibility of being born blind and deaf. 

Double merle dogs are often white and might have some splashes of markings in their coat. They have odd-colored or blue eyes, pink noses, and paw pads. 

In addition to a possibility of being born partially or fully deaf, blind, or both, they also: 

– Can have microphthalmia, a rare disorder in which the eyeballs are so small that they must be removed

– Get skin cancer because of the lack of pigmentation and UV protection

Deaf and blind dogs have trouble in social situations since they can’t see or hear what’s happening around them. They battle with fear constantly, are anxious, and cannot communicate with others around them. 

Startling them might cause them to snap or attack because of their lack of vision and hearing. Owners of any deaf or blind dog must take extreme precautions in dealing with the disability. 

How do you get a Merle Bernedoodle?

First, check your local shelters. You never know; you might get lucky and find exactly what you are looking for. If you’re looking to buy, check with your local area and see whether there are any breed-specific clubs around, like a Bernedoodle enthusiast club. 

When looking for a breeder, please do some research online and read reviews to get a sense of what others say about them or get references from reputable sources such as veterinarians or kennel clubs.

You might also check your network to see if any of your friends or acquaintances have previously dealt with a reliable breeder in your area. 

If feasible, visit them and observe their breeding facilities to see how clean and well-organized they are. It’s also crucial to meet your prospective breeder and ask to check their medical records to ensure that they appear healthy and well-cared for. 

Make sure you’re asking questions along the process. It’s time to look for a new breeder if the breeder seems cagey or irritated by your questions or if you feel like they’re suppressing information.

Most responsible breeders will want to see you in person and have you sign a contract. They will have many questions for you to ensure that their puppies go to good homes and are stringent in their living arrangements and lifestyles requirements. 

Final Thoughts

While merle Bernedoodles are incredibly rare, it is still possible to chance upon a few if you are lucky or go looking specifically for those.

These loving, affectionate dogs are a hot favorite with Bernedoodle lovers, albeit at a sometimes shocking price tag with beautiful dappled patterns and light, soft colors! 

Thanks for reading, and all the best to you and your pooch!

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