Merle Cockapoo: Get to Know This Rare Colored Designer Dog

Merle Cockapoo

The Cockapoo is a wildly popular crossbreed of the Toy or Miniature Poodle and the Cocker Spaniel. They are a designer dog breed known to be one of the most popular crossbreeds around. 

They were first bred in the US in the 1960s, making them the oldest of all designer dog breeds. Cockapoos were bred to create an intelligent hybrid that is affectionate, sheds very little, and is easily trained. 

English Cocker Spaniels were first bred in Britain to hunt woodcock. The American Cocker Spaniel is a smaller variant of the breed registered by the AKC (American Kennel Club) in 1878.

The Poodle, originally bred to retrieve in water, is one of the most intelligent breeds of dogs. In addition, their coats are listed as hypoallergenic by the AKC.

Cockapoos have curly coats that can be tan, apricot, chocolate, black, or rarer, blue or silver. They are low-shedding dogs that are suitable for allergy sufferers.

They are small dogs weighing 12 to 24 pounds and standing 10 to 15 inches at the shoulder. While their lifespan is up to 15 years, it is not uncommon to find Cockapoos older than that. 

They are moderately active dogs with average exercise needs; an hour walk a day with playtime in between should keep them tired and happy. They are suited for apartment living as long as they get adequate exercise. 

They are highly affectionate dogs and attach immensely to their humans. As with all companion dogs, this devotion leaves them prone to separation anxiety. 

Cockapoos are intelligent dogs that need mental stimulation to feel fulfilled. Both Poodles and Cocker Spaniels are working breeds that have been conditioned to be our partners in addition to our pets. 

A Cockapoo is easily trained and will do well in obedience classes and agility. And under-stimulated or inadequately exercised Cockapoo can exhibit destructive behaviors like snapping, chewing, and digging or develop separation anxiety. 

They have little grooming needs, and their coats are not prone to doggy odor. A daily brush to remove dead hair and dander and a trim every month or so would be enough to maintain a healthy coat. 

Like all dogs, their nails have to be cut regularly and their eyes and ears cleaned. A weekly bath should suffice depending on the weather and lifestyle. Be sure to use an organic doggy shampoo to protect your precious pup from harmful chemicals often found in commercial pet products. 

What Is A Merle Cockapoo?

Merle is not a color but rather a pattern in a dog’s coat. The merle gene lightens patches of coat, creating a mottled or spotted pattern. Merle dogs also tend to have blue eyes. Although rare, the Poodle and Cocker Spaniel can carry the merle gene and pass it down to their Cockapoo offsprings. 

Some breeds that commonly carry the merle gene include Catahoula Leopard Dogs, Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, Shetland Sheepdogs, and Great Danes. 

The merle gene happens when a dog has a single copy of the M or allele. An allele is the variant form of a gene and can present anytime if the gene is present in the lineage. 

Merle dogs carry the genotype Mm, meaning they have one allele for merle and one for non-merle. Non-merle dogs are mm, and can be bred with Mm dogs. This pairing will produce a litter that is approximately half merle, or Mm. 

The trouble starts when you breed two merle dogs, resulting in a double merle litter or MM. There is a 25% chance of each puppy being a double merle due to breeding two merles. 

Double merles are primarily white with some patches. They come with a vast array of health problems and a high possibility of being born deaf or blind, or even worse, with no eyes! 

The UK Kennel Club acknowledges the health risk of breeding two merles and has stopped registering MM puppies since 2013. 

Responsible merle breeders will never breed a litter of double merles unless they want to deal with deaf and blind puppies. However, some merle patterns are subtle and can be easily missed. 

If you are looking for a merle puppy or intend to get one, check both parents thoroughly and ensure that the non-merle dog does not carry the gene. The accidental breeding of a dog incorrectly identified as non-merle to another merle dog could have potentially disastrous consequences. 

Merle can affect all coat colors, the most common being blue and red merles. More rare would be the silver and chocolate merles that are present in some herding breeds.

In addition to changing the coat’s color, the merle gene also modifies the color of the eyes, nose, and paw pads. Eyes are frequently blue but can also be odd-colored. The paw pads and nose might have pink pigmentation. 

Which Is The Rarest Color Of A Cockapoo?

Cockapoos can be tan, cream, apricot, blue, chocolate, or black, or a bi-colored or tri-colored combination of any of these colors. The rarest color would be a merle-colored Cockapoo.

Merle is not a color but a pattern in a dog’s coat. The merle gene creates lighter patches in the coat on top of the original color, resulting in a mottled or spotted coat. 

Since both the Cocker Spaniel and the Poodle are breeds that can carry the merle gene, that variant gets passed to Cockapoos. 

Merle Cockapoos are rare. Any litter carrying the merle gene is likely to have 25% to 50% of the puppies turn out merle. 

The most common merles are red and blue merles

How Much Do Merle Cockapoos Cost?

Because they are much rarer than their solid-colored littermates, merle dogs will cost a few hundred dollars more. In addition, buyers of merle dogs are typically willing to pay a premium, driving up the price further. Cockapoos cost between $900 and $2,500 depending on the location, breeder, color, and bloodline.

Several factors will determine the price of the Cockapoo.

Geographical location

A breeder located in a state with five other Cockapoo breeds will probably price competitively and can be expected to offer their litters at a lower price. 

In comparison, the sole breeder throughout the state might be able to fetch a higher price for their litters because of the unavailability of Cockapoo puppies. Buyers tend to pay a premium to avoid driving out of state to look for a puppy. 


Cockapoos can be combinations of the Poodle and Cocker Spaniel in varying degrees. A 50-50% mix of two purebred parents is also known as an F1 cross and can cost more than the offspring of two Cockapoos. 

The F in F1 stands for “filiah hybrid” and represents a crossbreed, not a pure breed. The number denotes the generation; F1 is the first generation of the cross, while F2 is the second. 

Reputable breeders will have accurate records of the parent dogs dating back several generations, so check on the lineage of a potential purchase. 

Breeder reputation

Selecting a reputable, trustworthy breeder is essential. Some breeders selling on sites like Craigslist and eBay often have cheap puppies going for less than $900. We strongly caution you against buying puppies from these sites, as cheap puppies often come from backyard breeders or puppy mills that don’t know what they are doing. 

These cheap pups are often raised in unsanitary, poor conditions and come with no guarantees, health certificates, or sales contracts. They are poorly socialized and often lack adequate healthcare, leading to a myriad of health and behavioral problems in the future. 

In addition, breeders of merle dogs have to take utmost care in preventing any accidental breeding of two merles. A litter of puppies from two merle dogs is likely to result in some being born deaf, partially or totally blind, or both. 

As the merle gene is evident in some dogs but more subtle in others, inexperienced breeders with merle in their bloodlines might incorrectly identify a merle dog as a non-merle, resulting in disastrous consequences. 

Are Merle Poodles Rare?

Yes, merle Poodles are much rarer than Poodles with solid-colored coats. The merle gene does not naturally occur in Poodles, but several breeders are disputing this fact. In addition, although AKC does not recognize merle Poodles, they registered several merle Poodles according to their base coat color. 

Merle is not a color but rather a mottling or dappling pattern that causes patches of lighter shades. It frequently occurs in herding breeds like Australian Shepherds, Collies, Catahoula Leopard Dogs, and Shetland Sheepdogs. 

Are Merle Dogs Unhealthy?

No, a merle dog does not necessarily mean any health issues or genetic problems. However, a double-merle dog that is bred from two merle parents has a vast range of generic issues in addition to the possibility of being born deaf, blind, or both.

A merle dog crossed with a solid-colored dog will result in 25% to 50% of the litter carrying the merle gene. These merles can be as healthy and live as long lives as their solid-colored littermates.

However, the breeding of two merle dogs will result in 25% of the litter carrying the double merle gene. Puppies carrying the double merle gene have a vast range of health problems in addition to possibly being both deaf, blind, or even without eyes. 

Great care must be taken to prevent merle-to-merle breeding. 

Is Merle A Defect? 

No, carrying the merle gene is not a defect. An autosomal, dominant trait creates patches of lighter mottling on the coat and blue or odd-colored eyes. However, puppies of two merle parents can have some severe defects and be born blind and deaf. 

The merle gene is present in dogs with a single M, or “allele,” a variant form of a gene. Merles can present itself anytime along the lineage from which it originated. 

Merle dogs should have the genotype Mm, one to denote the merle, or “M,” gene, and the lower case to indicate non-merle, or “m.” 

Non-merle dogs, or “mm,” can be bred with Mm dogs, resulting in a litter that will be 25% to 50% merle.

However, if two merle (Mm) dogs are bred, approximately 25% of the puppies will be double merle or MM.

Double merles are usually white with some patches, with small, blue, or odd-colored eyes. They can have a vast range of health issues and a high possibility of being born blind or deaf. 

Two merles should never be bred, and merle breeders must take great care to prevent accidental breeding. 

What’s The Difference Between A Red Merle And A Blue Merle?

Merle is not a color but rather the gene that lightens coat patches, often transforming solid-colored coats into a mottled pattern. A red merle will have a red or liver base, while a blue merle has a surprising black base. 

In addition, although rarer, the merle gene can also mottle chocolate and silver coats.

Red is a recessive gene and is a rarer color than black, leading to more blue merle dogs than red. The merle gene will mottle any coat regardless of color; it just so happens that most dogs have more black on them than red. 

Some red merle breeds include Australian Shepherds, Collies and Border Collies, Shetland Sheepdogs, and Catahoula Leopard Dogs. 

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