Merle Labradoodle: All About This Rare Colored Hybrid Dog

Merle Labradoodle

Labradoodles are a cross between the wildly popular Labrador Retriever and the equally fetching Poodle.

A designer dog breed, Labradoodles are intentionally bred from two purebred AKC recognized parent breeds.

They were first bred in Australia in 1989 by Wally Conron, who was tasked with creating a dog for a blind woman whose husband was allergic to dogs. 

The Labradoodle is one of the most popular family dogs. Their popularity can be attributed to their attractive, cuddly appearance and intelligent, loyal, and caring temperament.

Apart from their extreme trainability and generous nature, they are also straightforward to care for, and their coats are likely to be hypoallergenic, making them suitable for people with allergies.

What is a Merle Labradoodle?

The merle coat is created by the heterozygote of an incomplete dominant gene. 

Merle is not a color but refers to a dog’s coat pattern. The merle gene creates a mottling in the coat, lightening patches of it. Although rare, Poodles can carry the merle gene and pass it down to their Labradoodle offspring. 

Merle dogs tend to have light, spotted, or mottled coats. In addition to affecting the coat, the merle gene also changes the color of the eyes. Most merle dogs have blue or heterochromatic eyes, meaning different colored eyes.

In addition, the paw pads and nose might be pink instead of brown. 

The merle gene tends to be more dominant in herding breeds. Common merle breeds include Australian Shepherds, Great Danes, Border Collies, and Shetland Sheepdogs. 

The merle gene is represented by an allele, or a single M, the variant form of the gene that can be present anytime if it can be traced, even minutely, in the dog’s lineage. 

The M gene present in a merle dog can bypass several generations of litters before presenting itself much later in the bloodline. 

Merle dogs have a genotype “Mm,” meaning they have one marker for merle and one for non-merle. Non-merle dogs have a genotype “mm,” meaning the merle gene has no presence in its bloodline.

Non-merle dogs, or mm, can be bred with merle dogs, or Mm. The merle genotype is highly dominant, and an “Mm” dog bred with an “mm” dog will produce a litter that is about half merle, or “Mm.”

Breeders that specialize in merle litters have to be extremely careful. Two merle dogs bred with each other results in a double merle litter, or “MM.” 

“MM,” double merle puppies are the last thing you want and a disaster waiting to happen. They have numerous health issues and a significant chance of being born blind, deaf, or both. 

MM puppies are primarily white with some colored patches. When two merle dogs are bred, there is a 25% chance of each puppy being born double merle or MM. 

Responsible breeders will NEVER risk the chance of a MM litter. However, merle patterns are not easily spotted, and some mottling can be hidden under a thick, vibrantly colored coat. 

A merle can be mistakenly identified as a non-merle easily. A richly-colored coat can obscure the mottling patterns under the coat, and their eyes can also be brown if the merle genotype is not wholly dominant. 

Accidental breeding of two merles can result in a litter of deaf, blind, and otherwise deformed puppies, so if you are looking for a merle puppy, do your homework and check both parents with a magnifying glass! 

Labradoodle Sizes

Although a Labrador Retriever is a standard size and the breed has not been bred down, the Poodle has been bred down to give the “Toy” and “Miniature” Poodle, both breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club.

Labradoodles come in various sizes depending on the type and size of Poodle used in the litter.

  1. A male Standard Labradoodle should be 22 to 24 inches tall, while a female should be 21 to 23 inches tall, and both should weigh 50 to 65 pounds.

2. A male Medium Labradoodle should stand 18 to 20 inches tall, while a female should stand 17 to 19 inches tall and weigh 30 to 45 pounds.

3. A Miniature Labradoodle’s usual height is 14 to 16 inches tall and weighs 15 to 25 pounds.

Which is the rarest color of a Labradoodle?

Merle colors typically fall into two categories – red and blue. You might frequently find a merle dog referred to as “blue merle” or “red merle.” Blue is more common, while red is rarer. 

The patterns on merle dogs can be classified into: 

Phantom Labradoodle

The Phantom pattern has a base color and a second color present above their eyes, to the side of their nose on their muzzle, chin, and across their chest. 

The most common color combination is black and gold. The solid background color of a phantom Labradoodle’s coat may be black, brown, red, silver, apricot, white, or cream. 

Other color combinations include black with apricot, red, cream, silver, or brown points, red with apricot points, silver with cream points, or brown with apricot points.

Abstract Labradoodle 

The abstract color means an abstract mix of colors that holds no particular pattern. Any combination of colors is acceptable. To be considered an abstract colored Labradoodle, they must be less than 50% white; otherwise, they are a partial-colored pooch.

Blue Labradoodle

Blue merles don’t actually have blue coats. The color “blue” describes a grey, silvery coating when referring to canine genetics. 

Some black Labradoodle puppies can fade to blue as they grow, and it might be easier finding a blue merle Labradoodle than a red one. 

Red Labradoodle

A red-colored Labradoodle is the rarest. This is because red poodles are rare, and red Labradors, also known as Fox Red Labs, are highly uncommon. 

Much darker than a gold or apricot-colored Labradoodle, they are similar to an Irish Red Setter. Their nose must be black, not brown, to be a natural red. The entire coat should be red, and the hair will be the same shade from base to tip.

How much do Merle Labradoodles cost?

Merle dogs are rarer than their solid-colored counterparts, so merle dogs typically cost several hundred dollars more. Labradoodles cost about $1,000 to $2,000, and a merle Labradoodle can cost upwards of $3,000. 

Check a merle breeder thoroughly, as irresponsible breeders can have unethical breeding practices that involve breeding two merle dogs in the hopes of getting a whole merle litter.

As mentioned earlier, two merle dogs being bred will result in some puppies being born with massive genetic defects like being blind and deaf. 

Are Merle Labradoodles Rare?

Yes. Although breeding two merles can guarantee merle puppies, it risks the puppies being born double merle. In addition, breeding a merle, or Mm, with a non-merle, or mm, will only yield half the litter as merle puppies.

Merle does not refer to the color of a dog’s coat but rather the dappled or mottled pattern that creates light-colored patches. The merle gene seems particularly dominant in herding breeds like Border Collies and Australian Shepherds. 

Are Merle Dogs Unhealthy?

A merle dog is not necessarily prone to health or genetic issues and can lead a long, healthy life. However, a double merle dog with two merle parents can have many congenital disabilities and has a high chance of being born blind, deaf, or both. 

A merle, or “Mm,” dog crossed with a non-merle, or “mm” dog will result in puppies in the litter with the merle gene. These “Mm” dogs can be born, live long, happy lives, and have no genetic defects compared to their solid-colored littermates.

Is Merle a defect?

As mentioned earlier, the double merle gene is related to some severe vision and hearing issues. However, aside from this, a merle Labradoodle will be prone to any other genetic health issue prevalent in its parent breeds. 

The Poodle and Labrador Retriever are prone to several health issues, such as:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Bloat
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy
  • von Willebrand’s disease
  • Ear infections

How to Get a Merle Labradoodle?

Several top-quality breeders specialize in breeding dogs with the merle gene. However you look for a dog, breeder selection is of utmost importance. A good breeder sees past colors and will match potential owners with puppies that suit their lifestyle and temperament.

For example, if you and your family aren’t particularly active, the hyperactive alpha puppy of the litter may not be the pup for you, regardless of coat color. 

Look at the breeding pair as well. Chocolate Labradors have been known to have a shorter lifespan than their black and golden counterparts and a higher incidence of skin and ear problems.

White and light hues in dogs are also associated with several health issues. 

In addition, Color Dilution Alopecia is a disorder that affects standard-sized Poodles and is linked to light colors.

Selecting a trustworthy, ethical breeder is of utmost importance. A quick check on free sites like eBay and Craigslist frequently hawk puppies for cheap. 

Be wary of any breeder that doesn’t allow you to visit the premises or show you where the puppies were raised. Puppies bred by backyard breeders and puppy mills are often presented in unsanitary conditions with little to no healthcare, leading to many health problems in the future. 

Merle breeding is highly specialized and requires a great deal of care to prevent the accidental breeding of two merles, resulting in deaf or blind puppies. 

The merle gene is evident in some dogs but can be hidden in others. Inexperienced breeders with merle in their bloodlines can mistakenly identify a merle dog as a non-merle, resulting in terrible consequences and deaf and blind puppies. 

Why Get A Merle Labradoodle?

Labradoodles are one of the most popular hybrids worldwide. The intelligent, hypoallergenic Poodle with the affable, love-the-world Labrador is the perfect recipe for a loyal, intelligent, loving canine companion.

They are medium-sized dogs that are easy to train, with a beautiful, curly coat that sheds very little. 

Labradoodles tend to be intelligent, low-shedding dogs suitable for all owners, even the young and inexperienced. Their tendency for aggression is almost nothing, while their friendly nature makes them ideal family pets. 

They are unlikely to win “Guard Dog Of the Year” but will be an excellent addition to any household, regardless of experience and age.

Labradoodles are active animals that are likely to love the water. They will get along with kids, other animals and be a kind, loving companion to all things. 

The Grooming of a Merle Labradoodle

A merle Labradoodle will require little maintenance. The hypoallergenic, low-shedding Poodle’s coat is likely inherited by a Labradoodle and requires little brushing or grooming. A few brushes a week to remove any dead hair and dander would be sufficient to maintain a Labradoodle’s coat. 

In addition to regular brushing, a bath every once in a while is necessary to keep your Labradoodle’s coat in tip-top shape.

Labradoodles with straighter coats shed more frequently but have fewer tangles in their coats. Curly coats indicate that a Labradoodle takes over the characteristics of the Poodle parent and tends to shed less.

Your Labradoodle’s ears and eyes must be cleaned and checked regularly for a buildup of dirt and other gunk. Use a natural cleaner to frequently remove any dust or debris from your Labradoodle’s eyes and ears to stave away infection and prevent loss of function.

Keep your Labradoodle’s nails filed or cut down near the quick, and brush their teeth regularly with a meat-flavored toothpaste and a canine toothbrush.

Mini Merle Labradoodle

The explosive popularity of the Labradoodle has spurred breeders to create a smaller version. Some breeders experiment with breeding a Labrador Retriever with a Miniature or Toy Poodle to size down the standard Labradoodles. 

Mini Labradoodles are already extremely popular and rapidly growing in demand, especially for households that don’t have the size for a standard Labradoodle.

The average size for a Miniature Labradoodle is between 14 to 16 inches and 15 to 25 pounds. 

Like the larger version, a Mini Labradoodle will usually be friendly, intelligent, and energetic. 

Final Thoughts

Originally planned to be hypoallergenic guide dogs, Labradoodles are intelligent, loving dogs that can make fantastic family members. It is unsurprising that the Labradoodle has been rapidly gaining in popularity and is one of the most popular designer dog breeds today.

With some preparation and proper care, you’ll have many happy years with your Labradoodle. Have fun and good luck on your journey together!

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