The Truth About Merle Cocker Spaniels
Black variety: Solid color black to include black with tan points.
Any solid color other than black (ASCOB): -Any solid color other than black, ranging from lightest cream to darkest red, including brown and brown with tan point
Parti-color variety: Two or more solid, well-broken colors, one of which must be white; black and white, red and white (the red may range from lightest cream to darkest red), brown and white, and roans, to include any such color combination with tan points.
Tan Points-The color of the tan may be from the lightest cream to the darkest red and is restricted to ten percent (10%) or less of the color of the specimen
What Does Merle Mean?
What’s The Problem With Merle Cocker Spaniels?
American Spaniel Club’s Stance On Merle Cocker Spaniels
Researching the evidence showing whether merle is or is not a Cocker Spaniel color.
Researching the scientific evidence that the merle color can produce significant health issues.
Developing an approach for educating breeders, owners and the general puppy buying population on the results of their investigations.
Is Merle a Cocker Spaniel color? The merle mutation predates all dogs and is behind all breeds—quite possibly going back to their wolf ancestors.
Does the merle mutation pose a health risk? While not every single merle Cocker has health issues, the preponderance of health issues directly and specifically associated with the merle genetic mutation has been identified in the peer-reviewed scientific studies highlighted in the study by the task force.
Devoted Breeders Stance On Merle Cocker Spaniels
For over 25 years, Kim Vavolo has been breeding and showing Cocker Spaniels. She says the biggest controversy, besides health issues, is that a merle Cocker Spaniel is not a purebred dog.
“Merles came from introducing another breed into Cockers to get the color, so no, they are not truly purebred,” Vavolo reports. “A merle bred to a merle can even produce offspring with no eyes.”
Nicole Tehranchi is a 35-year Cocker Spaniel owner and became involved in canine conformation 22 years ago. She’s bred a few litters and shows dogs as well.
“There is much controversy with breeding merles because it’s not an allowable color,” Nicole shares. “Up until 11 years ago, you really couldn’t register a merle Cocker.”
Nicole says the merle color is not that of a sporting dog and is usually found in Aussies, Collies, Shelties, Corgis, and Catahoulas.
“Yes, I do see them being more prone to health issues. Some include deafness, blindness, skin cancer, micro-ophthalmia ( born without eyes or very little eyes), color dilution alopecia, and cyclic neutropenia ( gray collie syndrome: eye, skin and bleeding issues) as well as death,” she shares. “While not every single merle Cocker has health issues the preponderance of health issues and directly and specifically associated with the gene has been identified.”
A Merle Cocker Spaniel Dog Owner Speaks Out
Merle Versus Roan Cocker Spaniels
Parti-Color Variety: Two or more solid, well-broken colors, one of which must be white; black and white, red and white (the red may range from lightest cream to darkest red), brown and white, and roans, to include any such color combination with tan points. It is preferable that the tan markings be located in the same pattern as for the tan points in the Black and ASCOB varieties. Roans are classified as parti-colors and may be of any of the usual roaning patterns. Primary color which is ninety percent (90%) or more shall disqualify.
The Battle And Truth About Merle Cockers
In both heterozygous ( genotype Mm) and homozygous (genotype MM) merle dogs eye and ear abnormalities have been observed, which included deafness, increased intraocular pressure, bad reflection ability (ametropia) and coloboma ( a hole in one of the structures of the eye). The absence of pigment affects also hairs in the inner ear, causing complete deafness. Research proved a deafness prevalence of 54.6% in double merles and 36.8% in single merles.
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