Blue Merle Dog: A Complete Guide To This Dog Coat Color

Dog coat colors come in a variety of colors and patterns including Blue Merle. A Blue Merle dog has a unique coat color pattern.

In this article, we will go into more detail on the Blue Merle dog coat color, from appearance, how they come about, health concerns, and care.

What Is A Blue Merle Dog?

blue merle dog

A Blue Merle dog is a dog that has a dilute merle coat pattern, which is a variation of the Merle coat color. The dog has a subtle gray with a blue hue coat covered with dilute black markings. The Blue Merle dog also has a bluish-black nose pigmentation which is also another distinct physical characteristic of the dog.

What Do Blue Merle Dogs Look Like?

Blue Merle, also known as a dilute merle is a coat color variation of the Merle dog coat color. 

The Merle coat color in dogs is a result of the merle gene which is a dark to pale gray base coat with black markings.

Depending on how the gene characteristics show up from normal pigment (dark) or dilute pigment, the Merle coat has variations in the color intensity.

The Blue Merle is one of the variations of the Merle coat which is the dilute presentation of the merle coat color.

The blue color is not a sky blue color, as may be confused to be. It is rather a gray, sliver, or slate color with a hue of blue.

A Blue Merle dog, therefore, appears as a blue-tinted merle coat broken up with dilute dark marks. The dilute dark marks vary in size and shape and are distributed over a dog’s body.

Blue Merle coat color is present in several dog breeds including Australian Shepherds, Border Collies, Catahoula Leopard Dogs, American Bullys, Shetland Sheepdogs, Welsh Corgis, and other breeds.

Blue Merle Dog Eyes

In addition to the determination of the Merle coat color characteristics, the merle gene also influences the eye color of a Merle dog. 

Blue Merle dogs have blue or brown eyes. Some have eyes with two different colors, that is, one brown eye and one blue eye.

If the base color of a Blue Merle’s eyes is blue, they are likely to also have brown specks in them. And if the base color is brown, they will likely have blue specks.

Most often Blue Merle dogs have blue eyes with brown specks.

What Makes A Dog A Blue Merle? : Blue Merle Dog Genetics

Puppies obtain their DNA from their parents. The inherited genes and their interaction determine a puppy’s coat color.

The coat color of dogs starts with two primary pigments, that is, a black pigment referred to as eumelanin, and a red pigment, known as pheomelanin. 

The different genes that are inherited by a puppy manipulate these two primary pigments which result in different coat colors and patterns.

The merle gene is responsible for the Merle coat color. The Merle color pattern is a dark gray base coat covered with dark markings. This is the standard Merle coat pattern. 

Depending on the merle gene’s length, the merle color can show up in different variations and color intensity.

A Blue Merle puppy inherits one copy of the dominant merle gene (M) from one of its parents.

A Blue Merle dog is a result of shorter merle genes compared to the standard merle genes. The coat shows up as a subtle grey base coat with a blue hue and black markings. 

Are Blue Merle Dogs Rare?

Blue Merle dogs are not rare however in some dog breeds they can be rare. The gene that determines a Blue Merle coat color is an incomplete dominant gene. This means the production of a Blue Merle puppy requires that either parent passes down a dominant merle allele (M) for the Merle coat color to show up.

Only one copy of the dominant merle gene (M) is required and when the gene is shorter than the standard merle gene from gene interaction, a Blue Merle puppy is produced.

Based on this genetic makeup requirement, breeders can increase the chances of producing Blue Merle puppies. 

Are Blue Merle dogs healthy? Do they have health concerns?

Unfortunately, the coat color of a dog influences its health. Studies have shown that the risk of congenital or inherited deafness is higher in dogs that have Merle coats.

The merle gene is linked to causing eye and ear deformities, leading to partial or complete blindness or deafness. The gene is also linked to sun sensitivity and skin cancer.

This does not mean that Blue Merle dogs are unhealthy and that all suffer from these conditions. They are healthy dogs. 

Although they are susceptible to these health problems, they do not necessarily develop them.

In addition to these gene-specific health problems, a Blue Merle dog is also susceptible to the specific dog breed’s common health problems.

Do Blue Merle dogs require special care?

Blue Merle dogs for the most part are healthy dogs just like any other dog coat color. They only require breed-specific care to keep them healthy. 

If a Blue Merle dog happens to be deaf, a health problem they are susceptible to, they will need special training and care to enable them to thrive. Despite this deafness, they are healthy dogs.

Read more on the different types of Blue Merle dogs from our guides below:

Finding suitable breeders for a Blue Merle dog

If you plan to purchase a Blue Merle dog, always seek an ethical breeder who enforces good breeding practices. 

Reputable breeders screen a puppy’s parents which minimize the risk of occurrence of health conditions in puppies. They also provide a puppy’s health history.

This will ensure that you will get a healthy Blue Merle puppy.

If you intend to adopt from a rescue have your Blue Merle dog tested to know their health status. 

The Blue Merle dog cost depends on the dog breed, individual breeder’s costs, and location.

A good place to start is the American Kennel Club’s marketplace which is a trusted resource with certified and approved breeders.

In Summary: Blue Merle Dog

The Blue Merle dog has a unique coat color which is a variation of the Merle dog coat color. Several dog owners sought this color in different dog breeds.

The coat color is part of merle color which makes a dog susceptible to deafness, however, Blue Merle dogs do not necessarily develop deafness. They are healthy dogs. 

Overall, Blue Merle dogs are eye-catching, and depending on the dog breed you decide to have, you will for sure get a good companion with proper socialization, training, exercise, and care.

Finally, when considering buying a Blue Merle dog, always purchase your puppy from responsible breeders to avoid getting a sick puppy and also secure them at a good price.

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Patricia Williams

Patricia Williams

Patricia Williams is a writer, mum, and animal lover with extensive experience with dogs. She loves talking about animal advocacy and care. She lives with 4 German Shepherds and 1 cat.