Merle Pitbulls are absolutely stunning, so it’s no wonder you’re curious about this gorgeous dog. With a coat that looks as exotic as a tiger’s, these canines are quickly becoming a coveted companion for Pitbull lovers everywhere.
But while merle Pitbulls are certainly a thing of beauty, they are also somewhat controversial. And no, not just because they are Pitbulls.
In fact, the merle coat itself is raising eyebrows and leading to conversations about whether breeding merle Pitbulls on purpose is really ethical. Today, we’re going to cover everything you should know about this beautiful dog, but before we dive in let’s first talk about Pitbulls in general.
Let’s Talk About Pitbulls
The Pitbull is not a breed, but instead, a term used to describe a number of bully-type dogs.
Despite their controversial past, Pitbulls are incredibly popular. One could even say there is a cult following devoted to the breed, with many enthusiasts, groups, and foundations dedicated to advocating for the protection and proper breeding and adoption of this delightful canine.
Still, many people don’t always realize Pitbull dogs are not a breed. Instead, the term Pitbull is a term that covers several Pitbull types, including but not limited to the American Pitbull Terrier, the American Bulldog, the American Pitbull Terrier, the Staffordshire Terrier, and the American Staffordshire Terrier.
Of these five types of Pitbulls, only one – the American Staffordshire Terrier – is recognized by the American Kennel Club.
With that said, other clubs like the United Kennel Club do recognize other Pitbull types, like the American Pitbull Terrier, for example.
Regardless, Pitbulls continue to be some of the most misunderstood dogs in the canine kingdom. But why?
Historians point to their violent past, in which Pitbull dogs were primarily bred and used for bloodsports like bull baiting and dog fighting. While these cruel pastimes have thankfully been banned, Pitbulls today still find themselves suffering from a stigma that sees them as aggressive, unpredictable, and dangerous.
If you love Pitbulls, you’ll be happy to know that many studies have disproved the idea that Pitbulls are inherently violent and aggressive. However, Pitbulls have been found to have one of the strongest bite forces, a trait that helped make them popular choices for bloodsports in early 16th and 17th century England.
Regardless, most people find that pit bulls make fabulous companions for families with children and other pets.
Of course, that doesn’t mean a Pitbull is right for everyone. And this could be especially true when considering a merle Pitbull, whose coat color can add even more controversy to the breed.
So, without further ado, let’s meet the merle Pitbull.
Meet The Merle Pitbull Terrier
Merle Pitbulls are not a type of Pitbull but are simply Pitbulls with merle coats.
Height: 17 to 21 Inches
Weight: 30 to 60 Pounds
Temperament: Devoted, Energetic, Playful, People-Oriented, Stubborn
Lifespan: 8 to 15 Years
Health Issues: Increased risk of deafness, increased risk of blindness, skin cancer, sun sensitivity, microphthalmia, hip dysplasia, degenerative myelopathy, kneecap dislocation, skin allergies, congenital heart defects, food sensitivities, Bloat, and thyroid problems
Coat Color: Buckskin merle, black merle, red merle, blue merle
The Merle Pitbull Overview:
Merle Pitbulls are not a breed or even a type of Pitbull. Instead, they are a Pitbull type with the merle coat color. The merle coat color is characterized as a coat color that exhibits swirls, spots, or similar patterns across the dog’s coat.
Also known as dapple coat colors, the merle coat color is not always a dual or tri-color, but often two shades of the same color.
Although merle Pitbulls are very beautiful, they can be prone to more health problems than other colored Pitbulls. For this reason, there is quite a bit of controversy surrounding the breeding and selling of merle Pitbull dogs.
In fact, many breeders originally opted to breed out the merle gene in the dog, which has since made obtaining a merle Pitbull rather difficult.
Still, merle Pitbulls are becoming increasingly popular, and the fact that they are rare has led to them becoming more costly than their other colored counterparts in spite of the increased health issues they may face.
If you’re considering a merle Pitbull, it’s important you consider this and consider the health implications that could come with such a dog.
Let’s learn more.
The Merle Pitbull Terrier – Why The Controversy Over The Coat?
Merle Pitbulls can be more prone to several health problems.
Merle Pitbull terriers are unique not just because of their lovely coat pattern, but also because they can have blue eyes and lighter skin. And because merle Pitbulls are rare, owning one can be an absolute show-stopper.
This is part of the draw of these beautiful Pitbull types, but what many people don’t realize (or realize too late) is that merle Pitbulls come with an increased number of health issues, as we mentioned above.
Some of the most common health issues that are associated with the merle or dapple coat include increased risk of deafness, increased risk of blindness, increased risk of skin cancers, and increased risk of sensitivity to the sun.
But what causes this increased risk of health problems for merle Pitbull dogs? It’s all in the genetics.
According to the American Kennel Club, the merle gene is caused by a dominant gene known as the merle allele (M). This dominant gene affects not only coat pattern and color, but also eye color and skin pigmentation. Studies have found that this can cause a lack of hair pigmentation in the inner ear, which has been linked to deafness.
The lack of pigmentation in the eye can also lead to moderate to full blindness in some merle dogs, and the lack of pigmentation in the skin is what leads to an increased risk of skin cancers and skin sensitivities.
Does this mean that all merle Pitbulls are going to be deaf, blind, or suffer from cancer? Of course not. It simply means that merle Pitbulls are at a higher risk.
Still, these risks have been notable enough for the American Dog Breed Association (ADBA) to state that breeding merle Pitbulls is unethical, and thus they have not registered merle Pitbull dogs since 2005.
Temperament Of The Merle Pitbull Terrier
Like all Pitbulls, merle Pitbulls are famous for their friendly and energetic temperament.
All health issues aside, the merle Pitbull is just like any other Pitbull type. He is friendly, outgoing, energetic, and playful. These dogs can make wonderful companions for homes with children and other pets when properly raised, trained, and socialized.
In fact, there was a time in the Pitbull’s history when he was once known as a “nanny dog” due to his devotion and gentle nature with children.
With all that said, it’s important to remember that Pitbull dogs are naturally energetic and muscular. Without the proper training and exercise, they could be overwhelming for some younger children, especially if they jump.
We should also note that the merle Pitbull can have a high prey drive, so socialization is key at an early age, especially if you plan on raising your Pitbull in a home with other pets like dogs and cats.
In some cases, female Pitbulls may not get along with other females, so it’s important you do your research if you want to raise two Pitbulls in the same household.
The merle Pitbull may also be prone to stubborn behaviors, especially if he is bored or distracted. Luckily, these dogs are highly food motivated and eager to please, so proper training using positive reinforcement can reduce these behaviors.
The Importance Of Training, Exercise, And Socialization For Your Merle Pitbull Terrier
As with all dogs, merle Pitbulls should be properly trained and exercised.
Training, exercise, mental stimulation, and early socialization are important for all dogs, but they are especially important for high-energy dogs who can be prone to stubborn behaviors like the merle Pitbull.
When it comes to training, make sure you use positive reinforcement training techniques that utilize treats and praise as opposed to aversive training methods like scolding or pain. Pitbulls are sensitive dogs and can easily shut down under harsh training sessions, making training more difficult and even harming the bond the two of you have built.
If you’re looking for good treats, we recommend Zuke’s Training Treats.
Zuke’s Training Treats
These treats are made with quality ingredients that are low in calories, and therefore healthier than many other types of training treats for dogs. We also like that they are small, highly palatable, and chewy, all traits that make them ideal for holding your dog’s interest during training sessions.
You can also use these training treats to help when it comes to early socialization. Socialization should begin from the moment you bring your merle Pitbull puppy home and should continue on throughout his lifetime.
The process includes introducing your dog to as many new experiences as possible while ensuring these first impressions are positive for him, which is where the treats can come in handy.
Along with socializing and training, you’re going to want to make sure and keep your dog exercised both mentally and physically.
Remember, the merle Pitbull is an energetic dog and he can become destructive if his needs are not properly met.
The best exercise for this dog would include a good hour or so walk each day as well as free playtime in a securely fenced yard or dog park. You’ll also want to make sure you keep your dog mentally stimulated, especially if you’re going to be away. You can invest in puzzle toys, quality dog chews, or KONGS to help keep your merle Pitbull busy and entertained.
There are a variety of KONG toys available these days and they come in all shapes and sizes, but we’re still big fans of the original KONG toy, which is made with strong, dog-safe rubber and is nearly indestructible.
This is an important trait for any toy that is going to a Pitbull, since Pitbull dogs are known to have such strong bites and can chew things to smithereens.
We also like that you can fill this KONG with your dog’s favorite treats or even a dog-safe peanut butter that will help keep him busy and active for hours.
Understanding The Health Issues Of The Merle Pitbull Terrier
Sadly, merle Pitbulls can be more prone to several health issues.
We did touch on health issues briefly above for the merle Pitbull, but it’s important to note here that, along with an increased risk of deafness, blindness, skin cancers, and sun sensitivity, the merle Pitbull can be prone to a number of other health issues typical to Pitbull types as well.
With a lifespan of between 8 and 15 years, the merle Pitbull can be prone to the below list of health problems:
- Increased risk of deafness
- Increased risk of blindness
- Skin cancer
- Sun sensitivity
- Hip dysplasia
- Degenerative myelopathy
- Kneecap dislocation
- Skin allergies
- Congenital heart defects
- Food sensitivities
- And thyroid problems
While it’s impossible to completely prevent health issues in your blue merle Pitbull, you can help reduce the chances of your dog suffering from certain health problems by ensuring you get your Pitbull from a reputable source.
This would include going through a responsible breeder who understands the importance of using responsible breeding practices or a shelter you trust.
It’s also important to keep up with routine exercise each day, and to invest in quality dog food for your merle Pitbull.
Dog food is especially important for this breed because they can suffer from so many health issues involving their skin, coat, and digestion.
The best dog food for a merle Pitbull is going to be a limited ingredient diet dog food or a hypoallergenic dog food specified for dogs with sensitivities. You should also look for dog food specified for your dog’s age, weight, and activity level.
Taste Of The Wild Grain Free Dog Food
We like the above Taste of the Wild grain free dog food because it can help reduce the chances of sensitivities for your Pitbull. Grains can often exacerbate allergies and sensitivities, so this is a good option if your dog is sensitive.
We also like that it is high in protein, which is a must for high-energy dog breeds like Pitbulls. It’s also made with venison instead of chicken, which is excellent as poultry is also known to exacerbate allergies.
Merle Pitbulls can also struggle with something known as Bloat, or Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV). This is a serious and often deadly condition that can come on suddenly and is caused when a dog eats or drinks too quickly, causing air to fill its intestines.
You can help combat Bloat by investing in something known as a puzzle feeder.
Le Tauci Puzzle Feeder
Also known as a Slow Feeder, a Puzzle Feeder is a dog bowl designed with a maze-like pattern. It helps collect the kibble or the wet food in the ridges and forces your dog to slow down while eating.
This reduces the amount of air swallowed, which reduces the chances of your dog suffering from Bloat.
Puzzle feeders can also help keep your dog mentally stimulated during mealtime, and even helps encourage healthy eating habits while also enhancing digestion. It’s a win-win all around!
How To Find A Merle Pitbull Terrier To Call Your Own
Despite their health issues, merle Pitbulls can be quite costly.
If you have your heart set on a merle Pitbull puppy from a breeder, we hope you’re ready to spend a pretty penny. In fact, and in spite of their increased health issues, merle Pitbulls are some of the most costly dogs in the canine kingdom, sometimes running between $15,000 and $30,000.
Yes, you read that right.
While they are incredibly expensive, it’s very important not to try and cut corners to obtain a merle Pitbull by going through breeders selling dogs for much less than their average cost. Doing so could put you at risk of accidentally going through breeders who are not qualified or responsible, and this could make you more likely to wind up with a dog that is unhealthy.
Instead, consider going through a Pitbull rescue or shelter that specializes in Pitbull types. While you may not be able to get your hands on a merle Pitbull right away, you could request to be put on a waiting list or alert list so you can be notified if one comes in.
If you do opt to go through a breeder to obtain your merle Pitbull, be sure you do plenty of research on the breeder you are going through. Ask for references and certifications of health, and avoid going through online sellers or backyard breeders who cannot provide you with these things.
And remember, the merle Pitbull may be stunning, but it can also come with several health complications.
In knowing this, would you still consider investing in a merle Pitbull? Tell us why or why not in the comment section below.
Jen Jones is a professional dog trainer and behavior specialist with more than 25 years of experience. As the founder of ‘Your Dog Advisor’ and the ‘Canine Connection’ rehabilitation center, she applies a holistic, empathetic approach, aiming to address root causes rather than merely treating symptoms.
Well known for her intuitive and compassionate approach, Jen adopts scientifically-proven, reward-based methods, encouraging positive reinforcement over punishment. Jen specializes in obedience training, behavior modification, and puppy socialization. Her innovative methods, particularly in addressing anxiety and aggression issues, have been widely recognized. Jen has worked with many of the world’s leading dog behaviorists and in her free time volunteers with local animal shelters and rescue groups.