Just when you thought Chihuahuas couldn’t get any cuter, you find out about Merle Chihuahuas! These beautiful creatures are some of the most sought-after in the world of Chihuahuas.
These tiny dogs are stunning to look at and of course, they have the amazing Chihuahua temperament that so many of us adore.
Don’t worry if you don’t know much when it comes to a Merle Chihuahua – we’ll go through 10 facts so you can learn all about them!
- 1. Merle is a Pattern Not a Colour
- 2. Merle is a Gene Mutation
- 3. Merle Chihuahuas Are Rare and Expensive
- 4. Merle Chihuahuas Can Have Health Issues
- 5. Merle Chihuahuas Shouldn’t Be Bred Together
- 6. The American Kennel Club Accepts Merle Chihuahuas
- 7. Other Dogs Can Have the Merle Pattern
- 8. Ghost Merle Chihuahuas Exist
- 9. Merle Chihuahuas Might Not Be Purebred
- 10. They Have the Same Personality Traits as Other Chihuahuas
- Should You Buy a Merle Chihuahua?
1. Merle is a Pattern Not a Colour
The most important thing to know is that Merle isn’t actually a coat color! It’s a pattern that consists of patches of darker fur set on a lighter background of the same pigment.
A Merle Chihuahua can come in lots of different colors, including black, brown, and even blue! Just like any other Chihuahua, they can be either short-haired or long-haired.
The Merle pattern is sometimes referred to by dog lovers as a ‘dapple’ pattern.
2. Merle is a Gene Mutation
A specific allele causes the Merle pattern. Alleles are part of a gene – there are two alleles for each gene (one inherited from each parent).
A puppy only needs to inherit one copy of the Merle allele to have a Merle coat.
The Merle gene can also affect the color of a Chihuahua’s skin and eyes, as well as its coat.
3. Merle Chihuahuas Are Rare and Expensive
Breeding for a Merle Chihuahua is complex and comes with some risks. So they’re quite rare to see!
It’s worth noting that because they’re thought of as rare, Merle puppies are often much more expensive to buy than Chihuahua puppies with a common coat color. They can cost up to $1500 or even more!
4. Merle Chihuahuas Can Have Health Issues
Unfortunately, the gene that causes the Merle pattern can also cause some health issues. This includes hearing loss and vision problems, as well as a higher risk for some other illnesses.
If you’re going to buy a Merle puppy, it’s crucial you find a responsible breeder to reduce the risk of health issues as much as possible.
5. Merle Chihuahuas Shouldn’t Be Bred Together
Remember that one copy of the allele we talked about? Well, if two Merle Chihuahuas are bred together it can result in a puppy with two copies of the Merle allele. This is known as a ‘double Merle dog’.
This might not sound like a big deal, but double Merle dogs are even more susceptible to health issues.
Double Merles are at very high risk for hearing and vision loss. They’re also at risk for other health issues like some cancers, skin problems, cardiac issues, skeletal problems, and deformities. Some can even have shorter lifespans than most Chihuahuas.
6. The American Kennel Club Accepts Merle Chihuahuas
Unlike some other rare colors or patterns, the American Kennel Club does accept Chihuahuas with a Merle coat as part of the breed standard. This means that if you have a Merle Chihuahua in an accepted coat color, they could compete in the show ring!
However, some Kennel Clubs in other countries don’t accept Merle Chihuahuas due to the ethical considerations with breeding and associated health risks.
7. Other Dogs Can Have the Merle Pattern
Chihuahuas aren’t the only dogs who can have a Merle coat. Some breeds naturally have a Merle pattern and it’s accepted as part of the breed standard.
Other Merle breeds include the:
- Australian Shepherd
- Miniature American Shepherd
- Shetland Sheepdog
- Great Dane
- Border Collie
8. Ghost Merle Chihuahuas Exist
Yes, you read that right, and don’t worry, we’re not talking about actual ghost dogs! A ghost Merle Chihuahua refers to a Chi that has the Merle gene but doesn’t show any evidence of the Merle pattern on its coat or skin.
Some will have a very light Merle pattern that’s hard to detect, while others will have no sign of Merle at all. This is also referred to as cryptic or phantom Merle.
Since Merle genes can cause health issues, it’s crucial to get a DNA test for your Chihuahua if you plan to breed them to make sure there’s no hidden Merle gene!
9. Merle Chihuahuas Might Not Be Purebred
Some people believe that the Merle pattern doesn’t occur naturally in Chihuahuas. They believe they must have been mated with another breed somewhere in their bloodline to inherit the Merle gene.
Many people believe they were mated with a bigger Merle dog, such as an Australian Shepherd, to get the Merle gene into the bloodline.
Research and opinions are mixed about this in the dog world!
10. They Have the Same Personality Traits as Other Chihuahuas
No matter what color your Chihuahua’s coat is, they all share that fun-loving, sassy Chihuahua personality. I would definitely say they have the personality of a big dog in a tiny body!
Training, socialization, and general care for a Merle Chihuahua is the same as for any other Chi!
Should You Buy a Merle Chihuahua?
Chihuahuas make wonderful pets and can bring joy into any home! They’re cute, loving, and even comical at times.
Merle Chihuahuas are beautiful but they can have a range of health issues. It’s important to take this into account if you’re considering bringing a Merle Chi into your home.
Whatever your decision, ensure you find a responsible breeder or rescue center and give your Chihuahua appropriate veterinary care. That way, you can enjoy a happy, healthy life with your new best friend!