The Health Implications of Merle Bulldogs

The Health Implications of Merle Bulldogs

Health & Safety

On paper, the business of breeding dogs should bring joy to the world, especially if done responsibly. More puppies being born every day? What could possibly be bad about that? Sadly, the ethics and scruples of some dog breeders do not match up to those of our canine companions. Merle Bulldogs are a prime example of this.

These dogs are easily recognisable due to their colouring. Merle is a dominant gene in dogs, creating a pale fur pattern that contains many patches. So far, so good – this suggests that a Merle Bulldog is a rare breed, and a great pet for any dog lover. That’s certainly what a breeder wants you to believe too. Sadly, Merle Bulldogs are prone to a variety of health problems and should never be bred, especially not for sale.

A double-merle dog is doomed to a life of misery that could very easily have been preventable. Throw in the health problems so common with bulldogs anyway, due to their brachycephalic nature, and you have a canine destined to be dogged by health worries. Is it worth putting a faithful canine through such an ordeal?

Double-Merle Dogs are Rare – With Good Reason

A merle dog that came from only one merle parent will usually survive long into adulthood and experience good health. These dogs can also breed with other canines if done responsibly by an experienced breeder who has performed all the necessary health checks. The merle gene is not entirely dominant, and the parent will only pass on particular elements, most of which relate to the aesthetics of the pup’s fur.

A union between one merle dog and another with a solid coat can produce a litter of healthy puppies. Up to half of these pups will have merle markings on their coats, but none of them should be plagued by health defects. However, please note that the Kennel Club will not register any merle bulldogs due to the health implications. So if you did buy a merle bulldog puppy you would never be able to show them in any Kennel Club dog shows.

Be wary as some unscrupulous breeders will aim to breed a merle dog with another merle dog as soon as they reach sexual maturity in order to create more rare, expensive merle pups for sale.

Why is this so bad? Surely there is room for more unique-looking dogs in the world? If only this were the only problem. The fact is, a dog bred from two merle parents will likely be plagued with health problems. It is believed that 1 in 4 puppies from every double-merle mating will be born fully blind and deaf. Double-merle dogs are also unusually sensitive to sun, burning easily. This means that these canines are very susceptible to skin cancer.

Merle Dogs are Not a Breed unto Themselves

Merle is a pattern, and not a breed of dog. Countless breeds can be described as merle due to the presence of the gene. The Australian Shepherd is the most common, but some take it upon themselves to breed Merle Bulldogs.

From a cold, hard capitalist point of view, it’s easy to see why. Bulldogs are loved in the UK and beyond due to their unique faces and lumbering gait. Merle dogs have a unique look, which means that would make them an exclusive pet. However, their genetic health problems mean that no responsible dog lover would condone breeding a purely Merle Bulldog.

Sadly, some breeders are cheating the paperwork, and claiming that their Merle Bulldogs are a product of sheer good fortune. These breeders are making plenty of money selling Merle Bulldogs that were born to double-merle parents, knowing full well that they are potentially subjecting them to a lifetime of struggle.

The Merle Gene Doesn’t Just Impact Upon Fur

The merle gene in dogs is extremely distinct. It isn’t just the fur coat that makes a merle dog immediately recognisable. Merle dogs usually have mottled pink paw pads and noses. They will also frequently have piercing blue eyes.

This is a selling point for many breeders, and everybody loves a different-looking dog. As we know, however, this aesthetic can sometimes cost the dog its vision. Some merle dogs have different coloured eyes, too. This may take the shape of one dark eye, and one blue. If you are interested in purchasing a merle dog, investigate their history very carefully. Insist upon seeing records for both parents.

If only one of their parents carried this gene, and the other was a purebred with a solid coat, you have nothing to worry about. Enjoy a long and happy life with your unique canine best friend. If both parents were merle, however, walk away – and consider reporting the breeder to the RSPCA.

Never Purchase a Double-Merle Dog

Hopefully you will have come to this conclusion by yourself, but you should never purchase a double-merle dog – especially not a Merle Bulldog. You’ll notice that we say purchase, not adopt. That’s because the only way these canines end up being bred is by profit-hungry, uncaring individuals. These people clearly don’t care about a dog suffering. Is that the kind of person that you really want to be encouraging, and providing financial rewards to?

In addition to this, you will also struggle to find support for a double-merle dog. This is especially likely if your purchase a Merle Bulldog. As Bulldogs struggle for breath with their flat faces, they have enough to worry about. A Merle Bulldog that will also potentially be blind and deaf on top of this will struggle to find insurance. The Kennel Club also refuse their registration on the grounds of cruelty.

Every dog deserves love and devotion. Every dog also deserves the best possible chance of a good life. Unscrupulous breeders that are devoid of ethics rid canines of this opportunity by breeding merle dogs with each other. Remember this if you are ever approached with such an animal for sale. The trade is essentially profiting from animal cruelty.



Pets for studWanted pets

Accessories & services


Knowledge hub


Support & safety portal
Pets for saleAll Pets for sale