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Merle in Chihuahuas

Some breeders in Chihuahuas strongly believe that the Merle as a color marking in the breed should not be allowed. Some believe it is dangerous because Merle, when not fully understood and bred improperly, can result in deaf/blind puppies.

This most often results from Merle-to-Merle breeding (In Dachshunds called Dapple.) Others feel this marking was introduced in recent history by mixing a chihuahua and another breed. We know there is a long history of Merle in Chihuahuas, dating back to 1947 in Milo Denlinger's 1st Edition of “The Complete Chihuahua” book. Photos have shown us that the presence of Merle has been with our breed for more than 75 years.

We decided to research and understand this gene before we ventured into this color marking. We believe that DNA testing for coat color is mandatory when breedings that involve Merle. Merle gene is overly complex, and if anyone is interested in learning in-depth. Please message us. We will forward information and answer any questions you have. Here I will keep it a bit simpler.

Merle markings can be “hidden” or “masked” by other colors like cream. So, if you breed a cream chihuahua to a merle marked chihuahua, it may look like a cream, but it is not. This makes it possible for a breeder to accidentally breed two merle-marked dogs, causing an elevated risk of health issues. Merle can NOT be carried!! I can not stress this enough. One parent MUST be merle for a puppy to be merle. So when a breeder is looking for " no merle lines" it just doesn't make sense, first off there are merles in every line of chihuahuas, second great-grandpa being merle can NOT create a merle pup for you. Again a Parent has to be MERLE to have a merle pup.

Some easy solutions to dealing with the risks that can happen are:

  • Always DNA Test your breeding stock.

  • Always register your dogs correctly regarding color. Many breeders will mark AKC registration as “Brindle.”

  • Always be transparent and honest if you have a dog that is “hidden.”

  • If you have males and females, Merles have a system that “Opps” breedings can never happen.

  • Here at A & A Chihuahuas we only currently have males that are Merle.

Below is a picture of a Merle Smooth Coated Chihuahua dated 1930, from Mr. Denlinger's book 1st Edition 1947

Bibliography: For more details on this gene. "THE COMPLETE CHIHUAHUA" Milo G. Denlinger Denlinger's 1947 (US)


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