Merle Pitbull: Is This Unusually Colored Dog Right For You?

Have you heard about the merle Pitbull? If not, then you’re not alone. Merle Pitbulls are uniquely colored pitties that have that “merle” color pattern.

While some people consider this trait as a genetic error, other people see this as a beautiful color pattern that makes a merle dog unique. But, what exactly is a merle color? Don’t worry, we’ll dive into that later on.

Debates about merle Pitbulls have been neverending for decades. Because the merle pattern is believed to only appear when a merle dog and a non-merle dog mate, many people are calling out this kind of puppy production.

Meanwhile, some studies show that the merle gene is not caused by intentional breeding but rather a natural gene present in some dogs and has remained inactive for generations only to appear later on.

In this article, the spotlight is put on merle Pitbulls and everything you need to know about them. Are they different from normal purebred Pitbulls?

Is it ethical to continue breeding them despite the health risks associated with the merle gene? These questions and more will be answered as you read along.

What Is a Merle Pitbull?

A merle Pitbull is an unusually colored Pitbull with a merle color pattern due to the presence of the “merle gene.” The “merle” refers to a genetic trait that causes dark splotches of color against lighter patches on the dog’s fur. Merle Pitbulls’ primary color will be diluted and their eyes will turn blue.

If a merle Pitbull mates with a non-merle, about half of the litter will have the merle gene. But if two merle Pitbulls are mated, a quarter of the puppies will be double merle. These double merle Pitbulls will have predominantly white coats. 

There are a couple dog breeds that are more prone to have the merle gene, such as the Australian Shepherd, Catahoula Leopard Dog, Welsh Corgi, Shetland Sheepdog, and various Collies. 

What Does the Merle Pitbull Look Like?

Merle Pitbulls look like any other Pitbull except for their unusual coloring. They are average-sized dogs with great muscle build.

Their ears are naturally perky and should be left uncropped; however, some owners still decide to trim them which is mostly for aesthetic reasons. Their tails are shorter compared to other breeds. It’s thicker down the base and thins out at the end.

One of their most outstanding features is their head which should be medium-sized. Their skull should be flat and their muzzle nicely shaped.

Merle Pitbulls will have striking blue eyes which is a result of their genetic makeup. Sometimes, a merle Pitbull could have two blue eyes, one blue and one brown, or an odd colored pair.

You can check these videos out to better understand what a merle Pitbull looks like.

merle pitbull puppy (rare)
Merle pitbull pups

What Makes the Merle Pitbull Different?

The obvious answer to this question is their splotchy color which sometimes looks like an Oreo cookie explosion on a dog’s fur. But, are there any more differences if they’re put in comparison to purebred Pitbulls and other breeds?

They’re not any different in size, lifespan, or temperament compared to normal Pitbulls. The only difference lies in their genetic makeup which therefore gives them their unique coloring, a bizarre coloring that has gathered positive and negative reactions.

But, if we put it on general terms, the merle Pitbull is still no different compared to other dog breeds. Though they are often categorized as aggressive and dangerous dogs, studies have shown that they are not.

They’re consistently successful in becoming service dogs, therapy dogs, and family pets.

It only goes to show that we can’t always trust what other people say and we can’t judge a dog based on their past, what they look like, and their misleading reputation.

Do Merle Pitbulls Have Blue Eyes?

Typically, Pitbulls and other dog breeds have brown eyes. But you shouldn’t expect the same coloring when you have a merle Pitbull.

The merle gene is primarily responsible for diluting the color of your dog’s fur, nose, and eyes. So, as a result, they can have two blue eyes, one blue eye, or even random colored eyes.

While this gene is to blame for the icy blue eyes of your merle Pitbull, other factors could affect your dog’s eye color. Similar to the Merle Gene, the ALX4 Gene is also strongly responsible for blue-eyed dogs.

According to a study by Embark Veterinary, dogs that carry this type of genetic mutation are much more prone to having blue eyes.

Likewise, melanin production can also directly affect the color of your dog’s eyes. The more melanin present in the body, the darker their eye color will be. However, if they have a lower concentration of melanin, they will have lighter colored eyes.

Do Kennel Clubs Like the AKC Recognize Merle Pitbull?

The American Kennel Club, American Dog Breeders Association, and other associations do not accept any registration of merle Pitbulls. This is quite a controversial and ongoing topic that’s been around for ages.

Their reason goes beyond the color of the dog and more has to do with health risks associated with the merle gene. Some studies have concluded that merle Pitbulls or any dog that has this gene are more likely to develop reduced vision and hearing.

However, other researchers debunk this claim entirely. The American Pit Bull Registry believes that there is no concrete evidence to prove that merle Pitbulls have an increased risk of health issues than the average Pitbull population.

They also claim that the merle gene existed many decades ago among purebred Pitbulls as documented by researchers at that time.

These mixed opinions and opposition from different associations have limited merle Pitbulls from being recognized and registered.

Merle Pitbull Genetics

The merle gene present in merle Pitbulls creates patches of color on a dog’s solid coat color. This gene can affect all dog colors but is more difficult to see on recessive red dogs.

Aside from altering the dog’s coat color, the merle gene also affects the pigments of the dog’s eyes and nose. Because the merle gene causes random modification, it’s also possible to have puppies with different colored eyes.

It’s recommended to only breed a merle dog with a non-merle to avoid the existence of double merle genes. “Double Merle” dogs are more prone to developing several health problems and are at a higher risk of having vision and hearing deficiencies.

However, there are instances when a seemingly non-merle dog produces a merle offspring. This kind of incident happens when a dog is carrying a cryptic or “phantom merle” mates with a non-merle dog. These types of dogs do not appear merle, but in reality, possess the merle gene.

The merle gene is also often associated with other dog breeds like the Australian Shepherd, Border Collies, Corgis, Dachshunds, Catahoula Leopard Dogs, and Great Danes.

Effects of Merle Coloring on Health

Pitbulls, in general, are considered healthy dogs that can live up to 13 to 15 years. When it comes to merle Pitbulls, the numbers are not so different.

With proper care and regular check-ups, you can expect your blue-eyed Pitbulls to live between the ages of 12 and 15 years. In other cases, some have recorded their dogs living past their average lifespan.

But in order to be more informed, let’s enumerate common health risks that come with a merle Pitbull.


The American Dog Breeders Association did a research and found out that merle Pitbulls lack the reflective substance found in the back of a dog’s eye.

For this reason, they’re more prone to night blindness and as well as other visual impediments. Other eye deformities found in Pitbulls with the merle gene include small eyeballs and cleft in the iris of the eyes.

If both parents have the merle gene and pass it off to their offspring, blindness will most likely occur.


Unfortunately, congenital deafness is also associated with the merle Pitbulls which puts them at risk of developing deafness.

Veterinarians recommended doing the BAER test, which can determine early on if your dog has a congenital disease. This test can be done to your puppy as early as six months old.


Again, the merle gene controls the melanin pigments in dogs which can result in color loss. Dogs that are not able to produce melanin which is responsible for the color of their eyes, nose, and coat will likely suffer albinism. These dogs will often have white coats, blue eyes, and a pink nose.

Apart from these common health problems that might turn out present in dogs carrying the merle gene, Pitbulls, in general, can also be prone to obesity. When Pitbulls remain inactive, they can become obese, which results in hip dysplasia – a familiar health problem with Pitbulls.

Merle Pitbull Temperament: Do They Make Good Family Companions?

Similar to normal Pitbulls, the merle Pitbull might have the same “bad reputation” when it comes to their temperament. Often, Pitbulls are labeled as vicious and dangerous, but nothing could be farther from the truth.

In reality, “bad Pitbulls” are just victims of irresponsible ownership and cruelty to animals.

In fact, when the American Temperament Testing Society conducted a study among 931 Pitbulls, a surprise 814 passed the test, which means that this breed had an impressive 87.4% pass rate.

If you’re wondering if this number is good enough, the stats also revealed that America’s most loved Golden Retrievers had a close 85.6% pass rate.

The number indicates that Pitbulls are less likely to show aggression than Golden Retrievers. Shocking? Well, here are other facts about the breed.

  • Active: Your merle Pitbull is an active breed of dog; therefore, it will require regular walks and exercises. They are best in homes with large open spaces for them to run around and remain active. If you plan to get a Pitbull but have a sedentary lifestyle, then don’t blame your pitties when the couch is left in shreds.
  • Loving: In contrast to what many people believe, this breed is the ultimate lovebug. They are very loving and loyal to their families and expect to be loved and cuddled as if they’re little babies. They thrive effortlessly in family settings and are very good with children when both are taught how to interact correctly with each other.
  • People Pleaser: Your merle Pitbull will have a constant need to please you. They crave attention and praise. They are more than eager to follow commands. This type of behavior has contributed heavily to Pitbull’s bad reputation for being vicious and aggressive. Because they are so keen to please humans, bad owners can easily manipulate them to do bad things.

Interaction With Children and Other Animals

It is with the way a dog is raised and trained which determines how they will interact with small children and other animals.

So, to generalize that Pitbulls, including merle Pitbulls, are savage and wild, only puts a stigma on this loving and devoted breed. With that said, let’s find out how merle Pitbulls get along with children and other animals.

With Children

The first question families ask when choosing a furry friend to join their homes is, “Are they safe with kids?” If you want a merle Pitbull, it’s best to get one as puppies so that they can grow up together with the children.

Getting Pitbulls as puppies ensures that they are adequately trained by loving and caring owners.

But always remember that any interaction of dogs with small children should be supervised. Both kids and the dog need obedience and situational training so that they know how to interact with each other properly and gently.

When they are raised correctly, pitties will turn out to be your children’s most loyal and loving friend. They are big dogs with puppy personalities and absolutely love to be smothered with love and affection.

With Other Dogs and Animals

Dogs like merle Pitbulls are sociable animals which means that they can quickly adapt to cohabitation settings. However, because of their territorial tendencies, they can be standoffish towards other animals if they are not introduced properly.

If you want another dog or animal in your house, you have to make sure that your pittie is disciplined and well socialized. This will ensure that they can correctly interact with another animal.

Also, they need to be taught how to obey commands. An anxious or timid Pitbull will not be compatible with other animals, so you have to make sure that they are trained well.

Merle Pitbull Health Issues

As mentioned previously, several studies point out an increase in health risks in merle Pitbulls. It’s even more perilous when you have a “double merle dog.”

Merle Pitbulls

Researchers have conducted experiments and revealed that merle Pitbulls have higher chances of developing ocular and auditory problems.

They are significantly more prone to having eye abnormalities and deafness as opposed to non-merle dogs. Other studies found cardiac, skeletal, and reproductive irregularities.

Double Merles

Double merle Pitbulls are those who were bred from two merle pitties. Sometimes, a double merle dog is easy to identify because oftentimes, they will appear white. This is why others call them “albino Pitbulls.”

They will have blue eyes or eyes that are very pale. Many of these double merle Pitbulls suffer severe eye and ear problems – but there are lucky ones that are born without any issues.

Merle Pitbull Price: Do They Cost More Than Other Pitbulls?

The straight answer to this question is yes. Despite the health risks in merle Pitbulls, breeders turn a blind eye because the profit is massive.

A female Pitbull typically produces 5 to 10 puppies, so the income from selling merle puppies is rather substantial. For those who are eyeing to get a merle Pitbull, make sure that you choose a reputable and honest breeder.

On average, top of the line merle Pitbulls can cost from $15,000 to $30,000. They cost double and even triple the usual price of non-merle Pitbulls.

Usually, kennels sell their puppies by picks. If you want to be the first picker, you have to pay a steep price so you can call first dibs from the litter. Meanwhile, you can expect to pay $5,000 to $8,000 for a traditional Pitbull puppy.

Sometimes people bring up the topic of adoption. However, it’s very rare to find a merle Pitbull in any adoption centers because of their price value. But there is definitely a high number of Pitbulls surrendered in shelters that need “furever” homes.

However, because of past traumas or history, adopting Pitbulls can be very challenging, which is why adopters need to be properly educated and prepared. Otherwise, these Pitbulls go in and out shelters, inflicting more damage to the dog.

Where to Find Merle Pitbull Puppies for Sale?

As a rule of thumb for merle Pitbulls and any other dog breeds, you should only get puppies from reputable kennels that promote safe and healthy breeding. This will be best for you, for the puppies and also the dogs that are used for breeding.

Some breeders disregard responsible breeding and are only after the money. You want to steer your wheels away from them. With that said, here are a couple of kennels that advocate responsible breeding and produces top of the line merle Pitbulls:

Swag Kennels

Located in Otis Orchards, Washington, Swag Kennels is famous for their two-faced American Bully, Phantom. They offer XL/XXL high-quality Pitbull breeds, including merle Pitbulls that are ABKC registered. They also offer shipping within the United States as well as internationally.

Monster Bully Kennels

Monster Bully Kennels is another trusted kennel that takes pride in their quality puppies. They offer dogs that are the “best of the best” in health, build, and overall correctness. They even have a 100% satisfaction rating from customers, including movie star Shia Labeouf.

The good thing about this kennel is they genuinely want you to be happy with your puppy, so they’re offering 15 days money-back guarantee in case you’re not getting along with your pick.

Bossy Kennels

Bossy Kennels seems to have won the hearts of NBA stars, NFL players, and baseball athletes. They cater to those who are looking for regular and merle Pitbulls. The kennel promises to provide only top of the line pitties that’s worth your money.

They’ve also expressed their dedication to their dogs and gave public notice that they only accept customers who are serious and capable of taking care of their pups.

Where to Find Merle Pitbull for Adoption From Rescues and Shelters?

Adopting a rescue dog is one of the most fulfilling experiences that you could do for yourself and an animal in need. It’s giving these poor little ones a second chance in life and providing yourself with the opportunity to be loved by a rescue that will forever express their gratefulness.

There are lots of reputable adoption centers where you can potentially find a merle Pitbull. I’ve listed a couple of them, and hopefully, you can check them out.

Pit Bull Rescue Central

The Pit Bull Rescue Central advocates rescuing, volunteering, and adopting Pitbulls. PBRC is one of the most prominent and most respected rescue organizations in the country where they not only promote adoption but also puts an emphasis on educating people about Pitbulls.

Villalobos Rescue Center

Located in New Orleans, Louisiana, the Villalobos Rescue Center is one of the most famous rescue facilities known in America. They were initially located in Los Angeles before making a life-changing decision to move to Southeast Louisiana.

They are known to be the “largest” Pitbull facility in the world. The center is dedicated to rescuing Pitbulls and giving them another chance at life.

Pit Crew Sacramento

Pit Crew Sacramento is a small group of experienced and committed Pitbull owners based in Sacramento who are driven to banish the negative stereotypes that are associated with Pitbull breeds.

They take Pitbulls from shelters, rehabilitate, and rehome them to foster or adoptive families. They prioritize dogs that are labeled “high risk” or are already scheduled for euthanasia. Pit Crew Sac is a non-profit organization and is run entirely based on donations and volunteers.

Is the Merle Pitbull Right for You?

After all the information that was just laid out and careful assessment of yourself, do you think that a merle Pitbull is right for you?

Before dipping yourself fully, you need to remember that getting a merle Pitbull is not similar to getting a hamster from the pet shop.

You need to be decisive and confident in your decision because choosing a merle Pitbull is choosing a breed distinguished as “undesirable.”

You have on your shoulders the weight of proving these people wrong and showing them that this breed is deserving of a life full of love around them. Along with these, you also need to meet the following:

  • Be financially ready: This dog comes with an expensive price tag, and if you’re willing to pay for it, you should also be willing to spend on their needs. Because they’re prone to several health risks, you must have the money ready for regular veterinary visits.
  • Be emotionally ready: Are you prepared to dedicate time and invest yourself in training and disciplining your dog from puppy to adulthood? Obedience and discipline are two fundamental traits that your merle Pitbull should possess. Otherwise, you’ll have a misbehaved dog that people will end up fearing.
  • Be physically ready: Is your home ready for a merle Pitbull? Do you have enough space for it to run around? Do you have children or other pets that might make things complicated? Consider these things and really think it through.

Final Thoughts

Whatever your decision may be, weigh the pros and cons. At this point, it’s hard to decide whether getting a merle Pitbull can be justified since we now know the health risks that come with breeding dogs this way. I’ve also dissected the stigma that comes with the breed.

However, let’s also look at the positive and see that an increasing number of people are looking at merle Pitbulls and the general Pitbull population in a more accepting way.

And hopefully, more people realize that like any other dog breed, the love that these wonderful pitties have to offer is just the same.

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