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Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

A Question About Merle Coloring And Deafness In Aussies.

by Jean S.
(Yreka, CA)

I have heard that blue or red merle dogs with white completley covering one or both sides of the head and ears can be deaf. If the ears have color on them then they are probably safe. But I don't know if this only applies to dogs who are bred double merle,ie., both sire and dam are merle colored. But say, if a dog has a merle dam and a black tri sire and they throw a puppy with an all white head, will it still maybe be deaf? I hope this question makes since.

Dogs can be kind of hard to test for deafness. Does anybody have any ideas for how to go about testing a puppy, that one might be interested in getting to see if it is deaf?

Comments for A Question About Merle Coloring And Deafness In Aussies.

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by: Anonymous

you should NEVER breed merle to merle that is where the deafness comein More common if both parents are

your color problems.
by: josiesdog

White heads are not always the result of a double merle breeding. Unfortunately, dogs on any colored breeding tend to be deaf when they lack colr withing the inner ear- so go splunkin with a flashlight ;0) Also, your dog may not necesarrily be blind. If it does lack pigmentation around the eyes, it is important to protect it from bright sun light. Just like soldiers do, the black eyeliner works as a pair of sunglasses and truely deflects the light away. The coloration that you are seeing out of a solid gene and a merle gene is likely a throwback piebald gene for color that both parents must have. I would not encourange this mix again.

by: josiesdog

Pretty easy to do. Just have another person off to the side while you are getting pups focus with a treat. while you have your pups full unindivided attention, direct your other party to drop a tapped metal pain with tons of pennies in it. It should startle him at the most, even if he is a docile puppy. He should look toward the noise also.
Please feel free to visit me for more aussie info as to color genetics at
I am just getting into the genetics of color and it is a fasinating think. THe Piebald gene that can sometimes cause the white heads goes far back into the working gene line, a time when aussies where bred for what they where intended to do. It is sadly due to that standards these wonderful dogs are not accepted. There are too much fear amongst hobbiest that they couldn't tell them between the double merle bred, which I don't understand cuz in my eye, you should be breding merle to merle

Deaf Aussie
by: Anonymous

We rescued a deaf Aussie from a merle-merle breeding and I think he was overlooked at first because he has black ears. I don't know about other crosses causing the deafness, but I have to say he has been the best dog in almost every way. His only quirk is that he runs into the yard barking when we let him out, as a warning to any critters that might be out there. Other than that, he is extremely well behaved and loving.

Deafness in Aussies
by: Laura

We adopted our Blue Merle expecting him to be blind and deaf. I am not sure if they expected him to have these impairments because of the solid coloring with his ears or due to his Albino traits. Our boy is 9yrs old and shows no sign of impairments. He still loves to play hide and seek with the kids. :)

Issues with Merle coloring and deafness
by: Anonymous

I can tell you for 100% you can have an Aussie that is not double merle that is a mismark or has the piebald gene. Excess white. Even if a dog has some color on the face or ears it can still have vision issues like blindness or Iris Coloboma or can be deaf. If the ears only have black tips and are white in the back and pink inside then deafness should be something to look for. An aussie with no face color is a good indicator but even one with some face or eye color but has white upper eye lashes can have eye issues. Iris coloboma is very prevalent in white body mismarks often showing even in Harlequin pattern meaning the darker spots come out white. I rescued a white body mismark blue merle that was not double merle, he has some color on eyes and ears but is very deaf and has iris coloboma. Which means the iris is misshaped so the pupils look larger than normal and misshapen. The pupils don't dialate normally and the dog can be sensitive to bright light. Not every dog is the same so one may have an issue that another doesn't. Good to be aware of the possibilities.

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Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

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