A Little Dog Behind A Big Cause


Because of Keller's eye abnormalities that result from being a double merle, she wears these glasses during hikes to keep her vision stable.

This is Keller. Keller is a double merle Australian Shepherd. If you don't know what that means, it's okay, we'll teach you. Keller was born deaf and vision impaired as a result of her parents breeding.

Keller came into our lives as a 7 week old puppy with a pretty sad beginning. At 5 weeks old she was going to be shot by her "breeder" because of her disabilities. This made us fall for her even harder and we decided to welcome her into our family.

Keller is now a little over two years old and because of how amazing she is, we have set out to educate people on double merles. So what is a double merle?

A double merle is created when two merle dogs are bred together. It doesn’t matter what color merle or what breed they are. If two merle dogs are bred together, each puppy in the litter has a 25% chance of being born a double merle. A double merle inherits the merle gene twice.

One copy of the merle gene causes a marbling effect on the coat and creates lighter spots throughout the solid color coat. In a double merle, the marbling/lightening effect is doubled and the coat becomes predominantly white. Double merles also have a very high chance of being deaf, blind, or both because they lack pigment where it would normally form.

The pups that do not inherit the gene twice are “normal” dogs. Their coats are normally marked and they are not plagued with hearing or vision problems. The double merles are often killed at birth just for being white, when it is still too early to tell if the dog will have any hearing or vision problems. If they aren’t killed, they are often sold as rare white to unknowing people.

The following breeds carry merle and are recognized by the AKC as an acceptable color: Australian Shepherd, Border Collie, Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Catahoula Leopard Dog, Chihuahua, Cocker Spaniel, Collie (rough or smooth), Dachshund (called dapple), Great Dane (harlequin acts the same), Mudi, Old English Sheepdog, Pomeranian, Pyrenean Shepherd, and Shetland Sheepdog.

The merle gene is being introduced into more breeds everyday. The following do not recognize merle as a color or they are not AKC recognized breeds. Merle is now present in Poodles, Bulldogs, American Staffordshire Terriers/”Pitbulls” and Australian Koolies. It’s also being seen in the “designer breeds.”

This gets a little confusing, so we put together a video that simplifies it. The video can be viewed here.

Because of Keller we want nothing more than to make people aware of this dangerous breeding practice. Even more so, we want people to know that these dogs do exist and they do need homes. A deaf or blind dog loves no differently than a "normal" one. Keller proves that every day.

Keller is the happiest, smartest, goofiest, little dog I've ever met. Of course we had apprehensions about raising a deaf and vision impaired dog, but they have all vanished. Keller knows all of her commands through hand and touch signals. She knows about 15 different commands and also dabbles in agility. Training these dogs is no more difficult than any other dog, it just requires a different type of communication.

We hope you'll enjoy our posts and follow along as we strive to remove the stigma around "disabled" dogs and educate the public.

To follow Keller's daily adventures visit: www.facebook.com/kellerthedm

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Positively Expert: Amanda Fuller

Amanda, with her dog Keller, are deaf dog advocates, doing everything they can to remove the stigma around owning special need pets. Do you know what a double merle is? Amanda can tell you.


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