Can American Bullies Be Merle Color?

merle bully pitbull

American Bullies can have a broad range of coat colors and patterns. One of the most beautiful and unique patterns in some dog species is merle color. So, can an American Bully be a merle color, too?

A small number of American Bullies have merle coats, which can vary in color and pattern. Since merle American Bullies are susceptible to health problems, specific canine organizations do not recognize them as part of the breed. The merle coat is due to an inherited gene from one or both parents. 

This article will explain everything you need to know about merle-colored American Bullies. 

What Does A Merle-Colored American Bully Look Like?

Merle-colored American Bullies have random, diluted color swirls and patches that give their coats a unique and mottled appearance. The most common colors of the patches and swirls are red, Cryptic, and blue. Additionally, these dogs can have a regular merle coat or be double merled. 

Like regular American Bullies, merle bullies have short and shiny coats. They have broad-shaped heads with pronounced cheekbones, and strong shoulders. 

Their high-set ears can be cropped or left uncropped, depending on the breeder, and they are stocky and muscular dogs. 

American Bullies with merle coats are often also called dappled dogs due to the appearance of their coat pattern. 

Merle American Bullies have diluted color spots as the merle gene affects the production of eumelanin, a brown/black pigment responsible for protecting the skin from ultraviolet radiation. 

Below are the most common merle coats in American Bullies: 

  • Red merles: Red Merle American Bullies have faded reddish-brown (or liver-colored) spots with cream, copper, or white patches. They sometimes have tan patches in addition to reddish-brown spots. 
  • Blue merles: The term “blue merle” is misleading because these American Bullies actually have black coats with gray and tan patches. These dogs are called blue merles as the gray color patches can appear blue in some light conditions. Blue merle coats are not as mottled as red merles. Some blue merles don’t have any tan in their coat, and they look similar to tri color American Bullies. 
  • Cryptic (or hidden) merles: This is the rarest kind of American Bully merle. It’s called cryptic since only a tiny portion of the coat is merled. These merles have either black or liver spots, with the dappled sections often hidden by white fur. 

The merle effect in American Bullies often also extends to the nose. Merle dogs can have partly red, pink, or blue noses, often known as butterfly noses, due to the unique shape the color patches make. 

American Bullies have different color strengths in their merle coats. Some have extremely diluted color patches, while others have much darker spots. 

Most American Bullies have blue eyes. However, they can also have one brown and one blue eye and it’s rare for a merle American Bully to have two brown eyes. 

What Does It Mean if My American Bully Is a Merle Color?

American Bullies with merle coats have a unique and attractive appearance, the reason some breeders enjoy breeding two merle dogs together. However, it’s not the best thing that can happen to an American Bully.

Unfortunately, American Bullies with merle coats can be susceptible to specific health conditions. These include heart issues, hearing difficulties, vision problems, sun sensitivity, bone abnormalities, and reproductive issues. Some merle American Bullies are also more likely to develop skin cancer. 

These problems are due to merle dogs not having sufficient eumelanin, which is essential in the healthy functioning of the eyes and ears. Lack of eumelanin also leads to lower sun protection for the skin, leaving these dogs vulnerable to sunburn and skin cancer. 

Merle American Bullies can have varying levels of eumelanin, which can determine the seriousness of these potential health problems. 

A small number of merle American Bullies have so little eumelanin that they appear almost entirely white. 

If you have a merle American Bully, there’s no reason to panic. Your dog can live a healthy and happy life as long as it receives regular veterinary check-ups and has a nutritious diet. 

Why Are Some American Bullies Born With A Merle Coat? 

Merle American Bullies aren’t born randomly, and their beautiful and unique coat color is due to genetics. 

If an American Bully is born with a merle coat, it’s because the dog has the Mm genotype in its DNA. This means that they have one allele (or genetic sequence) for merle (Mm) and another for non-merle (mm). When a merle and non-merle American Bully breed, roughly half their puppies will be merle. 

The Mm gene is responsible for diluting random colors in the dog’s coat and leaving patches of the coat with the original, undiluted color. 

These patches can vary in size, can be located anywhere on the body, and often have rough or jagged edges. 

The color of the merle patches will depend on the gene inherited from one or both of the parents. 

What Is a Double Merle American Bully?

Some folks mistakenly believe that double merle American Bullies have twice the amount of merled patches on their coats, but it’s untrue since it doesn’t have to do with their appearance.

Double merle American Bullies have parents who both have merle coats. Each parent has the Mm gene, and the resulting offspring will carry the MM (or double merle gene). Unfortunately, the health problems associated with American Bullies have increased in double merles. 

If two merle dogs breed, there’s a 25% chance that each puppy in the litter will be a double merle. 

Some double merle puppies are born completely blind, deaf, or both, while others have eye or ear deformities. It’s the main reason many official canine authorities refuse to accept double merles as part of the American Bully breed. 

Unfortunately, many breeders or American Bully owners continue to breed two merle dogs, resulting in double merle puppies. Since there’s not a lot of publicity around the dangers of breeding double merle puppies, they’re often bred by mistake. 

Some unscrupulous breeders or dog owners do this on purpose as they believe that double merle coats are attractive and will sell for a lot of money. 

Is My Dog a Recognized American Bully With a Merle Coat?

This is an interesting question, and as we’ve seen above, American Bullies can have broad-ranging coat colors. 

Based on the specifications laid out by the United Kennel Club (UKC), merle-colored American Bullies are not officially recognized as American Bullies. Merle-colored American Bulliess often have health issues, the main reason they are not officially accepted. 

The only coat color recognized by the American Kennel Club is white with black, tan, brown, brindle, or brown markings. 

American Bullies are typically laid-back, friendly, and intelligent dogs particularly patient with kids. Merle American Bullies are no different as the merle gene doesn’t affect the dog’s personality. 

Most American Bully owners understand this and love their dog no differently than if it was a purebred American Bully. 

Final Thoughts

Merle American Bulldogs have distinctive diluted color patches on their coats and can be either red, blue, or cryptic merles. 

According to the American Kennel Club, merle American Bulldogs aren’t officially recognized as part of the breed. 

Merle American Bullies are prone to specific health problems, notably eye and ear problems. However, your merle dog can live a healthy and happy life with regular veterinary care. 

Double merle American Bullies have inherited the merle gene from both parents and are even more susceptible to health issues as they have low levels of eumelanin.

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