Are Blue Merle Cavapoos At Risk To More Health Issues?

Are blue merle cavapoos more at risk to health issues?
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    There’s no denying that the Blue Merle Cavapoo is a wonder to behold. Cavapoos are amazing in their own right, but the Merle coat is amazingly unique and beautiful.

    So, it’s no wonder that many people want to welcome a Blue Merle Cavapoo into their families. 

    The Blue Merle coat is not without its drawbacks. Some Merle genes can produce health issues such as deafness, blindness, and more. A Blue Merle Cavapoo might be more at risk of these health issues if they have double Merle genes, although not all Blue Merle Cavapoos are more at risk of health issues. 

    Today we’ll be looking further into what a Blue Merle Cavapoo is and what this means for their quality of life and health. Let’s jump right in. 

    What Is A Blue Merle Cavapoo? 

    We all know what a Cavapoo is by now – this lovable dog is a cross between the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the Poodle. But what is a Blue Merle Cavapoo? 

    Blue merle refers to their coat pattern. With Poodles having 10 coat color possibilities and Spaniels having four, there are plenty of color combinations to see in a Cavapoo.

    One of these is Blue Merle. 

    The Blue Merle pattern sees faded blue patches over a white coat.

    Many people don’t realize that they have a Blue Merle Cavapoo right away, as the puppies often have solid black coloring with small patches of gray and tan. 

    Blue merle coloring comes from a genetic defect where their black coat coloring turns gray or blue. There will be multiple patches of different blue hues along a Blue Merle coat.

    The genetic defect has been dubbed the ‘Merle gene’, which can be seen in many dogs.  

    Are Blue Merle Cavapoos Rare?

    Yes, Blue Merle Cavapoos are rare. In fact, the Blue Merle coat is the rarest Cavapoo color. It’s often not regarded as an official color, so it’s very rare to find.

    You need to find a dog with a genetic defect to see the Blue Merle coat, which is something that not many wish for. 

    The next rarest colors of the Cavapoo are solid white and solid black.

    Black is a recessive gene, so it’s much more common for the coat to be laced with other colors in patches across the coat. 

    The Blue Merle coat is only present when the Cavapoo has the Merle gene, which dilutes patches of the black coat to make a multi-colored blue, gray, and white coat.

    It is extremely rare, which is why many breeders do not have them for sale and will price them incredibly high if they do. 

    How The Merle Gene Affects Cavapoos

    Many people love the look of the Blue Merle Cavapoo, but the Merle gene is actually not something we want to see in any dog.

    The Merle gene is a genetic deformity that can lead to a number of health issues, such as blindness, deafness, skin cancer, sun sensitivity, and deformed eyes. 

    In some cases, Blue Merle Cavapoos have even seen a drop in the blood supply to their ear nerve cells which has caused death. 

    The Difference Between Merle Genes

    There are two types of Merle genes a dog can inherit to gain the Blue Merle coat – heterozygous Merle (Mm) or homozygous Merle (MM).

    Genetic screening should be able to tell you which Merle gene your Blue Merle Cavapoo has. 

    The heterozygous Merle gene is less likely to cause health issues in the Cavapoo, while dogs with the homozygous Merle gene are more likely to suffer from health concerns. 

    Blue Merle Cavapoo Health

    The Merle gene is linked with many health issues, including the auditory and ophthalmologic systems, as well as the immune system.

    The Merle gene can alter the development of the nervous system while the dog is still an embryo, which can prevent them from developing as a normal Cavapoo would in utero. 

    There is much more to the Merle gene than the suppression of pigment over their coat. This can also affect the inner ear and the eye’s iris. 

    Blue Merle Cavapoos often have blue eyes, which is another rare trait that makes them all the more popular.

    However, the light color of their eyes can also make it more difficult to diagnose any health concerns in the eyes. 

    What About Double Merle Cavapoos? 

    Double Blue Merle Cavapoos are the product of two Blue Merle Cavapoos being intentionally bred.

    Both parents carry the Merle gene, and therefore the offspring is more likely to have health issues throughout their lives. 

    One study on Merle dogs showed that while deafness affected 9.2% of dogs with the Merle gene, it affected 25% on average of double Merle dogs.

    Other studies have agreed with these findings, showing that double Merle dogs experience much higher rates of health issues than single Merle dogs. 

    Some double Merle dogs have even been born without eyes! 

    Health Concerns Of Blue Merle Cavapoos

    Double Blue Merle Cavapoos are more at risk of health conditions than single Merle Cavapoos, but that doesn’t mean the latter cannot inherit the following illnesses.

    Here we are going to talk about the specific health concerns that have been associated with Blue Merle Cavapoos in the past. 

    Vision Impairment

    Eye issues are one of the most common health issues that come with the Merle gene, and many Blue Merle Cavapoos will experience at least one type of vision impairment within their lifetime.

    This can be as minor as vision blurriness to as large as complete blindness or loss of eyes. 

    One specific illness that is common in dogs with the Merle gene is Microphthalmia with Coloboma.

    This is a recessive trait that can show in Cavapoos with the Merle gene and a predominantly white coat. Their eyes will be unusually small with deformations in the iris, lens, or retina of the eye. 

    Microphthalmia can sometimes cause the eyeballs to be so small and underdeveloped that they need to be removed, leading to complete blindness.

    Other visual impairments that Merle dogs can suffer from include night blindness, third eyelids, abnormal appearance of the eyes, and a cleft in the iris. 

    Hearing Impairment

    Merle dogs are more likely to have hearing impairments due to deficiencies in the ear canal, stemming from when they were first developing in utero.

    These impairments can range from missing certain sounds or not being able to hear certain wavelengths of sound, to complete deafness. 

    Skin Issues

    The lack of pigmentation that comes with the Merle gene doesn’t just affect the coat.

    Blue Merle Cavapoos can also experience a lack of pigmentation in their skin, which can cause less protection from UV light. 

    This means that Blue Merle Cavapoos need to be kept out of the sun as much as possible, as too much exposure risks damaging the skin, causing sunburn, and even skin cancer. 

    Other Issues

    The Merle gene affects vision, hearing, and skin the most. However, other risks come with this gene that we have seen affect Merle dogs.

    These include kidney issues, skeletal defects, allergies, neurological issues, and even a reduced lifespan. 

    Do All Blue Merle Cavapoos Suffer From These Health Issues? 

    No, just because a dog has the Merle gene doesn’t mean that it will inherit these health issues. Just like there’s no guarantee a normal F1 Cavapoo will live a completely healthy life.

    All dogs are different and will react to health issues in different ways. 

    Some Blue Merle Cavapoos will be born stillborn or die very quickly after birth. Others will live for longer, but they won’t reach their juvenile years.

    They might fail to thrive or become the runt of the litter against their siblings. Their added health issues might make this even more apparent. 

    Other Blue Merle Cavapoos grow up and live normal lives.

    They’ll reach their full size, be able to learn new tricks and participate in all of the family activities that a dog would normally be able to. 

    There is no knowing whether your Blue Merle Cavapoo will suffer from health issues or not.

    You will have to keep the faith and continue taking your dog to regular health checkups with your vet, ensuring that you get any issues treated as quickly as possible. 

    To find out the health issues that Cavapoos can suffer with, check out our informative blog post.

    Can Blue Merle Cavapoos Be Bred? 

    As we’ve mentioned before, the Blue Merle Cavapoo is a beautiful dog and therefore is very high in demand, despite the small supply.

    Many breeders have tried their hands at breeding Blue Merle Cavapoos together to create more of this colorful breed to maximize profits. 

    However, this has not worked well for them or the owners buying off of them. 

    Any trusted breeder would know that the Merle gene should not be bred with another Merle gene.

    This doubles the chances of the dog inheriting health issues from this gene, making for an even unhealthier litter. 

    When a breed is making breeders money, they tend to overbreed them to get the most out of the market.

    So, the more the Blue Merle Cavapoos are bred, the more worrying the health issues will be. 

    Should You Buy A Blue Merle Cavapoo? 

    While these dogs are very aesthetically pleasing, and you’re sure to get plenty of compliments while at the dog park, it’s often not in the best interest of you or the dog to buy a Blue Merle Cavapoo. 

    These dogs are incredibly rare, so you’ll need to ensure that the breeder hasn’t intentionally bred two Blue Merle Cavapoos together to create a new litter of Blue Merles.

    These bred puppies may suffer from many health issues during their lives, which will also amount to large vet bills. 

    Buying a Blue Merle Cavapoo from an untrusted breeder (any breeder intentionally breeding Blue Merles should be considered untrusted), will then spur them to create more of this breed of Cavapoo, further adding even more unhealthy dogs to the world. 

    However, if you can be sure that the breeder is reputable and has bred a Blue Merle Cavapoo by accident, you might choose to buy it.

    Ask the breeder which Merle gene the dog has before weighing up the pros and cons of owning a higher-risk dog. 

    Will A Blue Merle Cavapoo Have A Good Quality Of Life?

    The answer to this question will depend on the individual dog. Some Blue Merle Cavapoos will live long lives just like regular Cavapoos, while others will experience a shorter life with health concerns thrown at them. 

    Even if the Cavapoo was to reach maturity without any hiccups, there is no saying whether they will experience issues later on in life.

    Some health concerns, such as kidney issues and skin problems, can develop after many years. 

    Being more vigilant with your dog’s health will help to give the Blue Merle Cavapoo a better quality of life.

    You might need to take them to the vet more often to ensure that nothing sinister is going on and to make sure they remain in good health. 

    You might also need to take extra measures to ensure their safety, such as keeping them out of the sun or feeding them a special diet.

    Again, your vet can help you with your long-term plan. 

    Most Blue Merle Cavapoos will live a happy life with their owners, provided that you are willing to put in the extra work and time that they need. 


    To sum up, yes, Blue Merle Cavapoos are more at risk of health conditions than normal Cavapoos are.

    The Merle gene not only affects the coat coloring, but also their vision, hearing, and skin.

    Blue Merle Cavapoos might experience a shorter lifespan, blindness, allergies, deafness, and more. 

    Double Merle dogs are more at risk of health issues than single Merle dogs, although both are more at risk than dogs without the Merle gene at all. 

    These rare dogs are in for a more challenging life ahead, with more frequent vet trips and medications. They should not be bred intentionally as this can maximize their health risks.

    Consider whether you’re prepared for the challenges that come with a Blue Merle Cavapoo before welcoming one into your family.

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