The Australian Shepherd is undeniably one of the most popular dog breeds in the world. Aussies tend to have bright and lively personalities, all while enjoying their active lifestyles. In fact, they’re some of the hardest working dogs ever – comparable to the Border Collie.
If you’ve decided on an Australian Shepherd, there are a lot of different colors to choose from. Though in my opinion, the Blue Merle Australian Shepherd is the most strikingly beautiful color. It’s no surprise that many other Aussie owners agree.
But what actually makes these dogs look the way they do? And are there any benefits of choosing a Blue Merle over another colored Australian Shepherd? How about the disadvantages? If questions like these intrigue you, here’s the complete guide to the Blue Merle Aussie.
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Colors of the Australian Shepherd
As you may already know, there are many, many colors of the Australian Shepherd. Blue is far from the only color of the breed. And while some colors are more common than others, all of them are gorgeous and beautiful.
The four basic coat base colors of the Australian Shepherd includes:
- Black Aussie
- Blue Merle Aussie
- Red Aussie
- Red Merle Aussie
Though we’re only going to be covering the blue merle in the article, the others are just as great. Keep in mind that these four colors are the colors officially recognized by the AKC. For more info, check out the AKC website and click “breed standard.”
There are many other colors for these dogs, such as sable, yellow and other dilute colors. However, they’re extremely rare and aren’t considered completely ethical to breed.
2 Things to Consider With a Blue Merle
So, why get a Blue Merle Australian Shepherd? Whether you have a black-tri, red merle or even the blue merle Aussie, there really is no difference other than the “cosmetics” or appearance.
They’re the same great dogs with excellent work ethics. They’ll even love and appreciate you the same as any other Australian Shepherd. However, there are a few things to consider when debating on whether you want to get a blue merle.
1. Blue Merle Aussies May Be More Expensive
Merle-colored Aussies, especially the blue merle, are highly sought after. They’re not the most rare, but they usually are in high demand because blue merles look exotic and special. As a result, you can expect to pay higher prices for these dogs.
In the past, reputable breeders did not charge extra for color choice. However, things tend to change very quickly in the world of dog ownership. With a sharp increase in demand for blue merles, breeders have opted to charge a premium now.
For example, in this reddit post, a user is claiming that a “reputable” breeder is charging him more for both merles and tri-colors. As a matter of fact, he claims he would need to pay $800 for a tri-color and $1000 for a Blue Merle Australian Shepherd.
Of course there are other factors, such as lineage and gender. But considering the average price of an Australian Shepherd can be $650 on the low end from a reputable breeder, this is a pretty significant premium.
2. Blue Merles May Have Health Issues
In general, Australian Shepherds are relatively healthy dogs. This is especially true if they’re a purebred Aussie from a reputable breeder. However, there are known health issues that are much more common with blue merles.
For example, Coloboma is an eye condition that affects the Aussie’s iris. This condition is when the dog’s iris doesn’t fully develop, so it doesn’t work as well as a normal Aussie’s eye. In other words, the eyes of the dog won’t be able to dilate or contract properly.
What this means for the blue merle is that they will be very sensitive in bright light, which can cause a lot of long-term discomfort for them. This can be a big problem if you plan to use them for herding, as they’ll be outside in the sun most of the day.
This gene is not exclusive to merles. Even non-merle Aussies can carry this gene, though they’re not as frequently observed. Always make sure to ask the breeder about eye conditions of the parents or lineage if you want a Blue Merle Australian Shepherd.
4 Types of Blue Merle Australian Shepherds
Blue merle does not refer to one specific coat color. As mentioned, it’s a base color of the breed. There are four distinct variations of the Blue Merle Aussie. Some are much more common than the others. But, all are beautiful and unique.
1. Solid Blue Merle Australian Shepherd
Despite being classified as “blue merle,” Solid Blue Merle Australian Shepherds may not as common as you’d think. Their coats have a base color of gray, with black spots or patches. The patches will appear all over the body and can be in many different shapes and sizes.
There should be no other color markings on a solid blue merle, including the popular white and copper or tan markings. In any case, these dogs are great and have an unusual appearance that makes for a good ice breaker or conversation starter.
2. Blue Merle Tri Australian Shepherd
The Blue Merle Tri Colored Australian Shepherd is the most common among the four blue merle types. In my opinion, they’re the most beautiful because they have deep rich contrasts in colors. They may even be my favorite color variation of all time for Aussies.
Again, these Australian Shepherds have a base coat of blue merle, which is black patches on a gray and white coat. Though the patches will vary in size and appearance, there is always a gray back. But that’s not all.
What’s unique about the blue merle tri is that they have highlights of white and copper or tan all around the muzzle, ears, legs, bottom and chest. As you can imagine, these dogs are elegant and unique – some of the world’s most beautiful dogs.
3. Blue Merle & White Australian Shepherd
Yes, the Blue Merle and White Australian Shepherd is a merle variation as marvelous as the blue merle tri color. As a result, they’re considered to be the second most popular coat color variation among all blue merle Aussies.
These dogs have the iconic blue merle coat as a base color. However, unlike the tri color, these Aussies do not have the copper and tan markings on the coat. Instead, they only have white markings. Hence, a “blue merle and white.”
Without the tan markings, they can look a little bit like a Siberian Husky. For that reason, blue merles with white markings are often mistaken for huskies, especially in their puppyhood months. Despite the lack of contrast on the coat, these dogs are downright stunning.
4. Blue Merle & Tan Australian Shepherd
Although beautiful in their own right, the Blue Merle and Tan Australian Shepherd is not a very common color. These dogs come in the splendid blue merle (black patches on gray fur) with only tan and copper markings.
To the untrained eye, it’s a little hard to differentiate between the “blue merle & tan” versus the “blue merle tri color.” The color difference between the white markings and gray fur of the blue merle will not always be obvious.
But even so, these dogs are seen from time to time. And if you’re looking specifically for a Blue Merle and Tan Australian Shepherd, you may have a difficult time doing so. Don’t be picky with this color. It’s simply not worth it.
Blue Merle Australian Shepherd Eyes
A Blue Merle Australian Shepherd is much more than a uniquely colored coat. Even their eyes may be special in terms of coloring. Yes, it’s true that most blue merles have solid eye colors.
However, most of these dogs will have specks of colors on their colored eyes. Most owners in the dog community call this “marble eyes” and they’re amazing to look at.
The solid eye colors of blue merles include either brown or blue. And in some instances, blue merles can have eyes with two different colors (one blue and one brown).
If the base color of the eye is blue, then the are likely to have brown specks. On the other hand, if the base color of the eye is brown, then they are likely to have blue specks.
Though there’s potential for many variations of eye color with the blue merle, most of them will have blue eyes with brown specks.
The Blue Merle Genetics
If you ever wondered how they became like this, then you’re not the only one. According to the ASCA, the merle gene determines whether the dog is merle – either red or blue merle. We call this gene an “incomplete dominant.”
For the blue merles that you see, only one copy of this is necessary. But when you have two dominant copies, you get what’s called a “double merle,” which will produce a dog that certainly has serious health problems. These issues can range anywhere from eye defects to deafness.
Contrary, two recessive copies will product a non-merle Australian Shepherd. Having one of each is the sweet spot and will produce a merle Aussie.
Temperament of Blue Merle Aussies
Currently, there are no studies that show coat colors of Australian Shepherds affect temperament or personality. There are on-going research studies, but still nothing as of yet.
With that said, the biggest influence on the temperaments of these dogs are in your hands. For instance, Australian Shepherds are hyper active dogs that need to work. Whether it’s obedience training, running, herding or dog sports – they need something to do.
Without proper physical and mental stimulation, these dogs can exhibit destructive behavior. If you don’t want your couch destroyed, make sure you have the time and patience to keep these dogs working.
By providing your Aussie with sufficient socialization, obedience training and exercise, you’ll have a happy and healthy dog. For the most part, they’re quite optimistic and friendly dogs. They’re full of energy and have a lively personality.
Not only are they highly intelligent dog breeds, but they’re also hard workers. So if you’re able to assign them daily tasks, such as herding, they’ll thrive at their “jobs.”
For potential dog owners that want to lounge around and cuddle with their dog, I do not recommend a Blue Merle Australian Shepherd – or ANY Aussie.
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If you’re worried that your blue merle will be “different,” don’t be. They are the same dogs with a great personality. You may have to pay a little more or deal with potential health problems, but for the most part, they’re just normal Australian Shepherds.
They’re such beautiful dogs that you’ll certainly turn some heads at the dog park with these highly attractive blue merles.
Do you own a Blue Merle Australian Shepherd? Let us know what you think in the comments section below! Also, tell us which blue merle coats you like the best!
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