PDF Print E-mail

Merle Color In Cocker Spaniels


Skyline Cocker Club Position - April, 2011


Merle Cocker Spaniels are dogs born with a mutated merle or SILV gene. In many merle dogs, the gene causes a pigmentations discoloring of the merle dog’s coat and eyes. In darker colored dogs this coloring can be either a lighter or bluish tint. It is not clear when the gene was first brought into the Cocker varieties. It could have been there from the day one, but it didn’t become popular with breeders until the early 1980’s or so. Some breeders like the coloring patterns and colors of the merle bred dogs and are promoting their breeding even though there is scientific evidence that cockers with the gene also may have and produce in their offspring a variety of genetic health problems.


The Skyline Cocker Club has formally discussed the breeding of the merle Cocker Spaniels at their meetings. Many members have read educational material on the merle breeding problems.   Skyline’s position is that merle Cocker Spaniels can possess health issues such as numerous eye problems and blindness, hearing loss,  and other genetic produced defects of the cardiac, skeletal, and reproductive systems.  Our club believes that health is the most important consideration in the breeding of the American Cocker Spaniel.  We agree with the American Spaniel Club's official position that the breeding of Cockers with the defective merle gene should be stopped and all breeders, owners, and potential owners should be educated in the dangers of the merle mutation problem.


The American Spaniel Club’s website can be viewed at:








The website explains in detail the health dangers of the breeding of Cocker Spaniels with the mutant merle gene. The Skyline Cocker Club hopes anyone interested in the breeding of or the owning of a Cocker Spaniel takes a look at this informative website and its scientific studies and references.


Andrew Ansenberger, Skyline Cocker Club Webmaster, April 23, 2011


Copyright © 2013 Skyline Cocker Club. All Rights Reserved. Terms and Conditions