Home Merle Cockers ASCF Study

Merle Color In Cocker Spaniels - Definitions


What is a Merle color?

Merle is a pattern with patches of intermingled colored and white hairs and other patches of solid color such as red or black.

Heterozygous & Homozygous genes

Each gene is made up of two representative alleles - one inherited from the maternal source (mother) and the other inherited from the paternal source (father)

When a gene is homozygous, both alleles for that gene are the same (ie both the mother and father contributed the same version of the gene)

When a gene is heterozygous, each allele is different

Phenotype & Genotype

Phenotype – An observable physical characteristics of an organism as determined by both genetic and environmental influences

Genotype – The genetic make-up of an organism as opposed to its physical characteristics


A mutation is a permanent change in the DNA sequence of a gene

Cryptic Merle Mutation

A cryptic Merle is a dog that does NOT present with the overt Merle phenotype but does possess the Merle genotype. It has the potential to produce Merle offspring, but the mechanism by which this occurs is unknown


Hair loss

Cyclic Neutropenia

An abnormal condition in which the number of neutrophils in the bloodstream is decreased. Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell that defends the body against bacterial infection. Neutropenia affects the body's ability to fight off infections

Retrotransposon & SINE

SINE is a short interspersed element and are “jumping genes” that belong to the retrotransposon class of mobile genetic elements

These genes are capable of propagating in a host genome by a ‘copy and paste’ mechanism

Most SINE insertions occur within regions of the genome that have no functional significance

Occasionally they can insert into regions where they can interrupt a necessary gene as is the case for Merle


For nominating your bitches use the following checklist.
  Futurity Checklist As the breeder, are your dues paid so you remain a member in good standing?
  Futurity Checklist
Are sire and dam over 2 years old?
  Futurity Checklist
Do both sire and dam have OFA/PennHips/other countries certification numbers?
  Futurity Checklist
Have both sire and dam had their eyes examined by a veterinary ophthalmologist after age 2 and within the 12 months before the breeding? Don’t miss out because you have old eye exams and don’t get new ones done until after the breeding.
  Futurity Checklist
Send in the paperwork to nominate the bitch before the litter is whelped.
  Futurity Checklist
Then remember to enroll your puppies by the deadlines.

Debbie Knight
January Futurity Chair
P.O. Box 431
Marlborough, NH 03455
PDF fileFuturity Form