Beautiful, intelligent and hardworking, the blue merle Australian Shepherd (and generally the Australian Shepherd breed) is an American hero with Aussie roots.
We love the Australian Shepherd breed for his unique look. But is there more to the blue merle Australian Shepherd specifically than meets the eye?
Furthermore, does coat color coincide with this dog’s temperament and health? What about grooming?
Keep reading to find out all about the blue merle Australian Shepherd.
What Is a Blue Merle Australian Shepherd?
A blue merle Australian Shepherd is a term used to describe a specific coat color of the Australian Shepherd breed.
For the most part, the blue merle Australian Shepherd has a combination of blue, grey, black and white in his fur.
Sometimes blue merle Australian shepherds have been known to have patches of brown on their hind legs and back.
The blue merle Australian Shepherd is one variation of a number of color combinations of the Australian Shepherd breed.
Other coat colors include:
- Red merle
- Red tricolor
- Black tricolor
Blue merle Australian Shepherds may have stunning blue eyes, brown eyes, amber eyes, or even one eye that is blue and one eye that is brown.
This dog stands between 18 and 23 inches tall and can weigh around 40 to 65 pounds.
He usually has the following features:
- Short, floppy ears
- Long tail that is sometimes docked
- Double-layer coat that is usually medium in length with somewhat of a wavy or curly texture
Yes, the blue merle Aussie is as gorgeous as he is intelligent.
But is there anything about this dog’s genetic makeup that a prospective owner should know about?
Blue Merle Australian Shepherd Genetics
Wondering how the blue merle Aussie came to be?
Well, wonder no more.
As veterinarian Lynn Buzhardt explains, the coat color of dogs, regardless of their breed, is due to two foundation colors.
These two base colors, believed to be black and red, lead to a number of different combinations of coat colors in dogs.
This depends in part on genetics and in part chance.
But does coat color have anything to do with congenital issues like health or temperament?
Studies are still ongoing as to whether the coat color of a dog correlates with his temperament.
Scientists have been able to conclude that coat color and certain health issues are related.
And one of the biggest findings, as specified by Dr. Stanley Coren, Ph.D., is that coat color in dogs has been linked to congenital deafness.
So, how does this relate to your blue merle Australian Shepherd?
Let’s talk more about coat color, temperament and health.
Blue Merle Australian Shepherd Temperament
As we mentioned above, studies are still ongoing when it comes to the tie between coat color and temperament.
Most experts agree that there is no real correlation between the color of a dog and his personality outside of superstition, rumor and myth.
Most experts agree on the importance of:
- proper socialization
- obedience training
- healthy grooming practices
- plenty of exercise.
With these options, your dog can grow up happy, healthy and well-adjusted.
So, what is a blue merle Australian Shepherd’s typical temperament?
For the most part, Aussie dogs are incredibly intelligent and friendly.
Training a Blue Merle Australian Shepherd
These are athletic dogs who are best suited for experienced dog owners due to their ability to outwit their human counterparts.
Australian Shepherds need plenty of exercise, with at least an hour of walking a day and plenty of backyard play to keep them healthy and happy.
Australian Shepherds get along well with children and other household pets.
However, this breed is a born herding dog and can be prone to herding habits.
This means he may consider anything smaller than himself something to be droved.
The Aussie also needs plenty of consistent training throughout his life to keep him from becoming bored and subsequently destructive.
This is an excellent dog for active families who have time on their hands to exercise, train and play with their Aussie.
Of course, early socialization is a must for this breed.
This will help with his overall happiness and adaptability, as well as mental health as he gets older.
Speaking of health, let’s talk more about the blue merle Australian Shepherd’s health and how it may or may not correlate with his coat color.
Blue Merle Australian Shepherd Health
While temperament and coat color have yet to be linked, scientists have found that certain coat color genes go hand in hand with a dog’s health.
Specifically, some lighter coat colors in dogs appear to have a direct link to congenital deafness.
Some of the coat colors most linked to deafness in dogs are white, piebald, roan and merle.
The blue merle Australian Shepherd can be predisposed to congenital deafness.
However, this is not the only health issue you should consider when thinking of making a blue merle Australian Shepherd your new pet.
With a life span of approximately 12 to 16 years, blue merle Australian Shepherd dogs are primarily healthy.
However, Australian Shepherds, in general, can be predisposed to a number of genetic health issues.
Known Health Issues for Australian Shepherds
Some of these health issues include:
- hip dysplasia
- elbow dysplasia
- eye diseases
- drug sensitivity
To better ensure your Aussie is healthy and happy, experts recommend making sure he is health screened.
Typically, a reputable and responsible breeder has health screened their litters before you even pick up your puppy.
They can offer you certificates of health.
However, if you have rescued your blue merle Australian Shepherd, there are health tests available for you to have done.
Some of the health tests recommended for the Australian Shepherd breed as specified by the American Kennel Club are:
- hip evaluation
- ophthalmologist evaluation
- elbow evaluation.
So, how else can you help ensure your blue merle Australian Shepherd’s health?
Healthy, Balanced Diet for Australian Shepherds
Making sure you maintain a healthy and balanced diet for your blue merle Australian Shepherd can have a huge impact on his overall health.
You should try and ensure that your dog is eating high-quality dog food with little to no fillers.
Make sure the dog food is specified for his age, weight and activity level.
For Australian Shepherds especially, exercise and training plays a major role in his health and happiness.
The Australian Shepherd can be prone to boredom if not properly trained and exercised every day.
A bored dog can be prone to destructive behaviors and sickness because their immune system can weaken due to anxiety.
The Australian Shepherd is an active, athletic and intelligent breed.
He needs plenty of exercise every day, as well as mental stimulation to keep him physically and mentally sound.
You can also help ensure the health of your blue merle Australian Shepherd by practicing proper grooming.
We will talk more about grooming your blue merle Australian Shepherd below.
Blue Merle Australian Shepherd Grooming
Australian Shepherd dogs, in general, have very dense, thick, double-layer coats that need a lot of work.
Unfortunately, some well-meaning Aussie owners opt to shave their dogs to keep them cool in the summer and to help alleviate shedding and matting.
The Australian Shepherd’s coat is already built to protect him from both the heat and the cold.
Shaving an Australian Shepherd’s coat can lead to heat stroke and sunburn in the summer months, as well as hypothermia and skin injuries in the colder months.
Your blue merle Australian Shepherd will likely need his fur trimmed around his belly, paws and buttock for cleanliness reasons.
But overall, he does fine with weekly brushing and an occasional visit to a dog groomer.
Use a slicker brush and an undercoat rake to help keep your blue merle Australian Shepherd’s coat looking its best.
This also helps to keep loose hair at bay.
Remember, the Aussie is a shedding breed who sheds most during shedding season.
He may not be the best companion choice for those who suffer from allergies.
Your Australian Shepherd needs his ears checked regularly to keep them from becoming infected due to waxy buildup, debris and excess moisture.
The blue merle Australian Shepherd, an active breed, needs to have his nails cut or ground down regularly to keep them from breaking or splitting.
A broken nail on a dog can be extremely painful for the pup.
It can also sometimes lead to a serious infection, so keep an eye out.
And while the blue merle Australian Shepherd is an active dog, he only needs an occasional bath.
However, this breed can be prone to getting messy on his adventures.
You may have to bathe him unexpectedly from time to time.
Your Blue Merle Australian Shepherd
By all accounts, the blue merle Australian Shepherd makes a fabulous companion for the right person or family.
Scientists have yet to find definitive proof that coat color has any correlation with a dog’s temperament.
But they have found that specific coat colors like white, piebald, roan and merle have been linked to congenital deafness in dogs.
When going through a breeder, ask for certificates of health. If you rescue, you may opt to have your dog health tested on your own.
The blue merle Australian Shepherd is known for his intelligence, wit and ability to outsmart his human family.
He is best suited for active families with the time to train, exercise and groom him.
Are you interested in getting a blue merle Australian Shepherd?
Tell us your thoughts on this handsome dog in the comment section below.
References and Further Reading:
“Australian Shepherd,” The American Kennel Club
Buzhardt, L., “Genetics Basics – Coat Color Genetics in Dogs,” VCA Hospitals
Coren, S., 2012, “Your Dog’s Coat Color Predicts His Hearing Ability,” Psychology Today
“Deafness & White,” 2013, Australian Shepherd Health and Genetics Institute
“Genetics of Coat Color in Dogs May Help Explain Human Stress and Weight,” Stanford University Medical Center, Science News
Howell, T.J., et al., 2015, “Puppy Parties and Beyond: The Role of Early Age Socialization Practices on Adult Dog Behavior,” School of Psychology and Public Health, La Trobe
Ruvinsky, A. and Sampson, J., 2001, “The Genetics of the Dog,” Center for Agriculture
and Bioscience International
Schmutz, S.M. and Berryere, T.G., 2007, “Genes Affecting Coat Color and Pattern in Domestic Dogs: A Review,” Animal Genetics