The Blue Merle is a variety of the Labradoodle with a distinct color variation.
Their coat is uncommonly blue-ish, ranging from a pale blue to a deeper and darker blue-gray. Their coloring makes them quite popular, but it also has a higher incidence of health problems than the Standard Labradoodle.
Blue Merle Labradoodles: The Basics
The word merle refers to a color pattern found in some dogs’ coats. It’s not necessarily the color itself but a pattern of light coloring blended with darker spots of black, gray, or brown.
This distinct coloring results from semi-dominant genetics and the lightening of the regular coat’s base color.
Dogs with coats in a merle pattern often have blue eyes, hearing defects, and vision problems due to their genetic mix. Blue Merle Labradoodles typically have a silvery blueish or reddish-gray color.
Blue Merle Labradoodle: Their Genetics
A first-generation Labradoodle dog is a cross of two of America’s most popular breeds, a purebred Labrador Retriever and a purebred Standard Poodle. These dogs may or may not show the distinct markings of a blue merle.
If they do, their mixed-breed genetics include the merle gene. Since it’s often recessive, it’s fairly rare to find in a first-generation Labradoodle.
Due to the popularity of the Blue Merle Doodle, some breeders try to boost the odds of finding them in the next litter by breeding two Blue Merles. By manipulating the genetics, it becomes more likely that the litter will have dogs with distinct and desirable color patterns.
Unfortunately, that increased likelihood of a merle pattern in their coat comes along with boosted odds of hereditary vision and hearing problems.
Responsible breeders tend to only use one dog with blue merle traits in a breeding pair. This sort of breeding is less likely to result in a Blue Merle offspring, but it helps to minimize the risk of genetic eye and ear issues.
Blue Merle Labradoodle Grooming
Grooming a Blue Merle Labradoodle will depend on the coat that it inherits from its parents. Just in the same way their genetics influence their coloring, their lineage determines their coat’s look, feel, and coarseness.
As a mixed breed of Labrador Retrievers and Poodles, they may have one of three different styles of coat:
The finer and more straight their hair, the more they will shed. These dogs will also tend to develop fewer knots and tangles in their coat and are less susceptible to matting. Fleece and wool-coated dogs will still shed, but much less readily.
The Blue Merle Labradoodles with the curliest fur will need your help, or that of a pro groomer, to keep their coat from tangling excessively. That will require consistent and routine brushing, bathing, and essential grooming.
Dogs with very straight hair may need it trimmed if it grows faster than they shed it and becomes too long.
In addition to caring for their coat, Blue Merle Labradoodles need regular nail trimming, tooth-brushing, and ear cleaning. If any of this is outside your comfort zone, you can usually have it done by a professional groomer.
It’s also essential that your Blue Merle Labradoodle receives regular checkups from a veterinarian.
Blue Merle Labradoodle Health
Blue Merle Labradoodles tend to have a higher chance of hearing and vision problems. Their genetics will go a long way toward determining their risk level, so it makes a lot of sense to pre-screen a puppy with a veterinarian before adopting it.
Make sure you understand the individual dog’s pedigree and that the breeder follows best practices.
Poodles and Labrador Retrievers have a predisposition to a few health issues. The same health issues are things to look out for in your Blue Merle Labradoodle.
Breeders should be able to provide you with health screening histories, and you should make sure a vet has examined them thoroughly in general and with an eye toward these specific health issues:
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy
- Von Willebrand’s Disease
- Ear infections
- Hip and elbow dysplasia (either or both may occur)
Blue Merle Labradoodle Exercise Needs
Blue Merle Labradoodles need a standard level of exercise. Unlike lazy breeds who just sit around all day or excessively energetic dogs that need to run for hours every day, Blue Merle’ Doodles require about an hour of fairly vigorous exercise daily .
Puppies need a bit more exercise in general. Three or four half-hour sessions of walking quickly, running in the yard, or playing fetch will suffice. Of course, as they get older, their energy levels will drop naturally.
But, in general, the more your dog exercises, the better, which is particularly true if they have a stronger retriever influence in their lineage, as they love to eat.
Blue Merle Labradoodle Temperament and Behavior
Blue Merle Labradoodles have a variety of temperaments, primarily as a result of their mixed pedigree.
For instance, if they have a strong Poodle influence in their genes, they may be playful, needy, active, alert, and somewhat high-strung. Or, if they have more Labrador Retriever dominance, they’ll be strong, energetic, inquisitive, and eager to put things in their mouth.
Blue Merles will tend toward being affectionate, friendly, energetic, and playful. They’re also usually reasonably intelligent, eager to please, and loyal. The socialization they receive at a young age, the more comfortable they’ll be in mixed company and when around other dogs.
The quality of their training during puppyhood will also go a long way to determining their overall behavior. By teaching them what behaviors please you and rewarding them for it, you will sculpt their behavior to what you need.
Blue Merle Labradoodle FAQ
Some questions about Blue Merle Labradoodles come up all the time.
How long do Blue Merle Labradoodles live?
Blue Merle Labradoodles will typically live between ten and twelve years. Smaller dogs tend to live longer lives, and fifteen years for a Miniature Labradoodle is not unheard of.
However, Merle Labradoodles are more susceptible to specific health problems that may reduce their quality of life and overall life span.
Are Blue Merle Labradoodles sickly?
Blue Merle Labradoodles are a mixed breed, and their parents’ genetics have a massive influence on their overall health. The Blue Merle Labradoodle is a relatively rare genetic occurrence, and they do have a reputation for vision and hearing problems.
But overall, breeders and owners don’t regard them as sickly or overly prone to health issues.
Is a Blue Merle Labradoodle right for me?
Blue Merle Labradoodles are usually an excellent dog for a family with a small backyard. Apartments are often too small for a Labradoodle, especially if they’re retriever dominant and want to run quite a bit.