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Blue Merle Australian Shepherd – Everything You Need to Know

Blue Merle Australian Shepherd is a popular variant of the most sought-after dog breed, the Australian Shepherd. The Australian Shepherds belong to the working dogs’ group and trace their origin to the Basque region of Spain. These canines followed the sheepherders from this region to the US through Australia. Nevertheless, the breed existing today was from the United States. The Australian shepherd comes in a plethora of coat colors, of which the blue merle is highly regarded. The Blue Merle Australian Shepherds are well-known for their beautiful and intelligent makeup. They have a distinct coat color in shades of black, white, gray, and tan in the form of mottled patches on their skin. This difference in their coat color can be attributed to the presence of merle genes.

In addition, the blue merle can be classified into different types based on the color mixed along with the merle pattern. 

Variations of Blue Merle Australian Shepherds

The Blue Merle Australian Shepherds come in four distinct styles they include:

Solid Blue Merle Australian Shepherd

Blue Merle Tri Australian Shepherd

Blue Merle and White Australian Shepherd

Blue Merle and Tan Australian Shepherd

Blue Merle Australian Shepherd Pros and Cons 

Pros Cons 
These dogs are generally healthy. High prey drive
High intelligence Needs to stay active and hence requires a lot of exercises. 

Blue Merle Australian Shepherd Basic Information 

  • Name: Blue Merle Australian Shepherd 
  • Height: 18 – 23 inches
  • Weight: 40 – 65 pounds
  • Coat: Double-layer, medium length with a curly or wavy texture
  • Color: Blue, gray, black, and white
  • Energy: High
  • Activities: Companion, sports, obedience, agility
  • Group: Working
  • Barking Level: Medium to high
  • Shedding Level: Medium to high
  • Hypoallergenic: No 
  • Litter Size: 6 to 7 puppies
  • Life Span: 12 – 16 years
  • Other names: Spanish Shepherd, Pastor dogs, BobTails, Blue Heelers, New Mexican Shepherds, California Shepherds.

Australian Shepherd vs. Blue Merle Australian Shepherd: Comparison

Features Australian Shepherd  Blue merle Australian Shepherd   
     Image  
Origin United StatesUnited States
Height 18-23 inches18-23 inches
Weight 40-65 pounds40-65 pounds
Size MediumMedium
Group HerdingHerding
Children Compatibility HighHigh
Family Compatibility HighHigh
Pets Compatibility HighHigh
Barking Level Medium to HighMedium to High
Shedding Level Medium to HighMedium to High
Hypoallergenic NoNo
Grooming Needs Medium to HighMedium to High
Overall Health Medium to HighMedium to High
Energy HighHigh
Exercise Needs HighHigh
Trainability HighHigh
Activities Companion, Sports, Obedience, AgilityCompanion, Sports, Obedience, Agility
Complication in breeding NoNo
Litter Size 6-7 Puppies6-7 Puppies
Lifespan 12-15 years12-15 years
Other Names Spanish Shepherd, Pastor dogs, Bob-Tails, Blue Heelers, New Mexican Shepherds, California ShepherdsSpanish Shepherd, Pastor dogs, Bob-Tails, Blue Heelers, New Mexican Shepherds, California Shepherds

Blue Merle Australian Shepherd Personality 

The physical characteristics of the Blue Merle Australian Shepherds exactly match the Australian Shepherd except for its coat color. They are adorned in a double-layered coat with a curly or wavy texture. Their physical characteristics include: 

  • Head, Skull, and Muzzle: Australian shepherds have a well-defined and firm head proportionate to their body. They have a flat and dome-shaped skull with equal width and length. The back skull is similar to or slightly shorter than the muzzle. The tapering muzzle merges into the head through parallel planes, divided by a well-defined stop. Additionally, the muzzle is well-rounded at the tip. 
  • Eyes: The Blue Merle Aussies have almond-shaped eyes appropriate to the socket. They come in brown, blue, and amber with flecks and marbling; black pigments surround their eye rims. They may also have different colored eyes, known as heterochromia.
  • Ears:  Their ears are moderate-sized, triangular, and set high on their heads. When these canines are attentive, their ears begin to rise slightly but then fall off the sides. 
  • Nose: Blue Merle Australian shepherds have black pigmented noses and lips with small pink spots. The upper and the lower jaws accommodate strong white teeth that meet at a scissor or leveled bite. 
  • Neck: They have a strong, slightly arched, medium-length neck that fits into the shoulders. Their shoulder blades are long, flat, and well laid back. Necks are attached to the upper arm at approximately right angles to the shoulder line. From here, the forelegs drop straight and strong. 
  • Topline: They have a firm top line with deep chests. Their long ribs end at a moderate underline with a straight tail. 
  • Feet: Their feet are oval-shaped and compact with well-arched toes and thick pads. 

Friendliness Overview  

Affection level Medium to High
Family-friendly High
Kid-friendly Medium to High
Pet-friendly High
Stranger -friendly Medium

Adaptability Overview  

Good for apartment living Low
Good to new owners Low to Medium
Sensitivity level High 
Tolerates being alone Low 
Cold-tolerance Medium to High
Heat-tolerance Medium to High

Blue Merle Australian Shepherd Temperament 

Blue Merle Australian Shepherd is an astute dog with an athletic and lively personality. These canines are job-oriented and love to work all day. Hence, they develop destructive behavior without proper mental and physical stimulation. Although they are pretty reserved initially, they become friendly later. They are well-known for their extreme loyalty and are often called the velcro dogs as they get emotionally stuck to their pet parents. They are excellent therapy dogs who make fantastic aid for the impaired. In addition, they are often used in the police force to locate drugs or missing people. They have strong guarding and herding instincts. These canines warn you with a loud bark when they sense danger. 

Blue Merle Australian Shepherd Training 

Blue Merle Australian Shepherds are pretty easy to train due to their high intelligence, love for work, and friendly nature. In addition, they like to take commands from their trainers and love to work for them. Like all dogs, positive reinforcements work well with them in the form of rewards. However, a lack of mental and physical stimulation can be destructive, leading to more extended barking periods. Also, due to their herding instincts, they chase kids and other smaller pets and may even nip them in the absence of proper training. Hence, you need to socialize them quite early to be wary of their surroundings. 

Trainability Overview

Easy to train High 
Intelligence High 
Mouthiness tendencies Medium to High 
Barking and Howling tendencies Medium to High 
Prey drive Medium to High 
Wanderlust tendencies High 

Blue Merle Australian Shepherd Exercise Needs 

Blue Merle Australian Shepherds are highly energetic dog breeds, requiring at least an hour of exercise to divert them from destructiveness. However, if not, they should be at least in a large fence yard that gives them ample space to move around and lose their energy. Hence, this breed is unsuitable for a laid-back person. They can be involved in brisk walking, running, swimming, jogging, playing fetch, or hiking for an hour and a half. While they are not playing, you can still keep them engaged with puzzle toys such as Buster cubes to stimulate them mentally. However, as puppies, they don’t have the necessary skeletal setup to become good running companions until they reach a year old. In addition, these dogs perform well at canine events such as obedience, herding, agility trials, or dock diving.

Exercise Needs Overview 

Energy level High 
Exercise needs High
Intensity Medium to High
Playfulness High 

Blue Merle Australian Shepherd Grooming 

Blue Merle Australian Shepherds are endowed with a thick, waterproof, double-layer coat to protect them from the scorching heat and extreme cold. As a result, they should not be shaved, which predisposes them to heatstroke and sunburn during summer and hypothermia and skin injuries during winter.

When it comes to coat maintenance, these canines have to be brushed at least once a week. However, you have to brush them twice or thrice a week during the shedding season. This will prevent matting and remove excess dead hairs. For this purpose, you can use an undercoat rake and a wire brush. Additionally, you have to clean your pet’s coat around the belly, paws, and back. Finally, you also have to bathe him every six weeks. However, this schedule varies depending on how frequently you take your pet out to the park to enjoy. 

Nails

Your dog’s nails are subject to breakage if they grow too long. Since broken nails are very painful, trim your pet’s nails regularly. 

Teeth

You can prevent periodontal diseases by regularly brushing your dog’s teeth with a dog-formulated toothpaste. Additionally, you have to schedule an annual appointment with the veterinarian. 

Ears

Your dog’s ears accumulate wax which has to be removed using a cotton ball dipped in pH-balanced ear cleaner. However, ensure not to damage his ear canal and check for signs of ear infection during the  annual appointment with the vet. 

Grooming Overview 

Easy to groom Low 
Drooling tendency Low
Amount of shedding Medium

Blue Merle Australian Shepherd Health 

Australian Shepherds are generally a healthy breed. However, Blue Merle Australian Shepherds may be prone to congenital deafness and blindness due to the merle gene. In addition, they may be predisposed to specific health conditions, as discussed below. Although not all dogs develop these conditions, some are more prone to these disorders than others. 

Health Overview 

Overall health Low
Weight gain tendencies Medium to High 
Size Medium

Blue Merle Australian Shepherd  specific health conditions 

  1. Hip Dysplasia

When the thigh bones do not fit into the pelvic socket of the hip joint of your pet, it results in hip dysplasia, which is a heritable condition.

Other Causes of Hip Dysplasia: 

  • Injuries 
  • Excessive weight gain 
  • Wrong exercises 

Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia: 

Some of the notable signs that may be present on one or both rear legs include:  

  • Pain  
  • Lameness 

Treatment: X-ray screening for hip dysplasia, medication, and hip replacement through surgeries may also be preferred. This condition, if ignored, can be life-threatening. 

  1. Eye Diseases
  • Progressive renal atrophy

An eye disease that causes blindness from losing photoreceptors. It can be diagnosed earlier. Dogs with this disorder can survive for many years since they have other senses to compensate. 

The gradual deterioration of the eye’s retina marks the progression of this disease. Affected dogs exhibit symptoms of night-blindness which slowly progresses to complete loss of vision. Most affected dogs adapt well to their limited or lost vision if they continue to reside in the same environment.   

  • Collie Eye Anomaly

CEA is an inherited developmental condition usually seen in breeds like Australian shepherds, Border Collies, Shetland sheepdogs, etc. This disorder leads to blindness. 

  1. Deafness

Some dogs are born deaf, and others may acquire it with age. While hereditary deafness is due to genetic defects, acquired deafness results from decreased blood supply to the cochlea of the inner ear resulting in the loss of hair cells necessary for sound transmission. Deafness may present unilaterally (deafness in one ear) or bilaterally (deafness in both the ears). Bilaterally deaf dogs require some special considerations. To get to know your pet better, you can subject your pet to the BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response), which helps you detect deafness in dogs. 

  1. Epilepsy

Blue Merle Australian Shepherds suffer from a higher rate of epilepsy. Although the exact cause is unknown, a genetic base is often suspected. Epilepsy is a sudden spike in the brain’s electrical activity resulting in its malfunction. Some of the signs to look for include:

Symptoms of epilepsy: 

  • A stiffening of the neck and legs 
  • Stumbling and falling over
  • Uncontrollable chewing
  • Drooling
  • Paddling of the limbs
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Defecating
  • Vocalizing 
  • Violent shaking 
  • Trembling
  1. Cataracts

When your dog experiences a thickening lens, it results in cloudy vision due to their age.  This condition is treatable either through medications or surgery.  

  1. Elbow Dysplasia

Elbow dysplasia occurs when the elbow joint bones don’t align properly. This misalignment causes abnormal pressure at the joint, leading to chronic rubbing and severe osteoarthritis.

Symptoms:

  • Mild to moderate pain 
  • Lameness in the forelimbs 

Although the symptoms begin to show as early as four months of age, some dogs will not show these signs until later in life. Further, it involves both elbows, of which one may be heavily affected.

  1. Osteochondrosis Dessicans

Osteochondrosis Dessicans is an inflammatory condition that occurs due to the cartilage’s abnormal development, leading to its separation from the underlying bone. Although it most prominently affects the shoulder, it may be prevalent at the elbow, hip, or knee.

Symptoms of OCD:

  • Limping in the affected leg 
  • Extremely painful when the affected leg is manipulated
  • Swollen or warm joint

Treatment generally involves following a strict rest schedule, medications, supplements, and surgery, if necessary. 

  1. Allergies
  • Food-based allergies: This can be treated by following an elimination diet that eliminates suspected ingredients to which the dog may be allergic.  
  • Contact allergies: These allergies are caused due to the adverse reaction of a dog’s immune system when it comes in contact with a topical substance such as bedding, flea powders, dog shampoos, and other chemicals. Removing the cause of the allergy reduces the symptoms.  
  • Inhalant allergies are caused when your canine accidentally inhales airborne allergens like pollen, dust, and mildew. Treatment for these allergies depends upon their severity. Often, these allergies are accompanied by ear infections.
  1. Hypothyroidism is when a dog’s metabolism is slowed due to the lack of thyroid hormone production. Symptoms are:  
  • Lethargy 
  • Gaining weight 
  • Reluctance to work out 
  • Hair Loss
  1. Distichiasis

Distichiasis is prevalent in dogs. It results from the abnormal growth of eyelashes. It occurs when eyelashes emerge from the eyelid margin instead of its skin. Most dogs don’t experience any adverse symptoms due to soft hairs. However, other dogs experience discomfort due to eye irritation. In severe cases, this condition can lead to corneal ulcers. 

  1. Persistent Pupillary Membranes (PPM)

Before the birth of canines, specific blood vessels are involved in nourishing their eye lens with nutrients. When these blood vessels don’t disappear after birth, they develop into strands of eye tissue known as  persistent pupillary membranes. However, most dogs don’t experience any symptoms due to it. 

  1. Drug Sensitivity

Most herding dogs react adversely to certain medications due to a mutation in the MDR1 gene. Consequently, they experience enhanced sensitivity to certain medical drugs like antiparasitic, antidiarrheal, and anticancer drugs. 

  1. Cancer

Cancer in dogs is treatable if detected early. Although certain dogs show no symptoms initially, some of the warning  symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Prevalence of a lump or bump
  • A non-healing wound
  • Swelling
  • Enlarged lymph nodes, 
  • Lameness or swelling in the bone 
  • Abnormal bleeding 
  1. Nasal Solar Dermatitis

Nasal solar dermatitis is a congenital condition that results from abnormal skin sensitivity to sunlight. This disorder worsens with exposure to sunlight and affects the skin, nose, eyelids, trunk, and limbs. However, its exact cause is not yet known. 

  1. Detached Retina

Retinal detachment in dogs occurs when the retina isolates itself from the back of your dog’s eyes. This condition occurs due to underlying medical conditions such as glaucoma, high blood pressure, and/or hypothyroidism in dogs. It is a medical emergency as it can lead to blindness in dogs without immediate treatment. 

Blue Merle Australian Shepherd Diet and Nutrition 

Your Blue Merle Australian Shepherd requires a well-balanced and healthy diet. Ensure to feed your dog a protein-rich food measuring 1.5 to 2.5 cups and devoid of fillers. In addition, they need up to 1300 calories per day. However, check if that measure is appropriate for her age, weight, and activity level and adjust the amount of food accordingly as they become fat or thin. It is also essential to keep them active throughout the day so they stay fit both mentally and physically. Since Aussies are prone to weight gain, divide their meals into two instead of leaving out the food for an entire day.

Blue Merle Australian Shepherd Living Condition 

Blue Merle Australian Shepherds need wide-open space to expend their high energy. Hence, they are not suitable for apartment life. However, they adapt well, provided their stimulation needs are met. These dogs need a dominant pet parent who can establish himself as the pack leader. If not, these dogs will assume the leadership. Therefore, novice owners cannot handle them efficiently. However, this breed is the most appropriate for an active family moving from place to place. These canines are blessed with a short insulated coat layer that protects them from heat and cold. Although they are good family dogs, they need early socialization to accept and overcome their aloofness with strangers. In addition, these dogs have an intense herding instinct which makes them herd both children and other pets. Hence, they don’t get along well with them.

Adding a Blue Merle Australian Shepherd to Your Family

Things to Remember Before Breeding a Blue Merle Australian Shepherd

A Blue Merle Australian Shepherd requires only one copy of the merle gene. However, when both the parents are merle, it results in a double-merle offspring. These puppies develop serious health complications ranging from eye defects to deafness. Hence, it is always essential to avoid breeding two merle parents. 

Cost of a Blue Merle Australian Shepherd 

On average, Blue Merle Australian Shepherds cost around  $650. However, the cost varies between $800 and $2,000 depending on where you live, what breeder you choose, and if you want to obtain breeding rights or a show-quality dog.

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