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Australian Shepherd Merle Terminology

  Merle:
A dark color broken up by a lighter color of the same general basic pigment. In the Australian Shepherd, the base color should be jet black or liver (dark red). The merling will be a lighter variation of those colors.
Red Merle red merle Blue Merle blue merle
Powder Merle:
A dog whose color is dominated by clear, pale merling with only small spots or patches of jet back or liver red base pigment showing

Powder Red Merle
red merle Powder Blue Merle blue merle
Minimal Merle
A dog who has very little apparent merling (light color) intermingled with the base color (dark color) This is often erroneously referred to as "heavily merled" when in fact it is the exact opposite.
Minimal Merle minimal blue merle
Dark Merle:
A dog whose merling is mixed with darker hairs giving it the appearance of a deep, rich color.
Dark Blue Merle dark blue merle
Muddy Merle:
 A blue merle whose merling has a rusty, brownish cast.

Muddy Merle muddy merle
Cryptic or Phantom Merle:
A dog who is genetically a merle but who has no apparently merling visible to the nake eye. These dogs can be DNA tested to confirm their genetic status and would be registered and bred as a merle. When bred to another merle, they can still produce homozygous merles with the related defects. .

Harlequin Merle:
A modifier to the merle gene that bleaches the areas of merle in the coat to white. Any white on the body proper is a disqualification regardless of its genetic origin.

Harlequin merle
Harlequin Merle 


Tweed Merle:
A modifier to the merle gene which adds a third, intermediary color to the coat.

Tweed Merle
Tweed Merle
Dilute Coloration:
In solid colored dogs, black pigment is lightened towards gray-black or blue (as in Weimeraners or Blue Dobermans)and liver or red pigment is lightened towards a silvery shade or "flat" washed out shade of the relevant color. In merles, the base color of black is lightened to a dark gray and in liver, the color is lightened to pale silvery-red. Pigmented skin areas (e.g., the skin of the nose and lips and around the eyes) on both solids and merles will also be lighter. Brown eyes may become a lighter brown or gold.
Dilute Black
Dilute Black   Dilute Blue Merle Dilute Blue MerleDilute Red Merle Dilute Red Merle
Dilution Spots:
Individual patches or spots of base color  (black or red) that appears to be a lighter variation. In blue merles, dilute spots can appear to have a brownish or rusty cast. In red merles, dilution spots will be a lighter red color than the majority of the base color. This color is not the same as Dilute Coloration.



Dilution Spot Dilution Spot

 
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