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Merle English Bulldog: Characteristics, Health Concerns, and Care Tips

merle English Bulldog

The merle English bulldog is a unique and rare color pattern in the English bulldog breed that is controversial but still sought after. This dog is characterized by its striking coat pattern that consists of a mottled or marbled coat with patches of darker colors. Merle bulldogs are known for their friendly and affectionate nature, making them great family pets, however, they may be prone to health issues.

If you own a merle bulldog, it is important to take good care of their facial wrinkles and eyes to prevent infections. Regular cleaning of their wrinkles and wiping of their eyes with canine eye wipes can help keep them healthy and happy and prevent skin and eye issues. With proper care and attention, merle bulldogs can live long and fulfilling lives as beloved members of your family.

To get into everything you need to know about merle English Bulldogs, we consulted expert sources like Linda Whitman. Remember, it is essential to always research any dog breed before you Google something like “merle English Bulldog puppies for sale” or “merle English Bulldog breeders near me.”

Furthermore, studies have shown that Merle coloring in Bulldogs can be associated with health issues such as deafness and eye problems. The Royal Veterinary College in London has conducted research on the health problems of Bulldogs and merle is a color pattern that genetic health tests link to a number of further health issues, such as deafness and eye issues.

That being said, there are some breeders who do produce Merle English Bulldogs. These breeders may claim that their dogs are healthy and purebred, but it is important to do thorough research and ask for health clearances before purchasing a Merle English Bulldog.

In summary, while Merle English Bulldogs do exist, they are not recognized by the AKC and may come with health risks. It is important to do your research and only purchase a Merle English Bulldog from a reputable breeder who can provide health clearances.

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Origin of Merle Bulldogs

Merle Bulldogs are a relatively new color pattern of bulldog that have gained popularity in recent years. The merle gene is responsible for the unique coat pattern that sets these bulldogs apart from other breeds.

The exact origin of the merle gene in bulldogs is not clear, but it is believed to have originated from a crossbreeding between a bulldog and a merle-colored dog, most likely from a breed that has the merle coloring. It is very likely that breeders chose dogs similar to the Bulldog, like the American Pocket Bully or American Bulldog. They could also have bred in the Catahoula Leopard dog.

The merle gene (M locus) is a dominant gene, which means that it only takes one copy of the gene to produce the merle coat pattern.

Merle Bulldogs were first recognized by the International Olde English Bulldogge Association (IOEBA) in 2016. This is one of several Bulldog variations and the club allows any color. But keep in mind, the Olde English Bulldogge is not the same as an English Bulldog. Rather, it was one of several Bulldog breeds created with the aim of making a healthier Bulldog.

It is important to note that merle Bulldogs are not recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) or the United Kennel Club (UKC) due to concerns about the health and well-being of the breed. Some breeders have been known to breed merle Bulldogs with other merle-colored dogs, which can lead to health problems such as blindness and deafness in puppies.

Overall, the origin of Merle Bulldogs is still a topic of debate among breeders and dog enthusiasts. However, what is clear is that these dogs have a unique coat pattern that sets them apart from other bulldog breeds.

Kinds of Merle Bulldogs

Merle Bulldogs are a popular breed of bulldogs known for their unique coat patterns. Merle is a genetic trait that causes a mottled or blotchy pattern on the dog’s coat. There are several different kinds of merle Bulldogs, each with their own distinct characteristics. Many of them are tricolor, meaning that they have tan points.

Red Merle Bulldogs

Red Merle Bulldogs have a reddish-brown base color with patches of lighter or darker red. They are one of the rarer types of merle Bulldogs but are highly sought after due to their striking appearance.

Blue Merle Bulldogs

Blue Merle Bulldogs have a blue-gray base color with patches of black. They are one of the most common types of merle Bulldogs and are known for their stunning blue eyes.

Chocolate Merle Bulldogs

Chocolate Merle Bulldogs have a chocolate brown base color with patches of lighter or darker brown. They are a rare type of merle Bulldog and are highly sought after due to their unique coloring.

Also see: 

Chocolate Beagle

Tricolor Merle Bulldogs

Tricolor Merle Bulldogs have a base color of white with patches of black and tan. They are a rare type of merle Bulldog and are highly sought after due to their unique coloring.

Double Merle Bulldogs

Double Merle Bulldogs are the result of breeding two merle Bulldogs together. They have a high risk of genetic defects and health problems, so it is not recommended to breed them.

Harlequin Merle Bulldogs

Harlequin Merle Bulldogs have a white base color with patches of black and gray. They are a rare type of merle Bulldog and are highly sought after due to their unique coloring.

In conclusion, there are several different kinds of merle Bulldogs, each with their own unique characteristics. Breeders and owners should be aware of the risks associated with breeding and owning double merle Bulldogs.

Also see: 

Harlequin Great Dane

Moyen Poodle

Isabella Dachshund

F1b Cockapoo

Petite Goldendoodle

Physical Characteristics

How big do Merle Bulldogs get?

Merle Bulldogs are medium-sized dogs that typically weigh between 40 to 60 pounds and stand around 16 to 20 inches tall at the shoulder. Males are generally larger than females. While their size may vary, they are known for their muscular build and strong, sturdy frame.

Coat and Colors

Merle Bulldogs have a unique coat that is characterized by a marbled or mottled pattern of colors. The base color can range from white, cream, fawn, or brindle, and the merle pattern can appear in shades of blue, gray, black, or chocolate. The merle pattern can also be combined with other coat patterns such as piebald or ticking.

It is important to note that merle Bulldogs should not be bred with other merle Bulldogs, as this can lead to health problems such as deafness and blindness.

Facial Features

Merle Bulldogs have distinctive facial features that make them easily recognizable. They have a large, square head with a broad muzzle and strong jaws. Their eyes are usually round and wide-set, and their ears are small and set high on their head. Merle Bulldogs also have a short, smooth coat that requires minimal grooming.

Overall, Merle Bulldogs are a unique and visually striking breed with a distinctive coat and strong, sturdy build.

Temperament and Behavior

Merle Bulldogs are known for their friendly and affectionate nature. They are loyal and loving towards their family and enjoy being around children. They are also known for being calm and patient, making them an excellent choice for families with young children.

These dogs are generally well-behaved and easy to train. They are intelligent and respond well to positive reinforcement training methods. However, they can be stubborn at times, so it’s important to be patient and consistent with training.

Merle Bulldogs are also known for their protective nature. They are instinctively protective of their family and can be wary of strangers. However, with proper socialization, they can learn to be friendly towards strangers.

It’s important to note that every dog is different and may have their own unique temperament and behavior. It’s important to research and understand the breed before bringing one into your home to ensure that they are a good fit for your family and lifestyle.

Health Issues

Common Health Problems

Merle Bulldogs are prone to various health issues that can affect their quality of life. Due to their brachycephalic airway syndrome, they may experience breathing difficulties, especially during hot weather or exercise. Eye problems, including starburst pupils, microphthalmia, and eccentric pupils, are also common in this breed. Additionally, Merle Bulldogs may suffer from color dilution alopecia, skin and ear problems, and musculoskeletal issues.

One of the most significant health concerns in Merle Bulldogs is deafness. It affects 9.2 percent of dogs with the merle allele, with 3.5 percent in single merles and 25 percent in double merles. Deafness can significantly impact a dog’s quality of life, and it’s essential to identify it early on.

How long do Merle Bulldogs live?

On average, Merle Bulldogs live between 8 to 10 years. However, the lifespan of a Merle Bulldog can be affected by various factors, including genetics, lifestyle, and overall health. It’s crucial to provide proper care, nutrition, and exercise to ensure a long and healthy life for your Merle Bulldog.

Care and Maintenance

Diet Requirements

Merle Bulldogs require a balanced and nutritious diet to maintain optimal health. It is recommended to feed them high-quality dog food that is specifically formulated for Bulldogs. The food should contain a good balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. It is important to avoid overfeeding, as Merle Bulldogs are prone to obesity, which can lead to various health issues.

Owners should consult with their veterinarian to determine the appropriate amount of food for their Merle Bulldog based on their age, weight, and activity level. It is also important to provide fresh water at all times.

Exercise Needs

Merle Bulldogs have moderate-to-mild exercise needs, requiring a daily walk or playtime to keep them healthy and active. However, they are not overly energetic and are content with lounging around the house. It is important to avoid overexertion, especially in hot weather, as Merle Bulldogs are prone to overheating.

Owners should provide a safe and secure outdoor space for their Merle Bulldog to play and exercise. They should also supervise their dog during outdoor activities to prevent injury or escape.


Merle Bulldogs have a short, smooth coat that requires minimal grooming. They should be brushed regularly to remove loose hair and keep their coat glossy. Owners should also clean their Bulldog’s ears regularly to prevent infection.

Merle Bulldogs are prone to skin allergies and infections, so it is important to keep their skin clean and dry. Owners should bathe their dog as needed, using a mild dog shampoo. It is also important to trim their nails with pet guillotine nail clippers regularly to prevent overgrowth and discomfort.

Overall, Merle Bulldogs are low-maintenance dogs that require a balanced diet, moderate exercise, and regular grooming to maintain optimal health.

Training a Merle Bulldog

Merle Bulldogs can be stubborn at times and they are not the easiest dogs to train. Here are some tips for training a Merle Bulldog:

Consistency is Key

Consistency is crucial when training a Merle Bulldog. They respond best to a clear and consistent routine, so it is important to establish rules and boundaries early on and stick to them. Use the same commands and gestures consistently, and make sure everyone in the household is on the same page when it comes to training.

Positive Reinforcement

Merle Bulldogs respond well to positive reinforcement, such as treats, praise, and playtime. Use these rewards to encourage good behavior and reinforce training. Avoid using punishment or negative reinforcement, as this can cause your Merle Bulldog to become fearful or aggressive.


Socialization is key to training a Merle Bulldog. Introduce your puppy to a variety of people, animals, and environments early on to help them become well-adjusted and confident. This will help prevent behavioral issues such as fearfulness or aggression.


Merle Bulldogs are active and energetic, so it is important to provide them with plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. Daily walks, playtime, and training sessions can help keep them happy and healthy.

Training Classes

Consider enrolling your Merle Bulldog in training classes or working with a professional trainer. This can help you establish a strong foundation for training and address any behavioral issues early on.

By following these tips and establishing a consistent routine, you can help your Merle Bulldog become a well-behaved and obedient companion.

Legal and Ethical Issues

Merle bulldogs have become increasingly popular in recent years, but there are several legal and ethical issues associated with breeding and owning these dogs.


The breeding of merle bulldogs is a controversial topic in the dog breeding community. Merle is a dominant gene that can cause health problems when two merle dogs are bred together. This is known as “double merle” or “lethal white” syndrome, which can result in deafness, blindness, and other health issues.

While responsible breeders will avoid breeding two merle dogs together, some breeders continue to do so for profit or to produce more merle puppies. This practice is unethical and can lead to significant health issues for the puppies.


In some countries, owning a merle bulldog is illegal due to concerns about the breed’s health and welfare. For example, in Australia, merle Chihuahuas cannot be bred due to their association with health problems. In many countries, there are also increasing calls to restrict breeding dogs with extensive health issues, including popular breeds like the Bulldog and Pug.

Even in countries where merle bulldogs are legal, there are ethical considerations to take into account when owning one. Merle bulldogs may require more health care than other breeds due to their predisposition to certain health issues. Additionally, some people argue that breeding merle bulldogs for their unique coat pattern is unethical, as it can lead to health problems for the dogs.

Overall, while merle bulldogs can make wonderful pets, it is important for breeders and owners to consider the legal and ethical issues associated with the breed.

Why You Should Consider Adopting an English Bulldog

The English Bulldog, with its distinct appearance and charming personality, has captured the hearts of many. Yet, every year, countless Bulldogs end up in shelters or with rescue organizations due to various reasons such as abandonment, mistreatment, or overpopulation. While the allure of a puppy from a breeder can be tempting, there are numerous compelling reasons to consider adoption instead.

  1. Give a Bulldog a Second Chance: Many Bulldogs in rescue centers are waiting for their forever home. By adopting, you give one of them a fresh start filled with love and care.
  2. Combat Overpopulation: By choosing adoption, you become part of the solution to pet overpopulation, reducing the demand for puppies bred purely for sale.
  3. Save Money: Adoption fees are often less than purchasing a puppy from a breeder. Additionally, rescue Bulldogs are typically spayed or neutered and have their vaccinations up-to-date, saving you those initial veterinary costs.
  4. Support Responsible Care: Rescue organizations often provide necessary medical care, behavioral assessments, and training to ensure that your new pet is healthy and well-adjusted.

If you’re considering bringing an English Bulldog into your life, take a moment to explore the following reputable rescue organizations:

Each of these organizations is dedicated to rescuing, rehabilitating, and finding new homes for Bulldogs in need. Remember, by adopting, not only are you gaining a loyal companion, but you are also making a positive impact in the world of animal welfare.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does a merle English Bulldog puppy cost?

The cost of a merle English Bulldog puppy varies depending on several factors, including the breeder, location, and demand. Generally, merle bulldogs tend to be more expensive than their non-merle counterparts, with prices ranging from $3,000 to $10,000 or more.

What is the merle color pattern in bulldogs?

The merle color pattern in bulldogs is a result of a genetic mutation that affects the distribution of pigment in their fur. Merle bulldogs have a mottled coat with patches of diluted color on a solid base color. The pattern can be blue merle, red merle, chocolate merle, or any combination of these colors.

Are merle bulldogs purebred?

Merle bulldogs are a result of breeding at least one Bulldog that carries the merle gene. However, the American Kennel Club (AKC) does not recognize merle as a standard color for the English Bulldog breed. It is very likely that merle English Bulldogs probably have ancestor from a different breed to introduce the merle gene.

What are the health issues associated with merle bulldogs?

Merle bulldogs are prone to several health issues, including deafness, blindness, and skin problems. The merle gene is also associated with a higher risk of developing certain types of cancer. Therefore, it is essential to choose a reputable breeder who screens their dogs for these health issues.

Are merle Bulldogs hypoallergenic?

No, merle Bulldogs are not hypoallergenic. They shed moderately and produce dander, which can trigger allergies in some people. However, regular grooming and cleaning can help reduce the amount of hair and dander in the environment.

What is the rarest merle color in bulldogs?

The rarest merle color in bulldogs is the lilac merle, which is a combination of the chocolate and blue merle colors. Lilac merle bulldogs have a diluted coat with a pinkish hue and are highly sought after by breeders and enthusiasts. However, it is essential to note that breeding for rare colors can lead to health issues and should be done responsibly.

Final Thoughts

The Merle Bulldog is a unique and fascinating breed that has gained popularity over the years. Despite its controversial breeding methods, the Merle Bulldog is loved by many for its striking coat patterns and affectionate personality.

While the Merle Bulldog may not be the best fit for everyone, those who are willing to put in the time and effort to properly care for this breed will be rewarded with a loyal and loving companion. It is important to note that due to its breeding, the Merle Bulldog may be more prone to certain health issues, so prospective owners should be aware of these potential risks.

Overall, the Merle Bulldog is a breed that requires a dedicated and responsible owner who is committed to providing proper care and attention. With the right environment and care, the Merle Bulldog can make a wonderful addition to any family.


Tamsin De La Harpe


Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions.

Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

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