Text Box:   Breeding of Merles and Other Colors Not Allowed in the Conformation Ring

















3.    Breeding of Merles and Other Colors Not Allowed in the Conformation Ring

By Arlene Scarbrough, Scarbrough Fair Great Danes

Since all 30 plus years of my experience in breeding danes has been with harlequins, I am limiting my comments to harl bred dogs like merles, merlequins, piebalds.  Also, I am not going to address cross color breeding here.

I do not deliberately look for mismarks for breeding, however, I would breed a nice mismark before I would breed an average harlequin.  I have bred one or two piebalds, a couple of merlequins, and several merles in my breeding career.  I have a merle here now that we breed.

In general, sometimes I think that people get carried away with their own passions.  If they love showing, for instance, nothing is better than a show dog to them.  Iíve met a lot of show dogs that no one could have paid me to own.  Iíve owned a few mismarks that I would never have given up for money or anything else.  I probably would have embarrassed myself if I could have given up a human in my life in order to add another five years to one of these Danes lives.

Breeders in different countries have different opinions.  Breeders in some countries would rather breed merles than mantles.  Breeders in the States, for the most part, would elect to breed mantles over merles any day.

Personally I donít understand all the yelling and screaming about breeding merles, merlequins, piebalds, and undermarked harles (often referred to as whites).  When breeding harls, the color of the pups is basically a mystery until they pop out of mom.  A show marked harl bred to another show marked harl does not produce a litter of show marked harls.  I wouldnít seek a mismark for breeding, with the exception of an undermarked harl.  But I would never fail to consider breeding a mismark if everything else about the dog was exceptional.  After all, these dogs donít consistently reproduce their own color.

There are those people who maintain that merles should not be bred because they are genetically flawed health wise.  Now, I do not have a degree in genetics, but to that I would say, based on my own experiences, that these people like to hear themselves speak more than they like to dispense accurate information, or to simplyÖ.thatís  a bunch of crap!  Sometimes I think that God gives the mismarks a little something extra to make up for the prejudice that they are going to encounter.

Bottom Line:  If a dog is healthy; has a good temperament; is intelligent; and is a decent example of the breed when evaluating conformation and movement, I donít think color should be a big problem!

Advice:  I am not encouraging people to use mismarks for breeding.  I am, however, advising all breeders to breed the best examples of the breed that they can find.  If the best candidate happens to be a mismark, so be it!  We breed for health, temperament, intelligence, conformation and movement, and color in that order.  It is not often that the best marked harl in the litter is also the pup with the best conformation and movement; the most intelligent pup; the pup with the best temperament; and the healthiest.