Why Merle Pitbulls Are Super Rare & Controversial

When people talk about “Pitbulls” they are usually referring to one of these breeds: American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, or American Bullies. There is no one breed called a “Pitbull,” but in this guide, we’ll be focusing mostly on American Pitbull Terriers for breed specifics and referring to them as Pitbulls, with a few caveats.  

While there is plenty of confusion about Pitbull-type dogs, there is also a lot of mixed breeding of these breeds. Many dogs labeled “Pitbulls” by rescues and breeders are a mix of two or more of the breeds listed above, and may also have additional breed parentage. With all this in mind, we’ll talk about the “Pitbull” breed in general terms, and you’ll see both purebred and mixed breed Pitbulls featured in this blog. 

Merle Pitbulls

What’s most important is that every one of these Pitties is merle. Merle is a unique multi-colored coat pattern most often seen in breeds like the Australian Shepherd. In dog breeds like the Pitbull, merle is rare and highly sought after, but not considered a standard coat color. Here, you’ll meet seven gorgeous merle Pitbulls in different colors, and learn more about the breed and life with a Bully. 

7 Colorful Merle Pitbulls from Instagram

Merle Pitbulls all have one thing in common: a multi-colored, spotty, patchy coat pattern. “Merle” refers only to the markings, not to the dog’s coat color, and merle Pitbulls come in a wide range of color combinations. Most commonly, merle Pitbulls are a combination of white, gray, black, and brown, but colors like blue, Isabella, red, etc. are also possible within the breed.

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Merle is not a standard color for American Pitbull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, American Bullies, or Staffordshire Bull Terriers. In fact, merle is considered a fault in all of these breeds due to the potential for health problems associated with breeding merle dogs. While merle isn’t accepted by kennel clubs as standard, and merle Pitbulls are rarely purposefully bred, they very much exist!

Here, you’ll encounter seven stunning merle Pitbulls in different color combinations from around the country whose humans very kindly use their opposable thumbs to make them Instagram accounts.

1. Biggy the Tricolor Merle Pitbull

Biggy the Tricolor Merle Pitbull
Source: @Biggy_Merle

Biggy (right) is a very handsome tricolor merle Pitbull who moved all the way from Ecuador to the U.S. with his mama—what a brave boy! Here you can see just how big Biggy is next to his Chihuahua bestie (left).

2. Ice the Red Nose Merle Pitbull

Ice the Red Nose Merle Pitbull
Source: @MerlePitbull

Ice is a sweet red nose merle Pitbull with one brown eye and one blue eye. Blue and partially blue eyes are common among merle dogs and don’t usually cause problems for the pup. Red nose Pitbulls have reddish-pink noses instead of the usual black, but not all red Pitbulls have red noses. You can also find red merle Pitbulls with black noses, too. 

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3. Jamie the Leopard Merle Pitbull

Jamie the Leopard Merle Pitbull
Source: @Merle_Pitbull_J

Jamie is what is sometimes called a leopard merle Pitbull since she has a lighter base coat with solid spots of black, like a leopard! Jamie is eight years old, lives in Florida, and was rescued by humans who keep her pampered with toys, treats, and soft spots to snooze. 

4. Jasper the Grey & White Merle Pitbull

Jasper the Grey & White Merle Pitbull
Source: @Jasper_The_Merle

This smiley boy is Jasper, a merle Pit Bull from Atlanta, Georgia who loves all toys, all treats, and as much outside time as he can get! Jasper loves every human and dog he meets, and is a typical happy-go-lucky Pittie. 

5. Everest the Blue Merle Pitbull

Everest the Blue Merle Pitbull
Source: @IHeartAtlantaRealty

Everest is a regal blue merle Pitbull from Atlanta whose human mom runs a real estate business to keep plenty of kibble in his bowl! Blue merle Pitbulls have a dilution gene that turns black pigment to dark blue-gray. As you can see, Everest’s nose isn’t black like most of the other Pitties in this lineup, it’s a much lighter hue. These dogs are also called blue nose Pitbulls

6. Kane the Tricolored Leopard Merle Pitbull

Kane the Tricolored Leopard Merle Pitbull
Source: @Kane_TheMerlePittie

Kane is a sweet tricolored leopard merle Pitbull from Chesapeake, Virginia! When he isn’t finding a shady spot to lounge, Kane is finding ways to make mischief and mess with the other Pitties he lives with. 

7. Arianna the Red Merle Pitbull

Arianna the Red Merle Pitbull
Source: @Ary_ChanyTheMerlePit

This beautiful girl is Arianna, a red merle Pitbull with perfect sploot form! Unlike a red nose merle Pittie, Arriana’s nose is black, and only her fur is red. Merle colors are most commonly shades of black, gray, and brown, but occasionally you find a rare red merle like Miss Ary. 

Merle Pitbull Basic Info

Although the term “Pitbull” refers to at least four dog breeds, we’re going to focus on the American Pitbull Terrier in this section for the sake of clarity. Remember, some other Bully breeds may have similar traits, but will not be identical to the APBT. You should also keep in mind that many American Pitbull Terriers are mixed breed dogs with at least a small amount of some other Bully breed in their genetic history. 

Without further ado, let’s discuss merle American Pitbull Terriers! 

Merle Pitbull Temperament

Merle American Pitbull Terriers (and Pitbulls of any color) are cheerful, enthusiastic, eager to please, and energetic—they love to play, they love to socialize, and they love to be with their humans. Excellent family pets—especially when raised around respectful children from a young age—and exceptionally affectionate, Pitbulls are the type of dog you can snuggle up on the couch with or take for a long walk. As long as they’re with their people, Pitbulls are happy to tag along. 

Athletic, nimble, and curious, APBTs love to learn tricks and often excel at agility and training. Friendly and easily excitable, Pitbulls greet everyone like a new best friend but may be prone to getting overstimulated or anxious in new or high-tension situations. 

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Merle Pitbull Size

The average merle American Pitbull Terrier is around 17–21 inches tall and weighs about 30–60 pounds. Remember, there are other breeds also commonly referred to as “Pitbulls.” Here’s a quick overview of the sizes of the four most common Bully breeds.

HeightWeight
American Pitbull Terrier17–21 inches30–60 pounds
American Staffordshire Terrier17–19 inches40–70 pounds
Staffordshire Bull Terrier14–16 inches24–38 pounds
American Bully (standard)16–20 inches50–80 pounds

Merle Pitbull Health

As long as merle Pitbulls do not have two copies of the merle gene (double merle) there are no health issues to worry about related to coat pattern or color. However, as the dog owners of American Pitbull Terriers in general, there are some potential health risks to look out for, especially as your Pittie ages. 

  • Allergies (e.g. food allergies, environmental allergies)
  • Skin issues (e.g. dry skin, skin infections)
  • Joint issues (e.g. luxating patella, elbow dysplasia) 
  • Separation anxiety
  • Unwanted weight gain
  • Certain cancers

Where To Find Merle Pitbull Puppies for Sale

Merle pitbull puppy

You can find reputable breeders of American Pitbull Terriers and other Bully breeds quite easily, but it won’t be as easy to find a reputable breeder producing merle Pitbull puppies. Merle isn’t an approved coat pattern/coloration for any type of Pitbull, which means most breeders don’t even consider attempting to breed these pups. 

The best place to find a merle Pitbull is at your local animal shelter. Thousands of Pitbulls enter shelters and animal rescues each year, and are the most euthanized, abandoned, and abused dog breeds in the world. There are so many Pitbulls that need homes, and we highly encourage you to give one of these sweet dogs a forever home. 

Merle Pitbull FAQ

Did we miss an important piece of information? Do you still have more questions about merle Pitbulls? Take a look at our answers to common questions asked by dog lovers like you about merle Pitbulls and related topics. 

What are double merle Pitbulls? 

Double merle Pitbulls are dogs who have inherited two copies of the merle gene. While one copy of the merle gene can give a dog a beautiful multi-colored coat, two copies of the gene can cause serious health problems. Double merles are often born fully deaf and blind and may experience other health issues that shorten their lifespan. Double merle Pitbulls also don’t get the signature merle coat and usually come out completely white. Double merle is different from albino and is so serious that breeding two merle dogs together is considered unethical in the world of dog breeding. 

Are merle Pitbulls rare?

Yes. Merle Pitbulls are rare because merle is not an approved coat pattern for any of the bully breeds, and breeding merle dogs comes with risks. Merle is a semi-dominant gene (as opposed to a recessive gene), which means dogs only need to inherit one copy to have merle patterning. However, puppies only have a 50% chance of inheriting the merle gene, which can make breeding these dogs less profitable than other colors. You also cannot breed two merle dogs together, since this causes unnecessary health risks to the puppies and won’t produce merle dogs either. 

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How are merle Pitbulls created? 

Merle Pitbulls are created by breeding a Pitbull with the merle gene to a Pitbull without the merle gene. Each puppy has a 50% chance of inheriting the gene and being merle.

Why are merle Pitbull puppies so expensive? 

When purchased from a breeder, merle Pitbulls can go for as much as $5,000–$10,000+. Merle Pitbulls are rare and not standard for the breed, and breeders have no guarantee of producing merle pups during the breeding process. In a sense, breeding merle puppies can be a total guessing game, since you won’t know how many inherit the gene until they are born. 

While breeders may advertise that their merle Pitties are the best, we don’t recommend buying a merle Pitbull puppy from a breeder. There are thousands of Pitbulls looking for homes in shelters and rescues, and we promise there are a few merle ones available, too. At a shelter, you’ll pay between $100–$500 for a rescue pup and that money will go to helping other dogs find homes.

Why do some merle Pitbulls have blue eyes? 

Merle doesn’t just affect coat color, it also affects skin and eye pigment! In the coat, merle creates mottled patches of color, and it does the same on the nose and in the eyes. Some merle dogs have partial or fully blue eyes thanks to the merle gene, and may even have multi-colored or light-colored noses. 

Is merle in Pitbulls recognized by the AKC?

No. The two Pitbull type breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club are the American Staffordshire Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Merle is considered a fault in both breeds and disqualifies them from AKC registration and participating in dog shows. The American Pitbull Terrier and the American Bully are both recognized by the United Kennel Club, which also considers merle a fault and cause for disqualification. 

Are merle Pitbulls deaf?

No. Merle alone does not cause deafness, but merle dogs can be deaf. Double merle dogs are often deaf, which is why it is considered unethical to breed two merle dogs to each other. Single-merle Pitbulls suffer no coat-pattern-related illnesses, but double merles can have life-threatening disabilities and birth defects. 


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