What is a Red Merle Australian Shepherd?

What is a Red Merle Australian Shepherd?

Australian shepherds, being affectionate, friendly, intelligent, and diligent workers, are the seventeenth most popular dog in the United States today.

Along with their awesome personalities comes their unique appearance, especially a wide variety of coat colors.

Genes control what color or colors your Australian shepherd will be and not hundreds of genes, amazingly, just two.

One gene from the male and one from the female will determine the base coat color and if it will be red or black.

The second gene will predict if they have a merle coat as well, which is that mottled patchwork quilted pattern that some Aussies sport.

Some will be solid colored and others with the merle effect will need only one gene from one parent for that special Aussie look.

Breeders do not use both males and females who both have the merle gene because the double merle gene is often associated with defects.

Australian shepherds can be found in about 14 different colors but only four are recognized as authentic Aussie shades.

They are red, red merle, black and blue merle. Many Australian shepherds have white in their coats. White was not mentioned because white isn’t a color. There is no pigment in white.

In this post, I will give you information on all that is Australian shepherd red merle from coat color and pattern to temperament and health.

australian shepherd Red Merle
Image by Pixabay.com

For your dog’s vitamin supplement, food, toys, or other dogs product please visit the Sundays for dogs website.

What Is A Red Merle Australian Shepherd?

Australian shepherds come in a wide array of color combinations. Red merle is quite unique and can only be produced if the gene that gives them their red coat is present in one of the parents.

One of the parents needs to carry the gene and they don’t have to be a red merle themselves.

In fact, a reputable breeder will not breed both a male and female that carry the red merle gene, known as a double merle, because this may produce pups that are prone to poor hearing and eyesight among other health issues.

The “red” that appears on red merle Australian shepherds is not a stop sign or fire engine red that comes to mind when you picture red.

The many shades of red on a red merle can be vastly different like strawberry blonde, cinnamon, sienna, copper, rust, or even a light red/tan. These red merle dogs are rarer than other colors because red is a recessive gene.

To check your shepherds’ health status or their DNA checks, please visit the Embark vet website for all the help you may need.

What Is A Red Merle Australian Shepherd?
Image by dfaen from Pixabay

Red Merle Color Variations and Patterns

Aussie puppies may have entirely different looks and color patterns than their adult fur will have once they are fully grown and have “blown” their puppy coat. This is something to keep in mind when you take your puppy home.

  • Puppies’ light coats will exhibit a richer, deeper shade as an adult.
  • Different and new markings may appear or markings that are white may become a smaller size in your adult Aussie.
  • Any markings on the puppy’s face may change.
  • The colors of your puppy’s paw pads, lips, eyelids, and nose will change colors.
  • Your Aussie’s eye color may change, become darker, lighter, or a different shade.

When your Aussie is an adult, if they are a red merle, their colorings can vary with many different shades of red and may appear in many distinct patterns.

For example, they may have a background color of silver or buff and sport patches that can be large areas with tiny specks of red shades like rust or cinnamon.

They may display copper points, generally on the legs or face, or have markings of white on the legs, chest, or face.

Each red merle is truly a unique work of art and can be either red merle with copper and white, red merle with white, or simply red merle all over.

Their eyes can be blue, which is common in red merles, or they can be brown with blue flecks or blue with brown flecks for a very striking look.

Red Merle Color Variations and Patterns
Red Merle by pixabay

Red Merle Australian Shepherd Temperament

You may wonder if Australian shepherd red merles have a unique and different temperament than other colors of the breed.

You may be thinking that in humans, redheads are supposedly hot-tempered, and can this be the case with a red merle? Studies have shown that this is not likely.

Australian shepherds were originally bred for herding sheep. They are highly intelligent, high-energy, loyal, and easy to train.

They can be a little reserved with strangers but make wonderful family dogs, especially with an active and energetic household.

There are some who believe that a red merle Australian shepherd has a different temperament than other colors and patterns, but there is no scientific proof to back it up, therefore, your red merle should exhibit all of the exceptional qualities of all Australian shepherds.

Health Problems of a Red Merle Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherd does have a few health issues and unfortunately, the red merle can suffer from a few additional health-related conditions. Many, however, are due to improper breeding and heredity.

Red Merle Australian Shepherd Eye Problems

Red merles can suffer from ocular issues and this is caused by breeding parents both carrying the merle gene.

Again, only one parent carrying the merle gene is needed to produce a merle pup, but it is not recommended to breed two dogs with this gene.

One eye condition that your red merle Aussie can suffer from due to unconventional breeding is microphthalmia.

This is when an Australian shepherd is born with extremely small eyes and may be born blind as well.

That pups who have predominantly white coats and blue eyes can be more affected by sunlight and more prone to eye damage as well as skin problems, sunburn, and skin cancer due to the sun’s UV rays.


Hearing may be affected by the merle gene and coat pattern, being exhibited by deafness that may occur in one or both ears.

It is believed that the more white that appears in this patchwork pattern, the greater the chance of deafness. White is not a color and lacks pigment. The link to deafness is this absence of pigment.

Australian Shepherd Red Merle Eye Problems
Image By Pixabay

Other health issues

Along with conditions linked to the gene of the red merle, this breed, in any color, shade or pattern is predisposed to other health diseases and issues.

  • cataracts
  • epilepsy

If you have your heart set on a red merle Australian shepherd because of its totally unique looks, seek out a reputable breeder who specializes in breeding red merles.

This breeder should have breeding records and participate in DNA Genetic testing of all of their breeding canines.

They should have evidence to support their good breeding techniques and you should see any and all parents of future puppies.

Doing your homework should ensure a healthy red merle Australian shepherd with its distinctive look and amazing temperament.