A little about merle Jacks and our goals.
What is a merle Jack?
The merle coat pattern is caused by a genetic mutation that causes irregularly shaped patches with diluted pigment while other patches on the coat are fully pigmented in color. The result is a striking dappled pattern that is seen in many breeds such as the Australian Shepherd, Border Collie, Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Chihuahua, Cocker Spaniel, Dachshund, French Bulldog, Great Dane and the Pomeranian. In Jack Russells, just as the aforementioned breeds, the presence of the merle gene causes the tan or black spots on the dog to look specked with light and dark patches.
According to every breed standard written for the Jack Russell Terrier, acceptable colors for the breed include tan and white, tricolored and black and white. At least 51% of the dog should be white (because JRTs carry the gene for the piebald coat pattern). Other color patterns such as merle or brindle are not allowed.
So how did the merle gene get introduced into Jack Russells? Most likely, a breeder interested in this color pattern bred a full blood Jack Russell (full blood= a dog who’s ancestors are all registered JRTs) to another breed that exhibits merle, such as a dachshund. The result would be a mixed breed dog (mixed breed= the offspring of different full blood dog breeds). From that breeding, a mixed breed merle puppy that most resembled a JRT was kept and bred to another full blood JRT. After several generations of selective breeding to full blood Jacks, the result is a purebred merle Jack Russell (purebred= a dog that has been “bred-up” to purebred status as a result of using enough generations of full blood dogs so that the percentage of full blood JRT genetics are above 87.5%). Therefore, while merle Jacks may not be full blood, they are purebred meaning their offspring exhibit a consistency of traits associated with the Jack Russell Terrier.
We think merle Jack Russells are absolutely stunning and decided to make this a pet project at our family farm. Our goal is to produce puppies that look exactly like a short Jack Russell but with the merle pattern. We prefer a short and stocky build with beautiful heads and ear sets. We also breed for a calmer disposition so that our puppies make good pets. All our dogs have Embark breed and health testing which allows us to carefully select our breeding dogs to produce healthy puppies. Parents are PLL and SCA clear and have been screened for patellar luxation. A merle Jack with a single copy of the merle gene can be every bit as healthy as a regular Jack- we do not breed for “double merles” which can lead to health problems including blind and deaf dogs. For this reason, some of our puppies will have traditional Jack coloration (tricolored or tan and white).
There are many people who will tell you that a merle Jack is not a “real” Jack Russell. It is not our intention to deceive anyone or make false claims. Merle is not an acceptable color according to the Jack Russell breed standard. However, we love Jacks and think merle is really beautiful on them. If you want to show your dog, are going to be offended by people telling you it’s not a “real” JRT, or any thing along those lines a merle Jack is not the right dog for you. If you want a unique dog with stunning markings then please contact us to discuss our merle JRTs.