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About Us

Speak! Rescue and Sanctuary is a 501 (c)(3) Australian shepherd rescue specializing in double merle awareness. We are passionate about helping Australian shepherds and border collies, particularly those born with hearing and vision impairments as a result of merle-to-merle breeding. 


Speak! is a completely foster-based dog rescue, so we rely on volunteers to care for these pups until they find forever homes. We also provide sanctuary for certain special needs dogs who cannot be adopted.

What is Double Merle?

Merle is the beautiful swirly pattern in a dog’s coat. Because merle dogs are so attractive, they are also very popular. When parents each have a merle gene, there is a 25% chance each puppy will have two merle genes, also known as “double merles.”

 

Double merles typically have a mostly white coat and often have vision impairments, hearing impairments, or both. Some of the breeds that carry the merle gene include the Australian shepherd, border collie, Catahoula leopard, Chihuahua, collie, dachshund, and Great Dane.
 

Why Adopt a Double Merle?


Double merles are just like any other “normal” dog! Though they might have issues with their vision or hearing, they typically don’t have other health problems. These dogs are perfectly capable of living normal lives with the help of people who believe in them and love them. These special needs dogs are intelligent, happy, and don’t know life other than the way they were born. We never feel sorry for them. They are just perfect.

If breeding two merle dogs together has such a high chance of producing a puppy that is blind or deaf, why would anyone do it?

 

In some cases, people just don’t know. They might be unaware their dog has the merle gene, the breeding might have been accidental, or they just didn’t know the risks of breeding two merle dogs. In those cases, we take the puppies into our care and educate them, doing our best to spay the mom if they’ll let us so it doesn't happen again.

 

Unfortunately, many times this happens because there are some unscrupulous breeders who know the risks and choose to breed their dogs anyway. They can charge more for a merle puppy and just discard any double merles that happen to be born in a litter. 

 

Responsible breeding can completely prevent this from happening. Before breeding, owners can perform low-cost genetic testing to make sure only one or none of the parents contain the merle gene. Part of our mission is educating others about the dangers associated with breeding two merle dogs.

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