sable merle or blue merle? And what is the difference anyway?
Ok, your puppy is a sable merle, not a blue merle... what is the difference? He would keep all his black and the grey as well (or bluing as its called) just the spots where he has deeper red-mahogany will turn a lighter apricot instead. Again, its impossible to really know for sure for a few more weeks, but the second I get a better clue you'll know!
Not sure what you know of genetics, but a genotype is what genes an animal has and the phenotype is what characteristics actually show up physically. For example, I have green eyes, thats my phenotype, but I carry the blue eye gene (as my father has blue eyes) and since my husband has blue eyes we can have children with blue eyes (and 2 of our 3 do). So I am capable of passing the blue eyed gene, even though I don't show it.
Well, we know that Rusty's father was a very dark red poodle and his mother was a buff-apricot colored American Cocker.
However the sable gene does not always show itself phenotypically in an apparent way with lighter colored dogs. Rusty was a deep rusty red when we got him as a puppy (hence his name) but as he grew older his hair seemed to lighten. In reality Rusty carries the sable gene. This gene alters color in the way that it is expressed on the coat of the animal. Generally a darker color is visible on the tips of hairs and a much lighter color (in our case apricot) is visible at the root of the hairs.
Sable is most well known for the way it behaves on a black coated dog. A dog with the black-coat genes that also inherits the sable gene will appear all black at birth and slowly over time will show this copper-penny colored hair underneath. Eventually the dog gets his first hair-cut and most of the dog looks like the copper-penny color and the places where the hair isn't trimmed much (the face, ears, paws, etc) the hair stays black at the tips and copper at the roots. You can google "sable" and see pictures, or you can see on my "previous litters" page a puppy that lays his head down on a wooden clog-type shoe. That puppy is a sable color. He is also shown wearing his harness, I think it is yellow and black.
Our first surprise was a blue merle that seemed to have a lot of coppery brown on his coat. His name is "Augie" and he is a gorgeous dog with a great personality! His owners are great people too.
Anyway, to make a long story short, Augie doggie is a gorgeous merle with one blue eye. He had a lot of brown on him and less silver. When he had his first haircut his color changed dramatically. A lot of the pattern was cut off and he looked like a totally different dog. He still has merle pattern coloring in swirls on his coat, but instead of black tipped-russet and auburn coat swirled with black he has more of a dark red-apricot coloring. with no black tipped hairs.
He is still an absolutely gorgeous animal, of course, but the change was dramatic and startling! When I saw him only one year since his birth he looked like a completely different dog!
He is still an exceptionally beautiful dog with a very boisterous and friendly personality but it really took me by surprise!
After discussing this at length with a friend who studies as a geneticist and is particularly interested in coat color in dogs, we have concluded that since we had two puppies with the sable gene in our litter the year Augie was born (out of Rosie sired by Rusty) that Rusty must be a carrier of the gene, and it isn't just a fluke. It can happen that the sable gene can be paired with the merle gene and create whats called a "sable merle".
So, ultimately, while it appeared that Augie was a blue merle, he was, in fact, a sable merle.
The merle gene works as a complementary gene to other colors. It is a dilution gene, in that it puts a pattern on the coat and dilutes the color down significantly. So a dog that would have been a black dog turns into a "blue" dog with the dilution of the merle gene. A liver (or red) colored dog turns into a red merle. A chocolate colored dog becomes a chocolate merle, and so on and so forth. Merle can even be hidden in a fawn, buff, cream or white colored coat.
Anyway, to make a very long story short it is possible that Vex is actually a sable merle and not a blue merle, predominantly. He clearly has black markings that are "blued" as a result of the merle pattern, however his reddish colored spots can be tan markings from his mother, or sable markings from his father.
There really is hardly any way to know for sure until he has a hair cut, although I will be watching his coat for signs either way.
Both are beautiful coat colors, but this does concern me as I do not want to give you a dog that isn't exactly what you're expecting.
At any rate I don't imagine that you'll want to pass on him just because he has some sable in his coat, it doesn't disqualify him as a standard-breed and there are few conformance competitions for cockapoos anyway, not that I expect you're much into the show circle. ;-)
However, in all fairness, if you would rather wait for a blue merle with no sabling in his coat I can understand and I will refund your deposit.
If you don't mind the chance that his copper-red sections might become a lighter apricot color after he gets a haircut and some of the merle pattern might fade into obscurity in those locations, then he is all yours. Either way he is going to be a beautiful dog worthy of making puppies of his own.
Like I said before, I don't expect you'll mind a bit of sable over tan, but I am not an irresponsible breeder or someone that is trying to ever be dishonest or misrepresent an animal in any way. I want you to be thoroughly happy with your little man!
Talk to you soon,