24 November

Fate’s Blue Eye: Is Fate A Merle? Apparently Not.

by Jon Katz

Fate has been with us for years now, but I’ve never been able to get her to sit still long enough to get a really good close-up of what I thought was a Merle Gene eye, something gives remarkable character to her face.

Fate has a blue eye, I always thought it was a Merle gene,  but I learned this morning that this isn’t so, a blue eye doesn’t mean she’s a Merle dog.

I got this message this morning from Heather, a knowledgeable border collie lover and sheep herder who is familiar with Fate’s line.

Hello, Jon. Fate actually is not a merle and has no merle genes at all—I know her lines well… Blue eyes in border collies are not always caused by a merling pattern, as they aren’t in Fate’s case. She is a predominantly white border collie with a lot of ticking, not a merle.”

Wow, that is good to know.

This morning, Fate jumped up into my lap for our daily head-to-head communing and she actually remained still for a few seconds. My Iphone was as quick as her for once.

Fate’s leflt is eye is bluish. A blue eye is often called a Merle Gene eye in dogs, but Fate doesn’t have that condition, I learned a few minutes ago.

The Merle gene is a recessive genetic gene that modifies the dark pigment in the eyes. Merle causes random modifications in a dog –  both dark-eyed, blue-eyed, and odd colored eyes are possible. Pigmentation in the dog’s paw pads may also be modified by a pink coloring.

The merle gene sometimes – rarely – causes ocular problems in dogs.

But almost always, merle dogs are just as healthy as dogs whose eyes have a solid color.

Fate is a remarkable dog, bright, athletic, healthy and smart. She’s also quite a character. She opens doors and my fear is that she’ll get hold of human tools and take the kitchen door off. The coloration in her eye has always given her a special personality to me.

Perhaps she is too smart to want to push the sheep around, she just wants to hang out with them. She has tons of instinct, and would make a terrific agility dog, Maria and I aren’t agility work but Fate she does all kinds of acrobatics out in the pasture and walking with us.

Until today, Maria and I both thought her a merle, and so did every vet who examined her. I’m glad to learn otherwise.

I’m happpy to have finally got a worthy picture of her blue eye, Merle or not. It doesn’t matter to us, but it’s good to know.

(Note: this piece was corrected from an earlier version to reflect the fact that has a blue eye, but is not a merle. Thanks, Heather.)

4 Comments

  1. Hello, Jon. Fate actually is not a merle and has no merle genes at all—I know her lines well, and you can easily confirm what I’m saying by checking with her breeder. Blue eyes in border collies are not always caused by a merling pattern, as they aren’t in Fate’s case. She is a predominantly white border collie with a lot of ticking, not a merle. Hope you’re well.

    1. Thanks Heather, this is a surprise to me, I’m glad to know it (and the vet will be glad to learn it also) I’ve always been told she’s a merle, but I take you at your word and will correct it, you know your dogs..

  2. Tiny bit of fascinating information! Thank you. I have a soft spot for Fate. She is a dog who walks to a different drum.
    As for blue eyed white cats, we adopted a feral one , pregnant of course. She was not deaf but of her 4 kittens both white ones were deaf. No problem finding homes for them. We kept one of the other 2, as well as their mother. He is a Tuxedo cat who is now our 14 year old much loved Pancho.
    When living in El Paso, many years ago, I cared for a coy-dog one summer vacation when her student owner had to return home for a while. Apart from her being called Schlitz and I hated to have to call her to me in our neighborhood park, she was far more intelligent than any of the many dogs In my life. In the 4 weeks I had her she learnt how to open the refrigerator, every kitchen cupboard and every inside door of the house. We had to Jerry rig expandable cords every where over handles and also install small bolts on both sides of doors–she was working busily on these when her owner returned! Actually, she was a 3 year old charmer and apart from this we all enjoyed having her
    Her owner had found her by the roadside as a tiny pup, by her dead mother and 2 dead litter mates. She was obviously half German Shepherd.
    Just some anecdotes, have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

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