We love our tiny Piglet, the deaf blind pink puppy but the reality of why he and others like him are born the way they are, and the fact that their profound disabilities are 100% preventable, is heartbreaking. Piglet did not need to be deaf and blind!
Piglet is a double dapple Dachshund Chihuahua mix. Dapple coloring in Dachshunds, merle in herding dogs, and harlequin in Great Danes are highly desirable color patterns. The dapple coloring on its own poses no risk to dogs and puppies. But when two dapple (merle or harlequin) colored dogs are bred, the consequences can be catastrophic for some of the puppies.
Breeding two dapple (merle/harlequin) dogs together leads to a 25% chance that each puppy will be “double dapple”. Double dapples are white or mostly white, and have congenital ear and eye defects. While some double dapples are able to see and hear, most have some degree of hearing and/or vision loss, and many are completely deaf, completely blind, or both.
The puppies are often discarded, dumped at shelters, on the side of the road, or as with a recently well publicized case of a double merle Aussie puppy, some are dumped in a river. Many are euthanized bc breeders don’t want to place them or think they have no chance of a good quality of life. Rescue groups scramble to help these puppies, but the bottom line is that the puppies did not need to be born in the first place.
There are conscientious breeders who understand the risk of breeding dapples, merle, and harlequins together so they avoid the practice. But others are greedy and unethical as they breed dapples together to produce flashy colored puppies. Then they discard the puppies who have congenital defects. Some breeders actually sell these poor babies as exotic because unfortunately there are buyers willing to pay them for their unethical practices.
There are also backyard breeders and households that are unaware of dapple to dapple breeding outcomes. They only learn about double dapples when their own dog gives birth to unusual white puppies. Their ignorance leaves some of them feeling remorseful for creating dogs with disabilities and they don’t repeat their mistake. Others just don’t care.
Once double dapple (merle, harlequin) puppies are born and hopefully rescued, finding them homes can be challenging. Since the degree of disabilities is variable, each puppy’s individual needs are taken into account when rescue groups search for their forever home. Unless the puppies have suffered physical abuse and severe neglect, they easily integrate into households that are willing to put in a little extra time and effort to keep them safe and engaged.
My recent PetInsider article Everything You Need To Know About Adopting a Special Needs Pet thoroughly covers the topic of special needs pet care. There are also online resources that focus on double merle breeding, rescue of double dapple/merle dogs, and training of deaf blind dogs.
Part of Piglet’s Mission is to raise awareness about double dapple breeding. We hope that by educating Piglet’s friends through social media and in person we can help decrease and even eliminate double dapple breeding. Breeding dapple or merle dogs together is inhumane on all fronts. Please don’t buy dogs from so called breeders who commit this type of animal abuse. Spread the word and educate those that aren’t aware of the issue.
We hope to inspire others to consider adopting a special needs dog. Despite Piglet’s very profound disabilities, he faces his challenges with a positive Piglet Mindset and has himself quite a party every single day. Piglet has a great quality of life as do most other double dapple deaf blind dogs that are adopted by kind, caring families.
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