Dappling is a coat pattern found in the Dachshund dog breed. This dappling is also called merle in other dog breeds such as the Collie, Great Dane and Australian Shepherd. This dappling pattern is a splotchy multi-color pattern in the dog coat. The dappling can be all over or in a very small area such as an ear or spot on the chest. Dappling is genetic and the results vary widely regardless of the mother or father’s coat. A very lightly dappled dachshund could produce heavily dappled, lightly dappled or even no dappled pups. However there is a very large risk in breeding two dapples together which will result in what we call double dapples.
Double dapple is the result of both the mother and the father dog giving the pup a dapple gene. For example, the father dog gives the pup the gene first and dapples his back legs and tail, then the mother dog gives a dapple gene to the puppy’s entire body. Where the two dapple genes overlap results in solid white; the other areas that did not overlap genes result in spots which contain dappling. There are extreme risks in breeding dapples and a good breeder will not risk the health of their pups in this way.
The risks in breeding dapples include birth defects such as blind, deaf or both and microphthalmia (an abnormally small eye). Sometimes this overlapping dapple gene can even cause missing eyes and/or ears. However, a double dapple puppy can be born with no deformities at all. Many believe that if the dog has blue eyes they are a double dapple. This is incorrect because some dapples have blue eyes and some double dapples do not have blue eyes. Because of the beautiful pattern of double dapples, some people take the risk of breeding the dogs because of the price for which they can sell the puppies. This is such a sad thing because many of the pups that are born with birth defects end up being killed, sent to shelters or sold to people unaware that the pup is blind/deaf. You can only hope that those that bought a double dapple and later find out they are blind/deaf will still love them and take care of them.
Many times double dapples are mistaken or sold as piebalds. Piebalds are a normal Dachshund color pattern with white. This pattern is usually, but not necessarily, symmetrical where a double dapple pattern is very jagged with undefined edges. In piebalds if they have a white sock the other paw will have a white sock, a black ear the other ear will be black. Also the spots on a piebald have no dappling at all. In the double dapple pattern the spots are dappled. For more in depth information on double dapples visit DORG.
However, there are dappled piebalds and double dapple piebalds! This can be very difficult to distinguish and may require genetic testing for confirmation of the coat. Lisa J. Emerson author of The Wienepedia: Dachshund Coats, Colors, & Patterns discusses the intricate genetics involved in these coats in an article she wrote when I asked her about the specifics. In Lisa Emerson’s article she states, “It is a common myth that such-and-such parti pattern must look symmetrical, or that it must have four white feet, or that it must have a white tailtip, etc., or that a double dapple must have the same placement of white or that it must be completely asymmetrical. The truth is, every dog is an individual, and where that individual’s particular pigment cells migrate or fail to migrate to on its body cannot be proficiently predicted.” Click Here to read Lisa’s article Dapples, partis, and mixes – oh my!! You can find more good information on genetics at Li’l Dacs. Finding homes for special needs dogs is very difficult and most end up euthanized. Yet owning and training a blind/deaf dog is really not any more difficult than a normal dog. It is known that normal dogs train best with hand signals and clickers rather than voice command. Blind dogs can easily be trained with clickers and hand touch. While deaf dogs utilize hand signals and sign language. If your dog is deaf and blind, hand touch and a vibration collar (not an e-collar) will work.
If you are looking for a dog please consider adopting a special needs dog. Furever Dachshund Rescue can help you find a dachshund in need. My mom, Angela Craig, is Social Network Coordinator and DeeAnn Jones is Intake Coordinator for this new Dachshund rescue. Kimberly Sharp is well known throughout several rescues and specializes in rescuing double dapple and merle dogs with special needs. As Lisa Emerson states in her article, be careful when purchasing a so called piebald, dapple or double dapple from a breeder. Make sure they really understand the genetics and do not just breed to make big bucks at the cost of these gorgeous dogs. Better yet, contact a rescue and adopt! Too many times rescues find these dogs dumped at shelters by breeders and owners alike.
I would like to thank Lisa J. Emerson for her time in writing and sharing her article Dapples, partis, and mixes – oh my!! Also a big thanks to Kimberly Sharp, DeeAnn Jones and Jenay C. for sharing their furbaby photos.