Who is Linken Bark?
What is a Double Merle?
A Double Merle (DM) is a common term used to describe a dog that was born from 2 merle parents. It does not matter what color the merleing pattern is, or, the breed of dog. When 2 merle dogs are bred together, there is a 25% chance that the puppies will be DMs. Merle is a dominant bleaching gene and as a result DM puppies are born primarily white. Others, such as Linken, are more heavily marked.
Is this a problem?
Double merles also commonly have vision & eye defects. Vision loss can affect any color of eye and can vary from partial vision loss up to blindness. Here are some of the other ocular conditions in DMs:
significantly. In some DMs this is not noticed visibly and in others it appears as though the dog has no eye. With severe cases of microphthalmia the
3rd eyelid covers most of the dog's eye which in turn causes vision problems as well. Linken Bark saw an eye specialist shortly after he arrived & was
diagnosed with microphthalmia. Luckily his case is mild and his vision is not impaired at this time, however, many other DMs are not as lucky
- Starburst Pupils
normally to light and can cause a light sensitivity for the dog.
changes can potentially cause vision loss.
- Absense of Eyes
Even though double merles may not have visible eye abnormalities we always recommend seeing a veterinary opthamologist (eye specialist). Shortly after Linken Bark arrived, I started noticing odd patterns with his eyes. Both of his eyes appeared to be mildly starbursting and his pupils would dilate and constrict at different variances. It was at the opthamology appointment where we discovered he had microphthalmia. At the time of his examination Linken's vision appeared good, however, I was advised it is very possible it will deteriorate over time due to his genetics. I am a firm believer of 'better safe than sorry' - so when in doubt get it checked out!
What Breeds Produce Double Merles?
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Linken Bark an Albino?
No - Linken Bark is a Double Merle Great Dane. His color pattern is called "merlequin". Albinism is a totally different condition where the dog tends to be pure white with pink eyes, nose and skin.
How did you know Linken was deaf?
We knew that Linken was deaf before he came into our care. His breeder reached out to our rescue's founder as his was born deaf. There are many ways to help determine if your dog is deaf. One way to test at home is by making a loud sound when your dog is sleeping, or, when you are standing behind your dog. Good 'ol banging on the pots & pans while sleeping is a good start. Linken's older sister Eevee, a Bull Terrier, was also born 100% deaf. Her foster family discovered her hearing impairment when her littermates would wake up to the sound of a vacuum and she wouldn't.
A veterinary specialist can also perform a BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response) test in order to determine your dog's level of hearing. Some dogs can hear very low or high frequencies, whereas other are unable to hear anything.
How do you train a deaf dog?
We train all of our deaf dogs the exact same way as we train hearing dogs but with the addition of ASL (American Sign Language) and/or hand signals.
Isn't it harder to train deaf dogs?
Surprisingly no. Linkin's deaf sister Eevee, a bull terrier, was the easiest dog I have ever trained. She learned her hand signals/signs faster than some of our other dogs learned verbal cues.
What kind of commands do they know?
Linken Bark is still a puppy but he knows many signs already. He can sit, stay, lie down, come, wait and also knows 'look at me' (my version of 'focus' for the deafies), 'out of the kitchen' and 'car ride'. Eevee knows all of these too and can also potty on command, knows the signs for 'are you hungry', 'water', 'drop it' and does some target training. Ultimately the possibilities are endless and deaf dogs can do anything regular dogs can but hear.
Aren't dogs with blue eyes blind?
Vision loss can affect animals with any color eyes - it is not necessarily a trait of blues.
Does Linken Bark actually bark?
Haha yes! It is a common myth that deaf dogs are unable to bark. Linken Bark is actually quite quiet and only barks when he gets really excited in play, however, his sister Eevee is extremely vocal. Deaf dogs do tend to bark louder than hearing dogs & often with an odd-sounding bark. I attribute this to the dogs not being able to hear themselves and barking louder to feel the sound's vibration.
Being deaf must be hard on a dog right?
Deaf dogs and double merles, contrary to popular misconception, lead happy, balanced and productive lives. Linken Bark and Eevee were born deaf so to them this is normal and they do not know otherwise. One of our other family dog's also went deaf later in life. She adapted extremely well when she lost her hearing and was still her happy, playful and loving self!
There are many special needs double merle dogs that compete at the highest levels in agility, win ribbons at kennel club showings, participate in nosework & scent training, and even become therapy dogs. Once Linken Bark has reached the minimum age requirement we are hoping to complete therapy training with him so he can spread love and joy to residents of our local senior's homes and hospices.