The son of blind and deaf double merle stud, Wyndlair Avalanche, has won Best of Breed at the 2012 Westminster Kennel Club dog show. You can see “Vinnie” tonight during the Herding Group Judging. GCH CH Wyndlair Cherokee Vindication is the son of Wyndlair Avlanche and Ch Twin City Cleopatra. He was bred by Anita & Matt Stetler and J Morris. He is also owned by Renee Beals and Laura Rizzo, handled by Beals.
“Vinnie” is not a double merle himself, but he was produced by one. Both of Avalanche’s parents are merle and he was intentionally bred by the Stetlers of Wyndlair Collies and “Mike” Cheatham of Southland Collies in hopes of creating a double-merle stud dog that would produce all merle offspring. His breeder’s succeeded by producing just one puppy in the litter (indicative of the severe harm to fertility breeding for double merle causes), and he was defective.
This is what his breeders had to say about why they produced Avalanche:
Our decision to do a merle-to-merle breeding was the result of a couple years of frustration in not being able to find a quality non-merle stud dog that had the temperament, health, soundness, pedigree and breed type that we work to maintain in our breeding program. It was not a decision made lightly, but after much thought and consideration. Doing a merle-to-merle breeding should only be done by experienced and knowledgeable breeders, and only when a suitable non-merle with the desired quality is not available. Aiden’s sire and dam, both wonderful examples of correct Collie type, temperament and health as called for in the Collie standard, were the perfect complements to each other. Our hope in doing the breeding was not to produce a MM, but that is ultimately what we got. Aiden was a singleton puppy with no other littermates conceived. He has always been extremely healthy, happy and robust. He always has a smile on his face and his tail never stops wagging. Being a MM, you wouldn’t show him, as phenotypically he doesn’t appear as a recognized breed color. Genotypically, he is a blue merle with an additional merle gene.
We have never experienced or heard of any health issues in the Collie breed tied to the merle gene. Litter sizes, health and vigor are just as strong as with non-merles. Both Collies and Shelties have had notable MM producers of dogs without any illness or dysfunction. Each of the offspring of a MM inherit a single merle gene and are normal merles, phenotypically and genotypically.
Wyndlair Avalanche was never shown in conformation because he can’t see, he has been blinded by the entirely avoidable and easily preventable consequence of his breeding. It’s very unfortunate that his breeders won’t even admit to the public that they produced a blind and deaf dog so others can make the honest choice to not repeat their mistake. Avalanche has never won a single title or even attempted one, never been in the inside of a ring to be judged, never seen a dog show (or another dog), and yet he is now the #1 sire in Rough Collies and the #1 producer of Champions.
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