Double Merle Breeders: In Their Own Words 2

Wyndlair Avalanche is the exemplar that just keeps on giving.  We established in the last post that Avalanche throws puppies with Colobomas: so much for double merle dogs having healthy puppies and not passing along their blindness.  The problem with MM blindness is that it can mask hereditary blindness not caused by the merle gene and make diagnosis difficult or impossible, which is the likely case here.  We shouldn’t be surprised at this result, as his sire Ch. Southland’s Beyond The Glory has colobomas in both eyes.

Colobomas are from the Greek for 'unfinished' or 'defective.'

Colobomas are defects in the eye resulting from incomplete formation in utero which can affect any tissue within the eye.  Colobomas of the iris are most visible to the laymen as the circular shape of the pupil is often distorted into a keyhole shaped opening that is often askew.

Another breeder who was someway involved in bringing this dog on the planet is Ms. Jennifer Duhon.  She has some very interesting ideas on what makes a good collie and she also has questionable ethics when it comes to disclosing genetic deficiencies in the puppies she sells.  She was suspended from the CCA just last month for selling a blind puppy without disclosing its blindness.  Guess who the blind puppy’s grandfather is? That’s right, Avalanche!

In a forum thread that is ironically called “Honest Breeders,” Ms. Jennifer Duhon exposes the logic behind the Avalanche litter (inbreeding highly on a popular sire) and the inability to learn from the mistake. They repeated the Merle x Merle breeding after producing a singleton who was blind and deaf and with poor movement who throws blind offspring.  Smart!

Re: Honest Breeders and Novice Education

When I worked for Guy & Thelma Mauldin (Kismet Shelties) one of their big breeding philosophies was to breed the grandparents, not necessarily the parents. I expressed my suprise once at the consistency of virtues in a litter and Guy told me to look at the grandparents.

We bred our Ch. Twin City Wyndlair Anthem (Bowen Island x Ch. Twin City In Living Color) to Ch. Southland’s Beyond The Glory (Bowen Island x Ch. Tapestry Silver Spring). We just knew that litter was destined for something special. Both of the grandfathers are Bowen and the grandmothers are two beautiful blue bitches very similar in type and virtue. Though we only got one puppy that time, he is an amazing double dilute dog (Wyndlair Avalanche). (The litter was repeated and they’ve ultra sounded more puppies this time by the way.) We are anxious to breed to the double dilute because he should be a genetic goldmind with his beautiful parents and grandparents.


It’s sadly farcical that Ms. Duhon “bred the Grandparents,” in this case Wyndlair Avalanche, and got exactly what was promised with this breeding logic: a blind dog.  Oh, but double dilute blindness doesn’t get passed on, they tell us.  But neither do ethics suddenly appear where they were lacking before.  If you’re willing to create a blind and deaf double dilute to win show ribbons, you’re also willing to breed deaf  and blind dogs and sell them to puppy homes to support your ribbon chasing.

Ms. Duhon’s suspension is a piddling 6 months, and although her name appears at least 18 times on the CCA website, the details of her suspension don’t appear.  This is rather ironic given that the stated reason for Ms. Duhon’s suspension is to assure the public that the CCA takes ethics seriously.  Apparently informing the public of breeders found in violation of ethics codes is not part of that plan.

Ms. Jane Clymer, Secretary
Collie Club of America, Inc.
3385 Upland Road
Lost Springs, KS 66859-9654
June 22, 2011

Dear Ms. Clymer,

The Hearing Committee met with Ms. Jennifer Duhon, with a court stenographer present to record proceedings, on June 11, 2011. We found it reasonable to conclude that Ms. Duhon did not know the puppy was blind at the time of sale. However, based on our findings, we find Ms. Duhon in violation of Code of Ethics #2, “All known defects shall be disclosed to the new owner in writing”. At the time of the sale, she did not disclose and explain the presence and nature of the colobomas and the possibility of retinal detachment.

We arrived at a majority decision for suspension of Ms. Duhon from membership for a period of six months.

We believe this action is sufficient in this case, and would like to acknowledge that Ms. Duhon was fair in her treatment of the buyers after she learned of the puppy’s impairment.

We concurred that our action was necessary in order to preserve the notion that we, as National Specialty Club members, hold ourselves to high ethical standards, and to prevent any public perception that violations of our Code of Ethics would be overlooked within our ranks.


Joanne Huff
Patricia Jung
Nadine Beckwith-Olson

And wouldn’t you guess that the response to this paltry 6 month suspension was not to rethink the ethic of pawning off reject blind puppies on to unsuspecting homes, but to cry fowl that a non-CCA-breeder (read: unsuspecting puppy buyer) would have the ability to have their grievance redressed?

what are we becoming…I am devastated. These charges were brought by a non cca member, no evidence was sent to jenny before her hearing, the hearing was in violation of the time alloted in our constitution, she refunded the money to the owners and let them keep the puppy before these allegations…if I am in violation for posting this…so be it! I stand with Jennie!

…let he who has no sin cast the first stone…
I am appalled !!!

Barbara Cleek
DD Oregon
visit our collies at
Last updated June 2011

Wow, so it’s all ok to foist a defective dog created by a cruel breeding strategy on to unsophisticated puppy buyers as long as you give them their money back and let them keep the worthless puppy for free when they find out he’s blind?  And a nominal 6 month punishment is what’s outrageous here?  Will that even stall Ms. Duhon’s breeding plans one day?  Talk about circling the wagons to defraud the puppy buying public!

The troubling thing is that the CCA is more concerned with the appearance of ethics than of actually having ethics.  Sort of how these breeders are more interested in the appearance of health than actual health.

In another thread titled “Fads vs. the Standard” a breeder with some sense made an argument about how far the GSD has fallen and how it is now a structural mess.  They then took on Collies saying:

In collies, breeders have the resources today to breed normal eyed dogs, but choose to instead ignore normal eyes in favor of that tiny beady eye. My tri male had the ideal collie eye, not too big, not too small. And he was normal eyed. Why is breeding an incorrect eye more important than breeding for normal eyes? Not saying to breed just for eye checks, but if faced with two studs that were equal in quality in every aspect, expect one had the small beady incorrect eye that is currently popular with a Grade 2 eye check, and the other had the somewhat larger but more correct eye with a normal eye check, which would you pick?

I’m just using the eye checks as one example. Many do ignore the lastest “fad” and breed to the written standard. Some will finally give in so they can finally get that win. If more of us stick our ground, maybe the next “fad” will be to actually breed a dog that fits the collie standard.

There is hope for the Collie breed yet.  But the clarity of this logic was wasted on Ms. Duhon who responded with this gem (emphasis mine):

At the breeders seminar at CCA this year, John Kavanaugh (Kingsmark Collies) discussed his early on obession with normal eyes. He would only breed normal eyes and it got to the point where he couldn’t look his own dogs in the face. He went and found some beautiful mild CRC dogs to breed to. Nikki, there are far greater demons in collies besides mild CEA that breeders choose to fight first.

Our vet who does our eye checks has been doing them since the early 60’s and has seen everything. He hypothosizes that you get your worst eye checks from normal eyed carriers bred to mild crc dogs. He strongly feels that if we keep breeding our milds to milds, we’ll keep our mild eye checks. I’m comfortable with that at this point.

And as to your question…which dog am I good to choose…normal eyed vs. mild crc? I’m going to pick the best dog. All things being equal, probably going to pick the mild crc dog. Larger, lighter eyes are hard as heck to get rid of. If i can’t look a dog in the face, I really don’t want it around my house honestly.

And by the way…tiny, beady eyes can be Normal eyed.

But yes, I hate tiny, beady eyes too. Honestly, I think that fad is long gone in popularity. I saw a few of them at the national this year, but I think a more popular trend is eyes being in different time zones on the skull. Just really, really poor eye sets out there. However, there are a couple dominant stud dogs out there who seem to be adjusting eye sets. Saw some outcrosses to those dogs to improve set, shape, color & size and it works!

The good breeders create a mental image and stick with it. Go look at Ch. Marnus Evening Breeze in the 1960’s. She is unmistakably Marnus and looks like she could walk out of Marcia Keller’s kennel right now. John Buddie’s dogs are the same way. I strongly argue that all the great dogs look alike through the different decades. It’s the mediocre ones that go through strong fads.


I don’t even know what to say.  This mindset is so twisted, there must be clinical pathology going on here. We have a breeder who sold a blind puppy and lied about it stating that ALL things being equal they’d pick the DISEASED dog and that breeding to clears is a liability to be avoided!  She’s also enshrining tiny, compromised eyes and condemning normal, healthy eyes.  This is disgusting.

I’ve been called “sensationalist” over at the Pedigree Dogs are Fine blog, but I am starting to believe that the OLMcollie is going to be a reality.  At some point the eyes are going to be so wideset and so microscopic as to be nonexistent all together.  Throw in a perfectly shallow head with “no depth” and you’ve got an Olm salamander with more hair.

Oblique, miniscule eyes, nice ruff around the back of the neck, no depth of head, long snout... this is the perfect show collie!

It’s time for the CCA to follow the lead of other breed clubs and governments and band the breeding of Merle to Merle.  If you don’t allow Merle x Merle and won’t register the offspring of such dogs, then you won’t have to face the breeders who have an ooops litter but sort of like the puppies becoming “well, it worked once, why not again” breeders.  And you avoid the “well, I wouldn’t do it myself, but there’s no harm in using that dog, now that it’s here” breeders transitioning into the “they won ribbons doing it, so why can’t I do it too” breeders.

The way it is now too many people can justify creating these dogs because the CCA has no proviso on merle x merle.

The breed club has no position that forbids merle to merle breedings.

I have done them, taken responsibility for any double dilutes that have been produced. I would not do them lightly nor would I suggest a novice do them, I view breeding as a personal responsibility with artistic freedom. It becomes a slippery slope when others regulate your breeding program.

The double dilute I have now cannot see or hear, but she has no skin issues, no bloat, no seizures, hip dysplasia, in fact has never sneezed or missed a meal, and she is very happy. I plan on breeding her next year to a nice tri male and expect the puppies to all be as healthy as she is It is all a matter of perspective and where you are at in this game.

I do not consider her unhealthy

I know she is a carrier for CEA, know she is not for PRA.
By the way the two other blind dogs I have had, PRA blind test bitches were normal eyed..the only normal eyed dogs I have had here.  I have always found this kind of interesting in my strange old age sense of humor way.

Bonnie Cray
Mystic Collies

So the CCA is willing to step in when someone sells a deaf puppy, but they aren’t willing to even SUGGEST that their breeders don’t create them in the first place by breeding merle to merle?

First of all, you are on a slippery slope using terms like “bad” when referring to breeders who may or may not choose to do this breeding.

I would also caution you including the word, ethics when referring to this type of breeding. There is nothing in our code of ethics which forbids this breeding I certainly do not consider myself unethical I have bred collies for many years, established a very healthy line and my collies are happy and well loved.
Doing a merle to merle breeding for me the first time was an accident, however I did repeat it because the puppies had incredible quality, superior health and were everything a collie should be, I kept the double dilute and she will live with me forever. The rest of the puppies have gone on to become champions and produce beautiful healthy collies who excel in all venues including work as service dogs. In fact, Sadie, now Sophie’s grandmother was a result of a merle to merle breeding. Sadie grew up on this list and has excelled at her work as a service dog in Israel.

And for what it is worth, I do not consider Geisha a bad result, she is a beautiful loving collie who raises all our puppies and has never known a bad day.

I repeated to produce the superior qualities I saw in the merle to merle cross.

Once again, and at least so far, breeding is a freedom, an mixture of art and science, and I do not recommend that novice do this, but I have not regretted it, not do I consider myself a novice or bad. A double dilute is not ill nor when bred to a tri pass on any genetic defects. connected to the merling gene.

Bonnie Cary
Mystic Collies,
Member, Collie Club of America
President, Saint Louis Collie Club
Education Chair, Historian, SLCC

See, this is how it happens.  Maybe it’s an oops litter the first time, maybe the dog is the only puppy born from a litter you hoped would be everything.  Then you run with it, you do everything you can to salvage the effort, and you grow cold and detached to the reality of what this really means.  If you happen to be successful or become successful, you also entice others to follow your lead.  Others that might not be smart enough or willing enough to cull the disaster puppies at birth so they don’t leak out into the rescue system.  Breeders who will think they have to breed this way to achieve the same success.

Breeding might be an art, but do you want to support the art of people who can’t even LOOK into the face of a normal healthy dog without feeling disgust?  These breeders aren’t artists, they are sadists.

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About Christopher

Christopher Landauer is a fifth generation Colorado native and second generation Border Collie enthusiast. Border Collies have been the Landauer family dogs since the 1960s and Christopher got his first one as a toddler. He began his own modest breeding program with the purchase of Dublin and Celeste in 2006 and currently shares his home with their children Mercury and Gemma as well. His interest in genetics began in AP Chemistry and AP Biology and was honed at Stanford University.