The Deaf Mute Blind and Lame Sheltie

Snowy, the double merle breeder sheltie, blind - deaf - mute - club footed. Everything you want out of a brood bitch.

The blog got a nice shout out in the comments of a recent post at Pharyngula: “Written by a border collie owner who is interested in and actually understands a fair amount of genetics” (love when people appreciate the blog) but the rest of the comment is an interesting introduction to a video of a double merle sheltie with hearing and vision problems and possibly a seizure disorder.

Anj says: 5 November 2011 at 7:56 pm

Cats doing something truly insane?

Might be a seizure disorder. “Fly biting” (snapping at apparently nothing) or any momentary action that seems completely unconnected to any environmental stimulus may well be seizures.

I am interested in genetic disorders of dogs and cats mostly because I wonder why we breed dysfunction into animals we supposedly love and care for. Sorry to say, some of those pet quirks that people think are unique or funny are may be signs of congenital disorders.


The dog in the video does appear to snap at invisible flies in the air and has a general loss of coordination and tongue control.  So too, as Anj predicted, these twitches are seen as cute by the owner.  The comments on the video make it clear that the owner isn’t reveling in this dysfunction as much as sharing their experience with a dog they rescued.

I think it’s cruel to breed double merles, they can become deaf and blind. Is it forth of the white colour? 🙁
Sxcs00 3 years ago 3

I agree, It is a horrible practice. We got Snowy from a rescue, but before we got her she was used as a breeding dog, even with all her issues.
keenergc 3 years ago

your dogs are beautiful. i too have a sheltie (sable & white) whom i love to death. how did snowy become both deaf and mute? ive never seen a white sheltie before, let alone one who is deaf and mute
yorktown99 4 years ago

She is a double merle, a genetic defect that can happen from bad breeding – when merles are bred together. The deafness is common with that. as for being mute, she was born with excess cartiledge around her trachea that won’t allow her voice box to work. She also has a club foot and limited vision, but she is a happy little thing despite all!
keenergc 4 years ago 2

Unbelievably, “Snowy” wasn’t just a placement of an unfortunate pup, she was a breeder who was dumped after.  That suggests to me the worst kind of breeder, who would intentionally create a double merle dog just to create merle puppies.  How jaded and monstrous must you be to look at this dog as a cash cow?  How callous to you have to be to think, “this is good for the breed, for the dogs, for their new families!” ?

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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.