Awww, he's really adorable
A lot of chis have the "freckles"... especially during the summer. That doesn't have anything to do with being merle.
However, just because a dog doesn't have the dramatic merle markings doesn't mean they aren't a merle. There are "phantom/hidden" merles who are born with the markings, and they fade away as they grow. These merles are usually lighter colored (cream, fawn, etc) although even tricolors can be hidden merles.
Here's a really informative site about merles: