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Border Collie Colors & Markings: Breed Info

Besides their extreme intelligence, Border Collies are prized for their many beautiful colors.

The AKC —or American Kennel Club— recognizes 17 traditional Border Collie colors:

  • Black
  • White and Red Merle
  • Blue
  • Gold
  • Red
  • Lilac
  • Blue Merle
  • Red Merle
  • Brindle
  • White and Red
  • Sable
  • Saddleback Sable
  • White and Black
  • Sable Merle
  • White and Blue Merle
  • White Ticked
  • White and Blue

The AKC recognizes the following colors as non-standard coat colors:

  • Seal
  • White and Sable
  • Slate
  • White and Seal
  • White and Gold

Is White and Black the Only Color for Border Collies?

Since black and white Collies are so famous, many people believe they are the only colors available.

The reality is that this color is one out of 17 regular tones accepted by the American Kennel Club (AKC) and other kennel clubs.

This breed’s white and black coloring is commonly linked with its position as a sheepherder.

Some say that Border Collies and other livestock herders are white so that they match the sheep herd.

On the other hand, they must be dark because sheep do not instinctively follow dogs with light-colored coats.

As a result, to fulfill their daily duties, many Border Collies have this color combination.

The Border Collie Coat Colors in Various Kennel Clubs

The breed standard published by kennel clubs is the most suitable way to tell whether your Border Collie isn’t a mix.

Your dog’s coat should be among the appropriate shades and nothing else.

Here are the acceptable colors according to kennel clubs:

American Kennel Club (AKC)

The standard colors accepted by the AKC are:

  • Black
  • White and Red Merle
  • Blue
  • Gold
  • Red
  • Lilac
  • Blue Merle
  • Red Merle
  • Blue Merle and White
  • Brindle
  • Red and White
  • Sable
  • Saddleback Sable
  • Sable Merle
  • Black and White
  • White Ticked
  • White and Blue

The non-standard colors accepted by the AKC are:

  • Seal
  • Sable and White
  • Slate
  • Seal and White
  • White and Gold

Canadian Kennel Club (CKC)

The colors on the list are accepted by the Canadian Kennel Club.

They do not discriminate against any colors of the Border Collie.

Federation Cynologique Institute (FCI)

The Federation Cynologique Institute accepts a lot of the different colors on the above list.

However, they do not accept the color white on this breed.

United Kennel Club (UKC)

The United Kennel Club accepts only the following colors:

  • Black
  • Gray
  • Red
  • Blue Merle
  • Sable
  • Red Merle

The markings on the coat can be ticked or white.

Explaining Every Border Collie Coat Color

As you know, Border Collie coats come in many different colors, and it’s hard to tell whether your dog is mixed or if its coat colors are normal.

Here’s a breakdown of all possible acceptable coat colors a Border Collie can have:

Black Border Collie

Many people refer to this dog as black and white, but its white color is just a marking.

These pups have some white spots on their neck, head, chest, tail, and feet.

Border Collies with purely black coats are extremely uncommon, but some breeders say they are real.

White and Red Merle Border Collie

Note that the “blue” in dogs does not refer to the solid blue color but the recessive dilute gene.

The white and red merle is a unique Border Collie in that it has more white on its coat and patches of red merle on its body.

Blue Border Collie

Because of their light and dark shades, a blue Border Collie almost looks like a black Border Collie to the untrained eye.

What they don’t know is how their coat turns ash gray as they grow.

They have black fur when they are young, but as they get older, it turns into a blue/gray color.

Gold Border Collie

Because of their light-colored coats, gold Border Collies are referred to as blondes.

According to their genetic makeup, they have developed golden fur  due to dilution of the pheomelanin in their coat, which is normally red.

Red Border Collie

Many people also refer to this shade of Border collie as Australian/Aussie red, liver, gold, tan, or yellow.

Red Border Collies come in a variety of red tones.

Some tones are quite dark, while others are so bright they appear to be cream.

Red Border Collies, in addition to black and white, are one of the most popular colors known by kennel clubs.

Lilac Border Collie

Lilac Border Collie coat coloration is a mix of chocolate and blue.

This coat coloring is due to being diluted twice.

It is first diluted by the [bb] gene, then by the [dd] gene.

The [bb] gene turns black to brown, and the [dd] gene turns black to gray or blue.

Blue Merle Border Collie

The “merle” is not a solid color like many people assume, but a pattern, usually of blue or red coats.

The blue merle Border Collie is quite stunning, with their chest is usually white with a gray coat and black patches on the face, tail, ears, and back.

Either parent must have the incomplete or merle gene for a dog to have this coat color.

It causes the dilution of melanin and the development of a distinct coat pattern.

Red Merle Border Collie

The red merle Border Collie resembles something taken from a high-budget animation movie.

The combination of its red coat, dark patches, and white spots on the chest, neck, face, and tail, make it resemble an animated character.

Brindle Border Collie

Since a lot of pet owners believe Brindle Border Collies are a hybrid, they are controversial.

They say that the cost pattern of brindle isn’t an everyday occurrence with this breed and that it was obtained by breeding with another dog.

Professional breeders and numerous kennel clubs have proven them wrong because these dogs are purebred.

They can come in any permissible color with a dark tiger-like stripe pattern.

White and Red Border Collie

White and red Border Collies have a coat that is white with a red tone that ranges from light to dark. They aren’t uncommon, but they aren’t as popular as the black and red Collies.

Sable Border Collie

Border Collies with a tan base coat and black tips are known as Sable Border Collies.

Their fur’s darkness or lightness is determined by combining the two shades, although they are rarely very dark.

Saddleback Sable Border Collie

The term saddleback simply means a Border Collie’s sable coloration is more spread out.

The Border Collie’s sable color doesn’t fully cover its body.

Instead, it has visible spots covered with white markings.

These Border Collies also boast of some brown spots.

These are seen on their faces and bodies, which is why they resemble tri-colored Border Collies.

White and Black Border Collie

Although some people call black Border Collies black and white due to markings present on their bodies, white and black Border Collies have mostly light-colored coats with a bit of black.

Sable Merle Border Collie

Sable merle Border Collies have a black-tipped coat with dark spots on the skin, which is characteristic of dogs that inherit the merle or incomplete gene.

White and Blue Merle Border Collie

A glance at this Border Collie tells you that dogs like these are quite rare.

In many cases, their white coat accounts for about 80 percent of their unique color pattern, and they have blue eyes.

White Ticked Border Collie

As their name suggests, white ticked Border Collies have black ticking on the white markings on their legs and face.

The AKC and other kennel organizations have no problem with it, as it’s not a flaw.

White and Blue Border Collie

Note that the “blue” in dogs does not mean the solid blue color but the recessive dilute gene.

The white and blue Border Collie has a white base with dark flecks on its coat.

Non-Standard Border Collie Coat Colors

Since they can’t perform in conformation shows, these Border Collie coat colors are called non-standard.

If you‘re concerned that they will not be allowed in skill tests, relax.

They’re allowed to participate and can win.

Seal Border Collie

The seal Border Collie’s black coat looks orange in the sun.

The brown tint varies in intensity, but it is usually liver-colored.

Here’s how to identify them: when your dog is lying in the sunlight, pay careful attention to them.

Their legs, tail, and nose will usually stay dark while the rest of their frame takes on a red tint.

White and Sable Border Collie

They have a white coat mixed with a bit of sable tint. Sable is a rare shade that blends tan hairs with black tippings, as described in the previous segment.

Slate Border Collie

This Border Collie is just a gray puppy that is a little lighter in color than blue Border Collies.

They, like their cousins, might have white marks on certain areas of their bodies.

White and Seal Border Collie

White and seal Border Collies have a white coat with black tones that turn brown when exposed to the sun.

Because of the obvious reddish coloration in the sun, you can’t exactly call the coat black.

White and Gold Border Collie

These Border Collies are sometimes misidentified as white or cream due to their light coloring.

However, if you are a Border Collie fan, you will soon notice that they are white with blonde or gold tones on their coat.

Tri-Colored Border Collies Are Acceptable

If you’re a fan of tri-color dogs, you’ll be thrilled to hear this.

Border Collies also come in three colors.

They may have the normal colors, as well as some tan parts on their bodies.

Take a look at the following examples:

Red Tri-Colored Border Collie

The ears, muzzle, tail, feet, and back of this red tri-color Border Collie are mostly dark red, but it also has some white markings and tan areas.

Black Tri-Colored Border Collie

The face, tail, and legs of this tri-color Border Collie are usually black, but it has tan areas on its legs, face, and tail.

White marks are also evident, completing the three tones.

Border Collies With a Pure White Coat

Border Collies’ coats are mostly white, but they will still have color on certain parts of their bodies.

The white markings on their coat are regulated by a recessive gene.

Border Collies may look completely white, but they’re completely devoid of pigment due to Albinism.

All the kennel clubs consider this a fault, and these dogs come with a slew of health issues that will almost certainly make you broke before they’re a year old.

The Most Common and Least Common Colors of Border Collies

It’s a well-known truth that the color of a dog’s coat often determines its price.

The common Border Collies are less expensive than the extremely rare ones.

They include:

  • Red tri-color
  • Black tri-color
  • Black and white
  • Red and white

If you’re looking for a rare Border Collie, look no further:

  • Blue
  • Lilac
  • Saddleback Sable

Why Are There So Many Different Coat Colors?

Border Collies’ coat color is determined by two pigments called pheomelanin and eumelanin.

Eumelanin is black by nature, but due to a gene that restricts or changes its development, it may turn brown, blue, or other colors.

Dilutes are the colors produced, and they can influence the color of the dog’s nose and eyes.

The other pigment affecting a dog’s coat coloration, pheomelanin, is red by nature.

The red tone encompasses a wide variety of hues, from deep red to gold, yellow, cream, and orange.

Some genes can also change this pigment’s color, resulting in a wide range of Border Collie shades.

How Coat Colors Affect Border Collies’ Behavior and Health

Nothing proves the influence of color on Border Collie behavior.

However, several clinical studies show that albino and merle Border Collies are more susceptible to a variety of defects and diseases.

Here are a few examples:

  • Skin sensitivity: Skin Sensitivity is a common health problem in albino and merle Border Collies. Hair loss, uncontrollable scratching, and dry spots are all symptoms of this disorder.
  • Blindness: Because of the lack of pigment in their eyes, most albino Border Collies are blind from birth.
  • Eye sensitivity: Light sensitivity is common in both albinos and merles. When they are exposed to excess sunlight, they develop eye pain and redness, which can lead to infections or loss of vision.
  • Skin cancer: Albinos and Merles can have this if they are constantly exposed to Ultraviolet rays, because of their sensitive skin. If it is untreated, this can result in death.
  • Microphthalmia: Microphthalmia causes the eyes of many Albinos to be abnormally tiny. As a result, other issues such as cloudy eyes, vision loss, and a small eyelid opening develop.
  • Deafness: Deafness is more common in Merles and Albinos than in other colors. This is because of the unpigmented skin in their ear canal. This causes nerve-ending degeneration.

Can Border Collie Puppy Coats Change Color As They Grow?

Border Collies, like other dog breeds, change colors as they age because of pigment progression.

Many owners have even stated that their light tan Border Collie became golden.

If you’re expecting drastic changes in your dog’s coat color, you’ll most likely end up disappointed.

Because of the way their chromosomes are built, dogs are unable to show that much coat color changes.

On the other hand, if you own a mature dog and you’ve noticed any difference in their coat color, it may be due to:

  • Sunlight
  • Medicine
  • Nutrition
  • Skin diseases

Regularly consult your veterinarian to see if your pup has developed a serious health problem that is causing the color changes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Border Collies High Shedders?

Border Collies shed moderately, but they shed fur once yearly.

Prepare to help reduce their hair shed during shedding season by brushing them regularly.

How Do You Classify a Border Collie Coat?

Border Collies, like many working dogs, are double-coated, which keeps them cool in hotter seasons and warm in cold weather.

They are ready to cope with any environmental conditions because their undercoat helps to insulate them.

Are Border Collie Coats Hypoallergenic?

No, they are both. Because of their shedding habits, Border Collies can trigger asthma attacks and fur allergies.

Final Word

You’ve learned about many Border Collie coat colors from reading this article, and I’m sure you’ve already decided your favorite color.

Whichever Border Collie you decide to buy, remember to take care of your pup and treat it with respect.

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National Canine Research Association of America