Rare Border Collie Colors And Their Meanings

The Border Collie is an attractive dog loved by many furparents as these pets possess pleasing appearance, smart, active, and very gentle. These dogs comes in many different colors with the American Kennel Club recognizes 21 distinct coat colors. Today, we’ll talk about some of the rare shades that Border Collies have that maybe your pet has.

What Is Rare Border Collie Coloring?

Border Collies commonly have black and white coat, which is associated with their early days as farm animals. This has become the typical Border Collie appearance, and a lot of farmers and owners only want one in these coat colors.

Some may even be aware that they can be found in white and red or merle patterns. However, fewer people know about the rarer colors of Border Collies, such as lilac, blue, slate, or brindle. In general, any hue that does not fit into the typical black/white and red/white combination can be regarded as rare color for a Border Collie.

How Does Rare Border Collie Color Get Created?

People automatically think Border Collies as having a black and white coat. In reality, these dogs come in a broad range of colors. Usually, the “classic” markings consist of a white blaze on the face, white forelegs and chest, hind feet, collar around the neck, and tip to the tail. This pattern is commonly regarded as the “Irish Spotting“.

The color of a pup’s coat is determined by several dominant and recessive genes that it got from its parents. For any trait, including color, puppies will acquire one gene from the dam and another from the sire. The combination of these genes can differ among the puppies in a litter. Hair follicles consist of cells with two color pigments:

  1. Eumelanin (black) – this is responsible for generating darker black and brown hues.
  2. Phaeomelanin (true red) – this pigment is responsible for producing true red (golden red) hue.

The generation of these pigments is regulated by multiple genes and thus, determines the coat color.

It is important to note that each controlling gene comes from the sire and the dam. Genes that appear as capital letters are considered dominant while those in lower case are recessive. When two genes are identical, this is referred to as homozygosity, and when they vary, it is known as heterozygosity.

B and b – Black and Brown

A Border Collie with a standard coloration is black and white. However, in the case of such with a chocolate/brown fur, the eumelanin pigment granules are of a different size. This gives the fur its distinctive shade of brown.

The gene that controls this coloration is expressed as “B” for Black and “b” for brown, with brown being a recessive gene, meaning that both parents must have the gene for it to be expressed in the litter. On the other hand, the gene for black is dominant and will always be expressed.

A chocolate or brown coat of a Border Collie will be noted as “bb” or also called as “homozygous brown.” If a Collie has a black coat, it can either be “BB” for “homozygous black,” which means it lacks the brown or chocolate gene. It can also show as “Bb” for heterozygous black. This is an indication that both the black and brown gene is present.

Simply speaking, coat colors of a Border Collie is identified via genetic codes with the following:

  • bb – Homozygous brown
  • Bb – Heterozygous black
  • BB – Homozygous black

M – Merle

Merle is known as a dominant gene, thus, it is expressed as “M” for Merle and “m” for non-merle.

Because a single gene is needed for a canine to display the merle color, only one parent must be a merle to produce the coloring in a litter. It is common misconception that dogs with one merle parent can carry the merle gene. In reality, they can’t, unless they’re merle themselves.

The merle gene influences the eumelanin pigment, resulting in various intensities of color fading and causing the blotchy coloration. Merle affects both dark and light pigmentations. Most of the time, merles are “Mm” or heterozygous, which means they only have a single copy of the merle gene.

When two merles reproduce, around a quarter of their offspring will be “MM” homozygous merles. Unfortunately, this pairing is connected to a wide range of health issues like

  • Infertility
  • Poor sight
  • Deafness
  • Malformed eyes

The giveaway for these dogs are their smaller than normal eyes and double merle genes that make them excessively white with little color. Due to the associated risks, pairing two merles are discouraged. Any reputable breeder wouldn’t even think of it. In summary:

  • Mm – heterozygous merle is completely healthy and normal
  • MM – homozygous merle and is high-risk of encountering various health problems
  • mm – homozygous non-merle, normal Collies.

D – Dilution

D is a recessive gene that slightly modifies the form of the pigment cells in the hair follicles. Thus influencing the presence of pigment granules. This gene influences the Eumelanin pigment, diluting Black to Blue and Brown/Chocolate to lilac shade. Simply put:

  • Dd – heterozygous or non-dilute but carries a dilute
  • DD – homozygous or non-dilute and not carrying dilute
  • dd – homozygous dilute that generates the blue or lilac color

Rare Border Collie Colors

rare Border Collie colors

No matter which coat color you choose, the Border Collie is a wonderful breed that is sure to bring joy and companionship. With how the magic of genetics could do to your dog’s color, it’s certainly great to have one that is unique.

Slate Merle Border Collie

The dark spots of the nose signify that the fundamental color of these dogs is black. Nevertheless, the phenotype of Mm causes the black color to fade in various parts of the coat. This results in the emergence of various hues, including tan brown fur on the head and legs.

Slate merle is distinct from blue merle in that it usually has a black nose and a dark-colored eye, typically dark gray or blue. Moreover, the coat color normally appears lighter.

Lilac Merle Border Collie

For Border Collies with lilac merle coat patterns, there is a dominant allele of the M gene which has the effect of lightening the base brown hue in a sporadic manner. This type of pattern is not very common, but it does make for a stunning appearance.

The pup will be a single shade of lilac with small patches that are either black or blue in color. This type of dog is one of the rarest, yet its gaining traction from the public.

White Merle

Merle is a result of a gene that is linked to the autosomal chromosome and is less dominant. When the Merle gene has a double effect on the hair color, the outcome is a dog that is completely white.

Border Collies with two copies of the gene (homozygous MM), the outcome is a dog that’s purely white. This is otherwise known as double white merle. Unfortunately, these dogs often have physical defects such as issues with their heart, nerves, eyes, ears, and may have difficulty in reproduction.

Brindle Merle

Brindle Merle is a coat pattern, not a color, which is caused by a wild-type allele that is the result of two recessive genes. Numerous breeds of red dogs have the brindle gene, but it will not be visible unless it carries the wild-type allele.

A pup must acquire the two recessive brindle genes, normally from both of its parents that display the pattern, or both of them having the gene close in their lineage, for the brindle to show. On occasion, the brindle may not be that recognizable. The gene can make the canine brindled throughout its body or just certain areas such as its ears or the base of its tail.

Lilac Border Collie

Lilac Border Collies are born with both chocolate and diluted genes, and they mainly appear in a combination of brown and blue. This special shade has many different labels, such as Isabella, silver and fawn. No matter what it’s called, this color is undeniably stunning.

The foundation of the lilac color can be different, depending on its genetic makeup. Therefore, one can have a lilac tricolor merle, a lilac tricolor, or a lilac merle. This specific color is one-of-a-kind since it’s diluted twice. Initially, the bb gene reduces black to brown, and then the dd gene transforms the black to gray or blue.

Brindle Border Collie

What comes to your mind when someone tells you that the dog is brindled?

Canines with a brindle coat have a patterned look that resembles black stripes on a red base. From its name, it may make you think that it’s a tiger. In reality, brindle Border Collie and other dogs that sport this pattern doesn’t look like one.

The term “brindle” is derived from a Scandinavian language and was brought over to England by the Vikings. Oftentimes, brindle patterns can appear very comparable to a tricolor coat, though the distinction would be visible only upon closer inspection.

Sable Merle Border Collie

Both sable merle and blue merle coats are the result of the same merle trait. A canine with a sable merle coat has a merle pattern on top of a sable base color, which turns some of the dog’s typical black fur a bluish-gray. Puppies usually display the merle pattern more clearly than adult dogs.

It’s not recommended to breed two sable merles, or a sable merle is bred with a blue merle. This has a high probability of producing merle puppies that are often deaf or visually impaired.

Chocolate Border Collie

chocolate-brown Border Collie with blaze marking

Certain people refer to the chocolate-colored Border Collies as brown. There is a lighter shade of this color, commonly referred to as “red”. This coloring is similar to black Collies.

Border Collies that are chocolate and white have a coloring of brown with white markings on the chest, collar, and face. The shade of the brown can range anywhere from a dark to a light chocolate hue. The eyes of these dogs are medium brown, dark brown, golden yellow, or greenish,.

Liver Border Collie

The Liver color in canines is the result of a decrease in the amount of eumelanin (black) pigment caused by the B locus. The gene that leads to Liver-like color is recessive. So, a canine with the BB or Bb gene will possess the normal dark coloring. The bb gene is the only one that will create Liver-like color.

There are multiple recessive b genes that all cause the coat to be brown, although they can only be distinguished through genetic testing. Liver may also be referred to by other names such as Brown or Chocolate.

Gold Border Collie

In most cases, Border Collies sporting a gold coat are mistaken for being Golden Retrievers. Both gold Border Collies and Golden Retrievers have friendly dispositions and the same golden hue in their coats, yet there are differences between them.

It’s common knowledge that Gold Border Collies are exceptionally bright and flexible. They excel in a wide variety of settings because of their adaptability. On the other hand, Golden Retrievers place a higher priority on family loyalty and hunting. Collies were developed to efficiently herd sheep over rough territory, so they are physically robust, have thick coats, and have a high level of intelligence.

Silver Border Collie

Border Collies with silver coat is stunningly beautiful. Though you’d rarely see their litters having such color.

The silver coat that some dogs possess is the result of two recessive genes. These genes are known as dilute genes. They dilute the standard brown color of the breed. That is why these dogs are often referred to as Chocolate Border Collies with a sprinkle of flour on them.

One, two, or no Silver Border Collie parents can be the source of breeding for this particular breed. Provided that both the parents are carriers of the double recessive dilute gene, the puppies could potentially be silver. But there is no assurance that the result will be silver puppies since dominant genes may overrule the recessive ones.

Piebald Border Collie

Border Collies with a piebald coat display considerable white areas on their fur. This shade of coat can be seen in combination with any other hue or pattern – including black and red piebald, blue merle piebald, and white piebald.

With any kind of coat that has a substantial amount of white, there can be potential hearing issues. The white fur should not cover the ears of your dog. If the ears and head of your pooch are totally white, it is a good idea to get them tested for hearing. There’s a chance that the dog may be deaf.

The piebald pattern is such a rare occurrence in Border Collies. But this is more common in other breeds of domesticated animals. An example of this would be the Beagle, which typically displays this coloration. Additionally, cattle and horses can be seen with this pattern.

Saddle Border Collie Color Pattern

The saddleback pattern has a similarity to a tricolor, however it has a more dispersed outline. When they are puppies, the base is leaning more on chocolate and white, black and white, merle and white, etc. with a touch of tan on the face and underside of the tail. But as they age, the tan color covers a larger portion of the base color.

Dogs with a black covering over their back have a thick, matte-black fur, with large tan spots on their arms, face, legs, chest and underside. Pups that have this pattern are born with small tan markings that eventually expand, creating a saddle tan pattern. There are dogs that are born with black-and-tan pattern which quickly changes throughout their first month.

Expansion of tan markings on the body of a dog can produce a phenotype referred to as “creeping tan”. These regions may keep growing until only a black saddle is visible in the place of the earlier black-colored patches.

Minimal White

sitting Border Collie

The reverse of the Piebald Border Collie is one with minimal white fur. Most Border Collies have what is referred to as the “classic”, “traditional” or “Irish” pattern of fur markings that can be:

  • White collar
  • White blaze
  • White tip of the tail
  • White feet (occasionally paired with white legs)

Although it is much more common in the Australian Shepherd breed, the manifestation of minimal white markings in a Border Collie is a rare scenario. And it is even more uncommon for it to occur in conjunction with other patterns or shades similar to minimal blue merle, red, white black, etc.

Border Collie Color Markings

Border Collies often feature some white coloration, particularly on their faces (as a blaze marking), tail, paws, chest, and neck. It is uncommon to see a Border Collie with a single, or “self” color. They may be ticked or speckled in a variety of colors, or present with the Border Collie’s characteristic merle pattern. Additionally, they may possess tan or brindle highlights, with freckling on top of that.

Although brindle and lilac hues of Border Collies are not common, they do exist. These dogs may also be found in more typical colors such as gold, seal, and slate.

Blaze Markings

Border Collie playing on the sand

A blaze on a Collie’s face is a light-colored marking that can differ in both size and form. Usually, it appears as a vertical line going down the middle of the face. But it could also be of a different size or shape. The blaze could begin just above the eyes or at the bottom of the muzzle. It can even extend up to the top of the head or finish at the nose.

Blaze on Border Collies usually display a symmetrical pattern, but there are times when they are not. These markings can have irregular edges and may curve instead of being straight. Generally, they are white, though some dogs may either have cream or light brown tones. There are various forms of blaze that can be seen on a Border Collie such as the broken blaze, partial blaze, full blaze, split blaze, and wavy blaze.

  • Broken blaze – this blaze has uneven shape that’s coupled with broken edges, hence the name.
  • Partial blaze – in this type of blaze, it often covers certain part of the face and doesn’t extend through the nose.
  • Full blaze – when a dog sports this blaze pattern, the blaze can be seen from the dog’s nose to their forehead.
  • Split blaze – as the name suggests, this blaze is divided in two sections. Whereas one part extends from one side of the Collie’s face to the other.
  • Wavy blaze – somehow similar to broken blaze, but this has uneven shape with wavy edges.


Point coloration is a type of coat coloration in animals that features a pale body and darker extremities, such as the tail, face, feet, and (in males) genital area. This distinctive marking is typical of Border Collies and may appear as spots or outlines that are darker than the base color.


Patches or specks of color on whitened parts of a dog’s coat are referred to as ticking. This can appear on any part of the dog’s body that is white. If the canine has the allele for ticking but does not have any white patches, then it will not be visible.

There’s still no concrete research of how ticking is created but it is thought to be a dominant one. In fact, it has been assigned its own location on the chromosome, which is referred to as “T”, and it is believed that there are two different variations of this gene, known as alleles. It is generally assumed that the “T” allele is the dominant, while the “t” is the recessive clear white.

However, the notion that ticking and roan variations in canines are caused by a single gene is incorrect. These variations are most likely the result of at least three distinct versions of the gene, known as alleles. Recent DNA studies revealed that roan patterns and ticking are different from each, despite being in the same genome.


A lot of pet owners are in disagreement when it comes to Brindle Border Collies as they believe that these dogs are the result of a crossbreed. It is believed that the brindle coat pattern is not a natural feature of this specific breed and has been acquired from another type of canine.

Professional Border Collie breeders and several canine associations have disproved the notion that they are not genuine purebreds. These dogs come in any acceptable hue as a foundation and are marked with a black tiger stripe pattern, which makes them all the more captivating.


Canines that seem to have spots but are not Dalmatians are usually categorized as flecked, ticked or, speckled. Generally, their patches do not offer the same degree of contrast to their main hue. English Setter, American Hairless Terrier, and Great Dane are common examples of dog that feature speckled pattern. On rare instances, you can see this too in Border Collies.

Less Rare But Still Uncommon Border Collie Colors

Border Collies also come in blue merle and red merle colors. Both colors are caused by gene mutations, but the colors are slightly different. Blue merle Border Collies have patches of black and grey, while red merle Border Collies have patches of red and tan. Both colors are stunning and make Border Collies a very distinctive breed.

Blue Merle Border Collie

charming blue merle Border Collie

Believe it or not,  blue merle Border Collie is not officially a breed. It is just a Border Collie with a blue merle coat pattern. Even so, it is still one of the most agile and intelligent animals you will ever meet.

When it comes to feeding your blue merle Border Collie, you’ll want to make sure you’re providing them with a high-quality diet. However, the amount they’ll need to consume will vary based on a few different things, such as size, age, rate of metabolism, activity levels and so forth.

Since these dogs are quite active, it’s important to give them food that has all the vitamins and minerals they need to stay healthy and full of energy. Generally, an adult dog needs approximately two cups of food a day, but this can change depending on their lifestyle.

Red Merle Border Collie

In order to obtain a red merle Border Collie, it is essential that one side of the lineage has the merle gene, while the other has the dominant hue, which in this case is red. The combination of these two would result in a puppy with a red and white base and spots of merle pattern scattered all over.

These canine breeds typically possess blue eyes, but it is quite common for them to have a different hue in each eye, an occurrence known as heterochromia.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) acknowledges red merle as a legitimate color, so you don’t have to worry about any issues exclusive to this particular hue. Red merle Border Collie puppies meet the breed standard and don’t have a higher risk of developing certain illnesses, compared to other types of Collies.

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