20 Border Collie Colors & Markings Explained!

Border Collies in various colors

There are quite a handful of Border Collie colors out there. On top of Border Collies being known for their intelligence and skills as working dogs, these dogs are also loved for their coat color variations.

Border Collie colors can come in solid black or white or have more complex merle and sable patterns. Knowing the colors and markings can help you find the right pooch for you.

In this article, we will explore the many different Border Collie colors and markings and the characteristics and traits that might be associated with each.

How Many Colors Do Border Collies Have?

Border Collies with different colors on white background

Border Collies have a wide range of coat colors, including black and white, red and white, blue and white, sable, and more. In fact, the American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes 17 standard Border Collie colors.

On top of these 17 recognized coat colors, there are also non-standard colors that most major kennel clubs acknowledge.

Here is the list of the different Border Collie colors, including both standard and non-standard:

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

Standard and non-standard Border Collie colors only matter when it comes to dog shows and competition, where standard colors are more favored. 

20 Border Collie Colors

With so many different colors, it can be hard to decide which Border Collie to get. From solid coat colors to coat colors with various markings, there is undoubtedly a lot to choose from.

Below are the 20 Border Collie colors, along with pictures:

1. Blue Border Collie

Blue Border Collie

A blue Border Collie sports a grayish-blue coat with hints of ash-colored fur. Usually, these dogs are born with a dark-colored coat that is almost black. 

However, as blue Border Collies age, their coats lighten progressively and eventually turn into a grayish shade. 

Because of this, it can be difficult to tell black Border Collie puppies from blue Border Collie puppies. The differences will only become more apparent as the dog enters adulthood or when the dilution has already kicked in.

2. Blue Merle Border Collie

Blue merle Border Collie

Blue merle Border Collies typically have an overall grayish-blue coat with blotches of black on their ears, face, back, and tail. They commonly feature a white chest as well.

To have a blue merle coat, a Border Collie puppy must inherit the merle gene from one of its parents. This gene causes a dilution of melanin in certain parts of the coat, resulting in a blotched coat pattern.

This causes the Border Collie to display patches all over its body. Despite some negative claims against the health of blue merle Border Collies, this coat color is a highly coveted coat color in the pet community.

3. Red Border Collie

Red Border Collie

Red Border Collies can come in varying shades, ranging from dark to very light, almost cream-like tones. They are among the most common colors of Border Collies recognized by major kennel clubs.

Two copies of the recessive red gene are required to produce a red-colored Border Collie. Therefore, breeding two red Border Collies together will likely result in a litter of red puppies. However, other combinations are also possible.

4. Red Merle Border Collie

Red merle Border Collie

The red merle Border Collie sports a base coat in red color and displays some white markings on its chest, face, neck, and tail, along with random dark patches.

The eyes of a red merle Border Collie can be blue or a variety of blue shades. Their nose may be pink or have a red pigmentation pattern, which is usually referred to as a butterfly nose.

The distinct coat of the red merle Border Collie is a product of inheriting a dominant merle gene from one parent and a recessive gene from the other. This Border Collie color is also a favorite of many enthusiasts.

5. Sable Border Collie

Sable Border Collie

Sable Border Collies typically possess a tan base coat with black tips. The color intensity of their fur varies according to the mixture of these two colors. But generally, they are not very dark and may have white markings.

Sable refers to the coat hair having multiple shades of color, with more than one color appearing on each strand. Typically, the root color is black, while the tip of the hair can be a lighter brown or tan color.

6. Black and White Border Collie

Black and white Border Collie

The black and white Border Collie is one of the most common and well-known color combinations of the breed. This is likely the first color combination that comes to mind when you think of a Border Collie.

When it comes to the general appearance of the black and white Border Collie, it is worth noting that these dogs will usually have more black than white fur on their coats. However, in some cases, the distribution may be equal.

It is also common to see a distinctive white blaze stripe running across their forehead. This adds a touch of elegance to the appearance of black and white Border Collies.

7. White and Blue Merle Border Collie

White and blue merle Border Collie

The white and blue merle Border Collies are undoubtedly one of the rarest colors of the breed. Their unique coat pattern is predominantly white, covering around 80 percent of their body.

Meanwhile, the rest of their coat is covered with patches and blotches of bluish-gray fur. This gives off a striking contrast against the white. 

White and blue merle Border Collies usually sport black noses and blue-colored eyes. Their markings appear mostly on their back and hindquarters. 

8. White and Red Border Collie

White and red Border Collie

White and red Border Collies feature a striking combination of two distinct colors — a pristine white base complemented by a rich or delicate shade of red.

Most white and red Border Collies may display predominantly white fur, with red accents or markings that appear in certain areas, such as the chest, paws, or face.

Even though they aren’t that rare, white and red Border Collies aren’t that common either.

9. Lilac Border Collie

Lilac Border Collie

The Lilac Border Collie’s distinct appearance results from two genetic dilutions.

The [bb] gene, which turns black to brown, causes the first dilution. Meanwhile, the second dilution is due to the [dd] gene, which dilutes the black color to a shade of blue or gray.

For a lilac pup to be produced, both parents must carry both the chocolate and dilute genes. As a result, the lilac color is truly unique, as it appears to be a mixture of blue and brown.

Like the other base colors, the lilac color also has some variations. Depending on the genes present in the dog, there can be lilac tri-color, lilac merle, and even lilac tricolor merle.

To see a lilac Border Collie in action, check out this video: 

6-week-old beautiful lilac border collie puppy

10. Saddleback Sable Border Collie

Saddleback sable Border Collie

The term “saddleback” in a Border Collie’s coat refers to the sable coloration being spread more extensively. Saddleback sable Border Collies may resemble tricolor or white sable due to the distribution of colors on their coats.

However, the main colors you can expect to see are black and tan. One way to distinguish between the two is to observe how the colors are spread out.

When saddleback sable puppies are born, they typically have small saddleback markings. As they grow, the contrast between the base color and tan markings becomes more distinct as the tan colors spread out.

11. Sable Merle Border Collie

Sable merle Border Collie

In addition to sporting a striking black-tipped coat, Sable merle Border Collies also exhibit blotches of dark color on their skin.

This is a common trait among canines that have inherited the merle gene. Merle dogs also usually sport small patches of various colors on their noses and paw pads. 

Overall, the combination of the sable and merle coat pattern gives the sable merle Border Collie a distinctive appearance.

12. Gold Border Collie

Gold Border Collie

Gold Border Collies are frequently called “blondes” due to their coat’s warm, yellow-toned hue.

However, upon closer inspection of their genetics, this coloring results from a specific dilution of their coat’s pheomelanin pigment. In its default state, this pigment is typically red, but once diluted, it results in a goldish coat color.

While gold Border Collies may not be as common as other coat variants of the breed, they are still acknowledged and accepted by the AKC and the United Kennel Club (UKC).

13. Brindle Border Collie

Brindle Border Collie

Some pet owners contend that brindle Border Collies are a mixed breed. They believe that the brindle coat pattern is not innate to the breed and must have resulted from crossbreeding with another breed of dog.

However, professional Border Collie breeders and several reputable kennel clubs have confirmed that Brindle Border Collies are indeed purebred dogs.

Interestingly, the brindle dogs are capable of displaying a range of base colors and a striking dark tiger stripe pattern, which only adds to their unique and fascinating appearance.

14. White and Blue Border Collie

White and blue Border Collie

Border Collies with a white base and subtle dark coloration on their coats are known as white and blue Border Collies.

The key distinguishing feature of these dogs is that their dark coloration is typically grayish when seen under the shade, setting them apart from similar color variations of the breed.

It is important to note that in order for a puppy to exhibit diluted coloration, both parents must carry a copy of the recessive gene responsible for this trait.

Therefore, two copies of this gene are required for the offspring to display the white and blue coat color.

15. White and Red Merle Border Collie

White and red merle Border Collie

The white and red merle Border Collie is often regarded as an uncommon yet stunning coloration. This particular variation stands out from the rest due to the amount of white on its coat, which gives it a distinct, clean look.

In addition, patches of red merle are scattered throughout its body, creating a unique and eye-catching pattern. Meanwhile, the red merle spots can vary in size and intensity, ranging from small speckles to large swathes of color.

Despite its rarity, the white and red merle Border Collie is highly sought after by dog enthusiasts and owners alike for its striking appearance and uniqueness. 

16. White Ticked Border Collie

White ticked Border Collie

The white ticked Border Collie is a popular and distinctive one. These dogs have white markings on their faces and legs, which are often complemented by black ticking.

The black ticking appears as small black spots or specks on the white areas, creating a unique and striking pattern.

Contrary to some beliefs, this particular marking is not considered a defect in the breed. In fact, it is fully acknowledged and accepted by major kennel organizations like the AKC.

17. Black Border Collie

Black Border Collie

Fully black Border Collies are incredibly rare. In fact, it is much more common to find black Border Collies with white patches on their tail, paws, neck, and head.

These white patches can vary in size and shape, ranging from small spots to larger sections of the coat.

Despite the presence of white patches, a predominantly black Border Collie is still considered a black Border Collie. 

However, it is important to note that it is different from black and white Border Collies — the latter has more white markings.

18. Seal Border Collie

Seal Border Collie

The coat of a seal Border Collie appears black, but under sunlight, it takes on a brown hue, which usually comes in a dark, liver color.

To identify a seal Border Collie, observe them closely when they are soaking up the sun. Typically, their nose, legs, and tail will maintain a dark color while the rest of their body will display a dark, brown-reddish hue.

The genetic responsible for this coat color has not yet been identified to this day. However, it is likely that in the near future, researchers will focus their efforts on unraveling the mystery of this unique shade.

19. White and Seal Border Collie

White and seal Border Collie
Image credit: ukhozi.border.collies / Instagram

One of the unique color combinations of Border Collies is the white and seal coat. This refers to a white base color with a black seal coat that has a tendency to turn brownish in sunlight.

The intensity of this coat can vary depending on the amount of light exposure. In fact, it is not uncommon for the black shade to be overpowered by the liver-colored brown shade completely.

This is due to how the pigment is distributed and how the light reflects off of it. Border Collies with this coloring are often prized for their striking appearance and are sought after by many dog enthusiasts.

20. White and Gold Border Collie

White and gold Border Collie

White and gold Border Collies are often mistaken as white because of the extremely light coloration of their markings.

But a true Border Collie fanatic will quickly identify that these dogs are not just white but also have tones of gold or blonde on their coat.

White Border Collies are controversial in the world of herding dogs. Usually, these white herders are frowned upon because they are quite impractical in herding livestock. 

One reason behind this is that these white-colored dogs blend in well with sheep, making it difficult for handlers to spot them in an open field.

Border Collie Markings

One of the distinctive features of Border Collies is their markings, which can vary from dog to dog.

Border Collie markings can include a wide range of colors, patterns, and combinations, such as black and white, red and white, tricolor, and merle.

These markings make each dog unique and add to the breed’s overall appeal and beauty.

Listed below are the five Border Collie markings:

1. Tan Points

Border Collie with tan points

Among the various colors that Border Collies come in, black & white and tri-color are the most common. For starters, tri-color is what Border Collies with tan markings are called.

That said, tricolor Border Collies can also come in every other color variation, including red, blue, lilac, merle, and more, as long as they have white and tan markings on their coats.

These tan points can vary in size and shape, often adding to the Border Collie’s distinctive appearance. 

2. White Markings

Border Collie with white markings

White markings in Border Collies are seen in many different coat variations. As long as a dog has a base color other than white accompanied by white spots or blotches, it is said to have white markings. 

Usually, white markings in Border Collies appear near the chest area, along the tail, as well as on random parts of the back. Border Collies with white markings may also sport a white blaze on their heads.

3. Ticked

Ticked Border Collie

Ticking in Border Collies refers to the small patches of color in a Border Collie’s fur. It usually shows in the white areas of the dog’s coat.

This particular marking is one of the many features that sets the breed apart and adds to its unique and recognizable appearance. Furthermore, ticking is present in many Border Collie coat colors.

Despite its small size, ticked markings are details that breeders and enthusiasts alike note when assessing a Border Collie’s physical characteristics.

4. Brindle

Border Collie with brindle markings

Brindle is a distinctive pattern found on the coat of some Border Collies. Unlike some other patterns, such as solid or spotted coats, brindle does not cover the entire coat of the breed.

Rather, it typically appears in a point pattern, with streaks or stripes of darker color against a lighter background. The brindle pattern is usually seen in combination with darker coat colors, such as black, sable, and seal.

5. Blaze

Border Collie with blaze marking

The blaze marking is one of the most prevalent patterns that can be found in the Border Collie breed. 

These markings are characterized by a white stripe that begins on the forehead and extends to the back of the neck.

This white stripe is what gives the pattern its name, as it resembles a blaze of white against a darker base color.

The size and shape of the blaze can vary from dog to dog, with some having a narrow, lightning-bolt-like blaze and others having a wider blaze that covers a larger portion of their forehead.

Do Border Collie Colors Affect Behavior and Health?

No scientific evidence suggests a Border Collie’s coat color directly affects its behavior. However, various factors, including genetics, environment, and training, can influence a dog’s behavior.

Border Collies are highly trainable and intelligent, making them adaptable to a variety of situations.

Individual Border Collies may have different temperaments regardless of their coat color. Some may be more high-strung, while others may be more laid-back.

In addition, a Border Collie’s coat color does not generally affect its health. However, some coat colors may be more susceptible to certain health issues.

For example, blue merle Border Collies may be more likely to have hearing and vision problems, especially double-merle dogs. Meanwhile, some white Border Collies may have albinism, which is linked to many health concerns.

Do Border Collie Puppies Change Colors as They Grow?

Border Collie puppies in varying colors

It is not uncommon for Border Collie puppies to change colors as they grow and mature. In fact, it is normal for many breeds of dogs to experience changes in coat color, texture, and length as they age.

When Border Collie puppies are born, they usually have a very soft, fluffy coat that is often a solid color, such as black or brown.

As they grow and mature, their coat will begin to change, and the color may become more varied or have more markings.

Some Border Collie puppies may start with a solid-colored coat but develop white patches or markings as they grow.

That said, it’s important to note that the coat color changes that occur in Border Collie puppies are not usually drastic. Instead, they are often subtle shifts in shade or pattern that occur over time.

Owners should also remember that the final color of their Border Collie’s coat may only be fully apparent once the dog is around two years old.

What Color Will My Border Collie Puppy Be?

The color of your Border Collie puppy will depend on several factors, including genetics and the coat colors of its parents. When breeding Border Collies, it’s essential to understand the basic principles of genetics.

A dog’s genes determine coat color, and each parent contributes one gene for each trait. This means that the color of your Border Collie puppy will depend on the combination of genes inherited from its parents.

Frequently Asked Questions

Three Border Collies in varying colors in the forest

What Is the Rarest Border Collie Color?

The rarest color for a Border Collie is generally considered to be lilac or lavender color. The lilac or lavender Border Collie has a unique and striking coat color that mixes chocolate and blue.

It is a dilute color, meaning it is a lighter version of a standard color. In the case of the lilac or lavender Border Collie, it is a dilute version of the chocolate color.

What Is the Most Common Border Collie Color?

The most common Border Collie color is black and white. This classic color combination is a traditional favorite often seen in the breed.

Black and white Border Collies are so common that they are often considered the only color for the breed. They have predominantly black coats with white markings on their chest, feet, and sometimes their faces.

The amount of white on their coat can vary, with some dogs having just a small patch of white while others have more extensive white markings. 

What Kind of Coat Does a Border Collie Have?

Border Collies have a double coat, which means they have two layers of fur that serve different purposes. The coat’s outer layer is long, straight, and slightly coarse, while the undercoat is shorter, softer, and denser.

The combination of these two layers helps protect the dog from the elements and insulate them against heat and cold.

Border Collies shed their undercoat twice a year, typically in the spring and fall. During this time, they may shed heavily, and it’s important to groom them regularly to help remove loose fur and prevent matting.

Why Do Border Collies Have Two Different Colored Eyes?

One of the most distinctive features of some Border Collies is heterochromia, a condition in which they have two different colored eyes.

Heterochromia in Border Collies is typically caused by a genetic variation that affects the production of melanin — the pigment that gives color to the skin, hair, and eyes.

This genetic variation can result in one eye having more melanin than the other, causing the two eyes to have different colors. Heterochromia in Border Collies does not affect their vision or health in any way.

Border Collies come in a variety of colors and markings, and it’s fascinating to see how each one has its unique appeal.

Which of these colors is your favorite? Share your thoughts about Border Collie colors below!

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