Border Collie Colors: Are They Only Black and White?

No, Border Collies are not only black and white. On the contrary, seventeen standard Border Collie colors are recognized by the American Kennel Club, and there are quite a few more that can even occur with these beautiful pups.

Group of Border Collies sitting on the grass

Border Collies come in a variety of different colors to suit all different preferences.

We are all familiar with the standard colors, like black and white and red and white, but you can also find these dogs in lilac, chocolate, cream, and slate and with various coat colors and patterns like merle, sable, and even brindle.

But what color Border Collie is most common? Is getting a rare colored Border Collie advisable? And do the different colors influence health and personality? Discover all this and more in the following article.

How Do Border Collie Color Genetics Work?

The coat color genetics of Border Collies are responsible for their many different colors.

A mother Border Collie and her puppies
A mother Border Collie and her 6 weeks old puppies

Eumelanin and phaeomelanin are the two pigments determining the Border Collie’s coat colors. Eumelanin is the black factor, allowing for brown, blue, or even other shades. 

The gene containing the dilutes to create all these colors can affect the dog’s eyes and nose colors. The other pigment, phaeomelanin, is red in the default color.

“Red” carries the deep red shade and cream, orange, gold, and yellow.

Do Border Collies’ coats change colors as they age?

Yes, Border Collies change a bit as they grow, like many other dog breeds. This is due to pigment progression. So, a dog with a light tan coat can become golden, or a pup born with dark brown fur could become glossy black. They tend to begin changing color as they reach six months of age.

How Many Colors Do Border Collies Have?

Border Collies come in seventeen standard colors, but the American Kennel Club (AKC) allows for more than 20 different colors for this breed of dog.

These colors include a vast array of solid colors and coats with two different colors. Solid white dogs are the only coat color that is strictly not allowed with this breed.

What are the Different Colors of a Purebred Border Collie?

The standard colors of pure-bred Border Collies are white & black, white & red, white & blue, white & blue merle, white & red merle, white ticked, black, blue, blue merle, sable merle, red merle, white & red merle, brindle, gold, sable, lilac, and saddleback sable.

The non-standard colors are white and gold, seal, slate, and white & seal. Some other color combinations are also accepted, like gray.

1. Black Border Collie

A black Border Collie dog
Portrait of a black Border Collie dog – Image source

Border Collies that are absolutely all black are very rare. When most people refer to a black Border Collie, they are referring to the standard Black and White dog with the black being the base coat and the white a marking.

2. Blue Border Collie

A white and blue Border Collie dog
Close-up portrait of a white and blue Border Collie dog – Image source

Blue Border Collies may be mistaken for black-colored ones due to their dark shade when they are still small. This grey and bluish color only emerges as the pup, born with a black coat, starts to grow older.

When you look closer, the progressive ash grey coat can be observed. 

You get this color in a dog with a white base coat with the black ticking gene. Blue Border Collies are of the rarest colors currently. They typically have dark grey noses and green, brown, or grey eyes. 

3. Blue Merle Border Collie

A blue merle Border Collie dog
A blue merle Border Collie dog standing in the backyard – Image source

The Merle Border Collie wears the most beautiful color of all dog coats. The Merle Border Collies look very impressive with a sprinkled flecked pattern to their coats.

It is also known as a dapple pattern with varying spots across the coat. These spots are created with different tones and make them seem multicolored. 

With the Merle Border Collie, every coat is unique and can never be repeated twice. You often see Border Collies in this pattern, either in red or blue colored coats.

4. Brindle Border Collie

A brindle Border Collie dog
A brindle Border Collie dog laying on the grass – Image source

Brindle Border Collies have had breeders and pet owners questioning their origin, for they couldn’t agree that the brindle pattern was natural for purebreds.

They thought it could be acquired by crossing with other canines; however, professional Border Collie breeders and some kennel clubs proved that they are purebred.

These dogs look exceptional and exciting with any acceptable color as a base and a darker tiger-striped pattern.

Be careful not to mistake a Brindle Border Collie as a mix between other breeds, for their patterns are genetically coded into them.

5. Gold Border Collie

Adorable gold Border Collie dog
Adorable gold Border Collie dog playing inside the house – Image source

To acquire this gold coloration, the coat pheomelanin, which is red in default, is subjected to dilution. “Blonds” are the names these Gold Border Collies are called due to their coat color. 

Gold Border Collies are also known as “Australian Red”, a recessive Border Collie color that has a shade of very light cream to a rich dark golden color.

6. Red Border Collie

A red Border Collie dog
Smiling red Border Collie dog – Image source

The Red Border Collie comes in different tones of red. They vary from very dark to light and even almost cream.

Like the black and white ones, Red Border Collies are the most common colors and are always accepted by kennel clubs.

Meet a beautiful Red Border Collie named Lacy in this blog:

7. Sable Border Collie

Sable Border Collie dog
Sable Border Collie dog playing outdoor – Image source

The Sable Border Collie’s unique pattern color is achieved by a deep base in chocolate black or tan with the same strands having white or black on the tips.

Sable Border Collies mostly come with a tan-based coat and with black tipping. The combination of these two colors is responsible for the dark or lightness of their fur.

They tend to appear more on the light side, also having some white markings on various parts of their bodies. 

8. Sable Merle Border Collie

Sable merle Border Collie dog on trail
Sable merle Border Collie dog on top of a rock during their trail – Image source

Having inherited the incomplete or merle gene, the Sable Merle Border Collie portrays a black-tipped coat with some dark color patches on its skin.

These dark patches appear on the ears, body, and tail, while the neck and chest remain white. Possibly a few speckles may be seen on their noses and paw-pads.

9. White and Black Border Collie

White and black Border Collie dog
White and black Border Collie dog lying on the railways

The Black and White Border Collie is this breed’s most commonly seen color and is very easy to distinguish. While they are almost absolutely black, they always have white patches on their head, chest, neck, feet, and tail. 

10. Red Merle Border Collie

Red merle Border Collie dog standing
Red merle Border Collie dog standing beside the lake – Image source

The Red Merle Border Collie is unique and appears to be stepping out of a fantasy movie. Its red base coat and markings of white on the chest, neck, face, and tail with dark patches added make it look very impressive.

This coat color is the outcome of a gene mutation that occurred in Scotland for the first time.

12. White and Blue Border Collie

Two white & blue border collie dogs
Two white & blue border collie dogs flipping the bowl – Image source

Very much the same as White and Black Border Collie, the White and Blue Border Collie also has tinges of darker grey in different shades in their predominantly black base color.

This can make their coat shine blue in certain lights and results from a dilution gene.

13. White and Blue Merle Border Collie

White and blue merle Border Collie dog
White and blue merle Border Collie dog got a treat from the owner – Image source

Being one of the rarest colors, the White and Blue Merle Border Collie presents clear or blue eyes. Their white base coat primarily covers 80% of their color pattern, with the blue merle ticking and patches visible on the remainder.

14. Lilac Border Collie

A lilac Border Collie dog showcasing awards
A lilac Border Collie dog showcasing awards from an agility show – Image source

Lilac Border Collies can be very sought-after, all because of their unique and not-so-common color. These dogs have an extraordinary and beautiful appearance. Lilac is a combination of blue and chocolate being diluted two times. 

The first dilution gene changes black to brown, and the second dilutes the black color to blue or grey. To produce Lilac offspring, both parents must have chocolate and dilute genes.

15. Saddleback Sable Border Collie

A saddleback sable Border Collie dog
Meet Savannah, a gorgeous saddleback sable Border Collie dog – Image source

Saddleback Sable Border Collies are easily distinguished by their unique markings and colorings. While they seem similar to tri-color Border Collies, they have three different colors.

With a Saddle-back Sable Border Collie, the sable color is spread further. They also have some tan on their face or body.

16. White and Red Merle Border Collie

White red merle Border Collie dog sitting in the frontyard
Amazing white red merle Border Collie dog sitting in the front yard – Image source

A dog with Red Merle in its coat has beautiful dappled red colors. The unusual White and Red Merle Border Collie is mainly white with patches of this red merle on its coat. This color is scarce.

17. White Ticked Border Collie

A white ticked Border Collie dog drinking water
A thirsty white ticked Border Collie dog drinking water on a public faucet – Image source

True to its name, the White Ticked Border Collie has tiny black ticking on the white markings on their faces and legs. It is recognized by the different kennel organizations and is not regarded as a flaw or unaccepted phenomenon.

Recognized But Non-Accepted Border Collie Colors by AKC

Apart from the above seventeen standard colors for the Border Collie breed, the American Kennel Club also recognizes various other colors.

However, they are not accepted, so you will not be able to show your dog if he presents any of these colors.

18. White and Gold Border Collie

A white and gold Border Collie dog
A white and gold Border Collie dog standing in the water – Image source

A White and Gold Border Collie’s coat will have spots of gold but will be predominantly white or cream. They seem to be extremely light in color. Experts, however, will quickly describe them as white with tones of blond or gold fur.

19. Seal Border Collie

A seal Border Collie dog
A handsome portrait of a seal Border Collie dog – Image source

Seal Border Collies are often confused with dark red or black dogs. Being an unusual color, these dogs carry an incomplete expression of the sable gene.

They look brown with tan or faded areas that one is almost unaware of. They can be as light as a chocolate brown or nearly black

The seal color is rarely found in Border Collies. The tips of their hairs in different colors are usually only noticeable on the dogs’ shoulders, sides, or hind ends.

20. Slate Border Collie

Slate Border Collie celebrates birthday
A slate Border Collie dog celebrates 1st birthday – Image source

The slate coat of the Border Collie appears a few shades lighter than the blue color. It is primarily a silver-grey mixture which can vary between more or less grey, depending on the amount of white they have.

Heavy markings on the head or face show up a silvery look.

21. White and Seal Border Collie

White and seal Border Collie dog
White and seal Border Collie dog chillin’ on the front yard – Image source

Border Collies that are called White and Seal have a base color of white with a seal coat in black that appears reddish in the sunlight. The black color often can’t be recognized when the sun doesn’t shine. 

Can Border Collies Be Tri-Colored?

Black tri and red tri Border Collies waiting for dog treats
Black tri and red tri Border Collies excited for treats – Image source

Yes, you can find a few variations of Tri-colored Border Collies. They are not very common, but neither are they all that rare.

These dogs typically have a predominate base color, with points, meaning their paws, legs, muzzle, and ears, in a different color, with the white patches typical for the Border Collie breed also present.

  • Black Tri-Colored Border Collie: Black Tri-Colored Border Collies are primarily black with tan points on the face, legs, and tails. To complete the coloring, they also have the usual white markings.
  • Red Tri-Colored Border Collie: The Red Tri-color Border Collie again has a predominantly dark coat. On its face, ears, feet, and tail might be some tan points and white markings to finish the three appointed colors.
  • Chocolate Tri-Colored Border Collie: This dog is primarily brown with a few white features and additional red or copper coloration on the paws, ears, and face.
  • Blue Tri-Colored Border Collie: This is quite an exciting coat color in that the dog has a blue base coat with tan or copper and white markings on the chest, tail, legs, face, and ears.
  • Blue Merle Tri-Colored Border Collie: Being a dilution of the merle version, a black dog will be a soft grey or, as they often get called, “blue.” Most dogs that have a Merle coat are considered Tri-Color.
  • Red Merle Tri-Colored Border Collie: A red dog’s merle will be pale red. The merle never occurs on the white markings but only on the colored parts of the body. 
  • Slate Merle with Tri: The slate merle dog has random matches of blue coloring that are a lighter grey. It can be very challenging to distinguish a slate merle dog from a blue merle one, but usually, the slate merle’s nose is grey, whereas the blue merle dog has a black nose.
  • Lilac Merle with Tri: Merle can also occur with lilac-colored dogs. These dogs are scarce as you need two dilute genes to show these colors. Tri-colored lilac merle dogs will typically have darker tan or red points.

What are the Other Colors of a Border Collie?

Border Collies can come in different colors, like chocolate, slate merle, white and sable, silver, grey, onyx, or even cream or orange.

Sometimes these colors can be difficult to distinguish from the Standard Border Collie colors listed by the AKC.

  • Chocolate and White Border Collie: These dogs have a dark brown base with white patches. 
  • Lilac and White Border Collie: Lilac and White Border Collies usually have a very light coat, but the lilac can sometimes be blue or brown. These dogs also have light eyes and sometimes go by the name fawn or silver.
  • Lilac Merle Border Collie: The merle gene will almost always cause dilution and splotching. Combined with the dilution gene that turns brown to lilac can result in an attractive Border Collie coat color.
  • Slate Merle Border Collie: This is a scarce coat color often confused with the Blue Merle Border Collie. With these dogs, they look almost like a Black and White Color whose black has been diluted to form a silver or grey color. This, combined with the Merle pattern, is quite spectacular.
  • Chocolate Border Collie: Chocolate may be another expression for deep red color, but typically these dogs are more brown or liver in color. They usually have brown noses and brown or green eyes.
  • Seal Merle Border Collie: Pretty scarcely found in Border Collies, seal appears to be a very extraordinary coloration. It is an incomplete version of sable and, when combined with Merle, provides a unique color pattern.
  • Tan Copper Border Collie: Tan Border Collies are also usually sable in color, causing their coats to be darker at the roots than at the tips. This tan or copper color is most often combined with white patches.
  • Tan Copper Merle Border Collie: The Tan Merle Border Collie has the same genetics as the Tan Border Collie with the additional presence of the M allele recessive gene. This is a dilution gene that results in the unique Merle color pattern.
  • Red Brindle Border Collie: Brindle is a striped pattern rather than a solid color. This brindle can also occur on a black base coat and is quite rare to see on a red-colored dog.
  • Slate Sable Border Collie: Sable is a lovely effect caused by hairs that are lighter at the base, growing darker at the tips. This is quite a rare pattern to see on the slate Border Collie.
  • Cream and Orange Border Collie: The cream and orange colors are other terms for describing the gold Border Collie.
  • Silver/Gray/Onyx Border Collie: The silver color is seen as rare and is sometimes just another term used to refer to a slate dog. Despite being so unusual, the Silver Border Collie coloration has been around since 1956, and in 1959, a dog of this color won Best-in-Show at an international show.
  • White and Sable Border Collie: This dog has a predominantly white coat rather than just patches of white color with some sable coloration. Sable is a unique coat coloration that features black tips on a usually tan base coat.

Border Collie Coat Markings and Patterns

In addition to the standard coat colors, you can find various patterns and markings on the coat of a Border Collie. These include tick markings, tan points, brindle points, and many more. 

1. Border Collie with White Markings

A Border Collie dog with white markings
Meet Nicolas, a Border Collie dog with white markings – Image source

Border Collies can come with white ticked markings, white markings with tan points, and also with tan points ticked. There are also just white markings. In fact, almost all Border Collie dogs have white markings. 

2. Border Collie with Merle Markings

White and black Border Collie dog in autumn forest
White and black Border Collie dog laying on the autumn forest

The Merle is perhaps the least common of Border Collie colors or color patterns. Merle is exceptional and is presented in mottled patches of color accompanied by dogs with blue or odd-colored eyes.

Merle markings are also called a dapple pattern. Merle dogs tend to have blue eyes. 

As this pattern can appear on a solid background or on a piebald pattern, it’s usually found in red or blue-colored coats.

3. Border Collie with Tan Points

A Border Collie with tan points
A Border Collie with tan points having fun in the wheat land – Image source

Tan points are a common Border Collie’s marking. Tan points are mostly found on the ears, face, chest, legs, and tail and are darker than their base color.

Tan points are usually found on the tri-colored Border Collie. They may also occur on the backside, or on top of a white or grayish base, as in the Blue Tri-color Border Collie. 

4. Border Collie with White Markings and Tan Points

We are used to seeing black Border Collies with white markings on their bodies. Most of the time, it’s just a touch of white on their coat, like the back and tail.

These white markings can be combined with tan-colored points, which refer to a dog’s nose, lips, eyelids, toenails, or paw pads.

5. Border Collie with White Ticked Markings

Border Collie with white ticked markings
Gorgeous Border Collie with white ticked markings – Image source

The standard white markings of the Border Collie breed can also have some tickings. Tickings are darker spots on a lighter base-colored coat, making it look like someone has ticked the dog’s coat with a pen.

6. Border Collie with Tan Points and White Ticked Markings 

Occasionally a Border Collie can present with all different types of markings. For instance, he might have a white chest that is ticked with little black spots and tan points on his ears, tail, and paws.

These dogs are also known as tri-colored Border Collies.

7. Border Collie with White Markings and Brindle Points

Brindle comes more as a striped pattern than a color. In Border Collies, this marking does not typically cover the dog’s entire coat.

It appears more as a point pattern that sometimes also has ticking on top of it. Points usually appear on the ears, but the face, legs, and tail can also be outlined by a color shade that is darker than the base color.

8. Border Collie with Brindle Points and White Ticked Markings

Much like the previous color markings mentioned, on rare occasions, a dog with standard white markings will have small tickings of darker color on these patches.

This may also be combined with brindle points that make your dog look like he has tiger stripes.

What are the Other Coat Markings and Patterns of a Purebred Border Collie?

A saddle merle Border Collie dog
A saddle merle Border Collie dog pulling a leash – Image source

Some other coat patterns of purebred Border Collies can be Piebald and Saddle. Markings that people typically refer to when talking about the Border Collie breed include blaze, points, ticking, and brindle.

  • Piebald: Piebald Border Collies have prominent white patches all over their bodies.
  • Blaze: A white blaze is the most common marking that Border Collies have, being the white stripe starting on the forehead and running through the back of their neck. This could be wide or very narrow.
  • Ticking: A ticked Border Collie has small darker color patches inside its white markings. It looks like little dots on the white fur, but the spots are dark and the color of their base coat.
  • Speckled: Speckled or spotted Border Collies can have speckles all over their coat or only a few speckles for adornment.
  • Saddle: This type of marking is usually seen on breeds like the German Shepherd and is quite rare for the Border Collie. This pattern makes it look like your dog is wearing a saddle on his back. This pattern can also be dual-toned or tri-colored, with the saddle typically in a darker color than the rest of your dog’s fur.

What is the Rarest Border Collie Color?

Rare lilac Border Collie dog
A rare lilac Border Collie dog playing with a rope toy outdoor – Image source

It is agreed among most people and breeders as well that Lilac Border Collies are the rarest of all. Added to this, the Lilacs are also the most stunningly beautiful of all Border Collie colors.

Sometimes they are also described as fawn or even silver

Combining a rare color with a rare pattern is also pretty unique in the Border Collie breed, like Slate merle with tri, Red brindle, Slate sable, and Lilac Merle with tri.

Is minimal white rare in Border Collies?

Yes, for a Border Collie to have minimal white is exceptionally rare. Minimal white means that Border Collies have very little or no white markings.

This rare condition can be combined with almost any other pattern or color like black, blue, red, merle, etc. The opposite of a minimal white Border Collie is the piebald

Is it okay to get a rare-colored Border Collie?

Of course, it’s okay to get a rare colored Border Collie. Suppose one can be lucky enough to come across a breeder that can present you with a rare colored Border Collie.

That said, you will still have to be open-minded and check on the pup’s history, parents, and overall health condition. 

In this way, you will be sure not to lose money and avoid disappointment as breeders that specifically market litters of rare-colored pups often interbreed or even crossbreed their dogs to create these unusual, sought-after color variations.

Can Border Collies Be Solid White?

A solid white Border Collie dog on a tree stump
A solid white Border Collie dog on top of a tree stump – Image source

Yes, a Border Collie can be solid white, but it happens very, very rarely and is not accepted by the AKC. The genetic makeup of a pup is the most important factor in deciding if a dog can be solid white.

An all-white dog can be bred if a grey gene is used. In this case, a white female will have to be mated to a grey male.

What’s wrong with white Border Collies?

White dogs are prone to be associated with severe health problems. They might have hearing problems, for cells responsible for coat and eye color come from the same source of stem cells in the ear, aiding the brain in understanding sounds.

White dogs, without these stem cells, might be deaf. 

White dogs could also be albino, lacking pigment, and have pink or red eyes. Al this could result in a dog that is both deaf and blind.

Do Border Collie Colors Affect Behavior?

Red Border Collie dog sitting in the red leaves plant
Stunning red Border Collie dog sitting in the red leaves plant

No, there have never been behavioral problems or even special features that have been affected by the different Border Collie breed colors.

Border Collies are highly intelligent, active, and playful dogs that excel at agility challenges and love to have a job to do.

Do Border Collie Colors Affect Health?

Yes, extensive amounts of white in Border Collies may cause a health problem or two. Lack of pigment around the eyes can be responsible for eye infections and even blindness. Even hearing problems could be a concern.

Do Border Collie Change Eye Color?

Blue-eyed Border Collie laying on the autumn leaves
A blue-eyed Border Collie dog laying on the ground with autumn leaves

Usually, at around four to five weeks, Border Collie pups’ eyes gradually change color. UV light, as well as the maturation of the cells that produce melanin in the pup’s iris, is responsible for the change. 

On the other hand, if your pups’ eyes have not changed at about nine to twelve weeks, you can be sure to be the owner of a gorgeous blue-eyed Border Collie since pups are born with blue or grey eyes.

Do Border Collies Shed a Lot of Hair?

A Border Collie dog being groomed
A Border Collie dog being groomed at the pet salon – Image source

Due to this breed’s double-coated long hair, they do shed hair. Although they are moderate shedders, it’s necessary for them to have a good brush two to three times per week. 

They tend to shed throughout the year, but twice a year, with the changing seasons in spring and fall, they will blow their coats. Border Collies will also gradually produce thicker coats as the days grow colder.

Taking Care of Your Border Collie’s Coat

A Border Collie about to have a haircut
A Border Collie dog about to have a haircut at the grooming salon – Image source

Border Collies are not low-maintenance dogs; they need a fair amount of grooming for their coats to be kept clean and in good condition, especially if they have a rough coat with a bushy tail. 

Regular brushing is essential, and as they have weather-resistant double coats, they must be brushed even more during shedding season.

A good nutritional diet is also needed to have a lush, shiny coat and skin for your Border Collie.

Conclusion: What is the Best Border Collie Color?

Border Collies are very rich and beautiful in a variety of coat colors with interesting markings, patterns, and color points.

There are so many colors for Border Collies, and they all are beautiful. Depending on everyone’s preferences, different colors will appeal to different people. 

Although many colors are stunningly gorgeous, not all colors are always available to pick from.

So, it will be wise not to get stuck on a color preference but rather to find out more about the temperament and character of the pups available to you, especially about their overall health.

Do you have a Border Collie at home? What coat color did you choose, and was it challenging to find a dog in this color? We’d love to hear about your special pup in the comments below.

Further reading: Learn more about Border Collies

Do you love Border Collies? You can learn more about this beautiful breed by reading these articles.

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