Rare Border Collie Colors and Patterns: Which One’s Good?

Last Updated on July, 2024

Border Collies are BEAUTIFUL dogs with so much LOVE and COMPASSION! These dogs make GREAT family pets and are known for their BEAUTIFUL coats!

There are so many COLORS and PATTERNS of the Border Collie, and you have come to the right place to learn about the various colors and factors, such as health conditions and temperament by color. 

This detailed breakdown of the various colors and varieties of the Border Collie is intended for enthusiasts and dog lovers looking to understand the multiple colors and patterns of the Border Collie breed. 

Let’s familiarize ourselves with the BEAUTIFUL features of the Border Collie, to understand the colors and varieties. 

Quick Summary

Border Collies have an extensive range of colors and patterns, and the cost of the dogs is heavily dependent on the pattern and color.

The history of Border Collies is varied and distant, with the most common color combination being black and white.

The coat color of a Border Collie is dependent on the genetics of the parents, with rare coat colors such as Lilac Merle and Brindle being highly sought after.

Appearance of Border Collie 

Border Collie standing on the mountain

Border Collies are fluffy dogs with beautiful coat. There are medium-sized dogs known to be herders, you know, herding dogs. They stand at around 18 to 22 inches at the shoulder and are known to be muscular and ATHLETIC! 

They have an agile body that can be beautifully maneuvered through tricky corners, making them elegant and FRIENDLY!

Though they are known to be aggressive with strangers, they make great house pets and are often very friendly with the whole family and neighborhood. (Including the postman.)

With regards to colors, the primary Border Collie colors and patterns include, 

  • Blue Merle 
  • Red Merle 
  • Slate Merle 
  • Lilac 
  • White 
  • Sable 
  • Red 
  • Lilac Merle 
  • Blue 
  • Brindle 
  • Gold 
  • Dark Brown (Chocolate) 
  • Black and White, Brown 
  • Blue and White 
  • Saddleback Sable 
  • Piebald 
  • Light Brown 
  • Seal 
  • Black

When you consider the Border Collie, there are many blends of colors and patterns. The Lilac Border Collie, for instance, is a beautiful rare color that is hard to find. However, before everything else, you need to understand this. 

A dominant Merle gene causes the Merle pattern. The dominant gene in these varieties of Border Collies gives them a certain spotting when it comes to the color of the coat.

The Merle Border Collies have a dominant gene that sets them apart by appearance. 

The Merle patterns are irregular. They are irregular dark-colored patches. Sometimes, they look more like smudges or streaks.

A light shade of the base coat of the Border Collie highlights these features.

merle Border Collie standing on the ground

Due to this Merle gene, there is an extensive range of colors, patterns, and combinations when considering the Border Collie as a breed. 

For instance, the Blue Merle Border Collie is similar to but different from the Red Merle Border Collie. The Collie colors, such as that of a Lilac Border Collie, vary significantly from that of a Red or Blue Merle Border Collie. 

There is also the WHITE Border Collie, a beautiful white dog. They have a beautiful white coat, which gives them a very PEACEFUL and CALM exterior.

A Sable Border Collie or a Slate Merle Border Collie are varied in price compared to a White Border Collie. 

The cost of these dogs is heavily dependent on the pattern and color. While some patterns may be lower, others will have a HIGHER price!

You can find a Border Collie with white markings or a Merle pattern. Now the Merle pattern could make it a completely unique-looking dog, increasing prices.

A Border Collie puppy may not have ‘prominent’ shading and marking. White markings, for instance, on a Blue Border Collie are so rare that it is unheard of. 

Common Border Collie colors include black and white and tri-color (black, white, and tan).

Other standard colors include red, white & red, white, and tan tri-color. These tri-color Border Collies have a tri-color gene, which sets them apart. 

black, white and tri-colored Border Collie

Tri-colored Border Collies like such are not UNCOMMON! You can quickly get your hands on a tri-colored Border Collie if you know exactly where to look for them.

Lilac Border Collies are the rarest of all Border Collies. Hence, if you were looking to get your hands on a Lilac tricolor Merle Border Collie, you would find it a tough mission. A Lilac Tri-Color Border Collie is EXOTIC!

A Blue Tri Border Collie is similarly rare. 

With Tri color Border Collies being rarer than Bi Colored Border Collies, finding a Tri Color Border Collie isn’t difficult, just rarer than a Bi Coloured. 

Hence yes, there are many mixes and patterns of this breed. 

The History of Border Collie Colors

Black and White coat Border Collie lying on the ground

Today, the Black and White coat of the Border Collie is the most recognizable. As one of the most common colors, the history of the Tri-Colored Border Collies is distant and long. 

In the times of ancestry, these Border Collies came in various colors, including the Tri Color Border Collie combinations of red, white, brown, and black – these were all standard mixes in distant times not too long ago.

So you need to understand one thing when you consider the Border Collie colors, the history of the Blue Merle Border Collie is varied to that of the Reb Merle Border Collie, with the Blue Merle Border Collie having a different lineage to the Red Merle Border Collie. 

Blue Merle is now a rare mix, which is difficult to find. Blue Merle amongst Collie colors is a rare strain. With the Lilac Border Collie being abundant in the distant past, they have been overtaken in popularity by the White Border Collie, for instance. 

The Red Merle Border Collie was considered rare and was rare up until the last decade. The Red Merle Border Collie is more widely available now than the Blue Merle, which is still one of the rarest Collie Colors. 

The Slate Merle Border Collie has a varied line of descent to the White Border Collies and Blue Merle Border Collies. 

The White Border Collies is a popular breed but not a common breed. Though back in the day, White Collies were EVERYWHERE; it is rare to find White Border Collies that are entirely white from head to toe.

Red Merle Border Collie walking on the ground

The White Border Collie also has varied descendants to other colors, such as the Sable Border Collie or the Blue Merle Border Collie. Collie colors depend on their genetics, scattered around various parts of the world. 

Hence, there is real variety with regard to the history of these once standard colors, to have now become RARE through years and years of breeding. 

The Most Common Border Collie Colors

Sable Border Collie lying on the ground

Though a White Border Collie or a Sable Border Collie may not be as common, you can find standard colors, shades, and combinations. 

The MOST common color, or better to state, color combination, is BLACK and WHITE. These colors are the most abundantly found in variety with each other in various patterns.

Though the patterns may vary due to a possible Merle gene, the base colors are still the same. 

A White Border Collie with a little black patch on the toe is still a Black and White Border Collie, which doesn’t have a full white coat. 

Regarding Collie colors, there are rare colors such as Lilac Merle Border Collie or even the Brindle Border Collie. 

Red Border Collies with white markings are a rare mix, which is varied to the rarity of Red Border Collies. Brindle Border Collies are also considered a rare color which, too, are mixed with white. 

A Sable Border Collie looks very different from the Black and White one. 

Many people think the original Lassi used to be Sable, but it was actually tri-colored! 

Other Border Collie Colors like Blue Merle are rare, with white markings making them even rarer.

White Markings on different colors other than white are rare. However, white markings, in general, are a standard Merle Pattern. 

A Border Collie puppy may have a Merle pattern, which may not be visible when looking at the coat color.

Hence you have to be careful; what if you buy a White Border Collie, and it turns out it’s actually a Gold Border Collie because of a small patch that you didn’t notice it had as a puppy?

Blue Merle Border Collie standing on the ground

The Gold Border Collie is actually one of the rare coat colors due to the gene involved in the color being a recessive gene. Hence, this coat color is actually harder to find than you think. 

The Border Collie coat is beautiful, and the colors only add to their unique BEAUTY!

Colors in the Same Litter

Red Border Collie walking on the ground

A SOLID color litter is rare. You may have two Red Border Collies from Sable Dogs. There may even be full-black border collies from a Black and White parent dog. Solid Color offspring in the litter is rare based on the breeding colors. 

Blue coloring in puppies is rare because parent dogs carrying that blue gene is rare.

When understanding dog breeds, you have to consider the color carried forward by a recessive gene, which has a lower chance of prevalence due to the fact that it is a recessive gene, not a dominant gene of a dominant color. 

Dog breeds such as the Border Collie have a beautiful genetic mix, making these dog breeds very exotic. Consider how exotic and unique the Blue Merles are; Blue Merles are some of the rarest colors in a litter.

Copper Markings are known to be rare, much like a Black Border Collie being uncommon. 

A Red Border Collie can birth a litter containing Seal Border Collies or even a Black Border Collie. The Border Collie color depends on the breeding parents’ genetic mix. 

Parents that are a Red Broder Collie mixed with a Seal Border Collie could even have a Brindle pattern due to genetics carried forward.

The Border Collie color depends on the genetics of the parents, who could birth a litter of not one Border Collie color but various shades and colors. 

The American Kennel Club describes Border Collies as vibrant and energetic. These are intelligent dogs with a beautiful GENETIC mix of colors!

Marking and Patterns on Border Collies

Gold Border Collie standing on the ground

There are various markings on this dog breed, with Border Collies having Copper markings, white markings, tan points, and the dominant Merle gene. 

They have a great mix of patterns and colors brought forward primarily by the Merle gene, which is responsible for these patterns. 

A Red Border Collie may have markings or patterns that make it different from other Red Border Collies. 

Tan points (brindle) on a Red Border Collie could make a varied specimen in this mix of genetics that composes the Border Collie. 

Gold Border Collies are also known to have shadings and patterns on their coat, much like Sable Border Collies. That being the case, Gold Border Collies with markings are considered rarer than Sable Border Collies with tan points. 

The Border Collie’s coat color and pattern are based on the mix of genetics passed on from the parent dogs.

A Piebald Border Collie will have the genetic markings that make a Piebald Border Collie uncommon. They have a pattern that differs from other Border Collies, such as the Saddleback Sable Border Collie. 

The rarest Border Collie colors are when the dog’s coat color is a mix and a combination of rare genetics, such as the Blue and White Border Collie. The Blue and White Border Collie is another rare mix in this breed. 

Border Collie puppies will have markings and patterns that only grow as they age. It may be difficult to see certain shades and patterns early; however, more prominent patterns and markings stay visible. 

Genetic Influence on Border Collie Color

Lilac Merle Border Collie lying on the ground

The Lilac Merle Border Collie is called such due to the Lilac Merle gene found in them. The Brown Border Collie has a specific gene that differentiates it from the Slate Merle or Blue Border Collies. 

With the genetics of the White and Black Border Collies being the most prevalent, colors such as the Blue Border Collies and the Slate Merle are carried by genetics that is not as dominant as the colors such as White and Black. 

The Border Collie coat colors define the Border Collie puppy colors—the more vibrant the mix of the colors, the better the combination of genetics. 

Dark brown, red Merle, tri-colored, or even Black and White Border Collies are all of varied genetics. The Red Merle is a less prominent gene, which is why the Black and White border is more commonly found.

The Red Merle is carried forward by a semi-dominant gene. This semi-dominance is why Red Merle is uncommon, not rare. 

Red Merle Border Collies are not rare, unlike coat colors such as that of the Seal Border Collie. 

The coat color is dependent on the genetics of the parents. A Brindle Border Collie, for instance, would be precious if you are a breeder or enthusiast. The Brindle Border Collie is actually a very rare coat color. 

Different Colors Grooming Techniques

The color and pattern on the dog’s coat don’t make much of a difference when it comes to grooming. 

Border Collies are beautiful dogs with a beautiful coat. So regardless of the color of the coat, they require proper grooming and caring. 

Border Collies are working dogs known as herding dogs. They are intended for work on the farms, herding sheep. They make EXCELLENT house pets, which is why they have transitioned out from the line of work. 

Almost any color was considered a working dog; however, brown was the most common in ancient times.

Naturally, like all dogs, they would need to be bathed frequently, depending on how dirty they get. These playful dogs love playing in the backyard and can have dirty coats.

When not properly groomed, the coat of a Border Collie can become seriously damaged, leading to damaged skin. 

Have you never seen those lost Border Collies that get rescued by animal rescues?

Hence, yes, grooming is essential, regardless of the color. If you have a rare color, you may even want to pay for professional grooming to make your BORDER COLLIE look AMAZING after a beautiful trim and blow dry. 

Temperament and Color 

The Border Collie’s temperament is not affected by the color of the coat.

Regardless of what color Border Collie you have, the character of this dog will be the same. 

Just because you have a Black Border Collie does not make it more vicious than a White Border Collie or a Black and White Border Collie. 


White Border Collie sitting on the ground

These are energetic dogs with a vibrant personality that does not get affected by the color of their coat. 

The temperament of the Border Collie depends on the training it receives. Obedience training for a Border Collie can be very important. Don’t worry; these dogs are very trainable and friendly. 

Intelligence and Color

These are intelligent dogs, and the color of their coat doesn’t determine their level of intelligence. Compared to other dogs, these dogs are more receptive to training, which is why they are considered great working dogs (herding dogs.)

Their coat color DOES NOT impact their personality or intelligence, which is otherwise influenced by factors such as training and upbringing. 

Health Issues in Relation to Colors

Border Collies are considered athletic and muscular working dogs. The fact that they are considered working dogs obviously tells us that these are a relatively healthy breed of dog. 

However, does the coat’s color influence the dog’s health? The coat color has no relation to the health of the dog. 

No specific illness is directly linked to one particular color of Border Collies. In general, Border Collies are known to suffer from conditions such as hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, and epilepsy.

However, this is not dependent on the color of the coat. 

Popular Border Collie Colors

The most common Border Collie colors, a blend of black and white, and the Tri-color, black, white, and tan, are considered very popular among dog lovers. 

Other standard colors, such as red or brown, and white and tri-color of red, white, and tan, are also considered popular in certain parts of the world. 

However, the most popular Border Collie colors are those rare mixes, which are hard to find, such as that blue, gold, slate, brindle, and even chocolate.

The coat’s rare colors make them famous because of how rare these breeds are.

Three Border Collie dogs sitting on the ground

On the other hand, the standard colors of Black and White and even Red and Brown are also considered popular colors. 

The famous Border Collie, Lassie, was a tri-color shade, making the tri-color patterns very popular. 

Many factors influence the popularity of the Border Collie. However, one thing is true: with Lilac Border Collies being as rare as they are, wherever you can find a Lilac Border Collie, you know it will be popular. 

Color of Border Collie Puppies

Border Collie Puppies

Border Collie puppies obviously come in a shade of colors. You may find a litter with a variety of shades and colors. 

Border Collie puppies are loved by dog lovers all over the world. They are known to be incredibly cute, with beautiful markings and patterns, making them very unique in their own right. 

The color of the Border Collie puppies will be dependent on the genetics passed on to them by the parents.

Hence, the genetics of the parent dog is what matters. If you find parent dogs with a vibrant mix of shadings in an exotic color, there is a good chance that the offspring, too, will have similar features and markings. 

The various colors of Border Collie puppies determine the price, with some with unique markings costing more and rare mixes costing the most.

Which Border Collie Color is Right for You?

Picking the right Border Collie color is entirely up to you and your personality. Maybe you like rare and unique things and would prefer a rare Lilac Border Collie. 

Or maybe, the simple Black and White may be to your liking. 

With so many colors and options, there is true variety when considering the Border Collie. 

This breed of dog is considered one of the most diverse, with rare colors, mixes, and patterns, making them unique in their own right.

brown and white border collie sitting on the ground

If you ever find yourself in front of a litter of Border Collie puppies and want to bring home the one with the spot on its head, by all means, GO FOR IT!

Related article: How to toilet train a border collie puppy?

Final Thoughts

Border Collies come in a variety of colors and patterns. They are known to be a breed known to have some beautiful colors and shades. 

The coat of the Border Collie is soft and fluffy, which only adds to the appeal of the broad range of colors. 

This guide was intended to help you better understand the various colors of the Border Collie. With so many options, you may find a unique dog with a particular spot that makes it stand out. 

Border Collies are beautiful dogs, not only for their beautiful coats but also for their beautiful personality. They make EXCELLENT family pets and are adored by children all over the world! (Lassie!)


Border Collies are typically black and white or tri-color (black, white, and tan).

Saddle-patterned and blue-colored Border Collies are less common than other colors of the Border Collie breed.

Tri-colored Border Collies are less common than bi-colored Border Collies.

Yes, Border Collies make excellent family pets when they are trained properly. They are known for being very intelligent, loyal, and affectionate, making them an ideal companion for children.

Yes, A fully white Border Collie is rare.

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Laura Vinzy
Laura Vinzy is one of our contributors. She is also a certified professional dog trainer & currently lives in San Francisco with her husband and her two rescue dogs.

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