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11 Colors of Border Collies – A Guide to Coat Colors & Markings

There are few dog breeds as stunning as the Border Collie. Not only are they beautiful dogs, but they’re loving, energetic and highly intelligent too. In fact, they’re the smartest dog breed in the world according to canine psychologist, Stanley Coren.

If you’ve decided to raise a Border Collie, I applaud you for the wise decision. However, there are many colors and coats to choose from. Before picking one up, I suggest you review these Border Collie colors and decide on a coat you like!

For your convenience, we’ve collected the 11 most popular colors of Border Collies just for you. While there are many more, these are the most readily available ones. Let us know in the comments section below which color you like the best!

RECOMMENDED: The Guide to Dog Colors

Standard Colors of Border Collies

According to the American Kennel Club, there are 21 recognized colors of the Border Collie. However, out of the 21 colors, the AKC only considers 17 of them as “standard colors” for the breed standard. Below are the 17 standard colors:

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

The coat colors that are recognized but not part of the standard set of colors include: white & gold, seal, slate, and the white & seal. I know, that’s a lot of colors to choose from. But don’t worry, we’ve listed the best colors below (in our opinion).

Best Border Collie Colors

Note: these are just the most popular colors of the Border Collie. There may be other colors, but they’re generally very rare and/or difficult to find. If you’re looking for a specific color, then these are essentially your options.

1. Black & White Border Collie

The black and white Border Collie is the signature look for these dogs. When people think of the Border Collie, they likely envision this coat color in their head. Needless to say, these are the most popular and prevalent coat colors.

The black color seen in Border Collies is a dominant gene. As a result, the black and white colors tend to always be “standard” in your Border Collie, unless other modifying genes are bred into these dogs. You can’t go wrong with this color option.

2. Black Tri Color Border Collie

Tri color Border Collies are beautiful and may be the second most popular color variations of this breed. They look very much like the “black and white” dogs, except with tan-colored markings on the cheeks, legs, chest, bottom and sometimes eyebrows.

This tri-color effect is a recessive trait, meaning that two copies of the gene must be in the dog in order for this color to happen. Generally, one copy of the gene must come from each parent. So if you had two tri-colored Border Collies breed, you will only get puppies with this color.

3. Blue & White Border Collie

Keep in mind, the “blue” in these dogs are not actually a solid blue. It’s mainly what you call the Border Collies when they have the recessive dilute gene. In other words, it’s when the black color on a Border Collie has been diluted.

Again, two copies of this recessive gene must be present in order for the puppy to have this color. Each parent must have a copy of this gene for this to happen. While this may be somewhat uncommon, it’s still very possible to find one.

However, if you plan to pick up a blue and white Border, you need to be aware about the possibility of the color dilution alopecia condition. This health condition may cause a loss of skin, which generally leads to skin complications. If possible, avoid this color.

4. Blue Merle Border Collie

The merle color effect is caused by a dominant modifying gene. As a result, the Border Collie will show patches of pigmentation throughout the body. For blue merles, the Border Collie will have a white/gray-ish base colored coat with black/blue-ish patches or spots.

Not only will this gene affect the coat color, but also the nose and eyes. For example, blue merle Border Collies tend to have pink noses and bright-colored eyes (such as bright blue). It’s not uncommon for merles to exhibit two different colored eyes as well.

Because the merle gene is dominant, the dog really only needs one copy of the gene to produce this coat. It’s colorful, stunning and highly sought-after in the Border Collie community.

Keep in mind, when a Border Collie has two copies of the merle gene, there can be many complications in regards to health. These conditions may include deafness, mild blindness (abnormal small eyes) and overall poor health.

5. Slate Merle Border Collie

The slate merle Border Collie is similar to the blue merle. However, this “slate” color is apparent because of the blue/black/white coat color that has been diluted. For this to happen, the dog needs two copies of the recessive dilute gene and one copy of the merle.

If the Border Collie has the tri-color genes along with the dilute genes, it is possible to get a slate tri color Border Collie as well.

According to the AKC, these are not official colors of the Border Collie. But even so, the slate merle has been steadily increasing in popularity for whatever reason. I must admit, they do look great but tend to come at the expense of health.

6. Blue Tri Border Collie

The blue tri-colored Border color will certainly have the dominant merle gene as well. The difference is that the dog has two copies of the tri-color gene and just one of the merle gene. However, the result is something truly beautiful.

The tri-color Border Collie will have the same base coat color as the blue merle, but with tan and copper markings on the chest, legs, cheeks, eyebrows, bottom and under the tail. They can have markings in all these areas or just some.

7. Chocolate & White Border Collie

Chocolate is not the official name of this dog’s coat color. In fact, many breeders from around the world may call this differently. However, most North American breeders go by this name.

The chocolate and white Border Collies have a brown coat that can range from a light milk chocolate to a darker brown chocolate. It’s similar to what you may see in French Bulldog colors. These dogs will also have white markings around the chest, bottom and collar.

What makes this Border Collie look so unique is the eye colors that pair with the coat. Their eyes can come in an array of colors, such as brown (light to medium), green or a golden yellow.

This gene is also recessive, meaning that two parent dogs must have a copy of the chocolate gene. By mating two chocolate Borders, you’ll get a litter with these coat colors.

8. Chocolate Tri Color Border Collie

The chocolate tri-colored Border Collie will have the recessive genes of the chocolate color. However, for a tri-color to actually happen, the dog will need two copies of the chocolate gene and two copies of the tri-color gene.

The result will be a Border Collie with the base of a chocolate dog, but also tan and copper markings in and around the body. These markings generally appear at the chest, legs, cheeks, eyebrows, bottom and under the tail.

9. Lilac Border Collie

The lilac color is similar to the chocolate & white color of the Border Collie. The difference is that a lilac Border Collie has both the dilute and chocolate genes. Both are recessive genes, so two copies of both genes is needed for the dog to produce a lilac color.

The lilac color is truly something unique. It looks like a both a blue and brown. There are many names for this color, including silver, isabella (in Dobermans) or fawn (in Kelpies). Whatever you want to call it, the lilac is a gorgeous color on a Border Collie.

Like with the other base colors, there are several variations of the lilac color. Depending on the genes of the dog, you can have a lilac tri color, lilac merle or even a lilac tricolor merle. But of course, all these are much more rare and harder to breed.

10. Sable Border Collie

Although the “sable” color is an officially recognized Border Collie color (according to the AKC), they’ll still be relatively uncommon. But even so, there are breeders that will breed for them because there are potential owners that still seek them.

Sable is when the hair on the coat has different shades of color. In other words, there are more than one color on the hair. For instance, the root color is generally black, whereas the tip of the hair can be a light brown or tan.

This sable is more of a pattern than a specific color. That being said, the sable pattern can be seen on a wide variety of Border Collie base colors. For example, a black, blue, chocolate or lilac base can have the sable pattern.

11. Red Border Collie

Red Border Collies have not always been popular, no matter where you’re at in the world. In fact, this dog was extremely rare until recently. Despite this, the color red is still a recognized color in the America, and there will still be breeders that sell them.

In other countries, there is still confusion and debate on the official name. For instance, the UK generally refers to them as golden/yellow or Aussie red.

As you may have guessed, red is a recessive gene. Likewise, two copies of the red gene is needed to create such a color in these dogs. Breeding two red Border Collies will get you a litter of red puppies.

There are also other variations of red, such as red merle and red / white. All of which, are currently recognized by the American Kennel Club.

Did we miss a Border Collie color that you feel should be on this list? If so, let us know in the comments section below. And please do tell us, which color of the Border Collie do you like best?

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Dog breed nerd

Sunday 18th of June 2023

Number 4 is not a Border Collie, or at least not a purebred one. The facial structure isn't quite right and that thick curled tail is indicative of another breed entirely.


Monday 1st of August 2022

Piebald and extreme piebald are border collie colours/markings and normally have some ticking

Nancy A Elliott

Monday 19th of July 2021

Where is the Black BC? Nearly solid black (teeniest bit of white to be found on underside). Descended, I believe, from the Northumbrian -Old Hemp type.


Saturday 12th of December 2020

I have a tri-merle border collie. I have yet to see another tri-merle. She is a chocolate merle with the tan tri markings on her cheeks, legs, and under her tail. She has blue eyes with a merle/marble left eye (top of her one eye is amber). I've seen a lot of chocolate/ red merles but none with the tri markings.


Wednesday 10th of March 2021

Tricolor merles aren’t rare and from what I’ve seen are potentially more common than bicolor merles.

carol haylett

Friday 15th of May 2020

brindle is considered a border collie color. how rare is it, how is it related to sable, and could we see some pictures of brindle border collies? thank-you.

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