The Border Collie breed is one-of-a-kind. Throw in a mesmerizing color pattern on an incredibly intelligent and hardworking canine, and the combination is simply remarkable!
If you’re interested in getting this dog in a rare merle coat, we’re here to help you understand facts on whether a blue merle Border Collie is different from Borders with traditional colors.
The origin of the blue merle Border Collie
It’s important to clarify that merle is a pattern, not a color. It was recognized and termed as merle in the early 2000s, but it has been visible in different dog breeds for years.
Depending on the breed, merle is also called dapple. Other dogs that get this color pattern as well are Collies, Shetland Sheepdogs, Australian Shepherds, Great Danes, Cardigan Welsh Corgis, and Dachshunds.
The merle pattern appears as irregular, dark-colored patches, smudges, or streaks over a diluted or lighter shade of the base coat hue.
Border Collies have an extensive range of color combinations. They appear in blue, blue merle, blue and white, red, red merle, red and white, black and white, saddleback sable, sable merle, and many more! With that said, the merle pattern is the least common, which means they are quite rare.
Blue Merle Border Collie breeding & genetics
Genetics can be tricky and complicated, but to simply put it, a dog’s coat color is a result of two base colors – a dominant and a recessive gene that it will inherit from its parents.
For breeders to get a blue merle Border Collie, one of its parents should be carrying the merle gene. What it does is take a dominant color (like black) and dilutes it to make that grayish or bluish shade with swirly and splotchy streaks or lines.
Having a blue merle Border Collie parent doesn’t guarantee a puppy with the same color pattern. There’s a possibility to get one pup with a merle coat in a whole litter.
Aside from the merle allele/gene and non-merle allele, there’s a third variant called cryptic merle. It’s also referred to as a ghost or phantom merle that appears as black or liver, with only a few areas of merle.
Even if these dogs look pretty, proper and ethical breeding should be followed carefully.
What does a blue merle Border Collie look like?
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), the breed standard description for the Border Collie is that they are “a well-balanced dog of athletic appearance, displaying style and agility in equal measure with soundness and strength.”
So aside from having a merle coat color pattern, they look like every other purebred Border Collie. They have short ears that can fold forward or stand erect. They still come in two coat types, smooth and rough, and they’re still not hypoallergenic.
The Border Collie’s size can vary a little, with females being a bit smaller. On average, they stand 18 to 22 inches (46 to 56 cm) tall and a weight that can range between 30 to 45 pounds (14 to 20 kg).
Although they’re not large dogs, they aren’t suited for apartments. It’s best if they get to live on a farm or ranch where they can herd livestock and help with work. If not, a home with a securely fenced, spacious yard would work.
Aside from the shade of the Border Collie’s coat, there’s another physical feature that the merle gene can affect.
Do Merle Border Collies have blue eyes?
Yes, because not only does the merle gene give brighter coats, but also lighter-colored eyes.
A blue merle Border Collie can have faded amber, light green, or pale blue eyes partnered with their intense gaze. Others simply consider it as brown or blue. Some of these merles have mismatching eyes or heterochromia, where one eye is brown, and the other is blue.
Just when you thought there are so many color patterns for Border Collies, it seems to have endless variations! There are saddle-patterned blue merles with unique eyes. They have one blue eye, and the other is a merle eye (part brown, part blue).
Temperament and Characteristics of blue merle Border Collies
As we mentioned earlier, all purebred Border Collies are alike. Though there are specific health problems related to the merle gene, there’s no proof that a dog’s personality correlates with the color of its coat.
Blue merle Border Collies, as well as other Borders with different coat colors and patterns, have the same traits that this breed is known for. They are all highly intelligent, agile, athletic, energetic, eager to please, and a great family companion.
No matter the color of their fur, a Border Collie will still be exceptional when it comes to herding. After all, that’s what they’re bred to do, and it’s in their nature.
Training a blue merle Border Collie
Speaking of herding, always supervise whenever your Border Collie is around little children and other pets. Whether you use him as a working or family dog, they all are prone to their instinct to herd and nip.
Don’t judge the breed so quickly, though. This dog loves their humans and other family members, but they need to be properly socialized and trained to grow as well-behaved dogs.
Introduce your blue merle Border to different people, places, noises, and smells. And since they are little happy helpers, you can train him to do some chores.
Watch Indie help around the house. This proves that whether it’s a blue merle Border Collie or one with a different color, marking, or pattern, they’re a brilliant breed that can learn all kinds of skills and talents you teach them.
How to take care of a blue merle Border Collie?
Groom your blue merle as you would any other Border Collie. Their double-layered coat is beneficial for protecting this breed from hot and cold weather, but they still shed, especially when they’re shedding that winter coat.
A Border’s fur needs to be brushed twice a week and daily during the shedding season. Since blue merles have light-colored parts of their hair, they may be prone to tear or dirt stains. You can bathe your dog once every three months or if necessary.
Clean ears weekly with a cloth or cotton to avoid wax and debris buildup, and to remove excess moisture. Keep your pet’s nails from splitting or cracking by trimming it every two to three weeks.
Diet and exercise for blue merle Border Collies
You should be feeding your Border with the amount that is specific to his size, age, and activity level.
This breed may be a medium-sized dog, but they require higher calories to support their high energy levels.
If your Border Collie maintains an active lifestyle, such as getting to play a lot aside from their daily exercise and even join canine sports, he would need 900 to 1,000 calories a day. If he’s a working or herding dog, about 1,400 calories a day would be sufficient.
For exercise, at least an hour every day should be spent on walking, jogging, hiking, or any other type of exercise or training. It will keep his temperament and health in check!
A blue merle Border Collie’s health/genetic problems
Not only is the merle pattern gene complicated, but it’s also associated with potential health concerns.
All dogs that are bred and cared for properly are generally healthy, but they can still be susceptible to genetic health problems. Some of the illnesses that are common in Borders are epilepsy, hip dysplasia, Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA), and Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA).
If you decide to get a blue merle Border Collie, it may get other ailments that are related to their coat color.
Have you ever heard of the term “lethal white”? It refers to dogs who have a double merle genotype. Both parental breeds who carry the merle gene have a 25% chance to produce a double merle Border Collie puppy. On average, that’s a quarter of the litter.
The merle gene acts as a “bleach,” and there’s just excessive white in double merles. They often have the white on their heads and ears, where auricular and visual defects may take place.
The American Border Collie Association indicated that inherited or congenital deafness has a lot of causes. But those with merle, piebald, and roan coats, blue eyes, or a white head has a noticeably higher risk for hearing problems.
We can prevent passing the double merle gene by promptly neutering or spaying those dogs who have the color pattern.
On average, a Border Collie’s lifespan is 12 years. Overall, it can be anywhere from 10 to 14 years. Others exceed their life expectancy and reach 17 years!
For merles who are blind or deaf, they just need to get used to their situation and some extra care, but they’re also the same loving breed.
Here’s a short video showing that even if they are visually impaired or have hearing problems, they’re still very smart.
What’s the cost of a blue merle Border Collie?
Blue merle Borders are considered rare, but aside from that, some factors may contribute to its value, such as the breeder’s location and the dog’s pedigree.
The average price for Border Collies is around $600, but it’s best to prepare a budget for buying a blue merle Border Collie puppy as the cost can go up to $4,500.
Be very careful, though. Aside from checking medical records of the Border Collie parents and the litter, as well as visiting their environment to observe, you have to be extra cautious.
Some breeders may grab the opportunity to overcharge for blue merle Border Collie puppies just because they are rare. It may be a genetic difference, but that doesn’t mean you have to pay more when buying or adopting this breed in this particular color and pattern.
Blue merle Border Collie breeders
When purchasing a blue merle Border Collie, only responsible breeders have their dogs and litters tested or screened. They’d proactively provide health certificates before letting you pick and take home a puppy.
Generally, getting a Border Collie breed should include hip scores and evaluation tests from an ophthalmologist.
If you’re ready to start your search, here are some websites of breeders that sell blue merle Border Collie puppies and other colors of the breed:
- Rising Sun Farm (Hemingway Ave, Minnesota)
- Nightshades Border Collies (Midwest Kansas)
- Prairie Wind Border Collies (Douglass, Kansas)
Blue merle Border Collie rescue and adoption
One of the noblest things you can do to save another dog’s life is by adopting. A lot of purebred and Border Collie mixes are still waiting for their fur-ever home and family. After all, rescuing this breed would only cost about $300, which also saves you a lot of money.
If you don’t feel confident because you’re unsure of the dog’s health, you can have it screened or tested by a veterinarian.
Give a hardworking Border Collie a second chance to experience the love of your family, whether it’s a blue merle, a purebred, a crossbreed, a puppy, or an adult:
- Glen Highland Farm (Morris, New York)
- All Border Collie Rescue (The Woodlands, Texas)
- Shadewood Farm and Kennels (Charles City, Virginia)
You can also filter out your search on sites like Petfinder.
Other types of merle Border Collies
You can never have enough color combinations found in the Border Collie breed. Blue merle is one of the common merle patterns, but to show you how gorgeous this they are in different looks, here are other merles that you might fall in love with.
Red Merle Border Collie
Just like blue merle Border Collies, red merles are canines with the gene pattern that breaks up the brown base color.
Lilac Merle Border Collie
Borders with this shade have diluted chocolate and blue base, which makes them look gray or silver. But instead of having black patches or streaks, they’re splotches.
Slate Merle Border Collie
Slate merles have the coat colors white, black, and blue diluted. They’re more evident as they are way lighter than blue merles.
Sable Merle Border Collie
This shade is a combination of a sable Border Collie with another that has the merle gene. It can either appear dark brown with an orange or pinkish cast on the coat, giving a rusty blue merle look.
Harlequin Merle Border Collie
Harlequin Borders have one parent with any merle, and the other is a non-merle. Their coat is white with gray, black, or brown spots on their head, body, and/or tail. Sometimes, they can have a tricolor or tan spots on their faces and legs.
Should you get a blue merle Border Collie?
Border Collies, whether it’s a blue merle or not, are beautiful dogs inside and out. We should always do our part in learning about the breed’s history and their needs, instead of judging them by their looks and color.
Blue merle Border Collies are just like any other Border Collie. Before you buy this canine with this color pattern, keep in mind that they’re susceptible to eye problems and congenital deafness. Aside from that, they’re generally healthy.
Borders also make excellent family dogs as they get along well with children and other pets. But it’s in their nature to herd and nip, so be sure to be there when they’re around the kids.
Being intelligent and energetic, they easily get bored and require more than an hour of exercise a day.
If you’re the kind of owner who has a lot of space for a Border Collie to run around, loves being active, and time to bond with the dog by teaching him tricks, then it’s the right companion for you.
Do you currently have dogs that join canine sports, this is one breed that would excel in agility rings, obedience, flyball, and more!
What do you think about the blue merle Border Collie? Do you already have this pooch? Let us know in the comments below.