Dog breeds

Blue Merle Border Collie Colors, Patterns and Health

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Blue Merle Border CollieThe blue merle Border Collie is a clever herding dog with ancient roots. It has the same incredible work ethic, intelligence, and energy as any other colored Border Collie.

Blue merle is actually one of the rarest Border Collie coat colors. This coat color can only be produced in puppies by dogs who carry the dominant merle gene.

But this can also present some issues for our dogs! So, how do you know if this color of Border Collie is right for you?

Let’s learn if the color of his coat will have any impact on his temperament, health and overall vitality.

What Is a Blue Merle Border Collie?

The blue merle Border Collie is a Border Collie dog with a particular coat pattern and color.

The blue merle combination is particularly rare in Border Collie dogs.

This color combination must be inherited from a parent breed with a merle gene.

Other Color Combinations

Along with the blue merle Border Collie, other Border Collie color combinations include:

  • red
  • black
  • sable
  • saddleback sable
  • black and white
  • white and blue
  • red and white
  • white ticked
  • blue
  • red merle
  • blue merle and white
  • white and red merle
  • sable merle.

What does Blue Merle Look Like?

The blue merle Border Collie, in particular, boasts a white chest with grey or “blue”-tinged fur.

The latter includes dark patches along his back, tail, face and ears.

They can have blue eyes, brown eyes, or one blue eye and one brown eye.

Typically they have long tails, and short ears that can stand erect or flop forward—depending on their mood.

They come in two coat types: rough and smooth.

Standing approximately 18 to 22 inches tall and weighing from 30 to 55 pounds, breeders often charge more for the blue merle Border Collie.

But what is it about this beautiful color combination that makes him so hard to come by? Keep reading.

Blue Merle Border Collie Genetics

Genetics are a tricky thing, and even trickier when talking about the blue merle Border Collie.

This is because, although the merle gene is considered dominant, it is actually quite rare in Border Collie breeds.

Still, as veterinarian Lynn Buzhardt specifies, the color of any dog’s coat is the result of two foundation or base colors, which are believed to be red and black.

The color of your dog’s coat depends on these foundation colors, and the dominant and resistant genes the dog inherits from his parents.

Blue Merle Border Collie

About the Merle Gene

Did you know that only a merle parent dog can produce a merle litter?

However, just because the merle parent dog is merle and therefore carries the gene, does not guarantee a merle puppy will be born.

Maybe you can run across one by chance.

But the main way to get your hands on a blue merle Border Collie puppy is to go through a breeder who purposefully breeds this rare color combination of dog.

Things to be Aware Of

However, you may want to be careful when buying a blue merle Border Collie, or any dog with the merle gene for that matter.

The reason why is quite interesting.

Unfortunately, some studies have found that certain genes that lead to lighter coat colors can also lead to congenital deafness in dogs.

Which Colors are These?

Coat colors known to have a link to congenital deafness include:

  • merle
  • roan
  • piebald
  • white.

But what about temperament? Does the color of your Border Collie affect his overall personality?

Keep reading to find out.

Blue Merle Border Collie Temperament

The coat color of the blue merle Border Collie has been linked to congenital deafness.

However, studies have yet to prove that the coat color of a dog has any correlation with his overall temperament.

Dr. Stanley Coren, Ph.D., points out that there are plenty of superstitions when it comes to the color of dogs and their behavior.

The good news is that with proper socialization, exercise, training and attention, experts agree that the majority of dogs will grow up to be happy, healthy and well-rounded.

Blue Merle’s Overall Temperament

According to the American Kennel Club, the Border Collie is an all-around energetic, active and highly intelligent working breed.

He is considered to be the world’s best herding dog.

In fact, the Border Collie is still valued all over the world today as a ranch hand’s right-hand pal.

And, boy, does he love it.

Intelligence and Training

This is a breed who is super intelligent and is best for experienced dog owners.

While the Border Collie is eager to please and easy to train, he can have a mind of his own and enjoys outsmarting you if you’re not careful.

The Border Collie is a friendly dog who gets along with children and other household pets.

He is still a herding dog and can be prone to herding instincts.

This means your children and smaller pets in the home may wind up being herded on a daily basis.

Training a Blue Merle Border Collie

The good news is that training early on can help nip this somewhat annoying behavior in the bud.

But how do you keep a Border Collie happy and healthy?

In general, Border Collies are highly energetic and very smart.

They will need plenty of consistent training and exercise to keep them occupied.

Don’t let them get bored because they will potentially be destructive or depressed.

Helping Hands!

The great thing about Border Collie dogs is that they love to help and can be trained to do a number of household chores.

You need help sorting the laundry, taking out garbage and loading the dishwasher? They’re ready for action.

A properly exercised and trained Border Collie can make a fabulous family companion.

He should also be socialized at an early age to help him adapt seamlessly to new situations and people.

Blue Merle Border Collie Health

As we touched on briefly above, it is true that the color of your blue merle Border Collie could have implications on his health.

According to the American Border Collie Association, there can be a few different causes of congenital or inherited deafness.

However, studies found that the congenital deafness in Border Collie dogs is higher when the dog has a merle coat, a white head or blue eyes.

Genetic Health Issues

Of course, all dogs can be susceptible to genetic health issues outside of those that correlate with coat color.

The blue merle Border Collie is no exception.

Along with congenital deafness, the blue merle Border Collie can be susceptible to:

  • hip dysplasia
  • progressive renal atrophy
  • epilepsy
  • collie eye anomaly
  • neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis
  • trapped neutrophil syndrome.

Finding Suitable Breeders for a Blue Merle Border Collie

If you plan on getting your blue merle Border Collie through a breeder, keep in mind that most responsible breeders screen their litters.

They will be able to provide you with certificates of health before you leave with your pup.

However, if you rescue your blue merle Border Collie and are unsure of his health, have him health screened yourself.

The American Kennel Club recommends hip evaluation and ophthalmologist evaluation tests for the Border Collie breed.

Aside from health testing, there are other ways you can help ensure that your blue merle Border Collie is happy and healthy.

Keeping Your Blue Merle Border Collie In Shape

For example, keep your blue merle Border Collie on a high-quality, balanced diet.

The diet should be specified for his age, weight and activity level to keep him feeling and looking ship shape.

Make sure he receives plenty of exercise every day.

Exercise Needs

An active dog like the Border Collie needs plenty of time outdoors to roam and explore.

A good hour-long walk once or twice a day and some backyard playtime should keep him feeling great.

Make sure you maintain proper grooming practices to keep your blue merle Border Collie’s skin, coat, ears and nails as healthy as possible.

Keep reading to learn more.

Blue Merle Border Collie Grooming

The blue merle Border Collie is a lighter-colored dog with dark patches and typically a white face.

This means he could be prone to tear stains or dirt stains on his paws, underbelly and face.

As we mentioned, Border Collies come in two coat varieties.

The rough-coated Border Collie has a medium to longer length coat. The smooth-coated Border Collie’s coat is short and thick.

Do the Coats Have Different Requirements?

However, both coats are double-layer coats. They’re meant to protect the Border Collie from the elements and from very cold or hot weather.

Regardless of whether your blue merle Border Collie has a rough coat or a smooth coat, his grooming requirements are the same.

The undercoat of your Border Collie’s fur is thick and downy while the outer layer is a bit harsher.

Shedding

The Border Collie is a heavy shedder, and he sheds even more profusely during shedding season.

This means he needs to be brushed out at least two to three times a week to keep his fur from matting.

It’s important to keep his skin and coat healthy.

However, during shedding season, your blue merle Border Collie needs daily brushing to keep his coat in shape.

The Border Collie needs his ears cleaned regularly to prevent infection due to waxy buildup, excess moisture or debris buildup.

He also needs his nails trimmed or ground regularly to keep them from cracking or splitting.

Summary of Your Blue Merle Border Collie

Yes, the blue merle Border Collie is a beautiful dog inside and out. That doesn’t mean he is the dog for everyone.

Studies have yet to prove that coat color has any connection to a dog’s temperament.

However, other studies confirmed that coat color and a dog’s health can go hand in hand.

This color Collie can be more susceptible to congenital deafness due to his merle gene.

This has been linked to inherited deafness in the breed.

But it’s Not All Bad News!

However, the Border Collie breed overall is a healthy dog who gets along well with children and other household pets.

However, he must be properly trained, socialized and given plenty of exercise.

Are you looking for a blue merle Border Collie to call your own?

We love to hear about your dog-owning journey in the comment section below.

References and Further Reading:

“Border Collie Color Divisions for Conformation Classes,” Border Collie Society of America

Buzhardt, L., “Genetics Basics – Coat Color Genetics in Dogs,” VCA Hospitals

“Causes of Deafness in Border Collies,” American Border Collie Association

Coren, S., 2011, “Are Black Dogs Less Lovable?” Psychology Today

Coren, S., 2012, “Your Dog’s Coat Color Predicts His Hearing Ability,” Psychology Today

Howell, T.J., et al., 2015, “Puppy Parties and Beyond: The Role of Early Age Socialization Practices on Adult Dog Behavior,” School of Psychology and Public Health, La Trobe University

Ruvinsky, A. and Sampson, J., 2001, “The Genetics of the Dog,” Center for Agriculture and Bioscience International

Schmutz, S.M. and Berryere, T.G., 2007, “Genes Affecting Coat Color and Pattern in Domestic Dogs: A Review,” Animal Genetics

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