The Border Collie is one of the most intelligent dogs, and is even considered the most intelligent in the sheepdog family. Efficient herding dog, he achieves feats in agility and obedience competitions. The most famous hair color is black and white. However, there are many others.
What does the breed standard say?
Non-specialists may be surprised to find that the Border Collie exists in other types than just black and white. Indeed, the coat of this dog can be declined in a wide range of colors, without departing from the standard of the breed. All colors are indeed allowed. The only requirement is that white must not be the dominant color.
Why this exclusion of the dominant white color?
Many Borders Collies (but also Dobermanns, Poodles and others) suffer from a congenital hereditary deafness, called Scheibe’s dysgenesis. A study showed that 4.5% of Borders Collies tested had a hearing defect when this usually only affects 0.1 to 3% of dogs, all breeds combined.
It has been proven that this pathology, early – manifesting as early as 3 or 4 weeks of life – and most generally unilateral, is linked to white pigmentation predominant. All white dogs pose significant health problems, but so do dogs of type blackbird (see below).
This hereditary deafness is linked to the absence of melanocytes in part of the ear (the vascular stria of the cochlear duct). Melanocytes are epithelial cells in the epidermis whose role is to synthesize melanin (dark brown pigment). This disease is transmitted to the next generation by a gene, unrelated to the sex of the animal. But unknowns still remain, especially regarding the trigger.
Blindness and heart problems are also favored when the dog is white dominant. The role of a standard being to encourage the preservation and improvement of the breed of an animal, any animal with a predominantly white color is excluded, in order to deter reproduction.
How is the color of the Border Collie defined?
In dogs, two pigments color the coat:
- eumelanin (for black tints) for dark,
- and pheomelanin (for yellow to red tints).
The quantity of pigments, their concentration and their distribution are predefined by the genes. A white hair is an unpigmented hair.
Several genes control the production of pigments, hence the great diversity of colors.
Just naming the dress colors can be difficult. Today, the Central Canine Society indicates that the book Coat colors in dogs published by Royal Canin is the benchmark.
Special terms are generally used for the description of dog coats. Here is an overview of the most common encountered for the Border Collie:
- Blue : the term means that the black color has been diluted. This therefore indicates a gray with blue reflections
- Liver : Brown color
- Red : darkest shade of the fawn range
- Sand : lightest shade of the fawn range, light yellow
- Fire : diluted red, tint halfway between red and sand
- Blackbird : a merle coat designates a coat color characterized by a dominant shade and diluted spots. There are two shades, merle blue, where the dominant color is blue (that is to say gray) spotted with black, the spots can constitute large colored patches, and merle red, where the dominant color is liver.
- Lilac or lilac : dilution of brown, variant of beige
The list of the main types of Border Collie
- Black and white : this is the type that comes to mind when talking about the Border Collie
- Tricolor black : it is a variation of the previous type. The hair divides into black and white but the black parts are tinged with tan in places, most often on the cheeks, legs, chest, buttocks and sometimes eyebrows
- Blue and white : this is the diluted version of black and white
- Merle blue : the coat is predominantly white / grayish, punctuated with black / blue spots. This guy will tend to have a pink nose and bright blue eyes, and even different colored eyes.
- Slate merle : similar to bluebird but diluted
- Tricolor blue : the base color is merle blue, punctuated with tan-colored spots on the chest, legs, cheeks, eyebrows, bottom and / or under the tail
- Chocolate and white : without being official, this name is frequent. The coat is mostly brown, more or less light or dark, spotted with white around the chest, buttocks and collar. The eyes are light brown, green or yellow
- Tricolor chocolate : the base is chocolate and white, punctuated with tan spots
- Lilac and white : similar to the chocolate and white type but diluted
- Red and white : it is the same type as black and white but the liver color replaces the black
- Sand and white : it is a rare color. It is the same as the black and white type but the sand replaces the black
Beyond these main types, you will find shades, which ultimately produces a wide variety of dresses in Borders Collies.