Border Collies come in many different colours. However only a limited number of them are recognised in Australia's Breed Standard.
The recognised colours in Australia's breed standard are:
Popular unrecognised colours include:
There are many other pages available on the web showing the various colours in which border collies come in. It should be noted these colours are not recognised here in Australia and care should be given when mating certain colour and coat pattern combinations. I have included a link on my links page for a kennel in the United Kingdom (where these colours ARE recognised) who, I believe has a good summary of the various colours and their genetic composition.
The aim for this page, is to add balance to what I see is happening in Australia, and to debunk some myths on colour - The classic one being, "Rare" colour.
You will see on some breeders websites or puppy notices advertising certain colours as "Rare". In truth, they are trying to get in unsuspecting buyers to pay more for their puppies. No colour is "Rare"
Black/white is a dominant colour within the breed and the other colours are all recessive. This means that BOTH parents need to carry the colour to express the desired colours in their progeny. With a basic understanding of genetics, an extended pedigree displaying the colour, selective breeding choosing colour as a preference and knowing what colours have been produced previously, a breeder can have a good idea of what colours will be produced and the likihood of it occuring.
The table above is a basic rendition of Mendel's mathematical ratio of possibilities.
When thinking of colour with regards to the recessive genes, think of "Clear" as not carrying the desired colour (Eg; Black/white), "Carrier" as carrying the colour (Eg: Red/white) and "Affected" as being that colour (Eg; Chocolate/white). This will hold true, except for the Merle gene as it is a dominate gene and needs ONE parent to be merle to produce merle offspring. Merle is a described as a coat pattern rather than a colour. It affects the colour under neath (with the exception of Red/white which is considered a masking gene and will not be expressed)
For this example, say a "Red/white" border collie is mating to another "red/white" border collie. As both parents are "Affected" with the colour, all progeny will be red/white. The same will also be true for the other colours such as blue/white, chocolate/white, tricolour etc.
When a mating is done where the parents are carrying colour, the possible combinates will depend on which colour the parents are carrying. The more colour within a pedigree, the more chances there are of of the parents producing that colour when mated to another dog carrying the same colour/s.
In recent years there has been a rise in the number of breeders breeding for colour. With the popularity of pet people wanting colour, certain breeders are catering to this demand by breeding solely for the colour market.
Some breeders have a genuine colour preference and prefer something different to the "common" black/white border collie. The more ethical, responsible breeders still breed quality animals by not limiting their options by choosing to breed for colour alone. If you are wanting a coloured puppy, these are breeders you should seek out.
Other breeders are choosing to breed in preference for colour in their breeding program for the sake to produce multi coloured litters and oftimes tend to avoid other better quality animals (who may carry the desired colour, but not necessarily produce it in consistant frequency). It is the avoidance of these other quality animals which is of concern to the future of the breed. The structure and conformation of the coloured border collie cannot be improved if only lower class dogs are consistantly being used in a breeding program.
With the rise of the various colours, some people are wanting one which is "different". In many cases they are paying higher prices for their puppy than what should be paid. Some breeders charge up to double for a coloured border collie compared to their black/white border collies. Why? Because people will pay their price.
A good breeder does not charge more for male or female, or for black/white verses colour. The average price from an ethical breeder for a quality bred puppy from fully health tested parents should be between $800 - $1200. There could however be slight variances between state to state and the quality, achievements and titles of the parents.
Regardless of what a breeder is breeding for. Health testing the parents should be an integral part and parcel of a breeding program. The ANKC does not mandate we hip/elbow score, eye test or even DNA profile our breeding stock. In some states there is legislation concerning DNA status and the breeding of carrier/affected animals.
Ethical breeders will do what ever tests are available to them to ensure they are breeding healthy, quality animals. With the rise also in litigation cases and certain media on pedigree dogs, it is important to be attempting to do the right thing by the breed.
An example of a shaded sable border collie I produced in 2009. This colour is not recognised in Australia's breed standard. Sable however is becoming increasingly popular amongst some of the colour breeders.