The Border Collie is one of the most popular family, working, and competition dogs in the world. Not only is the Blue Merle Border Collie beautiful, but its unmatched intelligence and affectionate personality result in a companion animal that will never leave your side.
While these dogs are incredible creatures, no breed is right for everyone. It’s important to understand the health risks, exercise needs, and space requirements of any breed before adding one to your family.
So, is the Blue Merle Border Collie a good fit for you and your home?
What Is a Blue Merle Border Collie?
First, it’s important to point out that a Blue Merle Border Collie is not a breed all on its own. Instead, it’s the combination of a coat pattern (Blue Merle) and a dog breed (Border Collie). In other words, you can find Blue Merle dogs that aren’t Border Collies and vice-versa.
Regardless, the Blue Merle Border Collie is a beautiful, smart, and loving dog. Here’s what you need to know about the breed and its coloration:
Meet the Border Collie
The Border Collie is, without a doubt, one of the smartest dog breeds in the world. These dogs regularly dominate herding and agility trials, and the breed feels just as at home in a competition ring as it does lounging on the couch.
Appearance and Physical Characteristics
Border Collies are medium-sized dogs with long, slender legs. While they might look dainty at first, these legs are strong, agile, and adept at handling all types of terrain. Their noses are long and pointed while their erect or semi-erect ears are extremely emotive. More often than not, you can tell exactly what a Border Collie is feeling just by looking at its ears.
One of the most famous physical traits of the breed is the “herding eye.” The Border Collie’s intense gaze is quite effective both at work on the farm and when giving their owner the cold shoulder.
Border Collies come in two different coat types, called smooth coat and rough coat. Smooth coat Border Collies have short fur cropped close to the skin. However, rough coat Border Collies are the most popular variety, boasting a silky, medium-length coat.
Both varieties come in a range of colors and patterns, including Blue Merle, but the most common coloration is black-and-white.
What is a Blue Merle Coat?
A Border Collie with a Merle coat is instantly recognizable — their spotted coat almost looks like it’s covered in splattered paint. While we’re discussing the Blue Merle coloration specifically, you can also find variations like Red Merle, Lilac Merle, and Liver Merle.
Along with creating spots throughout the fur, the Merle pattern can cause spots on your dog’s skin. Because the Merle gene dilutes natural pigments, Blue Merle Border Collies are also more likely to have blue eyes than those with “normal” coat colors.
Blue Merle Border Collie — Before You Buy…
Bringing home a new dog is a big decision, and an incredibly exciting one. If your dream pooch is a Blue Merle Border Collie, it’s important to know the cost of buying a puppy and where the best places are to shop.
Cost of a Blue Merle Border Collie
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As with any dog breed, the price you pay for a puppy will depend on a wide range of factors. Overall, more reputable breeders will charge more to cover genetic testing, health screenings, and other important tests. Your geographic location can also affect prices.
On average, a Border Collie puppy costs around $500 to $1,000. Blue Merle Border Collies almost always cost more than standard black-and-white coats. If you’re shopping for a Blue Merle Border Collie puppy, you should budget between $1,000 and $2,000 for a healthy and responsibly bred pup.
Finding a Blue Merle Border Collie to adopt can take more time than buying a puppy, but it’s an excellent way to give a dog a loving home. While some shelters and rescues will charge more for certain colorations, most Blue Merle dogs will cost the same to adopt as any other Border Collie.
Where to Buy a Blue Merle Border Collie
Because Blue Merle is a result of genetics, just like red hair in a human, you don’t need to go to a special breeder to find a Blue Merle Border Collie. If your local breeder has a breeding parent that carries the Merle gene, then Blue Merle puppies are always a possibility.
Since Border Collies, especially those with Merle coats, are so popular, you might find puppies or dogs for sale on online marketplaces or posted on a local bulletin board. While it can be tempting to give these dogs a home, you need to consider the health risks of bringing home a potentially backyard-bred puppy.
We always recommend turning to a responsible, licensed breeder instead of buying from an unknown source. When you buy from unregistered breeders, you have no way of knowing the history, health, or genetics of your new dog. Plus, you’re supporting potentially dangerous breeding operations with your hard-earned money.
Can You Adopt a Blue Merle Border Collie?
Of course, buying isn’t your only option. Many adoption agencies have a search function that lets you filter through dogs based on breed and color — some even let you set up alerts to be notified when new dogs fitting your requirements become available. Many major cities also host breed-specific rescues, so check your area to see if any Border Collie rescues exist.
Not everyone possesses the resources to adopt a dog with unknown health/genetics over buying one from a responsible breeder. But if you do, we highly recommend looking into local rescues who need a home. You might be surprised by how many beautiful, purebred dogs you find.
Caring for Your Blue Merle Border Collie
All dogs require grooming, exercise, nutritious food, and plenty of love. However, if you want your Blue Merle Border Collie to be as happy and healthy as possible, you’ll need to provide some breed-specific care.
No matter which coat your Border Collie possesses, grooming needs are the same. Blue Merle Border Collies require gentle brushing around two or three times per week for the healthiest coat possible.
Keep in mind that all Border Collies are seasonal shedders, so grooming needs will increase as your pup sheds its thicker winter coat.
If you own a rough coat Border Collie, then you may think it’s necessary to shave their fur during the warmer months. Actually, though, the Border Collie’s double coat helps insulate it from heat as well as the harsh cold.
Blue Merle Border Collies should be fed according to their weight and life stage. While pretty much any high-quality dog food will do, it’s always a good idea to consult with your vet before settling on a specific formula.
Since Border Collies thrive in training scenarios, remember to balance their treat consumption with their regular meals. If you find yourself going through a lot of treats each day, consider switching to a low-calorie variety to lower the potential for weight gain.
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Perhaps the most important thing to know about owning any type of Border Collie is that the breed is very, very high-energy. For most of these dogs, daily walks just aren’t enough to meet their mental and physical energy needs.
Because Blue Merle Border Collies were bred to work long shifts herding and protecting livestock, these dogs thrive when given a job. In fact, many owners of the breed joke that if you don’t give a Border Collie a task to complete, they’ll go out and find one!
So, how do you know if you have the time and energy to keep up with a Border Collie’s exercise requirements?
As a general rule, Border Collies require at least 30 to 60 minutes of exercise each day. However, these dogs almost always do better in homes that provide regular activities throughout the day.
Because of its history, the breed thrives on the farm — a hobby farm with plenty of space to roam would make a great home for any Border Collie. If you live a more suburban lifestyle, then prepare to spend plenty of time walking and hiking with your dog. If you’re a runner who craves a four-legged companion, then a Border Collie is a perfect choice.
Tiring out your Border Collie with lots of running and exploring might not be enough to keep their more mischievous side at bay. Because the breed is so intelligent, they require lots of mental stimulation to stay content.
Puzzles are an excellent tool and should be used as often as possible. Teaching your dog tricks is another great way to keep them from getting bored.
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If you have access to agility classes in your area, you should definitely give them a shot. Even if you and your Border Collie never set foot in a competition ring, participating in this sport helps keep your pup active and entertained.
Health Risks of the Blue Merle Border Collie
Blue Merle Border Collies share the same health risks as any other type of Border Collie. While the breed is overall an extremely healthy dog, especially when sourced from a responsible breeder, there are still some health risks to keep in mind.
Some of the most common Border Collie health concerns include:
- Hip dysplasia
- Ear infections
- Eye disorders (Collie eye anomaly, renal atrophy)
- Immune disorders
As with any dog, you should schedule regular vet visits to ensure your Blue Merle Border Collie lives a long, healthy, and happy life.
What Does Double Merle mean?
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The gene that causes a Blue Merle coat pattern doesn’t just play a role in your dog’s fur color. Dogs carrying multiple Merle genes can actually suffer from some serious medical complications.
The Merle gene is dominant, so it tends to present even if only one parent carries the gene. However, if both parents carry the Merle gene, breeding will result in something called a double Merle puppy.
Double Merle dogs have a copy of the Merle gene from both parents. While double Merle Border Collies may still have some spotting, their coats are almost entirely white.
Along with looking different than a normal Blue Merle, these dogs have a very high chance of inheriting blindness or deafness as well. Dogs with one or two Merle genes are also at increased risk of increased sun sensitivity and skin cancer.
Because of these risks, breeding two Merle dogs is a major no-no. Even if the Merles are different colors, such as a Red Merle father and a Blue Merle mother, the puppies will still have double Merle genetics.
It’s clear why Border Collies are such popular family and herding dogs. Along with being quick-witted and loving, their various colorations and coat types are all beautiful. This is especially true when it comes to the Blue Merle Border Collie.
For households that can meet the intense physical and mental needs of a Border Collie, these dogs make incredible companions. With that said, they’re not always the best fit for first-time dog owners. If you live on a farm or are constantly participating in dog-friendly activities, though, you might find the Border Collie fits perfectly into your existing routine.
Compared to many other popular breeds, Border Collies are relatively healthy. However, anyone who plans to buy or adopt a Blue Merle Border Collie absolutely needs to understand the risks of breeding double Merle puppies. You should also know the potential health risks, such as an increased chance of skin cancer, that can come with a single Merle gene.
Once all is said and done, though, the Blue Merle Border Collie is a pretty great dog! As with any pup, it requires a certain amount of care and attention that not everyone can provide. But if you’ve read through our guide and this breed sounds like an ideal match, we wish you a long and happy life together with your new best friend!
Have you ever owned a Border Collie or a dog with a Blue Merle coat? Share your experience in the comments!
Featured Image Credit: Peet de Rouw, Flickr
Emily started this blog out of pure passion. She LOVES her 3 dogs; Chew Barka, Cooper & Nelson, and spends countless hours every day playing with them.
When she’s not nerding out on dogs, you’ll find her on a snowboard or in the kitchen baking chocolate brownies.
She’s been featured in PetAware, Dogtime, and ModernDog.
- What Is a Blue Merle Border Collie?
- Meet the Border Collie
- Appearance and Physical Characteristics
- What is a Blue Merle Coat?
- Blue Merle Border Collie — Before You Buy…
- Cost of a Blue Merle Border Collie
- Where to Buy a Blue Merle Border Collie
- Can You Adopt a Blue Merle Border Collie?
- Caring for Your Blue Merle Border Collie