Blue Merle Border Collie Guide: 5 Must-Read Facts

blue merle border collie

The Blue Merle Border Collie is a gorgeous herding dog that is best known for its striking blue merle coat. It is said to be the rarest color found in Border Collies. In order to exhibit this color, one of the parents must have the merle gene. The term “merle” refers to the overall diluted nature of hairs which form a striking and unique pattern of streaks and splotches and patches. 

There are two versions of coats found with this dog, the rough coat and the smooth one. Both are double-coats which protects them from extremes of weather. Neither version is hypoallergenic. Both types of coats will shed heavily once during the year, with less intense but frequent shedding throughout the year.

They were bred to herd animals, and they retain this herding instinct. Proper obedience training is important to cultivate proper socialization skills. Although he is very loving, he is very intelligent and may exhibit his independent streak.

As with all border collies, the Blue Merle has an abundance of energy and he is a tireless worker. This dog is only appropriate for someone with lots of energy, who is capable of providing him with his daily exercise requirements.

They will shed heavily once a year. During this period you should brush their hair daily. During the rest of the year, 2-3 times a year should be sufficient.

If bred properly, the dog should be healthy overall. Nevertheless, as with many breeds, there are certain health conditions you should be aware of. These include Hip Dysplasia, Epilepsy, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, and Collie Eye Anomaly. 

Blue Merle Border Collie At A Glance

The Blue Merle Border color is a striking mid-sized herding dog known for its beautiful merle coloring and sharp “herding eyes”. They are highly active and hard-working, loyal, athletic, and intelligent.

  • Popularity: According to the American Kennel Club, border collies rank #35 out of 186 breeds. 
  • Group: Herding Dog
  • Weight: Approximately 30-55 pounds
  • Price: $500-1000. Certain dogs from very distinguished breeders can go as high as $4500
  • Personality: Energetic, hard-working, loyal, affectionate, intelligent

Similar Breeds

Australian ShepherdBearded CollieIcelandic Sheepdog
Price$600-800$1500-2000 $800-1000
Lifespan 12-15 years 12-14 years 12-14 years
Family FriendlyYesYesYes
SizeMales weigh 20-23 inches in height and weigh 50-65 pounds. Females average 18-21 inches in height and weigh 40-55 pounds.Males average 21-22 inches in height. Females average 20-21 inches in height. They weigh approximately 45-55 poundsMales average 18 inches in height and weigh 30 pounds. Females average 16.5 inches in height and 25 pounds.
ShedWeekly brushing for most of the year, seasonal heavier shedding will require more brushing sessions.Daily brushing. Complicated two-part method, comprising daily brushing and a weekly session.Daily brushing during shedding season. Weekly brushing during the rest of the year.
ActivityHigh energyHigh energyHigh energy

There are many positive qualities of owning this dog. They are aesthetically beautiful and they have an excellent temperament. They require high levels of daily exercise and the available environment to provide for his need for open species. 

With proper care, they can live for 12-15 years. As with all dogs, they have predispositions for certain medical conditions that will need to be monitored.

  • This is a very striking dog, with a gorgeous blue merle coat, and sharp “herding eyes.”

  • They are very affectionate, loving, loyal, and active. They may initially be reserved with strangers.

  • As a herding dog, it is only appropriate for people with lots of open space and the opportunity to spend lots of energy.

  • They live approximately 12-15 years.
  • This is not the appropriate dog for inactive owners or people living in apartments. This dog requires a lot of exercise.

  • At $500-1000 dollars and upwards for the most well-bred dogs, this can be a very expensive dog.

  • During the shedding season, you will need to comb his hair everyday.

  • There are certain predispositions for medical conditions such as Progressive Retinal Atrophy, and Hip dysplasia.
  • blue merle border collieA Day In The Life Of Blue Merle Border Collie

    As an intelligent and active dog, a day in the life of this dog will allow for high levels of daily exercise and mental stimulation. His diet will provide him with adequate calories to maintain his high energy needs, and he will have regular access to sufficient amounts of water for his needs.

    Daily grooming needs are minimal but he will require daily brushing sessions during high shedding season, with less frequency the rest of the year. As with all dogs, it is important to monitor him daily to ensure that he is healthy and thriving.

    History & Origin

    The origin of the Border Collie is traced to early crosses in ancient Britain between a breed dog brought over by the Romans during their occupation of the British Isles, and the Spitzes that were introduced by the Vikings.  

    The offspring of these efforts were hardy dogs that were very capable of herding in the rocky and often harsh conditions and terrain of the Scottish Highlands. Queen Victoria became a fan of this dog in the late 19th Century. This led to an added interest in this fascinating dog.

    5 Fun Facts About Blue Merle Border Collie

    1.Strong Herding Tendency: They may even try to herd you and your family! As natural herders, they may try to corral you and your family if you aren’t satisfying their herd instincts. Some people find this amusing, others may be less amused. Proper training can reduce this behavior. Overall they are very affectionate, and this behavior is one that is common in herding dogs.

    2. Unique Genetics: Although the Merle Gene is considered a dominant trait, it is rarely found in Border Collies.

    3. Give Him A Job! As dogs bred to work hard as herding animals, they need to keep busy. This is an active working dog, so keep him mentally and physically stimulated. Some experts joke that this is a dog who always needs a job to do. Make sure to keep him busy!

    4. Keep Him Active: One option to keep them busy is to get them enrolled in agility classes or train them to do tricks or puzzles.

    5. Those Dazzling Eyes: The distinct “herding eye” is enhanced by their beautiful blue or brown eyes, and it refers to that intense gaze they give to sheep to keep them in line (or their human owners).

    Temperament And Behavior

    This is a wonderful family dog with an excellent temperament overall. They are affectionate, athletic, lively, playful, loyal, intelligent, and hard-working, and they make an excellent family pet. Although they are very friendly, they may display initial reservations and shyness around strangers.

    How Much Do They Cost?

    On average, they will cost $500-1000 for an adult, and $300 at an adoption center. The costs at an adoption center generally will cover the overall cost of maintenance prior to adoption. Very expensive breeders may charge as much as $4500.

    BreederAverages from $500-1000. Very reputable breeders may charge as much as $4500.
    AdoptionApproximately $300 to cover the cost of maintenance prior to his adoption.

    Be wary of unscrupulous breeders who may want to charge you an extraordinary amount of extra money for the blue merle, as opposed to a regular border collie. A good breeder will allow you to visit the facility and he will be very happy to answer your questions.Buyer’s Tips

    • Make sure to obtain proper documentation of any medical tests, screenings, and vaccinations. A breeder that is reticent to provide you with this should make you look elsewhere.
    • A good breeding facility should be sanitary and hygienic and properly licensed to meet governmental standards. If the facility is filthy, you should find another one.
    • Blue Merle Border Collies love attention and crave human interaction, so the proper owner needs to be around to provide him with this. Otherwise, they may experience separation anxiety. If you work long hours and are never around, this isn’t the proper dog for your lifestyle.
    • As a highly intelligent dog, you need to provide him with the kind of training regimen that challenges him or he will easily grow bored. A bored dog will often turn to mischief to entertain himself.
    • This is a wonderful dog with an excellent temperament. He is very good around children. Be sure to provide your dog with good training early on to bring out the best qualities of his temperament. Keep an eye on him and monitor his attempts to corral you and your family, which is an innate tendency from his herding dog breeding.
    • The Merle genetics has some statistical connection to susceptibility for congenital deafness. Make sure that your dog receives all appropriate medical evaluations. You will want to carefully monitor this and all other medical conditions.


    This is a striking mid-sized muscular athletic dog with a unique blue merle coat. His eyes have a piercing gaze, known as the herding eye. Their eyes are oval-shaped, and moderate-sized, their ears are medium-sized and well set apart. Check the following link to see the full standards of this breed according to the Kennel Club of America.


    This medium-sized athletic dog weighs 30-55 pounds. Males average 19-22 inches in height. Females will average 18-21 inches in height.


    Blue Merle Border Collie has a blue-grayish coat with a distinct merle pattern consisting of splotches, patching, and streaks; with a white chest.

    Care Guide

    In order to attend to this dog’s physical and emotional needs, you will need to provide him with proper diet and exercise, regular medical care, and appropriate grooming throughout his life. 

    • Are you an active person who likes to do physical activity? 
    • Do you have the patience and desire to spend time with him?
    • Can you be around enough to give him the attention he needs to thrive?
    • Do you have space indoors and outdoors for this highly active dog that needs room to run about? 

    You better be. If you answered NO to any of the above, then this is not the proper dog for you. 


    This is a highly active breed that requires a lot of activity and daily exercise. A quick 15-minute walk around the block won’t cut it. Blue Merle Border Collies need (at the very least!) 30-60 minutes every day of intense activity. 

    They are most suited for those who can provide them with wide-open spaces and areas to run around. This is, after all, a herding dog and you cannot change his nature or his biological need. If you cannot provide for his high-level activity then this is not the dog for you.

    • Total Daily Activity: 30-60 minutes at the very least of high-level activity.
    • Activity Level: Highly energetic breed
    • Favorite Activity: Space to run, play, agility skills, herding


    During the annual period of heavy shedding, you will need to comb their hair every day. During the rest of the year, 2-3 times a week should be more than sufficient to maintain the overall health of the coat. Make sure to periodically trim their nails to prevent splintering which can cause them great pain.

    Make sure to periodically clean his teeth and ears, and to monitor for any signs of infection. When cleaning his ears be careful not to damage the ear canal. Additionally, you will want to make sure that his ears are thoroughly dried to prevent ear infection due to excessive moisture buildup. 

    Occasional baths are sufficient. A quality shampoo will maintain the natural oil and overall health of his coat. Be sure to thoroughly dry your dog after his bath to prevent moisture buildup.

    Don’t view grooming sessions as a chore. Try to cultivate good grooming habits early on when he is young. Grooming time is a great way to bond with your dog. Be sure to regularly and carefully check him for signs/symptoms of infection, ailments, or other medical conditions. Check for sore spots, lesions, abrasions, redness, inflammation, or discharge from the eyes, ears, nostrils, etc. 

    Check to see that there are no structural abnormalities. Observe to see him walk to check if there are any problems with his gait. If you are personally uncomfortable attending to his grooming needs and you have the budget for it, you may consider hiring a professional to attend to his grooming needs.


    Make sure to provide him with daily high-quality food, either of a commercial nature or homemade. There are many excellent options for both, provided you know what to look for. Be careful to not feed him too many treats or table scraps which can lead to weight gain and additional health problems.

    Good habits are good for him. Bad habits are hard to break and will affect his overall health. Pet owners have a tendency to start off with a disciplined diet, but then eventually get lenient with treats and other poor eating habits. As tempting as it is to feed them at the table, try not to do this too often. 

    Not only is the quality of the food important, but you also need to be aware of the food requirements for the various stages of his life. What is appropriate for a puppy will not be proper nutritionally for an older dog. Speak to your veterinarian to find out more about your dog’s daily dietary needs, and to learn more about the ingredients in commercial brands. 

    Make sure to provide him with sufficient amounts of clean water. As an active dog, it is very important to keep him properly hydrated.

    Health Concerns

    As with many breeds, there are certain health conditions you should be aware of. These include Hip Dysplasia, Epilepsy, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, and Collie Eye Anomaly. Blue Merles have been shown to have a tendency for congenital deafness, so you will want to monitor this. 

    Make sure to provide your dog with regular visits to the veterinarian to ensure the health of your dog and to monitor for any signs/symptoms of serious ailments. You will want to stay current with vaccinations.

    • Hip Dysplasia: This medical condition occurs when the dog’s femur isn’t properly attached to the pelvic socket.  Over time, this will cause him considerable pain. This may be your earliest indication of the dog’s condition. The ensuing inflammation will often lead to your dog developing a limp and may ultimately result in the dog becoming lame. 

    Medical options include surgical and non-invasive alternatives. As a first step, your vet will likely encourage you to reduce his level of physical activity to see if this alleviates the condition. If non-anti-inflammatory treatments prove unsuccessful, surgery may ultimately become necessary. A surgical hip displacement is a final option if non-invasive measures are unsuccessful. 

    • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): This degenerative disease affects the retina’s photoreceptors and can eventually lead to blindness. From the onset of this disease until the time eventual blindness occurs usually takes 1-2 years. Unfortunately, there is no current treatment for PRA.
    • Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA): This congenital inherited bilateral eye disease can also lead to blindness. 

    Be sure to ask your breeder or former owner, for all pertinent medical documentation. You will want to ensure that all necessary screening tests were done and that your dog has received all of his vaccinations.

    How Long Do They Live?

    With proper care, your Blue Merle Border Collie can live 12-15 years. The lifespan of your dog will be greatly enhanced if you provide him with the proper daily nutrition, exercise, and a lifetime of regular medical care. 

    How To Train A Blue Merle Border Collie Mix

    blue merle border collie

    It is essential to start with some puppy training tips early on with good socialization and obedience training so that you will have a well-behaved pet. They are very intelligent, so the training will have to keep their attention. With proper training, they excel at agility and obedience activities.

    The challenge of any adequate training program is to provide a fun regimen that is consistent but allows enough flexibility to keep your dog’s interest. They do very well in obedience, agility, tracking, and herding skills.


    We hope we have provided you with adequate information to decide if this dog is suited for you. 

    There is so much to love about this dog! We highly recommend him as a family pet, provided that you are the rightful owner and are able to give him the attention he needs.

    The Blue Merle Border Collie is a beautiful mid-sized dog, with a striking blue merle coat, and intense “herding eyes”. He has an athletic build and he is part of the Herding Group of dogs. They are very affectionate and require a lot of daily activity. 

    As a herding dog, it is only appropriate for people with lots of open space who have the energy to keep up with him. With their excellent temperament, they are very good around children. They may show an initial reservation around new faces.

    As with many breeds, there are certain health conditions you should be aware of. These include Hip dysplasia, epilepsy, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, and Collie Eye Anomaly, and congenital deafness. Make sure to provide your dog with regular visits to the veterinarian to monitor his overall health, and to keep him current with any tests or vaccinations.

    By providing your dog with good training very early on, your dog will thrive. A good training regimen will teach him the requisite socialization skills and obedience. As very intelligent dogs, they will also require mental stimulation or they will easily become bored. They excel at herding, agility, and obedience skills.

    If you are the right fit, you couldn’t ask for a more wonderful pet for you and your family. This is a beautiful dog, both inside and out. But he has a lot of energy to burn, and the right owner will need to match his energy level.

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    About John Woods 300 Articles
    John Woods is the founder of All Things Dogs, member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, graduate in Animal Behavior & Welfare and recognized author by the Dog Writers Association of America.

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