For most people when they think about the border collie breed, what usually comes to mind is a classic, stunning, fluffy black and white dog. It’s true that many border collies are black and white, but did you know that the American Kennel Club recognizes 17 standard coat colors? They range from black and white to red, lilac, brindle, merle, and more. The red merle border collie is included in this esteemed group.

red merle border collie

What Defines A Red Merle Coat?

The red border collie coat is incredibly unique and was considered rare until about the last decade. The red merle dog’s coat is characterized by a unique swirling, splotching, or patching of red fur of various intensity from full pigmentation to white, with white markings on the chest, feet, neck, and tail. “Merle” is simply another word for “pattern.” Sometimes breeders will use the word “dappled” instead of merle.

The striking coat of the red merle border collie is the result of a genetic pairing of a dominant merle gene from one parent and a recessive gene from the other. It’s this merle gene that “dilutes” pigmentation to produce the dappled effect. While we may think that the merle esthetic is limited to the fur, it also influences the coloring of the eyes and the nose. A red merle border collie’s eyes can be blue or any array of blue. Their nose is pink or patterned with the red pigmentation, which, delightfully enough, is called a butterfly nose.

Because the biggest concern for any breeder of red merle border collies is health, physique, and temperament, breeding must be done with skill as merle-to-merle breeding can produce double merle (or MM) pups. When this happens, the offspring are prone to significant health problems such as partial or full deafness or blindness and skeletal defects. They can also experience a higher sensitivity to UV rays and experience a higher rate of skin cancer. Purchasing a red merle border collie? Be sure to research your breeder carefully and ask for genetic documentation.

A Tale Of Temperament & Personality

Whether your border collie is a red merle or any other combination of beautiful colors, these dogs are steadfast. Their coat is not indicative of their abilities, their temperament, or their personality.

Here are a few of the widely recognized and adored traits of the border collie:

First and foremost, border collies are herders. Bread for over 2,000 years for their incredible performance as herders of sheep, they are a tenacious breed, capable of working long hours with great enthusiasm, powerful focus, and extraordinary instinct.

Your red merle border collie will most definitely be an athlete and will likely excel at physically challenging games such as agility, sheepherding, fly ball, dock diving, and even a great game of frisbee. Agile and energetic, they take great delight in sports that demand brain and brawn. They are of a playful nature and love interaction with their owners.

An affectionate dog, your red merles can form close attachments to their families. They can be a protective companion too; it’s important to socialize them when puppies – with other dogs and with people of all ages, sizes, and gender.

If ever there was an eager dog, it’s the border collie. Highly trainable and trustworthy, border collies love to learn! Nothing will make its heart sing more than knowing it has a job to do, a task to complete, or an owner to impress.

Border collies are arguably the most intelligent of all dog breeds. You may have heard about Dr. Stanley Coren who consulted over 200 dog obedience judges. Ranking for intelligence, 190 of the judges placed border collies in the top 10 of all dogs.

red merle border collie puppy

For A Red Merle Border Collie, Activity Is Key

An extremely active dog, be primed to give your red merle all the exercise they need. Their ideal environment is an active home with tons of energetic stimulation. They need, at minimum, two hours every day – more is better! A good-sized fenced yard is necessary, and access to a safe place where your dog can run off leash would be idyllic.

Of course, every dog owner does everything they can to keep their dog safe. However sometimes dogs can get away on us. That’s why its important to consider a GPS tracking collar – like the Fi smart dog collar – for your red merle. The Fi provides 24/7 location and remote activity tracking. A fun feature is knowing your dog’s steps per day and their resting behaviors to help them achieve their best health. Find more information about the Fi collar at

Benefits of a great exercise routine for your red merle border collie:

  • Brain stimulation
  • Muscle strength & toning
  • Stress relief & decreased stress behaviors (excessive chewing, persistent barking, etc.)
  • Routine toileting
  • Social interaction
  • Weight control
  • Mental health & happiness.

Grooming To Maintain That Gorgeous Red Merle Coat

Here are a few tips on how you can you keep your red merle border collie looking their beautiful best:

BrushingWhile their coats are low maintenance compared to some other breeds, border collie coats do need attention. Shedding year ’round, they need a brushing every couple of days to rid the coat of dead hair. In spring and fall, you’ll need to step up the brushing game while seasonal shedding takes hold.

Bathing – Most border collies require bathing about every three months. Give them a good brushing first, use warm water and shampoo made especially for dogs, and ensure their eyes are protected. A good rinse with clear water after a dusty or muddy playtime can always fit into the schedule.

Nail Trims – A good rule of thumb? Trim your dog’s nails once a month. Letting them grow too long (do they click on the floor?) may open the door to discomfort and pain.

The red merle border collie is a dog of distinction. Their personality, intelligence, temperament, and enthusiastic engagement make them one of the most wonderful working dogs and family pets that you’ll ever have!