If you have seen Babe, the blockbuster movie about an orphaned pig, you probably are also enamored with Fly, the Border Collie who adopted and taught Babe.
With this, you’ve witnessed how smart Fly is and you might have considered taking home a Border Collie. Upon researching, your eyes caught upon a particularly rare but beautiful color of the Blue Merle. However, hearing the words merle that is linked with a lot of “controversy” may have prompted you to think twice.
Is it worth keeping home a Blue Merle Border Collie? Let’s find out.
What is a Blue Merle Border Collie?
First and foremost, a Blue Merle Border Collie is basically a Border Collie! It is still the herding breed most loved about because of its wit, incredible work drive and intense eye that control its flock.
Blue Merle is more of its coat color or actually, a pattern. With the merle gene, the main color of its coat is diluted creating swirls of striking color in streaks, smudges, patches or splotches. Just imagine a black pool of paint added with another drop of color, say white. This drop will not only dilute the main color but also create a pattern.
This pattern or color combination of the coat is very rare.
Even two blue merle Border Collie parents do not guarantee a baby blue merle. In fact, the probability of having blue merle for both parents is only one in a litter or 25% chance only.
There are also other colors of the Border Collie aside from Blue Merle:
- Saddleback Sable
- Black and White
- White and Blue
- Red and White
- White Ticked
- Red Merle
- Blue Merle and White
- White and Red Merle
- Sable Merle
History of the Merle Border Collie
Where did American Kennel Club (AKC)’s 35th most popular dog originate?
Border Collies are said to be a cross between the old Roman Dogs and the Viking spitzes. These breeds are compact and known to be agile sheep herders well trained to scour the hilly and rocky highlands of Scotland and Wales.
In these areas, a herding dog is considered a valuable asset along with other breeds in the region such as Welsh Sheepdogs, Northern Sheepdogs, Highland Collies, and Scotch Collies. The word collie is also a Scottish term that means “sheepdog”.
One of this breed’s fans is Queen Victoria when in the 1860s, when she saw a Scotch Sheep Dogs on her way to Balmoral.
Border Collie was officially recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club back in 1995 together with Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Greater Swiss Mountain Dog.
The word merle, while having been around for some time, was first coined and recognized in the early 2000s.
Appearance and Size of a Blue Merle Border Collie
How does a Blue Merle Border Collie look like?
For starters, a Blue Merle Border Collies boasts of a white chest with grey or “blue” colored coat with dark patches along its back, tail, face and ears.
The eyes of a Blue Merle Border Collie can be faded amber, light green or pale blue with their known-for intense gaze. Some merles also have a condition called “heterochromia” where one eye is brown while the other is a mismatching blue.
Typical of a Border Collie, they also have short ears that can be erect or semi-erect flopped forward; with a long and low-set tail and a long snout with a nose that matches their coat colors.
In terms of size, a male Border Collie can have a height of 19 to 22 inches while females are a bit shorter at 18 to 21 inches. Considered a medium dog, their average weight is between 30 to 55 pounds.
Blue Merle Border Collie Grooming
Border Collies have two types of coats:
- Rough-coated collies: characterized by medium and long coats
- Smooth-coated collies: with short yet thick coats
Regardless of the coat, they both are not hypoallergenic and will require the same level of grooming requirements. If you will notice, it has a water-resistant double coat with its undercoat fur thick while the outer layer is a bit harsher perfect to keep them warm during the cold weather.
To keep your Border Collie’s coat free from mats and tangles, twice or thrice a week brushing. Except during its shedding season where daily brushing is required. And expect also a Border Collie to shed heavily.
In terms of bathing, you can bathe your Border Collie pet once every three months or only when necessary.
Since Blue Merles also have lighter colored parts, they are prone to tear stains and dirt stains on its paws, underbelly and face.
Take also extra care of its ears by regularly cleaning it to prevent infection. Clean it weekly with cotton to prevent wax build-up or remove extra moisture that can cause infection.
Trim your Border Collie’s nails also once every three weeks to keep it from splitting or cracking.
Temperament of a Merle Border Collie
A Border Collie is much loved because it is considered an “affectionate, smart and energetic” dog as described by the AKC. Regardless of your Border Collie is a Blue Merle or other coat colors, its temperament will be the same since there is no scientific proof that links color with personality.
These dogs are considered very sweet and loving but they need to be trained to socialize at a young age to prevent their tendency to be stand-offish to strangers.
They are also very energetic and highly active working breeds. Border Collies get along well with children and even other household pets. Sometimes though, their herding instinct just kicks in and your kids or pets may end up being herded and may nip at their ankles. With this, supervision is highly encouraged.
Exercise Needs of a Blue Merle Border Collie
As a working and active dog, Border Collies love an active lifestyle. They need plenty of time to play outdoors, roam, explore or walk!
For a Border Collie, they will require at least 1 hour of daily exercise. Not only will it keep your canine in great shape but it will also put your furry best friend in a great mood.
As an active dog, they will not do well in a small apartment. They would love to have a big backyard where they can work their energies off; besides its ancestors used to live in farms or ranches where they can herd livestock.
Apart from physical exercise, this smart dog also thrives on mental stimulation. This breed sometimes even invents its own games!
If you would love to bring home a Border Collie, it will fit well an active family.
Training a Blue Merle Border Collie
Did you know that based on a study by Stanley Coren, in his list of the smartest dog breed, Border Collie tops the list? This intelligent breed can understand new commands with just less than 5 repetitions while for known commands, they get it 95% of the time.
No wonder while a Border Collie is also considered the best herding dog!
Training can be a breeze with this cunning breed that also would love to please its owners! They inherently love to work and have tasks, otherwise, they get bored. You may see some Border Collie at home being asked to help. Yes, you can train them as a furry little helper. Indeed, a Border Collie is easy to train.
Just a bit of caution though, they are smart and they can outsmart you so you also have to be careful. Some Border Collies are known to be great escape artists.
To prevent your Border Collie pup from growing shy, socialize it at a young age with other people, places, smell and even sounds.
Care and Diet for a Blue Merle Border Collie
As an active dog, their diet should be specific to their activity whilst considering their age and weight.
They will require higher calorie intake compared to other medium-sized dogs because of their activity levels, too. For very energetic Border Collies, 900 to 1,000 calories is needed daily. While for those working or herding, 1,400 calories a day will suffice.
Health Issues of a Blue Merle Border Collie
Any merle dog is controversial because of its bespoke health issues. Blue Merle Border Collie is prone to congenital deafness. While there may be a lot of possible reasons for this, according to the American Border Collie Association, it is higher in dogs with merle coats, a white head or blue eyes.
In fact, also, 2.8% of Border Collies suffer from unilateral deafness (one ear) or bilateral deafness (both ears). For the latter’s case, it may be easy to identify but for a unilateral case, you may need to have it tested with the Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER) test.
To ensure that your Blue Merle Border Collie is also healthy, there are also various tests that can be performed.
Along with deafness, any Border Collie may also be susceptible to the following health conditions:
- Hip Dysplasia
- Progressive Renal Atrophy (PRA)
- Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA)
- Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis
- Trapped Neutrophil Syndrome
That is also why it is highly discouraged to breed further blue merles and neutering and spaying is advised.
Border Collie Lifespan
While Blue Merle Border Collies are predisposed to certain health risks, they can still live long and healthy with proper nutrition, grooming and exercise. Regular visits to the vet are also a must for longer life.
Border Collies are expected to live for 12 to 15 years.
How Much is a Blue Merle Border Collie?
Because a Blue Merle is considered rare, the price of this particular Border Collie coat is also high.
Blue Merle puppies can already cost USD 1,500 and if you want one with blue eyes, get ready to pay USD 1,600. While it may be like shooting stars, prices also go high as up to USD 4,500.
Always also deal with a reputable breeder and not just puppy mills. While prices may be higher upfront, it will give you peace of mind that necessary tests were taken to ensure the long-term well-being of your pet.
If you are also not willing to shell out as much cash but would love to take care of a Blue Merle Border Collie, consider also rescue and adoption.
Try local shelters for Border Collies. Besides, all dogs deserve a great family who will love it to bits.
Conclusion: Is a Blue Merle Border Collie the Right Dog for You?
A Blue Merle Border Collie is just like your regular colored Border Collie but with just a caveat that merle colored dogs are predisposed to deafness. While this is the case, there are steps and tests that can be taken to ensure that your dog will grow up fine. That should also be accompanied by proper nutrition, grooming and exercise.
Speaking of exercise, take home only a Border Collie if you are also up to the challenge of its needs. If you are an active family, a Border Collie will fit well in your homes.
Best of all, take care only of a Blue Merle Border Collie if you are decided to stick with it until death does you part.