Coat & Color Genetics

Dog Color Genetics

The pictures used to demonstrate colors are a combination of my personal photos and photos given to me with permission to use. If you would like credit for your photo or if you do not want your photo displayed here, please email me at

One of the best things about Border Collies is the wide variety of colors they come in. The AKC standard allows all colors but it is preferred that white is not the predominant body color.

Most of the commonly discussed dog colors are inherited and expressed as simple dominants/recessives. This means that if the dog carries the dominant version of the gene (denoted as AA, Aa, or A_), that is the color they will express. Likewise, if the dog has two copies of the recessive gene (denoted aa), they will express the recessive color.

It is important to note that within one color there can be many different shades. For example, red (ee) dogs can range from deep red to pale cream. The best example of this is Golden Retrievers. A gene that affects the intensity of red (ee) was recently discovered. It is likely there are similar genes affecting shade in other colors.