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Please excuse my hijacking this thread and also a possibly ignorant question... but I have a tri-colored border collie (red, white, and a couple tan markings) who has some red merle siblings. Or they might be called lilac? I was wondering if that means my border collie might be considered a merle and it just doesn't show as well? 

I'm not planning to breed her, but I do find the genetics interesting and I like to be informed! I've included a picture of my pup along with her siblings and one of her as an adult showing the tan on the side of her face. 

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The photo of the puppies appears to have one blue merle and one red merle pup. The red is probably not a lilac; merle pups generally darken as they mature.

In order to produce merle puppies, at least one on the parents (and hopefully only one) must be merle. If your dog is not a merle -- and from the photo she appears not to be merle -- then the only way she could produce merles would be if she were mated to a merle. Mated to a solid color dog she would produce all solid color pups.

That said, occasionally a merle dog will have such a small spot of merling that it's not readily noticed. These dogs, referred to as phantom or cryptic merles,  always have a merle parent and can themselves produce merles. Prior to genetic testing that can identify whether a dog has the merle allele, people could do a test mating of an apparently solid dog with a merle parent to a solid colored dog. The likelihood is that if it's a cryptic merle it would produce merle pups. It's not foolproof though. Though it's likely that a merle parent will produce merle offspring -- statistically 50% -- there's no guarantee that the statistics will play out that way in any one individual litter.

 

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Thanks, GentleLake! My border collie's mother is black and white but her father is a merle. I've attached a picture of him. It isn't until reading this thread that I'm realizing he might show the breeder isn't as responsible as I would prefer... :( I do know that he is a TNS carrier, but I'm not certain what that means or if it's a sign of an irresponsible breeder either. All I know is that a carrier shouldn't be bred to another carrier and since I'm not planning on breeding I didn't think it was too concerning. Perhaps I should have researched more carefully!

My girl seemed to be just red and white until she got older and tan markings appeared so that's why I was wondering if she might be considered a merle. I've added some more pictures of her. She has some tan and/or red spots on her white coat--but not a whole lot.

So the first picture is the father and the other two are of my girl. You can see in the last picture on her left leg the spots that I was talking about.

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Lenie, there's nothing irresponsible per se in breeding a merle to a solid colored dog. (I say per se because in my opinion and in the ethos of the group that originally founded this forum, breeding for anything other than working ability as the primary consideration for breeding a border collie is irresponsible.) In fact it's the only ethical way to breed a merle, even in breeds that prioritize physical appearance.

Remember that merle is a genetically dominant trait. As Michael Parker and I explained earlier, a dog is either a merle or it is not. A dog that is not a merle cannot produce a merle unless mates to another merle. The solid colored dog does. not. carry a merle gene just because one if its parents is a merle.

Tri-coloring has a different mode of inheritance. It is recessive and so needs to inherit the variation from both parents, who can carry it even if they themselves don't show it. However, whether you noticed it or not, you puppy had a few tan hairs somewhere on her body, probably under her tail, when she was a wee thing. The tan develops as the pup grows.

Tri-color, or having tan points, is completely different and unrelated to merle. In fact, a merle may be either a bi-blue or red or whatever the base color is and have no tan points, or a tri-color blue, red, etc.

 

 

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Thanks so much for clearing it up for me GentleLake and Michael Parkey! I appreciate it!

GentleLake, I was looking at how my bc's father is predominantly white on his face and thought that might be a bad sign. I think I may need to do some more research to have a better grasp on this!

The breeder I got my girl from does breed for working ability since they are on a working ranch but based on the litters they have been breeding lately I'm thinking they may also be trying to get some colors like lilac. They tend to have some unusual colors and I don't know if that is a byproduct of just focusing on the working ability of the dog and ignoring colors or if they have actively been attempting to get puppies that are unusual colors. I originally went with this breeder because it was a working line and I didn't want to support a breeder who was breeding for looks. But I've attached a couple pictures of pups from the breeder and after reading this thread I'm thinking they are lilacs.

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Lenie,

I know what breeder you are referring to, and though I would say she’s a color breeder, I wouldn’t say she is the “worst color breeder” I’ve seen. Her dogs are still decent working dogs. Not up to the quality that I would buy one, but they are okay. If you like your dog don’t focus too much on where/how you got her-just enjoy her. My friend owns one of those lilac puppies pictured-she really likes her. Not quite up to my standard but that’s me. 

As for white headed-not something I focus on at all. Look at the dog in my avatar, and I have others, too.

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32 minutes ago, GentleLake said:

Lenie, I'm not understanding what your concern is about the sire with a lot of white on his face.

TNS is recessive, so as long as the dog is bred with a TNS clear dog the pups won't have TNS. Some will be TNS carriers though, so should only be bred to TNS clear dogs.

 

 

I assume it's a misunderstanding about white heads and deafness, i.e. thinking no white headed dogs should be bred. 

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22 hours ago, Riika said:

Lenie,

I know what breeder you are referring to, and though I would say she’s a color breeder, I wouldn’t say she is the “worst color breeder” I’ve seen. Her dogs are still decent working dogs. Not up to the quality that I would buy one, but they are okay. If you like your dog don’t focus too much on where/how you got her-just enjoy her. My friend owns one of those lilac puppies pictured-she really likes her. Not quite up to my standard but that’s me. 

As for white headed-not something I focus on at all. Look at the dog in my avatar, and I have others, too.

Oops! I didn't want to say the name of the breeder because I didn't want to be posting possibly negative things especially since I'm not knowledgeable in the area and may mislead accidentally. I didn't expect anyone to recognize the pictures of her dogs! :) 

I absolutely adore my dog and have no regrets. I was asking questions more for future reference so I would know what to look for and be better prepared to identify a responsible breeder. Plus the genetics are interesting! 

Is your friend on these boards as well? I'm curious if her dog is related to mine!

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I would recommend that you don't share other people's photos until a public forum unless you ask them. I can see where people could be upset by that. :)

 

 I don't think she's on these boards. I believe her pup is Next/Chubbs-you could look back on FB and see who those lilac pups are, because she owns one of those pups. :) 

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14 hours ago, Riika said:

I would recommend that you don't share other people's photos until a public forum unless you ask them. I can see where people could be upset by that. :)

 

 I don't think she's on these boards. I believe her pup is Next/Chubbs-you could look back on FB and see who those lilac pups are, because she owns one of those pups. :) 

You are absolutely right. I wasn't thinking! I got the photos from her website so they were publicly available but posting them was probably not the best decision. Thanks for mentioning it because I truly wasn't thinking about that!

Our pups are related then! My border collie's father is out of the same female as Chubbs. So our pups are cousins I suppose. Small world!

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