How do you feel about mis-marked puppies?

We love coloured dogs and we've had a few over the years!

Yesterday's post about so-called mis-marked puppies sparked a lot of response, mostly on Facebook and Twitter.

Four border collie puppies looking over a barrier. One has a wall (blue) eye.
Guess which pup is Stan! He'll be going to his new home soon.

There's nothing unusual about this. We've noticed over the years that some people strongly dislike unusual markings on dogs. I can remember once when we had a really promising young sheepdog for sale which happened to have a wall eye, I asked a potential buyer who had called to see whether we had a dog for sale, what was more important to him, the looks of the dog, or the way it worked? He said he didn't care what the dog looked like as long as it did a good job. When he came here to see the dog, I took him into the yard and showed him the dog which I honestly thought would be ideal for him. He quickly turned his face away from it, saying "I couldn't live with that!"

I have to admit that in the early days when I hadn't seen a dog with a wall eye before, it took me aback for a moment too. I didn't let it cloud my judgement though, and we bought the dog. She was wonderful and I grew to regard her as one of the best looking dogs we've ever had.

Three ISDS registered border collie puppies - predominantly white with black markings on their faces
Isla (left) with her smoother-coated sister Sybil and brother Archie behind

The predominantly white pups you see in this picture were great too. When I first put a photo of them on Facebook, we received several comments to the effect that they would probably be deaf.

Well, I can assure those with doubts about their hearing that none of them had any apparent defects. We still have Isla and she produced a great litter of eight puppies with Ezra. Most of those pups were sold at eight weeks but the one that remains (Victor) will be coming up for sale as a partly trained sheepdog very shortly.

6 Replies to “How do you feel about mis-marked puppies?”

  1. I’ve had 5 merles, & would say they’re as individual as black & whites; the first, a work-bred blue-tri, with wolf-like yellow eyes & unwavering stare, was exceptionally territorially possessive/aggressive, hard as nails, disinterested in being a pet, neutered. He also had a stupendous sheep-herding instinct & could be trusted from 9 weeks old to quietly herd my bantams around the garden without supervision. At 9 weeks he did a 400 yard perfect pear outrun to lie down directly opposite me, then return, (no sheep anywhere) the first time I put him down in a huge field ! At 3 years a local farmer /trainer let me try him on 6 mules (good down & recall) & he was so good to gather & lift quietly, & controllable, the farmer couldn’t believe he’d never been on sheep before. He had a short life, as he truly was a high-risk dog & untrustworthy , despite a high level of control training & security, I can see how a bad temperament might be bred from when it’s coupled with such a great work ability. The second two, unrelated blue & red merle, work-bred bitches, were lovely pets, one was a natural gatherer , one a natural driver, not worked on sheep though. The fourth, a male blue merle, obedience-bred, has a powerful work instinct, very independent, & resistant to correction when he disagrees on technique, but very sweet-tempered & lives for working the sheep I got for him! But he’s not a good pet, needs a lot more sheep work than I can provide. The fifth & youngest is a blue merle, work bred male. He is a very nice pet, good to train,neutered to successfully reduce home-pack dog dominance, & would probably work sheep if I gave him chance, but one’s enough!

  2. A few years ago we had a Border Collie which had two wall eyes. She was one of the most intelligent dogs we have had. She was trained to work in the obedience rings and gained a lot of places from 1st to 6th. We had been told she would be blind or would lose her sight. Neither of these were true. Like people, its what is in their hearts that matter not what they look like.

  3. My collie is French and a rouge merle, I don’t have sheep so cant train him to work them. However he is highly intelligent, both parents worked sheep and he has a strong drive to do so. He is excellent at agility. He has one blue eye and one green one. I love him just as he is.

  4. Hi Andy :)
    just out of curiosity, is there a reason you havent really trained any merles or red collies? Or is it simply personal preference of predominantly black and white?

    1. Over the years, we’ve trained quite a number of merles as well as red and white collies Charlie, but on balance we find them more difficult to train than black and white or tricolour collies, so we tend to avoid them. The correspondence we’ve had on this topic prompted me to write a short blog about it yesterday. Border Collie Sheepdogs Come in Assorted Colours!. This is PURELY our personal opinion. We have no scientific evidence to back it up, it’s just the way we find things.

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