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Tri-Color Border Collie: Facts, Origin & History (With Pictures)

Rachel Giordano

By Rachel Giordano

Sable Border Collie

Border Collies are considered the most intelligent herding dogs in the world. They excel at agility and are affectionate, loyal, and eager to please. These dogs come in a few colors, with the bi-colored black and white coat being the most common; however, the second most common color pattern is tri-colored with tan, white, and black, with the occasional brown or red variation.

In this guide, we’ll explain more about the tri-colored Border Collie so you have the information you need should you end up with one in your family.

Tri-Color Border Collie Overview

Height: 18–22 inches
Weight: 30–55 pounds
Lifespan: 12–15 years
Colors: Black, white, tan, red, brown
Suitable for: Active families, families with children, families with livestock
Temperament: Loyal & loving, intelligent, easy to train, affectionate, energetic, gets along with other pets with socialization

A more common variation of the Tri-colored Border Collie will have a black main coat, or it could be brown or black. A white band is often seen around the neck and shoulders, and the third color (usually tan) can be seen on the face or the tail and paws.

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Tri-Color Border Collie Characteristics

Tri-Color Border Collie
Image Credit: Lichtflut, Shutterstock


The Earliest Records of Tri-Color Border Collies in History

It’s believed that Border Collies have been around for thousands of years, but the Border Collies we know today have been around since the later 1800s. In fact, a tri-colored Border Collie named Old Hemp is known to be the father of this breed1.

Border Collies were known as sheepdogs and originated in Northumberland, which lies on the border countries of Scotland and England in the British Isles, hence the name “Border” Collie. Some believe their roots can be traced back as early as the Roman times when the Romans brought their drover dogs with them to Britain, but their exact history is not unclear.

How the Tri-Color Border Collie Gained Popularity

During the 19th century, these dogs became popular among the English for their incredible herding abilities. These dogs gained popularity when humans first developed partnerships with dogs for herding livestock, and given the Border Collie’s amazing herding abilities, this stands to reason. Border Collies are workaholics and excelled at their herding jobs, and the rest is history.

Over time, humans couldn’t ignore the Border Collie’s affectionate, loving, and loyal nature, which made them excellent pets and not just working dogs. Border Collies have outstanding qualities that are desirable for pet ownership, such as intelligence, friendliness, and eagerness to please.

Formal Recognition of the Tri-Color Border Collie

There are many organizations that recognize this wonderful dog breed. In 1940, the North American Sheepdog Society was formed to protect and promote the breed’s outstanding herding abilities. The American Border Collie Association was founded in 1983 by breeders who wanted a nonprofit organization to keep records of working Border Collie bloodlines. They are the largest registry, having registered 400,000 working Border Collies—they also fund genetic research and health studies on the breed.

The Border Collie Society of America was formed in 1990 and tirelessly works to preserve the integrity of the breed and promotes responsible breeding and ownership. Lastly, the American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the breed and put them into a miscellaneous class in 1955 but fully recognized them in 1995 as their own class of breed.

tri colored border collie
Image Credit: vyasphoto, Shutterstock

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Top 4 Unique Facts About the Tri-Color Border Collie

1. Many Celebrities Own Border Collies

We know Border Collies are the most intelligent breed in the world, and many celebrities are proud pet parents of the breed. Among them are Jeff Bridges, Tiger Woods, Ethan Hawke, Anna Paquin, James Franco, and Jon Bon Jovi. The late James Dean and Queen Victoria even owned Border Collies.

2. Border Collies Make Excellent Search and Rescue Dogs

There are many events in which Border Collies have been on search and rescue missions with success. A Border Collie in England named Blitz rescued a 51-year-old woman who had been missing for a day. Another Border Collie named Saul helped rescue his owner, who had fallen down a 70 feet cliff in a remote area. Saul barked, jumped up and down, and ran in circles to alert the search and rescue team of his owner’s location.

3. They Make Remarkable Therapy and Service Dogs

Given their intelligence, affectionate nature, and friendliness, it’s no wonder this breed excels at being therapy and service dogs. Service dogs are trained to aid with specific tasks catered to a person’s disability or other ailments, and the Border Collie is intelligent enough to learn these tasks with ease. They also make excellent therapy dogs that aid in anxiety disorders, PTSD, and more.

4. They Make Excellent Actors

It’s not uncommon that Border Collies are used in film and TV shows. Babe, Snow Dogs, and Animal Farm are movies that feature Border Collies.  

Tri-Color Border Collie
Image Credit: Lichtflut, Shutterstock

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Does the Tri-Color Border Collie Make a Good Pet?

The Border Collie makes an excellent pet due to their eagerness to please, intelligence, and affectionate nature. They are relatively easy to train but can be stubborn at times—they can also be moody and territorial. They get along with other pets but will need early socialization. The Border Collie is energetic and requires at least 1 ½ hours of daily exercise. If not exercised daily, they can get bored, which can lead to destructive behaviors. However, they are fun to train and love to learn new tricks. They will also be happy to engage in a game of fetch or catch a Frisbee.

They are loyal to their owners and make superb watchdogs. It may take time for them to get used to smaller children, and they may try to herd them, but with proper training and socialization, you can deter this behavior.

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Tri-Colored Border Collies are beautiful canines. No matter the color pattern, Border Collies make terrific companions and are intelligent and fun. Being a Border Collie pet parent is always an adventure, and you can have fun teaching them agility courses, how to catch a Frisbee, and more.

They love engaging in any activity with their humans and are highly loyal. When you own a Border Collie, you own the most intelligent dog breed in the world.

Featured Image Credit: Eoghan, Shutterstock

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