This is also an explanation for beginners on how the color is inherited in both the Smooth and the Rough Collie....there is no difference..aren't you glad you don't have to learn it twice !!
The basic color of a Collie is Sable. The white patterns on all Collies vary, but it is usually white on the paws, the tip of the tail, the mane or ruff, and sometimes on the face. This is also inherited in some degree the same in all colors. (We'll get to white and white factor later.)
Sables come two ways:
1. Pure for sable. This is a product of two sable parents and carries no tri-color gene at all. Usually a light or orange sable. This dog can only produce sables no matter what you breed it to. Go back to the main page and look at Oak Knolls Pennylane Gold...he is pure for sable and is a rich orange color
2. Tri-factored sable. This is also known as a shaded sable, mahogany sable, or black-tipped sable. These are just a few of the ways I have heard them described but the only correct way is ..tri-factored. These are the rich reds with the black overlay and the dark face mask. They can also be very bland in color..it varies. A tri-factored sable can produce sables and tris depending on what it is bred to as it carries a tri gene. Again on the main page you will see CH. Twin Oaks Pennylane N' Pursuit...he is a tri-factored sable.
Tri-colored only comes one way. Sheesh..aren't you glad.
This is the black Collie with the tan points. It has a black body that varies in depth of color. It again can produce sables or tris depending on what you breed to. It can be carried as a recessive just like the sable..and this would be your tri-factored sable. TA DA...again on the main page look up Pennylane At Midnight. A classic Tri-colored Collie.
Blue Merle and/or Sable Merle. This is perhaps the most misunderstood gene of all, but it is really very simple. A merle is a tri-colored dog or a sable-colored dog with a dominant dilution gene and the dominant dilution gene is what makes it become a merle. IT IS NOT RECESSIVE. IF IT IS PRESENT..THE DOG IS A MERLE . Think of it more as a condition than a color. There is no way to get a merle unless you breed to a merle. You can think if it being inherited independently of color. A Blue Merle is a tri-colored dog with a dominant dilution gene. A Sable Merle is a sable-colored dog with a dominant dilution gene. See...how simple. From the main page you can look at CH. Pennylane's Checkmate. She is a typical blue merle.
White. The white gene is also carried independently of color. Now pay attention. White in the Collie is not so much as a color as a condition just like the dilution gene we just went over. The white Collie does come with a color that is inherited just like a non-white collie. In the white though, the only place you usually see the color is on the head and maybe a body spot or two. That is why they are called...a sable-headed white, a tri-headed white..and so on. The white means that they inherited the white gene and can produce a white.
White Collies are healthy. What I mean here is that the White gene itself does not affect the health. This is not to be confused with a Double Dilute white Collie which can have health problems and are often born without eyes or deaf. They also suffer from internal problems such as liver and kidney problems and if they live through the first few weeks, usually die at an early age because of the internal problems. There have been many Double Dilutes that have been grown out and lived long and productive lives, but this is the exception. If bred, it can only produce a Merle. The Double Dilute can only occur when two Merles are bred together and that offspring inherites a Dominant dilution gene from each parent..thus the Double Dilute.
I would suggest anyone serious about learning more on the Collie Color inheritance patterns get the book, "COLLIE CONCEPT" by Bobbie Roos. It was published by Alpine Publications in 1988 and can be order from your bookstore or on the net.