An article by Mo Seeley-Sewell & Gertie Björklund

Coat colour changes in the Bearded Collie, especially in the youngsters is absolutely fascinating, and in the adult too the coat colour changes frequently.
Below you will find some basic information and many photographic examples of the ever changing and varying Bearded Collie coat.
The two basic colours are black and brown and their dilutes, blue and fawn, making four possible birth colours.


When the Bearded Collie puppy is about 8 weeks of age the coat will start paling. The born black puppy can pale to any shade from dark slate to silver grey, the chocolate brown puppy can fade to cream and the born blue and born fawn puppies can turn almost white. This fading usually begins around the eyes giving a spectacled look, at around the same time it also begins to appear on the hocks, on the legs and near the root of the tail. Next the paling starts to appear over the shoulder and then it goes on to eventually cover the whole dog at about 9-12 months. Many dogs fade out so much that the white markings cannot be distinguished from the colour.

The greying effect, is the result of the gene Greying [G]. It is a dominant gene so this is why most Bearded Collies are affected by it to some degree.

Left: Eight weeks old black puppy starting to pale around eyes and on legs
Right: Slightly older puppy with typical paling hocks and tail
6 months old brown puppy fading around eyes, on legs, on tail and over the shoulders

Some dogs coats pale considerably whilst others will hardly pale at all.

Litter sister and brother at 8 months.

It can be very difficult to predict the final adult coat colour, although a good indication can be given by looking at the tips of the dogs ears, as this hair does not pale along with the rest of the coat. Note. Eye colour should tone with coat colour so when the young dog pales, so do the eyes. This is only natural.

When at the pale stage it can be difficult to see the difference between

a black and a blue
or a brown and a fawn
Four slate bitches all about 1½ years

Below are examples of the development of coat colour in the same dog as a puppy, a youngster and finally as an adult.

Tan is not a colour in Bearded Collies, any of the four basic colours can have tan markings but it is more pronounced on a black puppy. These markings fade and disappear and can be difficult to spot in an adult dog.

Black with tan marking

The paling phase usually lasts all through adolescence and into early adulthood.
The richness of colour starts to return as they begin to grow in their adult coats.

This 2,5 years old bitch is starting to get her adult coat over her shoulders
Same bitch as above, one year later

In the adult Bearded Collie it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between the coat colouring of a once black (now slate) dog and the blue dog. The blue coat of an adult can turn to a medium shade of grey whilst the black dog can end up with a reasonably light grey coat. The same applies in the case of the born brown and born fawn puppies – some brown coats can become extremely light looking even paler or very similar to a fawn. As with the other colours the browns can end up with a rich dark coat or a lighter one, however browns have a huge variation in the tone of the colour, from a deep red, mahogany brown, a dark donkey brown to a rich golden or caramel colour.

A mix of Black/Slate adults
Blues can turn out quite different in the end
Different shades of browns in adult Bearded Collies
Fawns also show some variation in coat colour

There is one difference which will always tell the true colour of the Bearded Collie and that is the pigment of the nose, eye rims and lips

A close up study of noses

Bearded Collies are born with or without white markings but it’s very rare to see a Bearded Collie without any sort of white markings. White markings are found on the legs, the tip of the tail, the chest, neck and muzzle. Many dogs with this pattern have a full white neck ring and a blaze.

The white markings found on a Bearded Collie, as described above, can vary greatly in the amount found on individual dogs. They may have minimal white markings and appear plain in appearance when compared to one with a lot of white or flashy markings. We have added some pictures to show these differences. Both types are acceptable in the show ring as long as the white does not exceed that stated in the breed standard.