Detail from "Children Picking Blackberries" by Myles Birket Foster.


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No matter how I try, this page just seems to get bigger and bigger.
There are just so many different representations of a split face and each one seems different.

Apparantly different genes affects the patterning on the head than on the body, causing blazes of different widths, sometimes split or half-white faces, sometimes all-white faces or all-white heads on an otherwise "normally" patterned body, with or whithout colored ears. With the small amount of genetic knowledge that I have gained over the years, my theory is that split face is an extension of the blaze, white face is a further extension yet, and an all-white head an even further extension.

Among some people, and in some breeds, patterns such as this are considered "mis-marking", but this is not the case with Border Collies. In the Border Collie, this pattern is frequently seen. It appears in dogs of all colors and may have been purposely selected for by hill shepherds. A shepherd who owns two dogs and works them in hill conditions, would want to be able to tell them apart at a distance. If one of them has a mostly black head, and one of them has a mostly white head, they'd be clearly distinguishable from far away.

I've always been fascinated with the split face and its many variations. It's the reason why this page is always so big and each time I try to pare it down I am unsuccessful. As you will see, each dog on this page is unique.

SageAndFolly.jpg Linn4.jpg Chance9.jpg
The editor of these pages has had three dogs with half or full-white faces: Ettrick Linn (center); sable Chance (right); and white-faced Sage with black ears and one blue eye (left, seen here with her red split-faced sister, Folly, who belongs to Pat Kuchma of Connecticut).

These two handsome dogs are Oliver and Luna, belonging to Darcy Zimmerman of Valecito, California. They are not quite mirror images of each other. Darcy adopted them from shelters 150 miles apart from each other. She was surprised to find two half-white faced dogs both with one blue eye in the black side, and wondered if this was unusual. But, as some of the dogs below show, it isn't.

Spinner_SharonWeb.jpg This is Spinner, left. He belongs to Sylvia Bishop, a top obedience trainer in the UK. Spinner took 2nd place in the Crufts Obedience Championships this year, at his first appearance at Crufts. Thanks to Sharon Webley, who took Spinner's photo and says, "he's a lovely dog". Sharon has been very kind to share her photos. Most of them were taken by her, but some have been sent to her by the dogs' owners.

Above, three more half-white faced dogs with one blue eye in the black side, photographed by Sharon Webley. They are, left to right, Bobby, Dempsey, and Fisher. Bobby belongs to Susan Henshaw from Aylesbury, Bucks, England. Dempsey belongs to Maureen Hodges of Sanderstead, Surrey, England. Fisher, who is a son of Spinner, above right, belongs to Lee Barker of Hullbridge, Essex, England. They were photographed in England at a dog show. The half-white face is not only practical for distinguishing dogs at a distance, but is a very striking pattern, as all these dogs attest to.

Left is Karly (on the left) and her son, Nicky. Karly, red-and-white and speckled, is a British Obedience Champion. She and red-and-white Nicky belonged to the late Greta Haggett from Crowthorne, Berkshire, England, who sadly died some time ago. The dogs continue to live with Greta's husband.

Bizzi_Teddy.jpg These are Bizzi (on the left) and Teddy who belong to Sharon Webley of Rochester, Kent, England, two handsome guys. Bizzi is black and white with two gorgeous blue eyes, Teddy is a red tricolor.

Marley.jpg Once again, thanks to Sharon Webley for the photo of Marley, left, who is owned by Mrs. H. Fox of Brighton, England. Marley competes in top level UK obedience competitions.

Lacey.jpg This saddle patterned tan is Lacey, who belongs to Anita Young of Horseheath, Cambridgeshire, England. She competes in UK obedience competitions. Sharon says this is the first half-white-faced saddle tan she has ever seen, and we have to agree. We might never have seen one if it wasn't for Sharon sharing so many of her photos with us, for which we are extremely grateful.

AndaStavrisOuzo.jpg AndaStavrisOuzo3.jpg Left, with a face to die for, this is Ouzo who belongs to Anda Stavris of Denver, Colorado.

HlfWtAlisonsAlbi.jpg This magnificent and aptly named dog is Albion Moonshadow ("Albi") belonging to Alison Arcadial, who shows him in conformation.

This is Pearl, far right, a patterned-white Border Collie with a split face, belonging to Barbara Lockard. It is unusual to see a split face where the black covers so much of the face--more than 50% of it, and all the way down to the nose. Barbara describes Pearl as her "right-hand", and says she is "a working Border Collie. She is proof that color doesn't matter when it comes to working sheep." So why is Pearl pretending to be a couch potato?

BrtnyMNllsQuestLokiWhip.jpg HalfBrittanyMacNeilsRooRisk.jpg
Above, left, all of these six split-faced dogs belong to Brittney MacNeill of Hillcrest Border Collies. The mirror-image red females are Roo and Risk. The three dogs on the left, are Quest, Loki, and Whip. And the dog in the center, is Hillcrest Jen, a tricolored female. A word about dogs like Jen, with very wide blazes and patches over both eyes: is it the same mechanism that causes split face? I'm not sure, so if anyone has better data on this, please contact me.

SmudgeDebbieBaylis2.jpg Left, Aptly named Smudge belongs to DebbieBaylis from Warwickshire, England. Smudge not only is blue merle, but he has what appears to be a heavily speckled split face. Now, the question is, is the face a "true" split face or is it split because of merling?

PJAndDaisyMae.jpg These really interesting-looking dogs, right, are PJ (on the left) and Daisy Mae, belonging to Scott and Jackie Douglas of Wisconsin. The Douglases adopted PJ and later went out and found another dog who looks almost exactly like PJ. It seems unbelievable, and almost inconceivable that they might not be related. Their ears are different, but even the spots on Daisy Mae's nose are the same size as PJ's,
and they are both white with only
a few very pale spots on their bodies.

HalfAndreaDavissRazzy2.jpg This adorable mer-dog, left, is Razzy who belongs to Andrea Davis of St. Petersburg, Florida.

CampionsBabe4.jpg Smooth-coated Babe, right, who belongs to Gary and Becky Campion of Floyds Knobs, Indiana, has an interesting story. She had been chained in a yard for 3 years and beaten when she escaped. Finally, her owner moved to Florida and abandoned her, still chained in the yard, without food or water. At that point, the Campions, who had been keeping an eye on her all along, dognapped her and brought her home. She was a difficult dog, but after 3 months of training, Babe is a lovely dog that they and their cats can now live with peaceably and enjoy.

This boy is Harley, left, belonging to Stacie Hernandez of Bakersfield, California. Stacie says that Harley has the "personality of a kid" and she is sure Harley thinks he is human. He loves to fetch anything.

JohnCoopersTaz3.jpg We commend the owner of this gorgeous dog, right, for his incredible good taste in NOT naming him the obvious--Panda--even though he looks exactly like one. John Cooper of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, named his pup Taz (Hollowshot Tazman) but has since changed it to Bobby (Hollowshop Bobby). See my note on Jen, above.

Left, Jester was a rescue dog, whose photo was sent by Ken Cheatham, a rescue person from Fairbanks, Alaska. We don't know who owns him now, but we find his split face interesting in that is so evenly and straightly splits his face in half. If Ken or his owner happens to see this page, we'd appreciate knowing who he belongs to now.

This pup, right, is Juno, belonging to Liz and Nigel of South Wales (they did not give a last name). Juno is also up on the ticked page--she is all grown up now with an immense amount of ticking. But I couldn't resist putting her on this page as well, because of her lovely split face.

HalfMichelleHarrowersJen.jpgThis magnificent-looking dog, far left, is Abe, who belongs to Michelle Harrier. Michelle says that Abe "is a great trial and farm dog and has won numerous USBCHA trials over the years. He is my partner." Michelle also owns Jen, left, who she says "is a great dog on both sheep and cattle." You can't really see it in this photo, but Jen has one blue eye and a speckled muzzle.

MiriamInglehartsRowan2.jpg White-faced Rowena, left, belongs to Miriam Inglehart of San Antonio, Texas. Her name, Miriam says, means "white maned" in Celtic, perhaps because the rowan tree (or mountain ash) has beautiful white flowers in the spring. Our sources say Rowan means "red haired", probably because it has red berries in autumn. We think it could mean either and it is a beautiful name.

StevenDujardensCujo2.jpg Handsome Cujo, right, belongs to Steven Dujardin from Kalken, Belgium. He reminds me so much of my Sage, pictured at the top of this page. She tilts her head like that, and of Cujo, Steven says, when I talk to Cujo, his head goes from left to right, he seems to understand me, and when I mention the word "poes", which means cat, his head almost falls off!" That's funny, because Sage does the exact same thing when my husband is getting ready to take the dogs out at night.

SueMcDanielsPatch.jpg We aren't sure if Patch, left, really belongs on this page, but we have other "panda marked" faces here; and if we are assuming that split faces and all-white faces are just extentions of the blaze, then Patch certainly should be here. Patch belongs to Sue McDaniel of Niangua, Missouri. Of him she says, "Patch is a...full time working sheep dog as we run a sheep operation of Dorper sheep. He is also a certified pet therapy dog."

This handsome guy, right, is Sham, who belongs to Jackie Sandifer of Massachusetts. He is not only split-faced, but patterned white with one blue eye. The photo was taken by Grace Smith, who says Sham "is an avid ball and Frisbee player, and also enjoys herding sheep every chance he gets."

Left, adorable Bindi belongs to Maartje and Haico Wuerhard from Breda, the Netherlands.

AdrianaSewellsBear.jpg Right, is Bear, a smooth-coated, tricolor, ticked, split faced Border Collie or Border Collie/Blue Heeler mix belonging to Adriana Sewell of Washington (state). I love it when a dog has so many color/pattern characteristics.

AnnBurnworthsIzzy.jpg Izzy, left, was bred at UHERDIT kennel near Louisville, Kentucky, and she belongs to Ann and Sammi Burnworth of Evansville, Indiana. Sammi was 15 when she took this lovely photo of her puppy Izzy. Izzy is another example of the "panda" patterning on the face, and I'm hoping someone who knows the genetics of this pattern will see her and get back to me about it. It's likely a "modifier" gene that causes it. Notice that Izzy also has one blue eye, one brown eye.

AnneBevinsKay-J.jpg This white faced dog, right, is Kay-J, belonging to Anne Bevins of New Zealand. K-Jay is patterned white with one blue eye, and is 5 years old (2007). Anne says of her and Border Collies in New Zealand in general: "She was the last one in the litter that no one wanted as they thought she was ugly. She was quite short haired at the time and had no pigment around her eyes other than one black dot. Her father was a half white collie and his mother was very white. Kays mother was a tradionally marked collie. The litter produced two whites like Kay, one 'normal' , a pie faced and two half white. Kay is...doing agility, and fly ball...achieving Agility Champion...In New Zealand the Border Collie is common but it is uncommon for it to be anything but traditional black and white. It used to be a novelty to see a red, now there is the odd blue and blue merle coming through, and hardly ever odd white markings so Kay gets a lot of looks. Kay J certainly isn't deaf so thats great. People actually ask more questions about her eyes whether or not she is blind, (or whether [the blue eye] is a glass eye...!)".

BillLogsdonsMaya.jpg Bill Lonsdon's Maya, left, lives with her owner in Panama City Beach, Florida. She is an interestingly marked patterned white.

TrishDaviesMasterBlue.jpg White faced Master Blue, right, belongs to Trish Davey of Sacramento, California. Of him, she says, "I got him from BC rescue to help me with my deaf dog Princess LuLu. I needed a BC to herd LuLu and turn her around so she could see my hand signals. After trying several BCs, who LuLu didn't bond with, she fell in love (instantly) with Blue who is her companion and protector and helps me herd and communicate with her. He is a wonderful dog.... easy to train and immediately shows/tells LuLu who is albino/deaf what the new command is." This is a unique way of using the Border Collie's herding abilities--as a "hearing ear" dog for another dog. I've often thought that dogs might be used for other, disabled dogs in the same capacity they are used today for humans, for example, as a seeing eye dog for a blind dog, or an alert dog for seizures, or to identify the presence of a tumor.

CharlotteCraigsAlbi.jpg This is beautiful Albi, left, who lives with Charlotte Craig in Rosis, France, in the mountainous region of Languedoc.

LeeWatsonsCharlie.jpg This dog is Charlie, right, who belongs to Lee Watson of Lancasire, England. Lee got Charlie from a rescue center and says that he came with "a lot of severe behaviour problems due to his previous neglect/cruelty. It took 18 months to break ground with him, but I loved him the day I first set eyes on him...He is a wonderful loving companion, and my best friend."

LindasAbby.jpg This beautiful red tri, right, with a split face and green eyes is Abby, who belongs to someone named Linda (if you see this, Linda, please email me the rest of your information).

RebelMichel.jpg RebelMichelUi.jpg Left, is Rebel, who belongs to Michel Uittenbogaard of the Netherlands. He is a blue merle dog with a split face, and, unlike other merles with this type of split (one side black and the other side merle), it is absolutely clear that the merle side is merle and not just white with heavy ticking. This indicates that Rebel's face would probably have been solid with a narrow white blaze if he hadn't been merle. So something interesting is going on here that I can't yet explain, but I don't think Rebel is actually a split faced dog.

BanditMikeW.jpg This is Bandit, left, who is a tricolor split face, with an interesting mark over his right eye. He belongs to Mike W. (which is all the information he gave me) who says that Bandit has an entirely white body. In Rough Collies they have a pattern called "color-headed white. Bandit appears to be exibiting that patterning, with the addition of having a split face.

Buzz2PaulLewicki.jpg This white-faced dog, right, is Buzz belonging to Paul Lewicki from Northern California.

MegJudyHinnerichs.jpg Tricolored Meg, left, belongs to Judy Hinnerichs of Rockville, Maryland. Her full name is Bide-A-Wee Margaret Rose. She was neglected by her breeder because she wouldn't herd, but with Judy she has earned her CD, NA, NJWW, and her Onyx in Flyball (I don't pretend to know what all of those titles are, but I am impressed with the Onyx in Flyball). She isn't exactly a split face, but her blaze is split down the middle in a straight line, with white on one side and red on the other.

TripBrandiceBrown-Wa.jpg This interestingly-spotted female, right, is Trip, who belongs to Brandice Brown-Wall of Arizona. Trip is patterned-white, and definitely split-faced, but instead of a large spot over the white-side eye like some of the "panda" dogs on this page, her spot ended up on the top of her head on the white side.

Arwen4Month.jpg Arwen.jpg The beautiful Arwen, left, belongs to Flavia Huber from Rochester, New York. Arwen was bred by Kim Baumgart of Gentle Shepherd Farm, also in New York State.

BethFranWingardner.jpg This is Beth, right, belonging to Fran Wingardner of Paeonian Springs, Virginia. Beth is a tricolor with pale tan markings who was 12 years old and lovely when the photo was taken.

Astro2FelixJoensson.jpg AstroFelixJoensson.jpg Left, sweet-looking white-faced Astro belongs to Felix Joensson of Western Australia. I don't think I've seen a dog who changed so little in looks from a pup to an adult.

TheaLisa.jpg Thea, right, belongs to Lisa Bjorns from Mora, Sweden. She is patterned white, and I'm always amazed when the black and white on the face is so evenly distributed (except for her muzzle, of course).

JessTanyaClark.jpg Tanya Clarke of Melbourne, Australia, owns Jess, left, who has a completely white face with just a little black under her nose and black "eye-liner".

DavidRossFelix.jpg Also from Australia, the handsome David, right, is owned by Ross and Karen Felix.

RubyMaryannNash.jpg Two more completely white-faced dogs. This one, left, is red and white Ruby, owned by Maryann Nash.

KimahriEmmaOBrien.jpg Right, is Kimahri, belonging to Emma O'Brien, who must be a movie star with her wide, black undereye liner.

PaulineSmithBracken.jpg Whenever I add a new photo, I look through the page to see who I can take down to make room for the new one, but usually I never find anyone I feel I can afford to drop. Left, Pauline Smith's Bracken is a handsome split-faced ticked dog, though he doesn't look ticked in this photo. Bracken was born in New Dear in the North East of Scotland and lives in Hatton, Aberdeenshire.

Zach2MaryannNash.jpg ZachMaryannNash.jpg
And now, for something completely different. This is Zach who also belongs to Maryann Nash (who owns Ruby, above, far left). What an interesting dog this is, like the gene for split face gone awry. It appears that, when the genes for split face were being turned on, they stopped before they were finished. If I were a color geneticist researching the mechanism for split face, and/or the white blaze, I would certainly want Zach in my study group.

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Last modified: July 21, 2013