A sable collie is a dog, but a sable is a weasel. From the Russian sable's coat come one of the world's costliest furs and the name of a color that is a breed standard in some collies.
While "sable" sometimes canmean black, sable as a dog coat color means that most of the individual hairs show an agouti-like pattern, that is bands in varying shades of brown from palest blonde to deepest mahogany, ending with black at the tip. Thus the dog's overall appearance depends on the predominant band shades and may look near-white or even near-black. Sable and white is one of four coat colors accepted in the show ring for Collies and Shetland Sheepdogs; the others are tricolor (black with tan points and white markings), blue merle (mixed black, white and gray) and white (white body with head and markings in any of the other three colors).
The most famous dog in the world probably is Lassie, a sable and white Rough Collie who appeared in print in 1940 and in the movies in 1943, and has continued to appear on film and television around the world ever since. The series of Rough Collies (at least nine of them, all male) portraying this legendary character all have been sable and white, but a careful eye can spot the differences in color tone and markings.
The Smooth Collie is the same AKC breed as and identical to the Rough Collie in every respect except the outer coat -- where the Rough's is long, silky and flowing, the Smooth's is short, hard and flat.
The Shetland Sheepdog is not a miniature Rough Collie, much as it may look like one. There are differences in conformation under all that hair, and the AKC lists it as a separate breed. This breed does, though, have the same standard coat colors as the Collie, including sable and white.
Sable and white is an accepted, but not a standard, breed coat color for the Border Collie. It is far less common than the prevalent black and white, and is distinguished from the second most common coat color of red or brown and white by the technicality of the banding of the hairs.
While classed in the Herding Group with the other collies, at first glance the Beardie looks more like it might be related to the Old English Sheepdog. In addition to differences in conformation and coat, sable is not specified in the breed standard for color.
- Collie Dog on Dog Bed image by Janet Wall from Fotolia.com