This page will showcase the various sheltie colors that you might see, both here and elsewhere.
There are quite a few sheltie coat colors, which include:
- blue merle
- sable merle
- color headed white (CHW)
- double merle
- white factored
Within these coat colors, shelties may exhibit many different markings and different amounts of coloration -- every dog is different.
Until we have had the opportunity to obtain pictures of enough dogs to show these varying coat colors, please refer to the "sheltie coat colors" graphic below on the left, for examples of what these different colors look like.
Sometimes referred to as "sable and white," sable shelties are the color most people think of, when they think of this breed. Sable shelties bring to mind "Lassie" (though Lassie was actually a rough collie) for many people.
Sable shelties can range in color from a light golden color to a deep mahogany. Often, this sable color is overlaid with some black fur. A sheltie with a considerable amount of black, or darker fur, may be referred to as a "shaded sable."
Sable shelties tend to feature patches of white. The typical white that people think of on shelties is known as the Irish Pattern. This is where the sheltie has white on the legs, tip of the tail, chest, and neck. Sometimes, this includes a blaze going up the muzzle of the dog. This pattern is what makes Lassie look so recognizable. The amount of white on each of these areas may vary, and does not necessarily include a full white collar (though many pet people find this look to be desirable). Not all dogs will have the Irish pattern. Some dogs may have less white, or varying amounts of white. For example, some dogs may have no white on their feet at all -- others may have white socks that go up to their belly.
Affectionately known as "tris," tri-color shelties are shelties with a black, white, and tan coat. On these dogs, black is the dominant color, with white appearing on the chest and legs. The tan coloration may look somewhat like accents, as it shows up on the cheeks, throat, around the ears and eyes, legs, and under the tail. The amount of tan and white on tri-color shelties may vary from dog to dog, with some dogs have a good amount of tan, and other dogs having very little. Often, tri-color shelties may exhibit the Irish Pattern of markings.
Similar to a tri-color, a bi-black sheltie is one that exhibits only black and white colors on it's body. Unlike tri-colors, these dogs do not have tan markings. Bi-black dogs have varying amounts of white on them, and may have the Irish Pattern of markings, or may be almost completely black, with very little white.
The blue merle coat color in shelties is caused by the existence of one black gene and one blue (merle) gene. The merle gene acts as to dilute the black coat color, causing it to be diluted into varying shades of grey and white, which we know as "blue merle."
Blue merle shelties have varying amounts of blue merle, tan, and white markings. Blue merles may exhibit the Irish Pattern of markings.
Blue merle shelties may have blue eyes, merled eyes (blue and brown mixed), brown eyes, or even one eye of each color!
Bi-blue shelties are similar to blue merle shelties with one exception -- they have no tan markings on their body. Rather, these dogs are just blue merle and white in their coat colors. As with the other colors, they may exhibit varying amounts of white, and may show the Irish Pattern of markings.
Like blue merles, bi-blue shelties can have blue eyes, merled eyes, brown eyes, or eyes of two different colors.
Sable merle shelties are shelties that have a sable gene as well as a merle gene. This often results in a mottled sable coat color, which is the result of the merle gene acting to dilute the sable color into more pale tones of gold and browns. Sable merle shelties can have blue eyes, merled eyes, brown eyes, or eyes of two different colors.
Color Headed Whites (CHW)
Color headed whites, often referred to as CHW, is more of a rare color in shelties. These dogs stand out in a crowd -- they feature a mostly white body with a colored head! The head color can be any coat color -- sable, sable merle, tri-color, bi-black, blue merle, or bi-blue -- and the dog may have further markings of these colors elsewhere on the body. CHW shelties are produced by breeding two white-factored shelties together.
Unlike double merles (see below), CHW shelties have no hearing or vision defects.
A double merle sheltie occurs when the sheltie inherits a merle gene from both parents. This creates a white or mostly-white dog, sometimes with pale markings. These dogs often are blind and / or deaf.
White factored may be considered more a gene or marking, but I feel it's important to include it here. A white factored sheltie typically has large amounts of white on its body. They may also have a white stifle, running up the back legs to the connect with the white on the belly.
Typically, white factored shelties look like regular shelties, just with larger amounts of white present. When two white factored dogs are bred together, there is a chance of producing a color headed white.