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Sheltie Coat Colors & Merle Genetics Explained
Shelties have basically three main colors, Sable, Black and Blue Merle. Each of these three main colors has a portion of white added to them. On the Black and Blue Shelties, a certain amount of tan can be observed. Due to a Sheltie’s unique color genes, various combinations are possible offering the common, the rare and the unique. These are:
Sable: Brown (tan, reddish) and white.
Tri color: Black and white with tan markings.
Blue Merle: Grayish with tan, black and white markings.
Sable Merle: Typical tan or reddish and white, but with the merle patching of colors.
Bi colors: Bi Black (Black & White) or Bi Blue (Blue & White).
CHW (color headed white): Mostly white with colored markings.
Double Merle: Mostly white dogs
There are other variations of white factored, bi factored, dilute and cryptic color types that are rare and not often seen.
It must be noted, that color in no way affects the temperament or ability of a Sheltie to be a loving, loyal, family or companion animal. There is a notable exception to this, that a double merle dilute breeding has a high incidence of blindness and deafness. Again, in the right circumstance, even these dogs can lead and live productive lives and should not necessarily be discounted.
Most of the color combinations are accepted in the breed standard for the Sheltie with the exception of Brindle.Some are deemed undesirable, as the CHW and the double Merle are frowned upon by AKC standards, yet allowable by UKC standards.The Brindle Sheltie is disqualified by AKC standards.
Shaded Sable Sheltie
The Merle Gene mainly acts on the darker pigments of the dog, not only on the coat, but on the dark pigment of the eyes too. Thus, occasionally you can see a merling of the eye in that part or the entire eye turns blue, or one or two eyes are blue. None of these Blue eye variations causes problems with vision for a Sheltie.
Blue eyes are accepted by breed standards mainly in the blue merles.