The Sheltie colors are generally defined in three ways: Sable, Black and Blue. Within these groups, the coats show varying amounts of tan, black, gray and white. However there are many ways these colors and patterns show up in Shelties, and this article aims to highlight them all. We'll also look briefly at the genetics of White Factoring, Color Headed Whites and Double Merles.
The Sable Sheltie
The Sable Sheltie colors range from light gold to dark mahogany. The tan coloring is overlaid with some black.
They also feature patches of white, typically around the neck, chest and little "socks" on each of the legs. Sometimes these cover just the tips of the toes (or nothing at all) while other times the white socks go all the way up the legs.
The Sable Sheltie is the most common coat color because it is the most dominant gene - the other two being Tri-Color and recessive Black.
Sable Sheltie puppies are often born dark and then lighten up considerably with the soft puppy coat. The color then darkens again as the dog matures.
The Black Sheltie
The next main category of Sheltie colors is the Black coat, comprising of solid black hairs which make up the dominant coat color.
Black Shelties come in two varieties:
The Blue Sheltie
The Blue coat color is created by one Black gene and one Merle gene. It creates a color pattern in which the black hairs are diluted into various shades of gray/blue.
Blue Shelties come in two varieties:
Like the other Sheltie colors, the overall pattern is still Irish with predominantly white chests and legs.
The eyes can be blue or merled. This coat pattern can also appear in Sables to produce Sable Merles, which the standard says they should not have merled eyes.
If two Blue Merles are bred together there is a 25% chance of producing a Double Merle. These offspring can have defective hearing and/or vision, so responsible breeders do not match two Merles together.
White Factored Shelties
White Factored Shelties have a good amount of white on their collar, chest and legs. More often than not, they have a strong white stifle running up the back leg which connects with the white on the belly. Aside from this, they have all usual coat colors and markings of Sables, Blacks and Blue Merles. If you breed two White Factored dogs, the chances of getting Color Headed White puppies are 1 in 4.
The majority of this page is reprinted, with permission, from SheltiePlanet.com (excluding pictures). Please check out this fun and informative site about Shelties. We know you will really enjoy it. Thanks to Becky and Pete for allowing us to use their great info. Keep up the great work of sharing this wonderful breed with the world.