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About The Shetland Sheepdog

The Shetland Sheepdog, commonly called a Sheltie, is a medium-smaller dog from the Shetland Isles off the north coast of Scotland. Their history may have included herding or all around farm work. Today, Shelties are more often found competing in Agility, Obedience, Rally and Conformation. Shelties are not Collies in miniature, but are a different breed entirely. They are dynamic and can make wonderful companions.

The Sheltie Standard calls for heights between 13" - 16" at the shoulder with some dogs being smaller or larger than ideal. They have a double coat that consists of a soft undercoat and a harsher, weather resistant outer coat that requires regular grooming to manage shedding. Shelties come in several colors: Sable (brown), Tri Color (black, white and tan), Blue Merle (merle, white and tan), Bi-Black (black and white), and Bi-Blue (merle and white). For more about Sheltie colors, scroll down or click here.

Shelties love to be with people and need human interaction. They are devoted to their families but often reserved toward strangers. Shelties can be vocal if not taught to curb their natural instinct to bark. Proper exercise and socialization will keep your Sheltie busy and out of trouble. Carefully chosen, the Sheltie can fit into any lifestyle or family situation, but this is not a breed for people who want a dog they can leave in the back yard without supervision. Once a Sheltie trusts you, you have a friend for life.

Sheltie Colors  

The following examples of colors, patterns and shading are only a sample of the many different variations achieved in selective breeding of different Sheltie color combinations. Enjoy!

Sheltie Color Examples - (click image for larger view)

Sable Color Sable Color Sable Color     Tri Color Tri Color

Sable - (3 views)
Color Description

Tri Color - (2 views)
Color Description

Blue Merle Color Blue Merle Color Blue Merle Color Bi Black Color Bi Black Color

Blue Merle - (3 views)
Color Description

Bi Black - (2 views)
Color Description

Bi Blue Color Bi Blue Color Bi Blue Color Double Merle Color Head Colored White

Bi Blue - (3 views)
Color Description

Double Merle
Color Description

Color Headed White
Color Description

Coat Color Descriptions:


  • Sable is probably what most people think about when they think of Shelties. Sable ranges in hue from light golden sable to a deep mahogany (that can be almost black it is such a dark brown) with various shades in between. Sable is dominant over other colors. May be pure for sable (two sable genes) or may be tri-factored or bi-factored (carrying one sable gene and one tricolor or bicolor gene). "Tri-factored" sable and "shaded" sable are NOT interchangeable terms. A shaded dog (one with a lot of black overlay on a sable coat) may or may not be tri-factored or bi-factored.

Tri Color  

  • Black, white, and tan. Tricolor is dominant over bi-black. May be pure for tricolor (2 tri genes) or may be bi-factored (carrying one tricolor gene and one bicolor gene).

Bi Black  

  • Black and white. Bi-black is recessive. A bi-black Sheltie carries 2 bi-black genes; thus, any dog of any other color with a bi-black parent is also bi-factored.

"MODIFIED" Coat Colors:

Any of the above colors may also have a color modification gene. The color modification genes are merling and white factoring. Merling dilutes the base color (sable, tricolor, or bi-black) causing a black dog's coat to show a mix of black, white, and gray hairs, often with black patches.

Blue Merle  

  • BLUE MERLE - The Blue Merle is a dilution of the Tri Color. The black is diluted out to grey with varying amounts of black mottling or merling. The grey can range in shade from an icy gray to dark grey. The Blue Merle has varying amounts of white and tan.

Sable Merle  

  • SABLE MERLE - This is a Sable dog with a dilution gene. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell a Sable from a Sable Merle.

Bi Blue  

  • BI BLUE - This is a Blue Merle and White dog without any tan points (what you get if a Bi Black has the dilution gene).

Color Headed White  

  • This is a dog with a primarily white body with some colored spots and color on the head. This happens when the white factoring (what helps determine the amount of white on the dogs) gets a little "out of control." CHWs are severely penalized in the American and Canadian Kennel Clubs for Conformation but they are allowed in the United Kennel Club. These dogs can also compete in various performance events in the AKC and CKC.

Double Merle  

  • (aka Double Dilute White) - This is what happens when two merles (either blue or sable) are bred together. The doubling of the dilution gene causes almost totally white dogs. Double Merles are also prone to hearing and vision problems so breeding two merles should be avoided.


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