Sheltie Coat Color Chart
Shelties come in several colors and patterns. The two primary Sheltie colors are sable and black. All other colors in the breed are determined by other genes acting upon these primary colors.
(The pattern that causes the variations in face and ruff markings is in fact a completely independent gene from that which causes the different colors, and so from that perspective any amount of white on the face and ruff is purely a matter of taste; and not a requirement in the standard.)
Colors ranging from gold to red to mahogany (or tri-factored) sable. A mahogany sable can sometimes be quite dark in color. If the undercoat is brown, the Sheltie is a sable. Washed out, pale color is considered a fault.
Blue Merle ~
Color ranges from bright silver to dark pewter; marked with black ‘merle’ spots and varying amounts of tan on face and legs. Rustiness, washed out blue, or self-coloring (no spots) is considered a fault. Genetically, the merle is a tri (black) sheltie; but it carries a gene for “merling” which dilutes the black coat to various shades of silver & gray.
Sable Merle ~
As a result of breeding a sable to a blue merle, a resulting sable can also inherit the merling gene. In this case, the sable coat is diluted in varying degrees. The Sheltie in the photo above, has a distinct merling pattern in shades of gold & brown. The 2nd Sheltie is also a sable merle, although the pattern is not clearly seen.
Bi Black & Bi Blue ~
Tan markings on face and legs are absent on bi colors.
Tri Color ~
Black coat (and black or dark charcoal undercoat), tan markings on face and legs.
Color Headed White ~
Predominantly white body with colored head and ears. This is a result of white factoring genes from both parents. Although color-headed whites are not allowed in the conformation ring, they are normal and healthy Shelties. When bred to non-white factored shelties the resulting puppies will all be white factored, but will not be color-headed white.
The white-factored white should not be confused with a homozygous (double dilute) white Sheltie.
The double dilute (or homozygous white) results from merle to merle breeding. The merling gene is a dilution factor; when doubled by breeding two merles together, the coat is diluted completely or in part to white, most often including the head and ears. A high percentage of double dilutes are also born deaf, blind, or micropthalmic (small, nonfunctioning or missing eyes). If you are not prepared to care for handicapped puppies, merle to merle breedings should not be attempted.
This double dilute has normal hearing and sight. (Note that the ears are white, whereas the color headed white shown above has colored ears.)
Thanks to Susan & Cub Hill Shelties for the permish. These images are copyrighted by Cub Hill Shelties.