Examples of merle Shetland Sheepdogs (Sheltie)
Cosmo is registered as
Blue Merle & White
This color is commonly referred
to as
Stormy is registered as
Blue Merle White & Tan
This color is commonly referred to as
Blue Merle
April is registered as
Sable Merle and White
She is commonly referred to as
Sable Merle

Sometimes a sable merle can be shaded
in such a way that it can be hard to see
the merle markings
Blanca copyrighted
Blanca is registered as White & Blue Merle.
Blanca is referred to as a
Bi-blue Color Headed White.
Blanca has a white body with a few body spots and a normally
colored head.
Her color results from breeding two dogs that are white
factored. Color headed whites can come in any color that is
found in Shelties including merle.
Unlike Double Merles, Color Headed Whites have normal sight
and hearing
Shelties that are over 50% are not shown in AKC conformation
but are shown in UKC conformation events.
April copyrighted
Cosmo copyrighted
Chancer copyrighted
Merle dogs can have  
blue eyes like Blanca
to the left
marbled eyes like
Cosmo to the right.

Merles can also have
dark eyes like Chancer
left and April right.

Some merles have one
blue and one brown
eye like Molly bottom

In AKC conformation
Blue eyes are allowed
in Blue Merle Shelties  
Molly copyrighted
To be shown in AKC conformation
events Sable Merles must have dark
eyes like April above

Sable Merles with blue eye(s) such as
Molly to the left are unacceptable in
the AKC conformation ring. However,
they have normal sight just like any
other dog. They make great pets and
performance dogs.
chancer copyrighted
Some variations in Merles & photo's of newborn merle pups
Tink copyright companion kennel
Chancer, a bi-blue has very
few black markings and is a
darker shade of grey than
Cosmo at the top of this
 Tink, a blue merle has almost no grey markings at all.
She almost looks like a tricolor with a blue eye.
Sometimes dogs are born that have so few merle
markings that they look to be a solid color rather than a
merle. These dogs are often referred to as Cryptic
If an unsuspecting owner breeds a Cryptic Merle to
another merle double merle pups could result. To be
on the safe side any solid colored dog from a merle
parent should have a CERF exam (even merle dogs
with dark eyes have some flecking in the eye) before
being bred and there are now DNA tests available to
identify a Cryptic Merle also.
Thankfully Cryptic Merles are somewhat rare.    
Photos of newborn merle and non merle Sheltie puppies.
Notice the variation of the merle pups in each litter.
This litter is the result of breeding a bi-factored tricolor
to a bi-blue
There was one bi-black (black & white) two bi-blue
and two blue merle puppies The tan points are
invisible in this photograph. The tan points on tricolor
and blue merle pups are visible on the underside of
the tail at birth.
This litter is the result of breeding a
bi-factored sable to a bi-blue.
There are two sable pups, two sable
merle pups, one bi-black pup and one
The bi-blue is at the bottom of the
picture the other two merles are sable
This litter is the result of breeding a bi-factored
sable to a blue merle
There is one sable, two tricolor, one cryptic blue
merle and two sable merles. The two sable merle
puppies are at the bottom of this picture and the
cryptic blue merle is the pup just above them.
Notice how little "merle" is visible on the cryptic
The sable is at the very top of the picture and the
two tricolor puppies are just below her.
I hope this page has been helpful to anyone with questions regarding merle
coloring in Shetland Sheepdogs. For more info please
Contact Me if I can't help
you I will be happy to refer you to someone who can.
Please research your breed
before you breed!