Among the many color variations of the Shetland Sheepdog, the blue merle Sheltie is arguably the most intriguing. These herding dogs boast a rich, unique pattern of colors that is sure to make anyone fall in love.
However, there is more to the blue merle Shetland Sheepdog beyond the color of its fur. These pups are largely renowned as industrious, intelligent, and lovable dogs that make perfect workers and companions.
Luckily, this article has everything you need to know about the magnificence of the blue merle Sheltie. Keep reading to see whether or not this sweetheart is right for you.
What Is a Blue Merle Sheltie?
A blue merle Sheltie is one of the color varieties of the Shetland Sheepdog. It is classified as a tri-color Sheltie that exhibits the merle gene. This gene is responsible for the gray and blue hues in blue merle Shelties. These hues are seen among the patches of black, white, and tan on its coat.
Other official Sheltie coat colors are sable, tri-color, bi-blue, and bi-black. Some may have an abundance of white fur, referred to as white-factored Shelties. A well-known example is the color-headed white (CHW) Sheltie.
Shetland Sheepdogs are just one among the several different types of shepherd dog breeds, but what separates Shelties from the others is their sweet nature, a trait considered uncommon among herding dogs.
A blue merle Sheltie is no different. These delightful pups are widely regarded as the epitome of all herding canines due to their versatility, intelligence, and warm-heartedness.
Are Blue Merle Shelties Rare?
Blue merle Shelties are not as rare as other color variations of the Shetland Sheepdog. In fact, as an officially recognized coat color by the American Kennel Club (AKC), blue merle is one of the most popular variants.
While blue merle Shelties are not particularly rare, some of them may be “cryptic.” This refers to blue merle Shelties that barely exhibit the merle pattern, therefore appearing tri-color instead.
In producing a blue merle Sheltie, only one parent must possess the merle gene. If both parent dogs have this gene, there is a one in four chance of creating a double merle Sheltie.
Double merle dogs are also known as “lethal whites” because of the numerous instances of blindness and deafness found in these pups. This is due to the connection of the merle gene with ocular and auditory issues.
On a different note, the most common Sheltie colors are sable and white and tri-color, which is a combination of black, white, and tan. On the other hand, the rarest official color variation is black and white or bi-black.
Blue Merle Sheltie Appearance
Blue merle Shetland Sheepdogs bear a very strong resemblance to Border Collies, to the point that they may be mistaken as miniature Border Collies.
However, these pups are smaller than their Collie cousins. They are medium-sized dogs standing at 13 to 16 inches tall and weighing anywhere between 14 and 20 pounds,
Unlike with other dog breeds, the difference in size between male and female Shelties is minimal. Usually, males will be a couple of inches taller and not more than five pounds heavier than females.
Sitting on their wedge-shaped heads are small, erect ears whose tips bend forward slightly and long, narrow muzzles. Shelties also have an athletic frame.
Their beady eyes are usually dark in color, but the merle gene can sometimes affect pigmentation in the eyes. This means there is a chance of blue merle Sheltie puppies having blue or light-colored eyes.
Shelties are double-coated, which keeps them well-insulated in cold weather. Their long, harsh coats – which gather into a mane around their head – shed moderately, especially during shedding seasons.
As mentioned earlier, blue merle Shelties are primarily characterized by a combination of black, tan, and white, with mottled patterns of blue, gray, or silver across their coats.
Blue Merle Sheltie Coat Color Genetics
The signature color and pattern found in a blue merle Sheltie are caused by the M-allele, which is either dominant (M) or recessive (m). Merle coats are associated with having one dominant M allele.
The M allele or the merle gene affects the eumelanin pigment of Shetland Sheepdogs by diluting black colorings into irregular gray, silver, or blue spots.
Aside from the dog’s coat, this can also affect its eyes, nose, and toe paddings.
Blue merle Shelties are usually created by crossing tri-color or bi-black Shelties carrying the merle gene to another Sheltie that does not.
This breeding has a fifty percent chance of producing a blue merle Sheltie puppy with the M/m genotype, meaning they have one dominant and one recessive M-allele, respectively.
Since it is possible for a Sheltie to carry the merle gene without expressing it, the process of breeding blue merle Shetland Sheepdogs should start with DNA testing. This is to identify if the parent dogs possess the merle gene.
If a breeder is unaware of the genetic backgrounds of the potential parents, there is a chance of breeding two merle dogs together and producing a double merle puppy.
Double merle pups are often afflicted with developmental issues of the eyes and ears, resulting in deafness and blindness.
Blue Merle Sheltie Temperament and Personality
A blue merle Shetland Sheepdog will always be a joy to have around. These pups are known to have sweet and bright personalities complemented by their intelligence and diligence.
It is important to note that the color of a Sheltie does not influence its personality; therefore, the temperament of a blue merle Sheltie will likely be similar to other color variations of this breed.
Shelties have long histories as herding dogs, so expect blue merle Shelties to be naturally adept herders and working dogs. They will thrive when given a task, especially if rewarded with affection.
A behavioral trait that comes from this is excessive barking, but this can be remedied through positive reinforcement training. Ample physical and mental stimulation is also necessary to keep this dog happy.
Shelties are highly intelligent and trainable breeds. Their obedience and adaptability pair well with their loving and affectionate temperaments.
Watch the video below to witness a diligent blue merle Sheltie in action:
All in all, blue merle Shelties are versatile pets that can thrive as either working dogs or just family companions. They are charming, lovable balls of energy that will bring a smile to anyone that comes across them.
Blue Merle Sheltie Lifespan and Health Issues
As with other Sheltie variations, the lifespan of a blue merle Sheltie is 12 to 14 years. This is a generally healthy breed, especially with proper diets, ample exercise, and regular upkeep.
However, Shetland Sheepdogs have some common health issues that owners should look out for. This is especially true with blue merle Shelties because the merle gene is closely linked to some developmental issues.
Here are some examples of health problems a blue merle Sheltie can face:
- Hip Dysplasia: Canine hip dysplasia is a common ailment affecting a blue merle Sheltie’s hip joint and pelvis. During the development of these areas, the hip socket grows at a different rate than the ball or femur head. As a result, the joint becomes loose and deformed, which causes pain, limping, and difficulty walking.
- Obesity: Blue merle Shelties can be very food-centric creatures, which can, unfortunately, lead to canine obesity if left unchecked. Excessive weight will put a strain on the bones and joints, which can cause or worsen body pain or degeneration.
- Dental Diseases: Oral health is important to most dog breeds, particularly for Shetland Sheepdogs. These pups are prone to buildups of tartar or plaque, which may progress to an infection of the teeth and gums. In worst-case scenarios, periodontal issues can also harm a dog’s kidneys, liver, heart, and joints.
Because of the connection between the merle gene and certain illnesses, owners should also look out for eye diseases like cataracts and distichiasis.
Health issues like obesity and dental problems are fortunately preventable with proper care and maintenance. Regular visits to a trusted veterinarian are also highly recommended, especially in identifying genetic illnesses.
How Much Does a Blue Merle Sheltie Cost? Puppy Prices & Expenses
The average cost of a Shetland Sheepdog begins at $1,000, but the price of a blue merle Sheltie can range anywhere between $2,000 and $4,500.
Given the appeal of the blue merle Sheltie’s appearance, this price difference is understandable. It will also vary depending on factors like age, gender, bloodline, and the reputability of the breeder.
On top of the price of a blue merle Sheltie, here are some initial expenses that go along with owning one:
|Type of Expense||Cost|
|Food and Treats||$70 – $110|
|Bowls||$10 – $30|
|Toys||$30 – $60|
|Beds||$40 – $200|
|Collars and Leashes||$15 – $50|
|Crates and Carriers||$50 – $370|
|Grooming Essentials||$50 – $160|
|Initial Vet Visits||$100 – $500|
|Initial Vaccine Shots||$50 – $300|
|Deworming, Flea, and Tick Medications||$40 – $300|
|Neutering or Spaying||$50 – $500|
|Microchipping||$40 – $60|
|Dog License||$10 – $20|
|Other Essentials||$20 – $50|
|Total Initial Cost||$505 – $2,710|
Most of the items listed on the table are necessities, particularly food, treats, beds, grooming essentials, and vaccine shots.
Aside from these, there should also be funds set aside for other potential expenses like pet insurance and emergency visits to the vet.
Needless to say, those looking to own a blue merle Sheltie should be financially prepared to cover these necessary expenses.
Places to Find Blue Merle Sheltie Puppies for Sale and Adoption
Since the Shetland Sheepdog is considered one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States, there is no shortage of places to find Shelties both for sale and adoption.
Although most Sheltie breeders do not focus on breeding specifically-colored Shelties, finding a blue merle Shetland Sheepdog is still quite easy.
Here are some reputable places where you can purchase a blue merle Sheltie puppy:
- AKC Marketplace – The American Kennel Club Marketplace is one of the most credible websites to find a blue merle Sheltie puppy. Each listing on the site comes from AKC-registered breeders, which guarantees the quality of each litter.
- Belmark Shelties – Located in Northwest Ohio, Belmark Shelties is renowned for producing show-quality Shetland Sheepdogs. They ensure that each litter is bred and raised according to the American Shetland Sheepdogs Association (ASSA) standards.
- Breyston Shelties – The breeding program for Shetland Sheepdogs found in Houston, Texas, aims to maintain AKC standards to produce healthy dogs with good temperaments. A blue merle Sheltie from this breeder is guaranteed to be an active, properly socialized family pet.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking to adopt, here are some places where you can find a blue merle Sheltie puppy for adoption:
- Central Illinois Sheltie Rescue (CISR) – Since 1998, this Sheltie rescue has rehomed hundreds of Shetland Sheepdogs with great care and passion. Each pup is vetted, treated, and given to a foster home until its forever home is found. Blue merle Shelties are available on their list of adoptable dogs.
- South Carolina Sheltie Rescue (SCSR) – Aside from rehoming abandoned Shelties, SCSR advocates for the prevention of poor breeding practices and the awareness of Sheltie education. If you choose to adopt a blue merle Sheltie from this rescue, their team will make sure that you are the perfect match for their rescue dogs.
- Mid Florida Sheltie Rescue (MFSR) – This Florida-based shelter proudly boasts a recommendation by the National Sheltie Rescue Association (NSRA). In over 15 years of service, they have given hundreds of Shelties of all kinds, including blue merle Shelties, the loving homes that they deserve.
Aside from these rescues, there are hundreds of shelters found in most states. In other words, finding a blue merle Sheltie will not be a difficult task. This is especially true if you know the ins and outs of dog adoption.
Best Dog Names for Your Blue Merle Sheltie Puppy
Deciding on what to name a pet is one of the most important rituals every pet owner can relate to. Pet names should be memorable and easy to recognize but should also reflect the dog’s personality.
To get you started, here are some name ideas for a male blue merle Sheltie:
Meanwhile, here are some name ideas for a female blue merle Sheltie:
While a lot of these names can be considered somewhat generic, these serve as a stepping point for dog owners to draw inspiration.
When choosing a name, make sure that it is short and easy to say. Most of all, make sure that the name is something you like since you will commit to it in the coming years.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Blue Merle Shelties Shed?
Yes, blue merle Shelties have double coats that will shed moderately, especially during shedding seasons. Because of this, weekly brushings are highly recommended to reduce loose fur and maintain coat quality.
Are Blue Merle Shelties Hypoallergenic?
Since blue merle Shelties shed a decent amount of fur throughout the year, they cannot be considered hypoallergenic pets.
Although they have a low tendency to drool, the amount of loose fur they may shed can be harmful to allergen-sensitive individuals.
What Is the Rarest Color of a Sheltie?
According to the AKC, there are five official color variations of a Sheltie, and the rarest among these colors is bi-black.
However, there are also unusual Sheltie colors that can be considered rare relative to the breed’s standard colors. For example, double merle Shelties are one of the rarest Sheltie colors.
Do Blue Merle Shelties Have Blue Eyes?
Yes, blue merle Shelties have a high possibility of developing blue eyes due to the presence of the merle gene. This gene affects black or brown pigmentations by diluting these hues into silver or gray tones.
This also includes any dark pigments found in other parts of the body, such as eyes and toe pads.
A blue merle Sheltie may not be rare, but it is certainly one of a kind. Aside from the appealing color of their coats, their sweet temperament and hardworking nature make these pups stand out.
Blue merle Shelties are hailed for being the most versatile of pets. They can be show dogs, herders, working dogs, performers, and family companions.
If any of these traits appeal to what you are looking for in a pet, then the blue merle Shetland Sheepdog is the right fit for you.
For those who already have the pleasure of owning this blue merle pup, what tips and advice do you have for anyone wanting to own this pup? Share with us your thoughts about the blue merle Sheltie in the comments!