Blue Merle Shelties are an intelligent, beautiful breed of hard-working herders. This color pattern is a variation within Shetland Sheepdogs, but they are just as energetic and loving as the other dogs in their breed. Here, you’ll learn all there is to know about Blue Merle Shelties.
A Blue Merle Sheltie is a Shetland Sheepdog with tonal grey and blue fur alongside their black, white, and tan patches of color. This breed is a small but hardy herding dog with a lot of love for families. They are often gentle and shy, though they require a lot of exercise to remain happy.
The Blue Merle Sheltie has it all: a pretty face, a hard-working attitude, and a soft, fluffy coat. Read on to learn more about this loyal, excitable breed.
|Life Expectancy||12-14 years|
|Temperament||Sensitive, active, intelligent, loyal|
|Behavior||Herding, chasing, vocal, restless, affectionate|
|Grooming Needs||Tooth care, coat brushing up to 3 times a week|
|Exercise Needs||Regular exercise daily|
|Traits to Watch For||Excessive barking, excitability|
|Other Colors||Bi-black, Tri-colored, Bi-blue, Sable, Sable Merle|
What Is a Blue Merle Sheltie?
The Blue Merle Sheltie is a color variation of the Shetland Sheepdog. This unique color is one of the most diverse and beautiful types of Shelties. There are rarely any behavioral deviations between a standard Shetland Sheepdog in any other color and the Blue Merle color.
These dogs are fluffy, affectionate, and energetic. They require a lot of exercise, but they are extremely loyal and intelligent. Blue Merle Shelties have all of the good (and bad) traits of Shetland Sheepdogs.
However, their merle pattern is part of a genetic mutation that changes the way their coat displays colors.
Blue Merle Sheltie Genetics
In layman’s terms, the Blue Merle coloring is the result of gene interaction. Blue Merles, Bi-Blues, and Sable Merles all share the same genetic composition. Essentially, it affects the shades of black in your Blue Merle’s coat. Black colors are softened to tonal grays (which often appear blue, hence the name!)
Blue Merles can be considered a special type of Tri-colored Sheltie, as the white, gray, and black usually occur alongside a tan color around the muzzle and legs of your Sheltie.
Blue Merles are somewhat rarer than bi-black or standard tri-colored Shelties. Still, their unique genetic composition only really affects the colors of their coat.
History of the Blue Merle Sheltie
Shetland Sheepdogs and Collies come from much of the same stock. So much, that they were once called Shetland Collies! However, Collie purists didn’t like the lack of distinction, so they settled on a more unique name for this boisterous breed.
The ancestors of the modern Sheltie were working dogs on the Shetland Islands in Scotland. With the help of hardy dogs from Norway and the UK’s King Charles Spaniel, the Shetland Sheepdog was born. Fluffy, intelligent, and hard-working, these dogs were a cornerstone of herding in Scotland.
Soon, they became coveted pets in England. Some breeders tried to enhance their Collie characteristics by crossbreeding them with Collies, but it was unsuccessful overall. Shelties are smaller than their Collie cousins, though they share a lot of breed characteristics with them.
Quick Facts about the Blue Merle Sheltie
- Blue Merle Shelties are extremely loyal and affectionate with their families.
- Though they look like smaller rough collies, they are only cousins from the same rough stock.
- These Scottish nationals are great herders for your kids.
- Shelties often work best in single-dog households.
- Shelties are extremely sensitive – to sounds and your moods.
- Shelties are great dancers – they jump and twirl to show their excitement.
Blue Merle Sheltie Breed Characteristics
Like all Shelties, Blue Merle Shelties are extremely energetic, intelligent, and eager to please. Your Sheltie will learn quickly if given the opportunity. They can be very vocal due to their extremely high sound sensitivity. They’ll let you know if there’s a problem.
This breed’s fluffy double coat requires less grooming than you’d think. Most of the care you’ll be doing for your Blue Merle Sheltie will be wearing them out! While Shelties can be reserved around new people, they have enough energy for several hours of running and playing during the day.
Blue Merle Sheltie Temperament
“Obedient” is a good word for the Blue Merle Sheltie. When trained correctly, few breeds are as loyal or listen quite as well as the Sheltie.
They make for great companions, as they want to be near their bonded person all day long.
If you are often busy or away from home, a Sheltie might not be the best option for you.
They require lots of energy, attention, and exercise. Give them this, and they will never leave your side.
Blue Merle Sheltie Behavior and Personality
Shelties have a bright personality. They are less prone to behavioral problems than other breeds, specifically because of how easy they are to train. However, Shelties may become excitable or reserved around strangers in turn.
The biggest behavioral issue with Shelties is the barking. They can be very vocal. Due to how sensitive they are to sounds, they can often spend their days barking at the door or at any little noise they hear. They will let you know when there’s a problem, but they’ll also let you know when there isn’t one.
Excessive barking and jumping can be trained away, but it’s difficult. Some shelties may not bark very much at all. It depends on the individual personality of every dog.
Overall, Blue Merle Shelties and other Sheltie variants can be loving, affectionate, and clingy. They are generally gentle, intelligent, and aim to make you as happy as possible.
Blue Merle Sheltie Weight and Size
Shelties are smaller dogs. Though they look like Collies, they are much smaller and weigh a lot less!
The breed standard, according to the AKC, states that most show-read Shetland Sheepdogs “should stand between 13 and 16 inches at the shoulder” (AKC 1959).
Of course, the breed standard represents the desired traits for a show dog. Some Shelties are bigger or smaller than this.
Though a healthy Shetland Sheepdog is between 15 and 25 pounds, they can range up to 40 pounds for larger males.
How Long Do Blue Merle Shelties Live?
Like most Shelties, Blue Merles live anywhere from 12 to 14 years. Some variations on the Blue Merle Sheltie (a pure white variant called the ‘double merle’) don’t live as long due to genetic health problems. However, the Blue Merle Sheltie is an extremely healthy breed if they have proper exercise.
Shetland Sheepdog Color Variants
The Blue Merle Sheltie is just one of the color variants for a Shetland Sheepdog. Sable is the most common color (a tan color that resembles a Collie). Bi-black, a black and white variant, is common as well.
Other variants include Tri-Colored, Bi-Blue, and Sable Merle.
Do Blue Merle Shelties Have Blue Eyes?
Blue Merle Shelties can have blue eyes. The Merle gene often produces blue eyes. Sometimes, Blue Merle Shelties are heterochromatic, meaning they have one blue eye and one brown eye. This phenomenon is more common in Blue Merle Shelties than in other Shetland Sheepdogs.
Caring For Your Blue Merle Sheltie
Though the Blue Merle Sheltie is fluffy and energetic, caring for this affectionate breed is simple enough. Here are some of the basic needs of your Blue Merle Sheltie.
How to Exercise your Blue Merle Shetland Sheepdog
Shelties in general tend to be on the high end of exercise needs. They are not okay with laying around all day, so make sure that you give your Blue Merle Sheltie plenty of exercises.
They need more than just a walk around the block three times a day. Running, jumping, and even indoor play can help your Sheltie get the exercise they need.
This can also burn off excess energy, making them more prone to affection and cuddling.
Food and Diet/Nutrition for Blue Merle Shelties
Shelties are small dogs, so overfeeding them is easy. Avoid giving excessive treats, even during training – Shelties do just as well with a kind word and some gentle pats. It’s a good idea to limit their food to set mealtimes rather than leaving it out all day.
Because Shelties are easily bored and may eat when there is nothing else to do. Making sure your Blue Merle Sheltie gets plenty of exercises is key to avoiding overfeeding them.
Are Blue Merle Shelties Affectionate?
Blue Merle Shelties, like most Shelties, are extremely affectionate. They love to be hugged, pet and cuddled. These dogs aren’t aware of personal space, so be aware that your dog will be glued to you at every opportunity.
Blue Merle Shelties love to cuddle, but usually only when they are worn out. If you follow exercise guidelines for the breed, expect a couch companion at the end of an exciting day. Positive affirmation and lots of affection throughout the day are great for your Sheltie.
How to Groom Your Blue Merle Sheltie
Blue Merle Shelties have long, fluffy coats. This may make it seem like they need constant brushing.
Their double-coat is well-insulated. Seasonal shedding is to be expected. Shelties can blow their coat when the weather gets warm, so brush them about 3 times a week to keep loose hair from going everywhere.
Even outside of shedding season, make sure to keep mats down by brushing frequently. However, they don’t need baths very frequently. A quick rub down after coming in from the rain or the mud should be enough to keep them clean due to their coat structure.
Make sure to brush their teeth regularly, as Blue Merle Shelties often have dental issues.
Are Shelties High Maintenance?
Shelties are a high-shedding breed. This means that maintaining their coat will require some effort. They can shed quite a lot and require frequent care.
Training Your Blue Merle Sheltie
Trainability is one of the biggest questions when it comes to any dog. Dogs are individuals, of course – they have different personalities. However, most breeds have a training standard. This can help you determine how easy it will generally be to train your dog.
Keep in mind that even Shelties, who are by most accounts easy to train, can be difficult. A dog’s upbringing, training situation, and consistency will play a huge part in their training. Keep this in mind while we talk about training your Sheltie.
Blue merle Shelties generally follow the breed standard. That is, they are intelligent but straightforward dogs. Unlike more stubborn breeds, their intelligence makes them eager to please without being defiant.
According to the AKC, Shetland Sheepdogs (and by extension, Blue Merle Shelties) have a high success rate with obedience training.
Use Positive Reinforcement
The Minnesota Sheltie Rescue notes that Shelties aren’t stubborn like most intelligent breeds. They want to please their owners and will go to any lengths to do so. This means that they are easy to train if you use positive reinforcement.
Of course, you should never react violently if a dog doesn’t follow orders. With a Sheltie, you must emphasize and praise what they did right. Positive reinforcement will go a long way. If they follow a command, make a big deal out of it. Be over-the-top happy to show your Sheltie that this is what will make you happy.
Stick to a Schedule
When it comes to training any dog, consistency is key. This is especially true when it comes to Blue Merle Shelties. These dogs are intelligent, but you must tell them what you want. Once you establish what your Sheltie can do for you, they are eager to please.
Part of building this expectation is setting a schedule. Get your dog used to going out for walks at specific times. Make sure you take puppies out right after they eat and after they wake up from naps.
If you stay consistent and reward good behavior, Shelties are remarkably easy to train.
Are Shelties Easy to Potty Train?
Generally, Shelties are easy to train. This extends to potty training as well as behavioral training. As with behavioral training, a schedule and positive reinforcement are required to train your Sheltie.
Finding Your Blue Merle Sheltie
So where can you find a Blue Merle Sheltie?
Shelties are beautiful, loving, and extremely rewarding companions. Consider adopting a Blue Merle Sheltie if you’re looking to add one to your household. Below, you’ll find resources for buying a Sheltie, as well as adoption information and rescues.
Blue Merle Shelties for Sale
When purchasing a Blue Merle Sheltie puppy, make sure to screen the breeder. Reputable breeders often have more expensive puppies. They may also provide health screenings, guarantees, and receipts.
Blue Merle Sheltie puppies can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $4,500 depending on bloodline and breeder. Most breeders specialize in all Sheltie color variations, so finding a Blue Merle Sheltie specifically may be a challenge.
Blue Merle Shelties can be a bit more desirable. Due to their unique genetic pattern, you might have to pay a bit more for a puppy.
Finding a reputable breeder is important. Thankfully, there are resources available. The AKC Marketplace lists reputable, AKC registered breeders that have puppies for sale.
Alternatively, you can try contacting a breeder recommended by the ASSA. This Shetland Sheepdog Breeder Locator tool will tell you where to look, but it doesn’t verify that its breeders are reputable.
Adopting a Blue Merle Sheltie
Generally, when people talk about ‘adopting’ a dog, they’re talking about going to a shelter. Shelters usually take on unwanted dogs and cats without focusing on a specific breed or species.
If you’re looking for a Blue Merle Sheltie specifically, you might not have much luck looking at a shelter. Still, it’s worth calling around to see if a shelter in your area has a Blue Merle Sheltie available for adoption.
Keep in mind that a shelter can’t guarantee the history of the dog you’re adopting. Screening is usually not very rigorous, but there is a fee. Dogs are kept in kennels until they are adopted, and no effort is made to socialize the dogs or give them any special care.
If you’re going to adopt a Blue Merle Sheltie instead of buying a puppy, a Sheltie rescue is a great option.
Blue Merle Sheltie Rescues
Sheltie rescue organizations often have a lot of dogs that need forever homes. While adopting from a shelter is often risky and doesn’t involve much screening, adopting from a rescue organization means you’ll deal with a lot of screening.
Rescue dogs have been abandoned or surrendered by their previous owners. They are often in foster homes that nurture them, see to their veterinary care, and socialize them with people and animals.
While shelters often don’t focus on a single breed, rescue organizations usually have a focus. This list of Sheltie rescue organizations can help connect you with rescues in your state. Each rescue has a process for adoption, so make sure to check with them.
Make sure to specify that you want a Blue Merle Sheltie when contacting the rescue organization.
A Blue Merle Sheltie can be a great addition to your household. These beautiful dogs make perfect companions, are highly trainable, and will bond with your family. Still, they are extremely energetic and may bark a lot. If you live in an apartment, this might not be the dog for you.
Are Shelties Good Family Dogs?
Shelties are playful, sweet, and can make perfect family dogs. They can be timid with strangers, or they may be excitable. Either way, they can become remarkably close with their family. This includes being gentle with children.
Do Shelties Bond to One Person?
Like most dogs, Shelties tend to bond to the person who trains them or spends the most time with them. They can bond exclusively to one person if that person is their primary caretaker. To create a bond with the whole family, have each member of your family take care of your Sheltie. This means going on walks and participating in training, as well as affection.
Do Shelties Like to Cuddle?
Every dog is different. For the most part, Shelties love to cuddle. They’ll follow you everywhere and have no regard for personal space. However, they usually only want to cuddle after you’ve worn them out with a full day of playing.
Do Shelties Bark a Lot?
Shetland Sheepdogs are very vocal dogs. Extreme barking may vary from dog to dog, but most bark a lot. Some can be trained out of barking, but it’s an instinctive trait of their breed. It was bred into them, so training it out would be difficult.
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“About the Breed.” Minnesota Sheltie Rescue, https://www.mnsheltierescue.org/breed. Accessed 16 May 2021.
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Ferrell, Pat. “The Shetland Sheepdog.” American Shetland Sheepdog Association, https://www.americanshetlandsheepdogassociation.org/history/
Keegan, Alicia M. “The Colors of the Sheltie: The New DNA Findings.” American Shetland Sheepdog Association, 2016. https://americanshetlandsheepdogassociation.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/2016Version-ColorsOfTheSheltie-AliciaMKeegan.pdf.
McGowan, Charlotte. “Shetland Sheepdog History.” American Shetland Sheepdog Association, 8 July 2016. https://www.americanshetlandsheepdogassociation.org/2016/07/08/shetland-sheepdog-history-mcgowen/.
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“Shetland Sheepdog.” American Kennel Club, https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/shetland-sheepdog/. Accessed 16 May 2021.