The Tri Color Sheltie Color Explained

› Tri Color Sheltie

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The tri color gene expresses itself as a dog whose body is mostly black, with some white and a little tan over the eyes, along the mouth and perhaps on the legs. It is the dominant gene over a black gene but recessive to sable.

It's the middle child, so to speak.

a tri color sheltie

Unlike a mahogany sable, who looks similar from a distance, the individual hair follicle in a tri color sheltie is all black. The face is also primarily black with small tan spots.

If you look at the individual hair of a mahogany sable it is reddish closer to the root and ends with a black tip. Also, a mahogany's face is sable not black.

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A Sheltie can be pure for the tri gene (meaning both genes for the coat color is tri color) or may carry one tri and one bi-black gene.

Two tri-color Shelties bred together can therefore produce not only tri-color sheltie puppies, but may produce bi-blacks if both carry that hidden gene. (This was the case with Hope, who produced Hobo, my bi-black boy).

However, they can never produce a sable puppy.

If you bred a tri-color sheltie that had one tri-color gene and one bi-black gene to a sable sheltie that had one sable gene and one bi-black gene, you could end up with sable, tri-color and bi-black puppies all in the same litter. (Head spinning yet?)

You can see why it is handy to know what the colors of the parents and grandparents are, when it comes to breeding shelties. And yet, there are still surprises.

Still Confused about Tri Color Sheltie Color?

I’m not sure if this analogy will help or muddy things up even more, but let me try.

Let’s say apples and oranges are genes. Let’s say that apples are “dominant” and oranges are “recessive”.

Let’s say I hold an apple in one hand and an orange in the other.

Because apples are “dominant”, even though I hold an orange, it is hidden, as if I put it behind my back. I still have it, you just can’t see it.

Let’s say I decide to have children with a guy who also carries one apple and one orange (behind his back).

To look at both of us you would think we are apple people. BUT, when we each give one gene to our child, we have a choice of giving an apple or an orange.

There are various gene combinations that the child could have:

  1. One apple from me and one apple from the father
  2. One apple from me and one orange from the father
  3. One orange from me and one orange from the father

If the child got either two apples or one apple and one orange, he would look just like an apple (just like his parents).

If he got the two oranges he would look like an orange.

Make sense? Or still as clear as mud? Yeah, I know, comparing apples to oranges..

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