SHETLAND-SHEEPDOG.jpg
Breed Group Group 10: Pastoral and Stock Dog Breeds
Sub-group 10-D: Small Pastoral Dogs
Origin Country Scotland
Weight Males: 14-27 pounds. Females: 14-27 pounds.
Height Males: 14-16 inches. Females: 13-15 inches.
Other Name(s) Sheltie
Breed Type Pure
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Shetland Sheepdog

Breed Group Group 10: Pastoral and Stock Dog Breeds
Sub-group 10-D: Small Pastoral Dogs
Origin Country Scotland
Weight Males: 14-27 pounds. Females: 14-27 pounds.
Height Males: 14-16 inches. Females: 13-15 inches.
Other Name(s) Sheltie
Breed Type Pure
click here for FULL BREED STANDARD

Breed Spotlight

Origins

The Shetland Isles are a group of Islands north of Scotland, now part of the United Kingdom. The isles are renowned for their barren, rugged landscape and sub-polar climate. Due to the living conditions on the island, only the hardiest creatures survived. Nature favored hardiness over size, so many of the islands’ domesticated animals are diminutive in size, but extremely resilient. These animals include the small Shetland Sheep, Shetland Cattle, the famous Shetland Pony, and, of course, Shetland dogs.

It is believed that the original Shetland dog descended from pre-existing native type dogs, which were recorded living on the island as far back as the late 1400s, as well as Spitz-type dogs brought to the island by Norse settlers in the eighth century to watch over their sheep and cattle. For this reason, it is believed that the early ancestors of the Shetland Sheepdog actually resembled Spitz-type dogs, not unlike the Greenland Dog or Icelandic Dog. Shetland Isles natives claim that the original dogs barely resembled the modern day Shetland Sheepdog, being smaller than a Collie, but not as small as today’s Shetland Sheepdog. They were also almost always black, or black and white, with a flatter coat. Island natives claim that the original Shetland dogs were bred out. Some argue that the original Shetland island dogs were not herding dogs at all, but were actually just companion and watchdogs that accompanied the herdsmen into town.

When progress came to the Shetland Islands and larger cattle and sheep were introduced, so too came the larger herding dogs to move the herds, such as the Rough Collie. These dogs were eventually crossed to the old Shetland dogs, resulting in a dog that much more resembled the Rough Collie. The offspring of the old Shetland dogs and the Collies eventually made their way to England, where they were further crossed to ancestors of the King Charles Spaniel, Pomeranian, and Border Collie breeds. This creation was originally referred to as “Shetland Collies,” which was not well-accepted by the Collie crowd, so the breed name was eventually changed to the Shetland Sheepdog and nicknamed the “Sheltie.” The breed was further tweaked with more crosses to the Rough Collie to perfect the Rough Collie appearance throughout the early 1900s, and the first American champion Sheltie is rumored to have been half Rough Collie.

Ironically, the breed that we call the Shetland Sheepdog today is not used for herding in the Shetland Isles, nor is it a common breed in that area. However, the Shetland Sheepdog has climbed its way to being one of the most recognizable breeds in the world. They are well-known for their even temper, great disposition, and durability. They can be trained in many disciplines, such as obedience, agility, and some people even use them for herding.

Breed Characteristics

Head: Somewhat elongated and mesaticephalic skull-type, moderate in size, and in proportion to the rest of the body. The head is somewhat narrow in comparison to the length—elegant, yet not overly refined. It tapers only slightly from the back of the skull to the nose, forming a long, blunt wedge. It should not appear dolichocephalic in type like the head of the Scotch Collie, nor should it appear sharply wedge-shaped like that of the Australian Shepherd. The topskull is flat when viewed from any direction. It is moderately wide between the ears without a prominent occiput. The head is clean-cut without excess skin or wrinkle.
Eyes: Moderate in size, oval to almond in shape, and may be set slightly obliquely. They may range from medium to dark brown on dogs that aren’t blue. Merle dogs may have blue eyes, bicolored eyes, or marbled or flecked eyes. The eye rims are well-fitted and well-pigmented. The eyes are never rounded or bulging. There should be sufficient bone in the surrounding orbital sockets to protect the eyes.
Ears: The ears are rather small, set high on the head and close together. When alerted, they are carried forward-facing, semi-erect, with just the tips falling forward. In repose, the ears are held backward.
Muzzle: The muzzle is somewhat long, full throughout, and just slightly tapering from a broad base to the nose. The plane, or bridge of the muzzle, is straight. Upper and lower jaws are well-developed and approximately equal in length, with a well-developed lower jaw that is rounded at the end, but never overly prominent from any direction.
Nose: The nose is well-pigmented and black, or self-colored according to the coat in non-standard color varieties. The nostrils are well-opened.
Neck: Moderate length to allow for proud head carriage and strongly muscled with an arch. The neck tapers smoothly from the deeper and broader body toward the head. The neck is clean-cut and without excess skin, throatiness, or dewlap.
Chest: Deep, broad, but never wider than deep. The brisket extends to the point of the elbows.
Body: Compact and of good substance. The body is never racy and refined nor heavy and cloddy. Width at forequarters is approximately equal to the width at the hindquarters.
Feet: Oval to round and compact, with well-arched toes and tough pads.
Tail: Set low on the croup. It is thick at the base and tapering toward the tip. The tail is carried in accordance with the dog’s mood, usually downward in a relaxed position, but it may be carried at back level, yet never curved over the back or tucked. The tail is of a medium length, with the tip of the last vertebrae extending to the hock joints when held down. The tail may be straight or gently curved.
Movement: Energetic, athletic, efficient, and effortless. The characteristics of healthy structure are evident: when moving away, the forelegs and rear pasterns should remain parallel to one another. When viewing movement from the front, the forelegs should remain parallel, with elbows and paws moving neither in nor out. From the rear, the back pads should be visible when the rear legs are extended. As speed increases, the forelimbs and hindlimbs will converge to the center line of gravity. From the side, the topline should remain firm and level. Good reach of movement in the front allows the forepaw to extend out in a line with the nose. The width between the forefeet when extended should be approximately equal to the width between the hindfeet when extended, indicating balance, good reach, and good drive. Dogs that exhibit any sign of breathing or locomotive difficulty shall be disqualified from the show ring.
Temperament: The Shetland Sheepdog is well-known for his sprightly and tender demeanor. He is alert, energetic, and intelligent. Capable of learning many disciplines, as well as being a loyal companion, this makes the Shetland Sheepdog a wonderful family addition. However, training should be started early to help him to discern the appropriate time for barking, as Shelties are known to use their outside voices indoors, and quite indiscriminately. Also, early socialization should be implemented, as some shelties can tend to fall on the shy side. They are devoted to their families and great with children, but it is not uncommon for mature individuals to be reserved around strangers and even a bit aloof. Any unprovoked aggressive or fearful behavior toward people is incorrect for this breed.
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Breed Standard

BREED GROUP 10: Pastoral and Stock Dog Breeds

Proportions: Off-square to slightly rectangular, with the length of the body measured from the point of the forechest to the point of the rump being just slightly greater than the height at the withers. The ideal body height to length ratio is between 5:4 and 10:9. The body is well-put together, with sturdy substance and medium bone. Males should appear masculine, being more substantial in size and mass, while females should appear more feminine and slightly less substantial. Neither should lack overall type.

Head

General Appearance: Somewhat elongated and mesaticephalic skull-type, moderate in size, and in proportion to the rest of the body. The head is somewhat narrow in comparison to the length—elegant, yet not overly refined. It tapers only slightly from the back of the skull to the nose, forming a long, blunt wedge. It should not appear dolichocephalic in type like the head of the Scotch Collie, nor should it appear sharply wedge-shaped like that of the Australian Shepherd. The topskull is flat when viewed from any direction. It is moderately wide between the ears without a prominent occiput. The head is clean-cut without excess skin or wrinkle.
Expression: Alert, watchful, inquisitive, and intelligent.
Stop: There is a slight but definite stop.
Skull: The ideal muzzle-to-skull ratio is 1:1, with the topskull being equal.
The ideal muzzle-to-skull axis is parallel.
Muzzle: The muzzle is somewhat long, full throughout, and just slightly tapering from a broad base to the nose. The plane, or bridge of the muzzle, is straight. Upper and lower jaws are well-developed and approximately equal in length, with a well-developed lower jaw that is rounded at the end, but never overly prominent from any direction.
Lips or Flews: Lips fit tightly over the teeth and jaws, while allowing a good amount of the lower jaw to be visible in profile. Lips should never cover the entire lower jaw, or fall below the plane of the lower jaw.
Nose: The nose is well-pigmented and black, or self-colored according to the coat in non-standard color varieties. The nostrils are well-opened.
Cheeks: Some padding of the cheeks is present, but overall they should appear flat. The cheeks should not appear chiseled or coarse.
Dentition and Bite: Forty-two strong, clean, white teeth. Bite may be level or scissor. Contact must be made between the top and bottom incisors. Missing or broken teeth as a result of routine work is not to be penalized.
Eyes: Moderate in size, oval to almond in shape, and may be set slightly obliquely. They may range from medium to dark brown on dogs that aren’t blue. Merle dogs may have blue eyes, bicolored eyes, or marbled or flecked eyes. The eye rims are well-fitted and well-pigmented. The eyes are never rounded or bulging. There should be sufficient bone in the surrounding orbital sockets to protect the eyes.
Ears: The ears are rather small, set high on the head and close together. When alerted, they are carried forward-facing, semi-erect, with just the tips falling forward. In repose, the ears are held backward.

Body and Tail

General Description: Compact and of good substance. The body is never racy and refined nor heavy and cloddy. Width at forequarters is approximately equal to the width at the hindquarters.
Neck: Moderate length to allow for proud head carriage and strongly muscled with an arch. The neck tapers smoothly from the deeper and broader body toward the head. The neck is clean-cut and without excess skin, throatiness, or dewlap.
Chest: Deep, broad, but never wider than deep. The brisket extends to the point of the elbows.
Topline: Level from withers to croup. The back is broad, strongly muscled, and straight, yet supple. The loin is taut, being flat and level or slightly arched, yet supportive. The back is never swayed or roached.
Croup: Gently sloped.
Underline: Slight tuck up present. The underline is taut and firm, without any indication of sagging or excess weight.
Ribs: Long, well-sprung, well-laid-back, oval-shaped, never barrel-chested or slab-sided.
Tail: Set low on the croup. It is thick at the base and tapering toward the tip. The tail is carried in accordance with the dog’s mood, usually downward in a relaxed position, but it may be carried at back level, yet never curved over the back or tucked. The tail is of a medium length, with the tip of the last vertebrae extending to the hock joints when held down. The tail may be straight or gently curved.

Forequarters and Hindquarters

Forequarters: Forequarters are always in balance with the hindquarters. Forequarters are well-angulated with well-laid-back shoulder blades. Shoulder blades are approximately equal in length to the upper arm and forearm.
Elbows: Elbows are close to the body. The point of the elbows is approximately half the dog’s height at the withers.
Forelegs: Frontal View: Straight, of good muscle, moderate bone, and parallel to one another.
Side View: The forelimbs appear straight with strong pasterns.
Pasterns: Never weak or broken.
Hindquarters: Upper thigh and lower thigh are equal in length, strong, sturdy, of moderate bone, and well-muscled.
Rear View: When viewed from the rear, the rear pasterns are parallel to one another.
Side View: Good angulation will allow the rear toes to align with the point of the rump or within one to two paw-lengths behind the point of the rump, with the rear pasterns remaining perpendicular to the ground and parallel to one another.
Stifle Joint: Well-angulated with a good bend to well-let-down rear pasterns.
Angulations: Angulation of hindquarters is always in balance with angulation of forequarters.
Feet: Oval to round and compact, with well-arched toes and tough pads.

Coat

Skin: Well-fitted, yet supple. The skin should never obstruct the outline of the dog.
Coat Type: Thick, long, straight, harsh, weather-resistant outer coat supported away from body by short, soft, dense undercoat. Heavy mane, frill, apron, trousers, feathering on back of legs, and plumed tail. Fur on face, ear tips, feet, and front of legs short and smooth.
Coat Color or Pattern: CKC recognizes two color varieties of the Shetland Sheepdog breed: the standard color and nonstandard color variety.
Standard coat color variety: black, black with tan points, creeping tan; or saddle markings, tipped sable, shaded sable, wolf-sable, or clear sable; all with or without merle, all with or without white Irish piebald markings. The eyes and ears should be well-colored to ensure functional hearing and vision. Large patches or amounts of white indicating homogenous merle genotype/phenotype are undesirable.
Non-standard coat color variety: Liver, blue, grey, fawn, brindle, color-headed white (predominantly white body with coloring on the head). Large patches or amounts of white indicating homogenous merle genotype/phenotype are undesirable.

Movement

Energetic, athletic, efficient, and effortless. The characteristics of healthy structure are evident: when moving away, the forelegs and rear pasterns should remain parallel to one another. When viewing movement from the front, the forelegs should remain parallel, with elbows and paws moving neither in nor out. From the rear, the back pads should be visible when the rear legs are extended. As speed increases, the forelimbs and hindlimbs will converge to the center line of gravity. From the side, the topline should remain firm and level. Good reach of movement in the front allows the forepaw to extend out in a line with the nose. The width between the forefeet when extended should be approximately equal to the width between the hindfeet when extended, indicating balance, good reach, and good drive. Dogs that exhibit any sign of breathing or locomotive difficulty shall be disqualified from the show ring.

Temperament

The Shetland Sheepdog is well-known for his sprightly and tender demeanor. He is alert, energetic, and intelligent. Capable of learning many disciplines, as well as being a loyal companion, this makes the Shetland Sheepdog a wonderful family addition. However, training should be started early to help him to discern the appropriate time for barking, as Shelties are known to use their outside voices indoors, and quite indiscriminately. Also, early socialization should be implemented, as some shelties can tend to fall on the shy side. They are devoted to their families and great with children, but it is not uncommon for mature individuals to be reserved around strangers and even a bit aloof. Any unprovoked aggressive or fearful behavior toward people is incorrect for this breed.

Faults

All dogs should be in proper healthy condition, free from disease or defect. Any departure from this description is considered a fault. Unless altered, all male dogs should have two fully descended testicles.