The Shetland Sheepdog, often known as the Sheltie, is a breed of herding dog. They are small to medium dogs, and come in a variety of colors, such as sable, tri-color, and blue merle. They are vocal, excitable, energetic dogs who are always willing to please and work hard. They are partly derived from dogs used in the Shetland Isles for herding and protecting sheep. The breed was formally recognized by the Kennel Club in 1909.
The Shetland Sheepdog's early history is not well known. Although of obscure origin, the sheltie is probably a descendant of small specimens of the Scottish collie and the King Charles spaniel. It was developed to tend the diminutive sheep of the Shetland Islands, whose rugged, stormy shores have produced other small-statured animals such as the Shetland pony. Today it is raised as a farm dog and family pet.
They were originally a small mixed-breed dog, often 10–13 inches (250–330 mm) in height and it is thought that the original Shetland herding dogs were of Spitz type, and were crossed with collie-type sheepdogs from mainland Britain. In the early 20th century, James Loggie added a small Rough Collie to the breeding stock, and helped establish what would become the modern Shetland sheepdog.
The original name of the breed was "Shetland Collie", but this caused controversy among Rough Collie breeders at the time, so the breed's name was formally changed to Shetland Sheepdog.
Unlike many miniature breeds that resemble their larger counterparts, this breed was not developed simply by selectively breeding the Rough Collie for smaller and smaller size. The original sheepdog of Shetland was a Spitz-type dog, probably similar to the modern Icelandic sheepdog. This dog was crossed with mainland working collies brought to the islands, and then after being brought to England, it was further extensively crossed with the Rough Collie, and other breeds including some or all of the extinct Greenland Yakki, the King Charles Spaniel, the Pomeranian, and possibly the Border Collie. The original Spitz-type working sheepdog of Shetland is now extinct, having been replaced for herding there by the Border Collie. The Shetland Sheepdog in its modern form has never been used as a working dog on Shetland, and ironically it is uncommon there.
When the breed was originally introduced breeders called them Shetland Collies, which upset Rough Collie breeders, so the name was changed to Shetland Sheepdog. During the early 20th century up until the 1940s, additional crosses were made to Rough Collies to help retain the desired Rough Collie type. In fact, the first AKC Sheltie champion's dam was a purebred Rough Collie.
The year 1909, marked the initial recognition of the Sheltie by the English Kennel Club, with the first registered Sheltie being a female called Badenock Rose. The first Sheltie to be registered by the American Kennel Club was "Lord Scott" in 1911.
Source: Norsk Shetland Sheepdog Klubb, American Kennel Club, Dog Breed info Center, Wikipedia
The Sheltie is a pleasant and active family dog with a generally good temperament. Docile and alert with a pleasant temperament. Loving, loyal and affectionate with its family, this breed needs people. Socialize it well starting at puppyhood. One should be aware that the breed still has a strong herding instinct and can add up to chase cars, cyclists and other things that move quickly. The breed requires regular and stable owners, but should be treated gently in all respects. Often, a small cough is enough for the dog to understand that it has done sometihing wrong. Many Sheltie owners have experience with so-called clicker training. Breed requires both mental and physical challenges to thrive to the maximum, although it is not particularly demanding exercise in nature. In that way it is suitable for most people. It is considered good with children within the family, but are often somewhat wary of strangers.
The coat needs regular brushing to prevent it from tangling. It should be early accustomed to brushing, especially on hindlegs and tail where the coat is rough. Ears and teeth should be checked regularly. It should also get used to bathing and blow-drying early on, but it should not be shampooed more often than once a month. Shelties are usually not too fond of water, although this is individual.
Shetland Sheepdogs are a small breed. The male should average around 13-15 inches in height, with the female reaching around 12-14 inches. The weight of the male Shetland Sheepdog is around 14-18 pounds, with females reach approximately 12-16 pounds in weight. The head is blunt wedge shaped with flat skull, moderately wide and without pronounced occiput, cheeks are flat and the muzzle is rounded. Skull and muzzle are of equal length and parallel with easily marked stop. It has an alert expression. The teeth meets in a scissors or level bite. The nose is black. The almond-shaped eyes are dark; however, blue eyes can appear in the blue merle coat. The small ears are 3/4 erect with the tips folding forward. The neck is arched and muscular. The long tail is feathered, carried straight down, or at a slight upward curve. The tail should reach to the hock.
The double coat is long and abundant all over the body, but is shorter on the head and legs, and the coat forms a mane around the neck and chest. The outer coat is straight and harsh to the touch, and the undercoat is soft and tight. Coat colors come in blue merle, sable and black with various amounts of white and/or tan.
Shetland Sheepdog was originally used for herding of small animals and birds at home on the farms in the Shetland Islands. But it also had an important role alerting if animals or humans approached the farm. Today it is primarily used as a companion dog, but it is still an excellent herding dog. It is easy to learn and fast, making it a highly popular dog in agility and obedience competitions. Because of their small size, Shelties can do well in an apartment if their people are committed to providing daily walks and playtime, as well as training them not to bark incessantly. While they can be relatively inactive indoors, Shelties were bred to be working farm dogs and need ample exercise. They enjoy going for walks, playing fetch with the kids, and running around the dining room table. Afterward, they'll help you hold down the sofa. Try to keep training interesting for your dog. Shelties can become bored easily, and see no point in repeating an exercise multiple times if it was done correctly the first time.
Eye disease is one of the most common and harmful health problems encountered by Shelties. Shetland Sheepdogs are prone to Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), Collie Eye Anomaly and also Corneal Dystrophy.