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About Shetland Sheepdog

The Shetland Sheepdog, or "Sheltie" as it is affectionately known, originates from the Shetland Islands where it was used by crofters as a sheepdog and guardian around the farm.   Few Shelties are used today for their original purpose as sheepdogs, but those people who have worked them vouch for their incredible stamina and instinctive ability to herd.   First introduced into Australia in 1936, the Shetland Sheepdogs future was assured thanks to a number of very dedicated breeders, whose work is now continued and supported by the various breed clubs around the country.   Often referred to as a miniature Collie, the Shetland Sheepdog certainly has the overall appearance of the Rough Collie, however it is a breed in its own right and possesses some minor distinguishing features, apart from the obvious size difference.
Average Lifespan
When considering a dog, please realise that you are taking it on for its lifetime.  Shetland Sheepdogs live from between 12 to 16 years of age.
Breed Personality/Characteristics/Temperament
Although rather a small dog, the Shetland Sheepdog is certainly not fragile.  When feed was in short supply on the farms, the original Shelties were ferried onto the small outlying islands with a flock of sheep and left for long periods to guard the flock of sheep and fend for themselves.  Only the hardy would have been able to survive.   When brought back to the farms after such isolation, the dogs would thrive on attention and affection.  It is probably this part of their history that makes them so devoted to their owners, but suspicious of intruders and intent on protecting the family.   Aside from the many attributes that make them an ideal family pet, Shetland Sheepdogs have proved to be very popluar show dogs, and are frequently seen taking top honours in both overseas and Australian shows.   The breed has also proven its worth in obedience competition, where its innate intelligence and eagerness to please have placed it among the best.  In a recent survey of canine intelligence, the Sheltie was ranked sixth out of all breeds.
Compatibility with other pets
Excellent.  It can live happily with the family cat plus will get along with most other dogs.
Care Requirements
The Shetland Sheepdogs glamorous jacket requires surprisingly little attention.  A brush and a comb behind the ears each week will keep it in good condition.  The breeds double coat enables it to adapt to both hot and cold weather, the second layer (undercoat) giving insulation against both heat and cold.  This breed does not need constant bathing but likes to keep clean.   A Sheltie loves to please and this trait makes it easy to house-train.  With a little early effort in this regard, you will have an extremely clean pet that will tell you when it needs to go outside.   An ideal family pet, it is equally happy in a suburuban backyard or running free in open spaces.
Please Take Note
While the Shetland Sheepdog is certainly capable of barking, it is also smart enough to be trained not to bark unnecessarily.  It makes an excellent watchdog that will alert you to visitors or unusual occurences
Ideal Owner/s
Almost anyone will benefit from owning  a Shetland Sheepdog.  The ideal owner is someone who understands the need for occasional grooming.
In Conclusion
Now you know a little about the Shetland Sheepdog and have decided this is the dog for you or you want more information, make contact with the breed club or your State controlling body for purebred dogs.  They will be able to give you information about available puppies and also suggest dog shows where you can see the breed and speak to breeders.  In this way you will gain a better perspective of the breed and its needs.
The ANKC breed standard for the Shetland Sheepdog is listed below.
Kennel Club, London 1994

F.C.I. Standard No. 88


GENERAL APPEARANCE- Small, long haired, working dog of great beauty, free from cloddiness and coarseness.  Outline symmetrical so that no part appears out of proportion to whole.  Abundant coat, mane and frill, shapeliness of head and sweetness of expression combine to present the ideal. 

CHARACTERISTICS - Alert, gentle, intelligent, strong and active. 

TEMPERAMENT - Affectionate and responsive to his owner, reserved towards strangers, never nervous. 

HEAD AND SKULL - Head refined; when viewed from top or side a long, blunt wedge, tapering from ear to nose.  Width of skull in proportion to length of skull and muzzle.  Whole to be considered in connection with size of dog.  Skull flat, moderately wide between ears, with no prominence of occipital bone.  Cheeks flat, merging smoothly into well rounded muzzle.  Skull and muzzle of equal length, dividing point inner corner of eye.  Topline of skull parallel to topline of muzzle, with slight but definite stop.  Nose, lips and eye rims black.  The characteristic expression is obtained by the perfect balance and combination of skull and foreface, shape, colour and placement of eyes, correct position and carriage of ears. 

MOUTH - Jaws level, clean, strong with a well-developed underjaw.  Lips tight.  Teeth-sound with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws.  A full complement of 42 properly placed teeth highly desired. 

EYES - Medium size obliquely set, almond shape.  Dark brown except in the case of merles, where one or both may be blue or blue flecked. 

EARS - Small, moderately wide at base, placed fairly close together on top of skull.  In repose, thrown back; when alert brought forward and carried semi-erect with tips falling forward. 

NECK - Muscular, well arched, of sufficient length to carry head proudly. 

FOREQUARTERS - Shoulders very well laid back.  At withers separated only by vertebrae, but blades sloping outwards to accommodate desired spring of ribs.  Shoulder joint well angled.  Upper arm and shoulder blade approximately equal in length.  Elbow equidistant from ground and withers.  Forelegs straight when viewed from front, muscular and clean with strong bone.  Pasterns strong and flexible. 

BODY - Slightly longer from point of shoulder to bottom of croup than height at withers.  Chest deep, reaching to point of elbow.  Ribs well sprung, tapering at lower half to allow free play of forelegs and shoulders.  Back level, with graceful sweep over loins, croup slopes gradually to rear. 

HINDQUARTERS - Thigh broad and muscular, thigh bones set into pelvis at right angles.  Stifle joint has distinct angle, hock joint clean cut, angular, well let down with strong bone.  Hocks straight when viewed from behind. 

FEET - Oval, soles well padded, toes arched and close together. 

TAIL - Set low; tapering bone reaches to at least hock; with abundant hair and slight upward sweep.  May be slightly raised when moving but never over level of back.  Never kinked. 

GAIT/MOVEMENT - Lithe, smooth and graceful with drive from hindquarters, covering the maximum amount of ground with the minimum of effort.  Pacing, plaiting, rolling or stiff, stilted, up and down movement highly undesirable. 

COAT - Double; outer coat of long hair, harsh textured and straight.  Undercoat soft, short and close.  Mane and frill very abundant, forelegs well feathered.  Hindlegs above hocks profusely covered with hair, below hocks fairly smooth.  Face smooth.  Smooth coated specimens highly undesirable. 

Sables - Clear or shaded, any colour from pale gold to deep mahogany, in its shade, rich in tone.  Wolf sable and grey undesirable. 
Tri-colours - intense black on body, rich tan markings preferred. 
Blue Merles - clear silvery blue, splashed and marbled with black.  Rich tan marking preferred but absence not penalised.  Heavy black markings, slate or rust tinge in either top or undercoat highly undesirable; general effect must be blue. 
Black & White and Black & Tan - are also recognised colours. 
White markings may appear (except on black and tan) in blaze, collar and chest, frill, legs and tip of tail.  All or some white markings are preferred (except on black and tan) but absence of these markings not to be penalised.  Patches of white on body highly undesirable. 

Height: Dogs 37 cm (14. ins) at withers 
Bitches 35.5 cm (14 ins) at withers 
More than 2.5 cms (1 in) above or below these heights highly undesirable. 

FAULTS - Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree.

NOTE - Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum. 

Working Dog Group     A.N.K.C.     January 1998

Extract from 



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