Shetland Sheepdog Breed Magazine features information, expert articles, and stunning photos from AKC judges, breeders, and owners.
Let’s Talk Breed Education!
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Official Standard of the Shetland Sheepdog General Appearance: Preamble - The Shetland Sheepdog, like the Collie, traces to the Border Collie of Scotland, which, transported to the Shetland Islands and crossed with small, intelligent, longhaired breeds, was reduced to miniature proportions. Subsequently crosses were made from time to time with Collies. This breed now bears the same relationship in size and general appearance to the Rough Collie as the Shetland Pony does to some of the larger breeds of horses. Although the resemblance between the Shetland Sheepdog and the Rough Collie is marked, there are differences which may be noted. The Shetland Sheepdog is a small, alert, rough-coated, longhaired working dog. He must be sound, agile and sturdy. The outline should be so symmetrical that no part appears out of proportion to the whole. Dogs should appear masculine; bitches feminine. Size, Proportion, Substance: The Shetland Sheepdog should stand between 13 and 16 inches at the shoulder. Note: Height is determined by a line perpendicular to the ground from the top of the shoulder blades, the dog standing naturally, with forelegs parallel to line of measurement. Disqualifications - Heights below or above the desired size range are to be disqualified from the show ring. In overall appearance, the body should appear moderately long as measured from shoulder joint to ischium (rearmost extremity of the pelvic bone), but much of this length is actually due to the proper angulation and breadth of the shoulder and hindquarter, as the back itself should be comparatively short. Head : The head should be refined and its shape, when viewed from top or side, should be a long, blunt wedge tapering slightly from ears to nose. Expression - Contours and chiseling of the head, the shape, set and use of ears, the placement, shape and color of the eyes combine to produce expression. Normally the expression should be alert, gentle, intelligent and questioning. Toward strangers the eyes should show watchfulness and reserve, but no fear. Eyes medium size with dark, almond-shaped rims, set somewhat obliquely in skull. Color must be dark, with blue or merle eyes permissible in blue merles only. Faults - Light, round, large or too small. Prominent haws. Ears small and flexible, placed high, carried three-fourths erect, with tips breaking forward. When in repose the ears fold lengthwise and are thrown back into the frill. Faults - Set too low. Hound, prick, bat, twisted ears. Leather too thick or too thin. Skull and Muzzle - Top of skull should be flat, showing no prominence at nuchal crest (the top of the occiput). Cheeks should be flat and should merge smoothly into a well-rounded muzzle. Skull and muzzle should be of equal length, balance point being inner corner of eye. In profile the top line of skull should parallel the top line of muzzle, but on a higher plane due to the presence of a slight but definite stop. Jaws clean and powerful. The deep, well-developed underjaw, rounded at chin, should extend to base of nostril. Nose must be black. Lips tight. Upper and lower lips must meet and fit smoothly together all the way around. Teeth level and evenly spaced. Scissors bite . Faults - Two-angled head. Too prominent stop, or no stop. Overfill below, between, or above eyes. Prominent nuchal crest. Domed skull. Prominent cheekbones. Snipy muzzle. Short, receding, or shallow underjaw, lacking breadth and depth. Overshot or undershot, missing or crooked teeth. Teeth visible when mouth is closed. Neck, Topline, Body: Neck should be muscular, arched, and of sufficient length to carry the head proudly. Faults - Too short and thick. Back should be level and strongly muscled. Chest should be deep, the brisket reaching to point of elbow. The ribs should be well sprung, but flattened at their lower half to allow free play of the foreleg and shoulder. Abdomen moderately
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tucked up. Faults - Back too long, too short, swayed or roached. Barrel ribs. Slab-side. Chest narrow and/or too shallow. There should be a slight arch at the loins, and the croup should slope gradually to the rear. The hipbone (pelvis) should be set at a 30-degree angle to the spine. Faults - Croup higher than withers. Croup too straight or too steep. The tail should be sufficiently long so that when it is laid along the back edge of the hind legs the last vertebra will reach the hock joint. Carriage of tail at rest is straight down or in a slight upward curve. When the dog is alert the tail is normally lifted, but it should not be curved forward over the back. Faults - Too short. Twisted at end. Forequarters: From the withers, the shoulder blades should slope at a 45-degree angle forward and downward to the shoulder joints. At the withers they are separated only by the vertebra, but they must slope outward sufficiently to accommodate the desired spring of rib. The upper arm should join the shoulder blade at as nearly as possible a right angle. Elbow joint should be equidistant from the ground and from the withers. Forelegs straight viewed from all angles, muscular and clean, and of strong bone. Pasterns very strong, sinewy and flexible. Dewclaws may be removed. Faults - Insufficient angulation between shoulder and upper arm. Upper arm too short. Lack of outward slope of shoulders. Loose shoulders. Turning in or out of elbows. Crooked legs. Light bone. Feet should be oval and compact with the toes well arched and fitting tightly together. Pads deep and tough, nails hard and strong. Faults - Feet turning in or out. Splay feet. Hare feet. Cat feet. Hindquarters : The thigh should be broad and muscular. The thighbone should be set into the pelvis at a right angle corresponding to the angle of the shoulder blade and upper arm. Stifle bones join the thighbone and should be distinctly angled at the stifle joint. The overall length of the stifle should at least equal the length of the thighbone, and preferably should slightly exceed it. Hock joint should be clean-cut, angular, sinewy, with good bone and strong ligamentation. The hock (metatarsus) should be short and straight viewed from all angles. Dewclaws should be removed. Faults - Narrow thighs. Cow-hocks. Hocks turning out. Poorly defined hock joint. Feet as in forequarters. Coat: The coat should be double, the outer coat consisting of long, straight, harsh hair; the undercoat short, furry, and so dense as to give the entire coat its "standoff" quality. The hair on face, tips of ears and feet should be smooth. Mane and frill should be abundant, and particularly impressive in males. The forelegs well feathered, the hind legs heavily so, but smooth below the hock joint. Hair on tail profuse. Note : Excess hair on ears, feet, and on hocks may be trimmed for the show ring. Faults - Coat short or flat, in whole or in part; wavy, curly, soft or silky. Lack of undercoat. Smooth-coated specimens. Color: Black, blue merle, and sable (ranging from golden through mahogany); marked with varying amounts of white and/or tan. Faults - Rustiness in a black or a blue coat. Washed-out or degenerate colors, such as pale sable and faded blue. Self-color in the case of blue merle, that is, without any merling or mottling and generally appearing as a faded or dilute tri-color. Conspicuous white body spots. Specimens with more than 50 percent white shall be so severely penalized as to effectively eliminate them from competition. Disqualification - Brindle. Gait : The trotting gait of the Shetland Sheepdog should denote effortless speed and smoothness. There should be no jerkiness, nor stiff, stilted, up-and-down movement. The drive should be from the rear, true and straight, dependent upon correct angulation, musculation, and ligamentation of the entire hindquarter, thus allowing the dog to reach well under his body with
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his hind foot and propel himself forward. Reach of stride of the foreleg is dependent upon correct angulation, musculation and ligamentation of the forequarters, together with correct width of chest and construction of rib cage. The foot should be lifted only enough to clear the ground as the leg swings forward. Viewed from the front, both forelegs and hindlegs should move forward almost perpendicular to ground at the walk, slanting a little inward at a slow trot, until at a swift trot the feet are brought so far inward toward center line of body that the tracks left show two parallel lines of footprints actually touching a center line at their inner edges. There should be no crossing of the feet nor throwing of the weight from side to side. Faults - Stiff, short steps, with a choppy, jerky movement. Mincing steps, with a hopping up and down, or a balancing of weight from side to side (often erroneously admired as a "dancing gait" but permissible in young puppies). Lifting of front feet in hackney-like action, resulting in loss of speed and energy. Pacing gait. Temperament: The Shetland Sheepdog is intensely loyal, affectionate, and responsive to his owner. However, he may be reserved toward strangers but not to the point of showing fear or cringing in the ring. Faults - Shyness, timidity, or nervousness. Stubbornness, snappiness, or ill temper.
Scale of Points General Appearance Symmetry
Head Skull and stop
Eyes, ears and expression
Body Neck and back
Chest, ribs and brisket
Loin, croup and tail
Forelegs and feet
Hindquarters Hip, thigh and stifle
Hocks and feet
Gait Gait -smoothness and lack of wasted
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motion when trotting Total
Disqualifications : Heights below or above the desired size range, i.e., 13 to 16 inches. Brindle color.
Approved May 12, 1959 Reformatted July 18, 1990
SHETLAND SHEEPDOG HISTORY
By Charlotte Clem McGowan
he Shetland Sheepdog is not an ancient breed. It was developed in the Shetland and Orkney Islands o ff the coast of Scotland in a relatively
iceland dogs and Yakki dogs as part of the mix. Shetlanders later brought over work- ing Collies when there were larger herds of sheep to tend. But the dogs that worked were generally small, some as small as 10 inches. When holiday makers began visit- ing the Islands from England with their pets, a smart farmer saw a method to increase his income by labeling the dogs as a rare breed indigenous to the Islands to promote and sell them to visitors. Some of the local dogs were crossed with pom- eranians early in the 20th century and an attractive small dog that could still work was promoted as the Shetland Collie. Th e fi rst book on the breed, written by Beryl Th ynne (1916) containing the thoughts of some of the earliest breed- ers indicates the dogs were originally denounced by Collie fanciers as having lit- tle resemblance to each other or to Collies. She states that the working collie, Pomer- anian and even King Charles Spaniel all had a hand in making the breed. In her
short period of time. Because Shetland is a windswept, treeless rocky place, it was hard to make a living there. Much of the livestock such as the sheep and ponies were somewhat miniaturized, possibly due to the poor living conditions at the time. Th e Shetland Sheep, a breed known for their fi ne wool, were more agile and goat like than most larger sheep and crofters used dogs to help them work with these sheep. Th e job of the dogs was to help drive the sheep into stone holding areas to be dipped and to have their wool removed. Another job was to protect lambs from birds of prey and also to protect the crofters’ mea- ger gardens planted close to houses from marauding sheep. In the short summers, sheep might be ferried out to an uninhab- ited island along with a dog or two. Th e dogs kept eagles and other birds of prey away. Th ey were surefooted and could run over the rocky landscape. And they barked a lot to scare away birds and make it pos- sible for the crofter to locate them. Th e original dogs doing this work most likely came from Scandinavia and were possibly spitzlike. Early writings reference
book there is a photo of a dog which looks very much like a Papillon as well. James Loggie (or Logie), a clever dog dealer and breeder on Shetland, formed the Shetland Collie Club in 1908 to pro- mote the “new” breed. He bred a number of breeds including “logie toys” and devel- oped a following for what was thought to be the indiginous island dogs (with a few additives.) He ran into some trouble with some local o ffi cial bodies and emigrated to Australia shortly after that leaving the inter- est of the breed to Charlie Th ompson in Scotland. Th ompson established a club in Scotland in 1909 and took over promotion of the breed. Th en in 1914, fanciers in Eng- land started the English Shetland Sheepdog Club. Th e breed name changed as Col- lie fanciers objected to the Shetland dogs, whose appearance was not close to the Col- lie, being called “Collies” of any kind.
C.F. Thompson, pioneer of the breed in Scotland, picture with Inverness patricia (1909)
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speci fi cally would say where and those secrets went to the grave with him. American fanciers with the means to purchase the best, such as Mrs. Wil- liam Dreer (Anahassitt), William Galla- gher (Page’s Hill before Nate), and others brought many dogs over from England in the 20’sand 30’s, many of which had a heavy preponderance of Collie blood. As a result, size of pups in litters was all over from very small throwing back to the orig- inal island dogs and pomeranians to very large, throwing to the Collies. Mary Van Wagenen of Sea Isle, one of the “mothers” of the breed in the U.S. estimated that Shelties in the U.S. have about 50% Collie blood. Shelties in the UK tend to be sig- ni fi cantly smaller and lighter overall than those in the U.S. Th is may relate to the fact that regular large scale importations from the UK trailed o ff to negligible in the 50’s and exchange of blood between the two countries has been rare since. Th e Ameri- can standard also altered the size provi- sions based on the major issues breeders had with size variations in litters. Instead of using an ideal size of 14 ½" , the club opted for a wide size range. In the UK, the ideal size was listed as a goal. As a result, many modern day U.S. shelties hover close to the 16 inch maximum while many Eng- lish dogs are closer to the UK listed ideal. Th ose interested in a more detailed his- tory may wish to refer to my book, Th e Shetland Sheepdog In America which includes a chapter on the Collie crosses. Eng. Ch. Eltham Park Eureka, a famous dog three times the Collie Teena. Because Teena was listed as a Collie on his export pedigree and the pedigrees of some of his descendants, he could not be registered in the U.S. When Catherine Moore persuaded the English to remove the Collie notation, other descendants were registered and found their way into American pedigrees.
Ch. Mountaineer O’ Page’s Hill, ROM son of Ch. Kim O’ Page’s Hill finished prior to exceeding the height limit. This handsome dog showed an exceptionally strong resemblance and produce many champions and many very large offspring. He is found in the pedigrees of many American pedigrees.
In England, the desire to bring the Shetland Sheepdog into a type resembling a Collie in miniature was strong indeed. In fact, numerous recorded and unrecord- ed crosses were made with full Collies and type evolved quickly and remarkably. Th e recorded Collie crosses in English records Am. Can. Ch. Nashcrest Golden Note ROM by Ch. Prince George D’ Page’s Hill ROM ex Nashcrest Rhythm. Sable Male. Winner of 1954 National Specialty, 104 Best of Breeds, 7 Group wins (in the full working group), 4 Specialty Bests, sire of 26 champions. Note was sired by Temptation’s litter brother and went on to be possible the most important sire of his era.
were an issue in terms of establishing the breed in the U.S. In fact, then ASSA Sec- retary Catherine Coleman Moore traveled to England to get a change whereby export pedigrees would remove notation of which dogs in the pedigrees were Collies so the AKC would accept the pedigrees into the stud book. Unrecorded Collie crosses also continued in the U.S. J. Nate Levine (Page’s Hill) housed a number of red Arken Collies and suddenly there were red Page’s Hill shelties with more Collie Type and with size issues. Nate as much as admitted things were done but never
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THE NUMERIC STANDARD: SHETLAND SHEEPDOGS
by CADIE PRUSS Acadia Shelties
J udges often remark that the Shetland sheepdog (Sheltie) can be a difficult breed to judge and breeders report it is difficult to breed good quality. Attend an American Shetland Sheepdog Association (ASSA) national and one will find various breed type, various grooming styles, various pre- sentation styles and as many opinions are there are participants. While such a large event can be enough to make one’s head spin, the Sheltie is really fortunate to have a well written standard. The written standard concludes with the scale of points (see Table 1) which sums up the Sheltie numerically and guides judges and breeders alike as to which vir- tues should carry the most weight. Early additions of Sheltie Talk , by Betty Jo McK- inney provided Sheltie enthusiast with a form based on the scale of points from which to evaluate individuals. The idea to use this scale of points has gained a renewed interest and has been used for the first two years of the new ASSA Top Twen- ty competition. There is no substitute for reading a breed standard in its entirety and learning all one can about why it came to be written as it was, but finding creative ways to dissect and learn can only help to broaden one’s understanding of the whole, or at least, lead to additional discussions. In my attempt to understand and follow the scale of points (the scale) more closely, I have rearranged the written standard to pair together the parts that are paired in the scale. No words have been changed from the text of the standard, but parts of the standard may be missing from this exercise because they were not mentioned in the scale of points. Again, there is no substitute for reading the standard in its entirety. This is simply an additional way to focus and think about the Sheltie. It’s interesting to note where the high- est points are given and how the total dog
was evaluated. The larger categories of General Appearance (25 pts), Head (20 pts), Body (20 pts), Forequarters (15 pts), Hindquarters (15 pts) and Gait (5 pts) have been further broken down. In some areas, such as under General Appearance, noth- ing has been “lumped together”. Tempera- ment for example, has been weighted with a full 10 points, while under Hindquarters, a structural component such as hocks and feet both have been “lumped” as one and combined are weighted with 5 points. Continuing to use the Hindquarters as the example, one may not be accustomed to the hindquarters evaluation as only the Hip, thigh and stifle and not the croup or tail (included in Body). While fully diving into this evaluation, one may be surprised by what is important, what is listed as a “fault”, what is NOT listed as a “fault” and what, over time, we have placed an empha- size on in this breed. Hopefully judges and breeders have the same goal: the evaluation of breeding stock. For judges, this exercise may help
organize the picture the Sheltie standard is painting. For breeders who feel they have a mind’s eye picture of the perfect Sheltie, this exercise can help get past the super- ficial faults and virtues and help really understand what a dog has to offer to the breeding program. As judges and breeders work together to further improve the prog- ress of a breed, it is helpful to know which areas a breed, as a whole, truly excels in and which areas they need improvement. All methods of evaluation that use the words of the written standard can only serve to deepen one’s understanding. GENERAL APPEARANCE SYMMETRY The outline should be so symmetrical that no part appears out of proportion to the whole. TEMPERAMENT The Shetland Sheepdog is intensely loyal, affectionate and responsive to his owner. He may be reserved towards strang- ers but not to the point of showing fear or
Table 1: Scale of points as found in the written standard for the Shetland Sheepdog SCALE OF POINTS
Forelegs and feet
Skull and stop
Hip, thigh and stifle
Hocks and feet
Eyes, ears and expression
Neck and back
Smoothness and lack of waste motion when trotting
Chest, ribs and brisket
Lion, croup and tail
5 DISQUALIFICATIONS Heights below or above the desired range, i.e. 13-16 inches. Brindle color
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HINDQUARTERS HIP, THIGH AND STIFLE
cringing in the ring. Faults— shyness, timidity, or nervousness, stubbornness, snappiness or ill temper. COAT The coat should be double, the outer coating consisting of long, straight, harsh hair; the undercoat short, furry and so dense as to give the entire coat its “stand- off” quality. The hair on the face, tips of ears and feet should be smooth. Mane and frill should be abundant and particularly impressive in males. The forelegs well feath- ered, the hind legs heavily so, but smooth below the hock joint. Hair on tail profuse. Faults— Coat short or flat, in whole or in part; wavy, curly, soft or silky. Lack of undercoat. Smooth-coated specimens. HEAD SKULL AND STOP The head should be refined and its shape, when viewed from top or side, be a long, blunt wedge tapering slightly from ears to nose. Top of skull should be flat showing no prominence at nuchal crest (the top of the occiput). Cheeks should be flat… Skull and muzzle should be of equal length, balance point being the inner cor- ner of eye. In profile the top line of skull should parallel the top line of muzzle, but on a higher plane due to the presence of a slight but definite stop. Faults— Two- angled head. Too prominent stop, or no stop. Overfill below, between, or above eyes. Prominent nuchal crest. Domed skull. Prominent cheekbones. MUZZLE Cheeks should be flat and should merge smoothly into a well-rounded muzzle… Jaws clean and powerful. The deep, well- developed underjaw, rounded at chin, should extend to base of nostril. Nose must be black. Lips tight. Upper and lower lips must meet and fit smoothly together all the way around. Teeth level and evenly spaced. Faults— Snipy muzzle, short, receding, or shallow underjaw, lacking breadth and depth. Overshot or undershot, missing or crooked teeth. Teeth visible when mouth is closed. EYES, EARS AND EXPRESSION Eyes medium size with dark, almond- shaped rims, set somewhat obliquely in skull. Color must be dark, with blue or merle eyes permissible in blue merles only. Faults— Light, round, large or too small. Prominent haws. Ears small and flexible, placed high, carried three-fourths erect, with tips breaking forward. When in repose the ears fold lengthwise and are thrown back into the frill. Faults— Set too low. Hound,
prick, bat, twisted ears. Leather too thick or too thin. Expression—Contours and chis- eling of the head, the shape, set and use of ears, the placement, shape and color of the eyes combine to produce expression. Normally the expression should be alert, gentle, intelligent and questioning. Toward strangers the eyes should show watchful- ness and reserve, but no fear. BODY NECK AND BACK Neck should be muscular, arched and of sufficient length to carry the head proudly. Faults— Too short and thick. Back should be level and strongly muscled. Faults— Back too long, too short, swayed or roached. LION, CROUP AND TAIL There should be a slight arch at the loins and the croup should slope gradually to the rear. The hipbone (pelvis) should be set at a 30-degree angle to the spine. Faults— Croup higher than withers. Croup too straight or too steep. The tail should be sufficiently long so that when it is laid along the back edge of the hind legs the last vertebra will reach the hock joint. Carriage of tail at rest is straight down or in a slight upward curve. When the dog is alert the tail is normally lifted, but it should not be curved forward over the back. Faults— Too
The thigh should be broad and muscu- lar. The thighbone should be set into the pelvis at the right angle corresponding to the angle of the shoulder blade and upper arm. Stifle bones join the thighbone and should be distinctly angled at the stifle joint. The overall length of the stifle should at least equal the length of the thighbone and preferably should slightly exceed it. Faults— Narrow thighs. HOCKS AND FEET Hock joint should be clean-cut, angular, sinewy, with good bone and strong liga- mentation. The hock (metatarsus) should be short and straight viewed from all angles. Faults— Cow-hocks. Hocks turning out. Poorly defined hock joint. Feet should be oval and compact with the toes well arched and fitting tightly together. Pads deep and tough, nails hard and strong. Faults— Feet turning in or out. Splay feet. Hare feet. Cat feet. GAIT Gait—smoothness and lack of waste motion when trotting. The trotting gait of the Shetland Sheepdog should denote effortless speed and smoothness. There should be no jerkiness, nor stiff, stilt- ed, up-and-down movement. The drive should be from the rear, true and straight, dependent upon correct angulation, mus- culation and ligamentation of the entire hindquarter, thus allowing the dog to reach well under his body with his hind foot and propel himself forward. Reach of stride of the foreleg is dependent upon correct width of chest and construction of rib cage. The foot should be lifted only enough to clear the ground as the leg swings forward. Viewed from the front, both forelegs and hindlegs should move forward almost perpendicular to ground at the walk, slanting a little inward at a slow trot, until at a swift trot the feet are brought so far inward toward center line of body that the tracks left show two parallel lines of footprints actually touching a center line at their inner edges. There should be no crossing of feet nor throwing the weigh from side to side. Faults— Stiff, short steps, with a choppy, jerky movement. Mincing steps, with a hopping up and down, or a balancing of weight from side to side (often erroneously admired as a “dancing gait” but permissible in young puppies). Lifting of front feet in hackney-like action, resulting in loss of speed and energy. Pacing gait.
short, twisted at end. FOREQUARTERS SHOULDER
From the withers, the shoulder blades should slope at a 45-degree angle forward and downward to the shoulder joints. At the withers they are separated only by the vertebra, but they must slope outward sufficiently to accommodate the desired spring of rib. The upper arm should join the shoulder blade at as nearly as pos- sible a right angle. Elbow joint should be equidistant from the ground or from the withers. Faults— Insufficient angulation between shoulder and upper arm. Upper arm too short. Lack of outward slope of shoulders. Loose shoulders. Turning in or out of elbows. FORELEGS AND FEET Forelegs straight viewed from all angles, muscular and clean and of strong bone. Pasterns very strong, sinewy and flexible. Faults— crooked legs. Light bone. Feet should be oval and compact with the toes well arched and fitting tightly togeth- er. Pads deep and tough, nails hard and strong. Faults— Feet turning in our out. Splay feet. Hare feet. Cat feet.
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JUDGING THE SHETLAND SHEEPDOG by LINDA C. MORE
M any people say they find the Sheltie confus- ing and hard to judge, and indeed there is a wide range of size and style and color and markings. The Sheltie standard is well written, thorough and fairly clear, and a full discussion of it is not in the scope of this article. Instead, I will attempt to highlight some things to look for and make a few suggestions on judging technique. The Sheltie is a relatively recent breed, created from crosses with Bor- der Collies and several small and toy breeds—including some small spaniel type dogs—and later with Rough Col- lies. We are still seeing the influence of all these. The breed’s original purpose in brief is said to have been to keep sheep and birds out of unfenced garden areas and guard the small farms, and the dog desired was small, hardy, fast, agile and athletic, with a reserved and watch- ful temperament. It is helpful to keep the breed’s origin and purpose in mind when judging it. The first thing you will look at is overall proportion, balance and outline. This is an off-square dog of modera-
tion and graceful curves. If you want to think of Sheltie proportion on a contin- uum of Herding breeds, place the Shel- tie between the “approximately square” Belgians and the decidedly more rect- angular appearing German Shepherd. Like the Shepherd, though, the Shel- tie’s apparent moderate length should be a result of well angulated quarters, front and rear, rather than a long back and/or long loin. The Sheltie should in no way give you the impression of a longish dog with sawed off legs, nor should it be a box on stilts. At present, the desired elegant outline is harder to find than we wish, and you will see dogs with little neck and dogs with long ewe necks springing from forward set, straight fronts. Next, look at heads and expression; this is so important to the Sheltie’s essence. No matter how well a Shel- tie is made and moves, if the head is poor, the dog is not a good Sheltie. You do not need the perfect head and eye, but you need a reasonably good head and expression. (Conversely, the most perfect head ever seen cannot make an otherwise disastrous animal a good Sheltie.) If you do not pay attention
to and properly examine the Sheltie’s head, the exhibitors will quickly con- clude that you don’t understand or don’t care about heads and may not bother to bring you their best the next time you judge. The standard provides a good blue- print for the head: “refined... viewed from top or side, a long blunt wedge tapering slightly (emphasis added) from ears to nose.” Breeders prize a flat, smooth topskull with no lumps over the eyes, and clean smooth cheeks without prominent zygomatic arches, blending smoothly into the softly rounded muz- zle. You cannot determine the finish of the top and sides of the skull without using your hands. Remember that cor- rect parallel head planes affect many other desired details: the placement of the stop, set of eye, fit of foreface to backskull. The head overall must be in balance and must fit the dog wearing it—it must not be too long and over- done (that “needing a fifth leg” look), nor too short and cutesy. Eyes are almond, not round or beady. The shape and set of the eye are more important than absolute size. If brown, the eyes are very dark; think of a ripe olive. Blue and merle eyes are perfectly acceptable on blue merles, and can be quite beautiful. Blue and merle eyes are not permissible in any color other than blue merle. The set and carriage of the ears affect expression and the appearance of the head, but keep in mind that ears are easily manipulated—in other words, what you see in the ring may be at least partly a result of human interven- tion, not genetics. Don’t let relatively minor ear problems be any more than a deciding factor between otherwise equally good dogs. Please remember also that when Shelties look up, the ears may or may not flip upright— ears that remain tipped are not nec- essarily a sign of cosmetic alteration; some just grow that way. If it is a windy
“THE FIRST THING YOU WILL LOOK AT IS OVERALL PROPORTION, BALANCE AND OUTLINE. THIS IS AN OFF-SQUARE DOG OF MODERATION AND GRACEFUL CURVES.”
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“PLEASE KEEP IN MIND THAT THERE IS NO PREFERRED SIZE IN OUR STANDARD NOR IS THERE ANY SIZE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE SEXES.”
outdoor show, do your exhibitors a favor and let them turn their Shelties away from the wind so that ears won’t blow straight up! Note that while the standard does not specifically call for full dentition, missing teeth are a fault. You may often find a premolar missing, but we are also seeing dogs with many missing teeth, haphazardly crooked teeth, tiny teeth, wry mouths and other serious problems which should not be encouraged. While you are examining the dog on the table, you may find you have a ques- tion as to its size. Please keep in mind that there is no preferred size in our standard nor is there any size difference between the sexes. Thus, a 16" bitch, if she is feminine, is just as correct as a smaller one, and a 14" dog, if masculine, is just as correct as a 15 ½ " dog. In fact, it is more difficult to get a good headed and well made small Sheltie and such a one can be a valuable asset to the breed—the great majority of the Shel- ties in the ring are 14 ½ " and up. If you have any reason to think a dog may not be in size—and almost without excep- tion this will be a question of the upper size limit—do not hesitate to measure! Do not simply ignore the dog—measure it, and if it is in size, place it as far up as you like commensurate with its qual- ity. Sheltie exhibitors quickly learn who will measure, and if you get that repu- tation you will find few oversize dogs are shown to you, which will make your judging easier. The Sheltie’s structure is well described in the standard. Please take the time to boldly go into the hair to determine the true underlying struc- ture! Profuse coats and artful grooming can camouflage many inadequacies— shallow chests, slab sides or barrel ribs, long loins, thin thighs, long hocks and more. Lack of artful grooming can hide a quite adequate neck or make a per- fectly nice topline look rumpy.
What of substance? Some Shelties in the ring today have too much sub- stance and are heavy boned, cloddy, cumbersome looking dogs. It is true that the standard faults light bone, but nowhere does it require heavy bone. When the standard was written, light bone was seemingly perceived as a common problem—not so today. Moreover, Shelties now are generally much more heavily coated, on top of which the current fashion is to groom legs to look fat and fluffy. You will have to feel the legs, front and rear, to determine bone. Sheltie movement is a natural result of correct structure. Again, you can think of it on the same continuum between the gait of the Belgians and that of the German Shepherd. We want efficient and easy motion, adequate reach and drive with good rear follow through, and feet traveling close to the ground. The head is naturally carried somewhat forward, not up in the air or pitched back. The topline is firm and level. Tail carriage in motion is level or slightly raised. The macho male may at times raise the tail almost straight up when posturing, but tails should nev- er curl toward the head or back. The Sheltie is preferably moved on a loose lead at a nice trot—you need not con- done racing! The correct Sheltie coat is a low maintenance, weather resistant one. The outer coat is described as “harsh” but should not be wiry, and at its best the hair feels lively, clean and supple to the touch. The undercoat is soft and lighter in color. The quality of the coat is of greater importance than sheer abundance and does vary seasonably. Bitches frequently carry less. Remember that it is possible to have too much coat, which not only obscures the outline of the dog, but could be a hindrance in a working Sheltie. Exhibitors have become very
clever at thinning and barbering body coat, a practice which is not condoned by the parent club, and you may penal- ize it. Excessive head trimming is also not to be encouraged and as for col- oring, or gooey, glued together or stiff starch coats, there is no need to tolerate them. Markings are not important unless they are faulty, such as prominent body spots or more than 50 % white. A full white collar is handsome but no more preferred than no collar or half a collar, and the same goes for white legs or col- ored legs, blazes or plain faces or “split” faces on blues and bi-color blues. Here I would suggest that in blues especially, or other colors where distribution of markings may mislead the eye, look at the dog from both sides, both the head in profile and the entire dog. This is sim- ple to do when the dog returns from its gaiting pattern. Shelties should not be expected to show on the table or to show non-stop on the ground. If you make a small noise to attract the dog’s attention, the Sheltie may ignore you or even look away—you are a stranger and haven’t been intro- duced! When assessing expression— which should be done when the dog is on the ground, not the table—the best angle may be from slightly behind the exhibitor’s shoulder so that you can see the dog’s face as it responds to its handler. Unlike Toy breeds, Shelties were for many years always examined on the ground. Over time, and to the general relief of judges and exhibitors, using the table for examination became fairly standard procedure. It allows the judge to gain an eye-level perspective of the Sheltie’s overall balance and propor- tion—but once again, please remem- ber that you should not try to evaluate expression on the table, nor encourage exhibitors to bait or show their dogs while on the table.
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JUDGING THE SHETLAND SHEEPDOG
by CHARLOTTE MCGOWAN
S helties are a “newer” breed as established breeds go. The original dogs stood 8-10 inches and were bred for several pur- poses. First, the indigenous dogs were bred to help crofters on Shetland make a living. They helped drive the small sheep into stone pens for dipping and removal of wool. They kept sheep from the meager gardens on these windswept islands, they accompanied sheep to grazing on remote islands, and they kept birds of prey away from lambs and away from fish drying in the sun. The original dogs may have origi- nated in Scandinavia. Then came English vacationers and they became a “rare” breed to be sold as pets. At this point there were crosses with Pomeranians and pos- sibly something like English toy spaniels to make them more attractive small pets. Once they became a breed they needed a name. In appearance, “Shetland Collies” so offended Collie breeders (they looked very little like Collies) that the breed name was changed to Shetland Sheepdog. It was a bit of a rough start. It got rougher when the English Shetland Sheepdog Club (1914) worked hard to create a dog similar to a Collie but much smaller. This type change was accomplished by crossing dogs from Shetland with full sized Collies. Some of the best early dogs were close to the Collie crosses and while they excelled in type, they tended to throw wild size variations. Many of these were shipped to the US to form the base of US breeding.
Today, US Shelties and Shelties in the UK can look very different. What this brief history means to judges is that breeders have battled with major appearance variations and a continu- ing battle with size since the breed was established here... Shelties are generally considered to be a specialist type breed. Why? While the standard clearly states that the dog’s out- line should be so symmetrical that no part appears out of proportion to the whole, there are details, lots of important details, and details that separate the Sheltie from the Collie. A Sheltie must have it all—a beautiful, graceful, functional outline, a beautiful, correctly detailed head, sound legs, agility, and the endearing temperament and will- ingness that has made so many devotees for the breed. In outline, everything must fit together. The outline consists of a graceful curve of the neck into well laid shoulders, a level relatively short back, and a graceful curve of the croup to the set on of the tail. The dog is well angulated with balanced angu- lation front and rear and is longer than tall but never overlong since much of the length has to do with proper angles. Shelties should never appear short on leg (Breeders call these “scorgies.”) Shelties should be extremely agile. They should be able to clear a fairly tall fence. They excel in agility when well made. So short legs are a definite drag on the breed.
The Sheltie head is detailed, distinctive and there is a great degree of difficulty breeding it to be exactly right. As the stan- dard says, it’s all about balance. Skull and muzzle are equal in length. The shape is a refined long blunt wedge looking down or from the side. This refinement has a lot to do with clean flat cheeks to make that wedge shape viewed from the sides. The planes of the head are parallel and the stop is slight but definite. Parallel planes mean a flat skull and a straight line on the top of the muzzle. There is delicate chiseling of the head. Shelties have sufficient muzzle and underjaw to complete the blunt wedge shape viewed from the side. The muzzle is nicely finished and never snipey. But the whole thing is refined, not bulky. Now add the beautiful dark eyes (blue allowed in merles) set slightly obliquely and the beautiful high set small ears tipped ¾ erect. And let the head show a sweet, beguiling, intelligent expression in this exquisitely refined head. Sheltie structure should be exemplary. With excellent angulation in front once again there is balance with the shoulder blade and upper arm of equal length. There is a slight bend in the pastern and the feet should be oval (not round) and compact and strong. There is excellent angulation in the rear with well let down hocks. This angulation balances the angulation in the front. There is no turning in or out looking front or rear. The body has nicely sprung ribs and an oval rib cage. The tail should be
“A SHELTIE MUST HAVE IT ALL—A BEAUTIFUL, GRACEFUL, FUNCTIONAL OUTLINE, A BEAUTIFUL, CORRECTLY DETAILED HEAD, SOUND LEGS, AGILITY, AND THE ENDEARING TEMPERAMENT AND WILLINGNESS THAT HAS MADE SO MANY DEVOTEES FOR THE BREED.”
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carried as an extension of the backline, not elevated above the back. Sheltie coats should be waterproof and double. They should have a harsh outer- coat and a soft undercoat. The coat should not be soft, curly or wavy. Quality of coat is more important that quantity. Sheltie colors are not difficult except that we have some breeders who ignore the standard and show dogs that have too much white. The wording on white came about because when the standard was revised, AKC did not want the club to add both a DQ for height and a DQ for predom- inantly white. The wording in the standard reflects the club’s desire to eliminate more than 50% from competition. The colors are Black, blue merle and Sable. The problem is that merle is a dilution factor and when breeders ignore that, they can come up with what is called a sable merle. Sable merle is NOT a listed color for the breed. Sheltie temperament is that of an intensely loyal, intelligent, responsive dog that is reserved toward strangers but will- ing, ready and able to do what his owner wants to do. Sheltie gait is light footed, sure, ground covering, smooth and balanced. The dog carries its head forward as it goes. It never looks like work when everything is correct. Note this is a full dentition breed. Look at the whole mouth including premolars. Some Shelties these days are very short of teeth. As a judge, here are some insider com- ments. Some handlers have gone over the cliff with grooming. The Sheltie is sup- posed to be a beautiful, essentially natural breed. Catherine Moore, author of the first important American book on the breed called them Fairy Collies. The dogs should be sturdy but not bulky in bone. Shelties should not have legs back brushed to look like tree trunks or the rough around the neck sculptured, teased or sprayed! The outline should be there without attempts to groom it in. Dogs with teased roughs will have an odd outline gaiting. The rough should not be combed up over the top of the ears! I will also mention foreign and domestic substances. No hair spray should be used. These are not poodles or Bichons. These are herding dogs. The dogs should not be enhanced with black and brown chalks. And then to ears—check them. Dogs with globs of powdered metal filings to get the ears to tip should be excused.
Anything brown or black should not come off on your hands. I always say subtle should have a capital B in it that is neither seen or heard or in this case felt. Now as to size, remember the breed history. Size is a constant issue. The stan- dard is 13-16 inches and outside of those limits is a DQ. 99.999% of DQs will come at the top of the standard. As a breeder, I value a really good dog in the middle of the standard. It would be nice not to always be pushing against the upper limit. Feel free to measure. There are many things listed in the stan- dard as faults. Take them all seriously. As a breeder, flatness at the zygomatic arch on the side of the head is very difficult
to get. When you get it in your ring, prize it. Sliding stops and fat backskulls are not correct type. Always remember this is a whole dog, beautiful overall and beautiful in every detail. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Charlotte McGowan is the author of The Shetland Sheepdog in America . She has judged close to 60 Sheltie specialties including the ASSA National on 5 occa- sions. Charlotte judges all sporting, work- ing, terrier, toy and herding breeds, JS and BIS. She bred shelties for 37 years and had Dandie Dinmont terriers for 24 years. She has been breeding Papillons since 1985.
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By E. Katie Gammill
he Shetland sheepdog, often called the “toonie or town dog”, originated in the Shetland Islands o ff Scotland. Frequently referred to as a “miniature
Originally the Shetland sheepdog was used for protection and droving. Accus- tomed to mist and sea level climates, the sheltie’s sense of responsibility, courage, stamina, agility, and intelligence was greatly admired. Th eir thick double coat protected them from extreme elements and rough terrain. Th e rugged climate and sparse vegetation of the islands produced sheep, cattle and ponies of diminutive sizes. Although the crofter’s habitat and resources were limited, they valued the smaller dogs. Th e sheltie served as an e ffi - cient herder and fi reside companion. Th is double coated, sturdy breed can exist inside or outside, although their preference is the family unit. Th ey should never be tied out and they require a fenced yard for safety due to their “herding” instinct. Th ey herd children, cars, bicy- cles, squirrels, and love to play ball. Th e sweet sheltie expression and fl owing coat is something to behold. Th eir beauty and grace comes naturally; exuberant at times, they are polite and clean about themselves and are easily housebroken.
Shelties do not constantly shed, but do “blow coat” seasonally. Spayed and neutered pets tend to hold coat longer. Brushing is required. However started early, shelties enjoy the attention. Once the undercoat is removed, the coat will then grow back in for the next few months with little shedding. Unlike short coated dogs that tend to shed all year long, the blowing coat yearly is a positive. Proper care makes for a happy, healthy sheltie. Shetland Sheepdogs are exceptionally smart. One might say they are “people readers”. Th ey aim to please, are easily trained, and adapt to most situations. If one has young children, it’s best to pur- chase a puppy. Older dogs adjust to seniors easily, but shelties are somewhat reserved in a new situation. If one is fortu- nate enough to adopt a retired show dog, they will be rewarded with a perfect com- panion. Shelties are very sensitive and, if mistreated, will choose to avoid the per- son who corrects them in anger. Most are unforgiving. However, once they accept a new person, their a ffi nity for your moods
collie”, the sheltie may appear a reduced ver- sion of its ancestor the collie, but the collie and sheltie have diverse temperaments. It is up to individual preference which breed one chooses for their companion. Initially the Shetland sheepdog was the size of a large house cat and was called a “pixie” or “fairy” dog. Th eir genetic back- ground includes the Greenland Yakki dog, the King Charles spaniel, the Welsh and Scottish collie, and possibly the Pomera- nian. Upon occasion one may see prick or drooping ears, curly tails, wavy coats, or spaniel spots. Th is comes from the dispar- ity of the sheltie’s background. However, neither size nor genetic irregularities a ff ect the Shetland sheepdog’s ability to charm or its adaptability to perform many required tasks. Th e Shetland sheepdog can be a lap dog or a jogging companion.
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is re fl ected in their desire to be what you need them to be at a speci fi c time. Th ey have been known to grieve for the passing of a loved one and, being pack oriented, will also grieve the loss of a kennel mate. Shelties are protectors and bark to alert when something appears awry. Being somewhat territorial, they have keen boundary awareness. Th eir uncanny sense of identifying problems is still engaged today and one can be well served to listen to what their sheltie has to say. Shelties are versatile. Th ey excel in agil- ity, obedience, rally, herding, tracking and in the conformation ring. Th e current stan- dard calls for the size of over 13"-16" at the shoulder. Dogs larger or smaller fall into a disquali fi cation regarding the UK and AKC conformation events; however inches have little to do with the size of their heart. Within a controlled area, they are an excellent farm dog. Loyal, playful and ded- icated to their owner, the most rewarding aspect of the breed is “they are ever youth- ful”! Most think they are a “little person in a fur coat” and admittedly, this has a cer- tain charm. Puppy pranks and antics are a part of old age and correction of younger kennel mates is their mission. Shelties passing the Good Citizenship Award work in therapy, nursing homes, hos- pitals, and adapt well with children. Some are used as “hearing ear” dogs, seizure dogs, and others fi ll the bill without training. Th eir beauty, compliance, and a ff ection- ate nature make them “crowd pleasers” and they have immense “curb appeal”. One very important sheltie is currently used in psychotherapy. “Jake”, as he is known, provides warmth and acceptance to patients who have been hurt by words or other humans. Jake is intuitive and dif- ferent with each patient and provides atten- tive eyes and non-judgmental ears. He can be quiet and compassionate or interactive as he has no vanity or ambition and he is
not concerned with role or status. Free of intellectual pretensions, Jake does not fear emotion. Th erefore, he serves as a bridge that connects his therapist with uncoopera- tive and uncommunicative persons. Upset adults and children change from tears to smiles when emotional defenses soften. Th is particular sheltie is so successful that other psychotherapy clinicians request him for their patients. Earning a dual descrip- tion, Jake is known as a “security blanket” and “ice breaker”. Other animals work in this fi eld, but shelties are described as awe- some with depressed and anxious individu- als. Th ey evoke loving feelings with their uncritical acceptance. Th e Shetland sheepdog is a joyful, captivating breed. Some shelties may be barkers. Th erefore, when buying a shel- tie, one should ask to see the parents and watch the interaction with both the owners and the kennel mates. Th ey eas- ily accept other breeds, but should not be put with aggressive working breeds. Having lived with this breed over fi fty years, and having owned a variety of other breeds, I must say the Shetland sheepdog breed owns my heart. Th eir beauty and antics fi ll my eye and lift my spirit. Th eir e ff ervescent personality is a fi t for anyone who wants a true companion. When it comes to the Shetland sheep- dog, my life would be dull without one by my side. For those who desire a small, dedi- cated, gentle, responsible pet, the Shetland sheepdog comes in a variety of colors. A ffi li- ation with the breed has introduced me to a wealth of friends and o ff ered many diverse opportunities. Th eir soft paw and gentle expression cannot be denied and their dog- gy snores bring comfort during the night. Th e bottom line is: when it comes to a Shet- land sheepdog, “What’s not to love?” For a deeper understanding of this delightful breed: Refer to: Sheltie Talk- Alpine Publications, Loveland, Colorado.
An AKC judge since 1977, I cur- rently judge Work- ing Group, Herd- ing Group, and a variety of Hounds and Toy breeds, as well as Junior Handling. Miscel- laneous, and Best in Show. A retired buyer of hydrau-
lics and electronics for Ingersoll Rand, my husband and I have bred dogs and horses since 1965, I’m a freelance writer for www. thedogplace.com, and was voted writer for MOST REQUESTED REPRINTS IN 2011. My monthly newspaper column “Dog Speak” educates the public regarding pet care and responsibility. I have judged numerous nationals and breed specialties. Our family’s participa- tion in Conformation and Performance in both dogs and horses solidi fi es the impor- tance of form and function as well as breed type. We still breed and show dogs on a limited basis. I enjoy mentoring and o ff er a Form and Function Program regarding Basic Dog 101. A member of the Mattoon Kennel Club, CADAC, ASSA, and breed speci fi c orga- nizations, I assist in public awareness and education. Involved in “Bite Prevention Programs” in lower grades, I participate in Puppy Socialization, Basic Obedience, and currently teach Conformation classes on a limited basis. I am current chair for “Know Your Breed” seminars at a local level. Married 56 years, we are retired and live on Indian Creek Farms near Lerna, IL. Paul is a hunter and fi sherman. When not judging, I am an avid reader, writer, painter, poet and active breeder. Austra- lian Cattle Dogs and Shetland Sheepdogs keep us active, busy and young.
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