Shetland sheepdogs

sheltie grooming ARTICLES conditions that affect a sheltie

To Test or not to Test Is the Sheltie right for you The Sheltie - what is a judge looking for?
  The Sheltie vs the Rough Collie  

Mary E. Galloway DVM

As ASSA Health chairperson, people who want to purchase a Sheltie frequently contact me asking what they should know about the breed’s health problems. A recent call highlighted some concerns expressed by both breeders and owners about the current focus on canine health and research and how it reflects on the perceived health of purebred dogs and Shelties in particular.
"I am interested in buying a Sheltie but when I hear about all the tests my puppy’s parents should have it worries me. I see your club is involved in various health research projects and is trying to raise money for further research. Should I look for a healthier breed? When I spoke with one breeder I was told about all the tests her dogs have had for a lot of diseases. I can get a Sheltie from another person who told me they don’t have to test for problems since they don’t have any in their lines. What do you think?"

Testing for diseases and monitoring the occurrence of diseases by breed clubs and breeders does not indicate that problems exist in that breed or line. In fact it is a positive indication that the people who breed these dogs are trying to produce the healthiest puppies they can. As researchers become more aware of the underlying causes for many diseases in our dogs, breeders try to use all the resources available to them to produce healthy dogs. This includes feeding a proper diet, providing proper exercise and housing and may include testing for abnormal conditions or diseases that exist in the breed. Testing for specific conditions will allow only unaffected animals to be used for breeding. The abnormal conditions currently recognized in Shelties are found in low numbers in the breed. Testing will allow these uncommon conditions to remain uncommon or even be eliminated from the breed.

A test may be one that screens for the presence of a condition or disease. This would include eye exams (CERF)**, radiographs of the hips for hip dysplasia (OFA, PennHip) or a blood test for thyroid disease. When a dog has one of these tests done it will tell the owner whether the condition is present in that dog at that time. Many of these tests need to be repeated throughout the dog’s lifetime since the condition can develop as the animal matures and ages. Some tests are done just once at a predetermined age since it is unlikely the condition will develop after that time. Checking for these conditions will allow breeders to breed only dogs that appear normal. What must be remembered is that although the dog may not show the condition him/herself these tests do not show if the dog is genetically free of the problem. The dog may appear normal but carry recessive genes. When this dog is bred to another dog also carrying recessive genes they may produce animals that will develop the disease. This is how affected animals can come from "normal" parents. The best safeguard we have to reduce or eliminate these problems in our dogs is to screen all breeding stock and breed only from those who are free of the condition. In the case of eye checks and thyroid testing, it must be repeated many times in a dog’s lifetime since these abnormalities may not appear until an animal is older. If all animals in the first 3-4 generations of your puppy’s pedigree have been tested and found normal it is unlikely that your puppy will develop the condition. It is important to point out that many of the disease conditions we recognize as having a genetic basis can also be influenced by the environment. The development of hip dysplasia is a good example. Research has shown diet and exercise as well as growth rates, can influence the development of hip dysplasia. Obesity can cause or aggravate a number of disease conditions in dogs. It is the owner’s responsibility to know how to correctly feed, house and exercise their growing puppy to ensure a healthy adult and to maintain good health in your adult dog.

The only absolute way to know your puppy will not develop a certain disease or condition is through genetic testing. A genetic test allows us to know what is actually coded in the genes of the animal being bred. It is not influenced by environment or outside stresses. It will tell you what genes the dog actually carries and not just which ones are expressed. Research is unlocking the key to many diseases in dogs and people. As these tests are developed and become available, breeders will test their breeding stock and know the genetic makeup of each animal. This will allow breedings to be planned to avoid producing affected offspring and to eventually eliminate the disease from the breed. The only genetic based test currently available for the Shetland Sheepdog is for von Willebrand’s Disease, a bleeding disorder. (As of 2008, additional DNA tests have become available. See the CHIC section.)

That is why all this research is so important. Projects are underway to study many of the conditions that affect our Shelties today. Funding is needed for other projects that are of equal importance. As we eliminate one disease from our animals there will be others to demand our attention. That is why parent clubs like the ASSA monitor the breed through health surveys. Living creatures including dogs and man are constantly changing. Gene mutations are an ongoing process. Some mutations will produce disease conditions not recognized today.
It is said all people carry 5-6 lethal genes as well as numerous genes that can cause the development of many disease conditions. The same is probably true for our dogs. The challenge for breeders is to use all the knowledge available today to avoid breeding animals together that carry the same deleterious genes. There is no dog or line of dogs that is free of all disease causing genes. If testing is not done, breeders may not be aware of problems that exist, but they are still there. It is true some diseases can’t be tested for at this time. They can be unpredictable and the best we can do is not use for breeding animals that develop the condition.

So don’t be afraid of a breed or breeder that is active in health research and testing of their breeding animals. This indicates the acceptance of responsibility and an ongoing effort to produce beautiful healthy Shelties.
ASSA Admin

The Shetland Sheepdog, or ‘Sheltie' as they are often called, generally resembles the Collie in miniature. Because of the similarity, they are often called a Miniature Collie, but the Sheltie is actually a distinctly separate breed, and was not bred down from the fullsize Collie. The breed evolved from hardy ancestors which lived on the Shetland Islands off the northeast coast of Scotland. The Sheltie developed as a hardy herding dog, alert guard dog, and an intelligent and affectionate companion. Their attentiveness and his willingness to obey were qualities desired by the crofter and the shepherd.

Shelties have an intense desire to please their owners and an enormous capacity for love and affection, although they can be a bit reserved or reticent with strangers. They are not recommended for people, or very young children, who would not appreciate their sensitive nature.

As a Sheltie matures, he often learns to respond in an almost human fashion, and becomes a real member of the family. The Sheltie is exceptionally trainable and responsive, plus being an outstanding worker in obedience, herding, and agility trials. Shelties raised as pets develop a great deal of loyalty to their owners and seem to have a natural affinity for children, being gentle and loving companions for them. Unlike some other breeds, there is little difference in temperament between male and female Shelties, although some feel that males are more affectionate and make better pets. Early socialization experiences will help a young Sheltie mature into the desired companion. Shelties are very alert and protective, and will bark to let you know something is different in their realm.

According to the standard of the breed, the ideal Sheltie should stand between 13" and 16" at the shoulder, and will generally weigh 20-25 pounds. Both oversize and undersize Shelties can appear in the same litter, and can make great pets. Another common fault is incorrect ear carriage - the top of the ears should tip forward, and a good breeder can give you advice on proper ear care through puppyhood. Although a breeder cannot predict accurately that a young puppy will have correct ears or be within proper size range when grown, they can give you an educated guess about those qualities.

Although both of these aspects are important for the show/breeding prospect, they will have no effect upon your Sheltie’s qualities as a good pet. The Sheltie comes in five acceptable colors, all set off by white markings: The most common color is Sable ranging from golden brown to mahogany, with touches of black; Tri-color with black, and tan; Blue Merle with blue grey, black, and tan; Bi-blue with blue-grey and black; and Bi-black with only black and white.

Shelties have a double coat, the outer layer consisting of long, straight, coarse hair, and the undercoat being short, furry, and very dense. Mature males have a more impressive coat than females. How much grooming your Sheltie will need depends on the individual dog. Overall, the Sheltie is a very clean dog, and on the average needs only a weekly brushing (it's helpful to spray mist with water when brushing). Be sure to check for mats behind the ears, under the elbow on each front leg, and in the pants' under the tail. Toenails and hair between the pads need to be trimmed every several weeks.Start your puppy at a young age learning to be groomed once a week including opening the mouth and checking and cleaning the teeth. Your vet will be very pleased if you accustom your dog to handling on examining. Correctly guided and encouraged, most Shelties learn to love grooming and look forward to it as a special quality' time.

A Sheltie needs a fair amount of exercise but will adapt himself to your way of life. They will do well in any environment: as long as the necessary exercise is provided. Between 12 and 20 weeks of age, a puppy should be given various socialization experiences, including trips to the park, playground, shopping center, a friend's home, or other places where your puppy is welcome. This socialization will help the puppy develop a friendly temperament and become used to strange circumstances.

With high-quality food and regular vet care, Shelties can easily live to be 14 years old. Be sure to place your puppy under veterinary supervision, and be certain that it receives its inoculations and is regularly checked for parasites. Your dog should have all its protective shots before exposing it to the general canine population. The breeder should provide you information on feeding, caring for your dog, vaccinations and a written contract covering the conditions of sale as a pet. Pet quality dogs should not be used for breeding, and most are sold with a spay/’neuter' contract. Sometimes the AKC registration is withheld until the dog is neutered, or the breeder may opt to use the AKC's Limited Registration option. It is a medical fact that spayed bitches are healthier and live longer than un-spayed bitches. After being neutered, most males will become more tolerantant of other male dogs and cannot develop testicular cancer and they will be less susceptible to prostrate cancer. The best way to find a Sheltie is to contact a Breeder Referral representative of an established Sheltie breed club. You should investigate the availability of an ASSA member club in your area to see what they offer in the way of education and Sheltie performance events that may include: herding, agility, tracking, obedience and conformation.If you have a

chance to visit a dog show, the Sheltie exhibitors there may have puppies at home for sale, or can direct you to a good source. Before buying a puppy, the ASSA recommends that you ask to see both parents, or at least the mother; and, if at all possible,evaluate the temperament and socialization of the mother and puppies. Also ask if the parents have had their eyes and hips checked, and if any genetic problems have shown-up in any of the dog's ancestors or relatives. Enjoy your Shelties with their sweet, willing- to-please nature and expression, and that special ‘something' that makes them a joy to be around and own.

Gael Morison

What a stupid question – can hear you all say “ Oh the judge will judge according to the standard .”

Yes indeed , we all follow the breed standard . Every judges interpretation of the standard varies to some degree , sometimes to alarming degrees . We have both All Rounder Judges and Breed Specialist Judges judging our dogs . Specialists are usually more demanding and obsess more about certain hallmarks than our All Rounders. Opinions from both Specialists and All Rounders are good for the breed.
Trends and presentation styles change but the Shetland Sheepdog Breed Standard remains a firm , definite guide for breeders and judges to follow . The onus is equally shared between the breeders and the judges to breed and judge according to the Breed Standard .

The General Appearance of the Sheltie Standard gives the judge a perfect idea of what to expect of our beautiful breed .
“ Small , long haired, WORKING dog of GREAT BEAUTY , free from cloddiness and coarseness .
Outline symmetrical so that no part appears out of PROPORTION to the whole .
Abundant coat , mane and frill , shapeliness of head and sweetness of expression combine to present the ideal”
That is the picture , concise ,not complicated . Wording describing what picture you want to see .

( It is interesting to note that the General Appearance of the Rough Collie , closely related historically to our modern day Shetland Sheepdog also mentions beauty and proportion. General Appearance “ The Collie should instantly appeal as a dog of GREAT BEAUTY , standing with impassive dignity , with no part out of PROPORTION to the whole .”)

Here is just a brief list of what I look for when judging Shetland Sheepdogs .The whole standard not covered by any means : you all have the standard and can follow up on the “what every dog has” stuff. I have simply highlighted the some of the unique , special hallmarks that make up our beloved breed .

sheltie gael morison judge
Gr Ch Hillacre Wee Macgregor. Adelaide Royal in 1998

HEAD : Shapeliness of head and sweetness of expression combine to present the ideal .
It is all the combinations that make the perfect head and expression so difficult to achieve .
Characteristic expression from a simple sounding mix :
1 Perfect balance and combination of skull and foreface Not skully , not snipey .
2 Shape , colour and placement of eyes . Shape ALMOND , MEDIUM size , OBLIQUELY set , Colour DARK BROWN except for Merles
3 Ears Correct position and placement of ears. Small , fairly close together on top of skull . When alert brought forward with tips falling forward .
4 Mouth Well developed underjaw ( remember , these are sheep ankle – biters ) and perfect scissor bite.

NECK and BODY : The neck and body are what produce the graceful sweeps and curves , the Sheltie “S”
Neck is well arched and allows head to be carried proudly
Body Slightly longer than height at withers . Chest deep to point of elbow.
Back level , with GRACEFUL SWEEP over loins , croup sloping gradually to the rear

FORE and HINDQUARTERS pretty straightforward . Strong boned . Shoulders well laid back . Upper arm approx equal in length to shoulder blade . Hindquarters : thighs broad and muscled . Well angulated stifle joint . Hocks straight .

TAIL : Set LOW , of good length ie reaching to at least hock . NEVER kinked or carried over level of back. Furnishings and graceful carriage complete the silhouette of the dog.

MOVEMENT : The desired lithe , smooth and graceful with strong drive from hindquarters . Covering plently of ground easily .

SIZE : Bitches to look like bitches and Dogs to look like dogs .
Ideals Dogs 37cms at withers Bitches 35.5cms at withers
Dreaded rider : More than 2.5 cms above or below ideal height highly undesirable .

Although small in stature , Shelties make their presence felt in the Herding /Working / Pastoral Groups .
A beautiful breed . Good to see bigger Sheltie entries at shows again and even more pleasing to see the promising youngsters being shown .

Gael Morison
September 2018

sheltie type for judging
Nadine Shortland

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collie vs sheltie size south africa



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