Background History of the breed:
HistoryThe Shetland Sheepdog is probably descended from runt Scottish Rough Collies brought to the Scottish island of Shetland and crossed with the Icelandic Yakkin, or Northern Yakkie herding dog, a small island dog (now no longer recognised) brought over in the boats of fishermen.
There is strong evidence to justify the inclusion of the King Charles Spaniel in the early development of this breed. The King Charles was of course the dog of the aristocracy of the time, and imagine the conversation around the shepherd’s campfires at night along the lines of “I have just used the King’s stud dog over my breed bitch!” There are many colour attributes within the current breeding of Shelties that is the same as the Cavalier & is not the same as the Rough Coat Collie. Even to this day we get “throw backs” to this breed in the form of domed skulls & round eyes.
By 1700, the breed was completely developed. For centuries these little dogs were used to herd and guard the sheep flocks of the Shetlands, those rugged islands off the Scottish coast where many of the animals are rather small in stature. Refinement of the breed took place mainly in the twentieth century after the export of Shelties to mainland Scotland and beyond. These small shepherds were very gentle when herding the miniature stock. One of the top obedience competition breeds, the Sheltie is an extremely smart and willing worker. Because of his kindly disposition, the Sheltie has become one of today’s most popular companion dogs.
Owners of a Shetland Sheepdog can expect a very loyal, loving and responsive dog. It is an excellent guardian of children and is friendly, yet reserved, with strangers. Their heritage dictates this, as they were developed to guard the families prized flock on an unfenced lot of land. They bond with the family as apposed to a particular member of that family, they are not known as dogs that stray, and as back in the Shetlands, they perceive strangers as enemies that are going to do less than nice things with their flock. They love to please their master and family and is thus are considered to be very biddable, making the Sheltie and is an excellent candidate for obedience and agility work.
The Sheltie is energetic, but its exercise needs can be met with a good walk, short jog or active game and training session. It can live outdoors in a temperate climate, but it is strongly advised that the Sheltie be a housedog. It is too attached to its family to do well separate from them. Its thick coat needs brushing or combing every other day. Their heritage says that were bought up on the rough windy hills of the Scottish islands, that their coat must be such as to withstand these conditions. Their hearing and sight are acute, when alerted the tips of their ears are dropped forward to catch every sound, just as we would cup our own ears in an effort to hear soft noise. They must be of a size that makes them very agile, and with my apologies to all the Scotts out there, they were bred to do a man’s job on a boys wage. They do well on a small meal, their upkeep is minimal, their desire to please is immeasurable, and the job they are capable of doing is immense.
The size and weight and growth patterns of the Sheltie make it a relatively free breed from skeletal issues. When considering a purchase of a Sheltie please ask the breeder for a copy of his eye test to ensure that is free from major CEA defects.
The choice of a Sheltie as your companion dog must rest within several parameters. Your family must be prepared to brush them on a regular basis, exercise them to satisfy an active and intelligent mind. In return they will give of themselves 100%..........and what else could we ask for!