Shetland Sheepdog - a member of the Working Dog Group

Official Breed Standard

To enable the Shetland Sheepdog to fulfil its natural bent for sheepdog work, its physical structure should be on the lines of strength and activity, free from cloddiness and without any trace of coarseness. Although the desired type is similar to that of the Rough Collie there are marked differences that must be noted. The expression, being one of the most marked characteristics of the breed, is obtained by the perfect balance and combination of skull and foreface, size, shape, colour and placement of eyes, correct position and carriage of ears, all harmoniously blended to produce that almost indefinable look of sweet, alert, gentle intelligence. The Shetland Sheepdog should show affection and response to his owner, he may show reserve to strangers, but not to the point of nervousness.

The Shetland Sheepdog should instantly appeal as a dog of great beauty, intelligence and alertness. Action lithe and graceful with speed and jumping power great for its size. The outline should be symmetrical so that no part appears out of proportion to the whole. An abundance of coat, mane and frill, with shapeliness of head and sweetness of expression all combine to present the ideal Shetland Sheepdog that will inspire and secure admiration.

Head and Skull: 
The head should be refined and its shape when viewed from the top or side is a long blunt wedge tapering from ear to nose. The width of skull necessarily depends upon the combined length of skull and muzzle and the whole must be considered in connection with the size of the dog. The skull should be flat, moderately wide between the ears, showing no prominence of the occipital bone. Cheeks should be flat and merge smoothly into a well-rounded muzzle. Skull and muzzle to be of equal length, central point to be the inner corner of the eye. In profile the topline of the skull should be parallel to the topline of the muzzle, but on a higher plane due to a slight but definite stop. The jaws should be clean and strong and with a well developed underjaw. Lips should be tight. Teeth should be sound and level, with an evenly spaced scissor bite.

A very important feature giving expression to the dog. They should be of medium size, obliquely set and of almond shape. Colour dark brown except in the case of merles where blue is permissible.

Should be small and moderately wide at the base, placed fairly close together on the top of the skull. When in repose they should be thrown back, but when on the alert brought forward and carried semi-erect with tips dropping forward.

The neck should be muscular, well-arched and of sufficient length to carry the head proudly.

Body and Quarters: 
From the withers the shoulder blade should slope at a 45 degree angle, forward and downward to the shoulder joint. At the withers they are separated only by the vertebrae but they must slope outwards to accommodate the desired spring of ribs. The upper arm should join the shoulder blade at as nearly a right angle as possible. The elbow joint to be equi-distant from the ground and the withers. The forelegs should be straight when viewed from the front, muscular and clean, with strong bone. Pasterns strong and flexible. The body is slightly longer from the withers to the root of the tail than the height at the withers, but most of the length is due to the proper angulation of the shoulder and hindquarters. The chest should be deep reaching to the point of the elbow. The ribs well sprung but tapering at their lower half to allow free play of the forelegs and shoulders. The back should be level with a graceful sweep over the loins and the croup should slope gradually to the rear. The thigh should be broad and muscular, the thigh bones to be set into the pelvis at right angles, corresponding to the angle of the shoulder blade. The stifle joint where the femur bone joins the tibia bone must have a distinct angle, hock joint to be clean cut, angular and well let down with strong bone. The hock must be straight when viewed from behind.

Set on low, tapering bone must reach at least to the hock joint, with abundant hair and slight upward sweep, raised when the dog is moving, but never over the level of the back.

Oval in shape, soles well padded, toes arched and close together.

The action of the Shetland Sheepdog should denote speed and smoothness. There should be no pacing, plaiting, rolling or stiff stilted up and down movement.

Must be double, the outer coat of long hair of harsh texture and straight, the under coat soft (resembling fur), short and close. The mane and frill should be very abundant and forelegs well feathered. Hind legs above the hocks profusely covered with hair, but below the hocks fairly smooth. The mask or face smooth. What are commonly known as smooth coated specimens are barred.

Tricolours should be an intense black on the body with no signs of ticking, rich tan markings on a tricolour to be preferred.
Sables may be clear or shaded, any colour from gold to deep mahogany but in its shade the colour should be rich in tones. Wolf sable and grey colours undesirable.
Blue Merles, clear silvery blue is desired, splashed and marbled with black. Rich tan markings to be preferred but the absence not to be counted as a fault. Heavy black markings, slate coloured or rusty tinge in either top or under coat is highly undesirable. General effect should be blue. White markings may be shown in the blaze, collar, chest frill, legs, stifle and tip of tail.
All or some tan markings may be shown on eyebrows, cheeks, legs, stifles and under tail. All or some of the white markings are to be preferred what ever the colour of the dog, but the absence of these markings shall not be considered a fault.
Black and White and Black and Tan are also recognised colours. Over markings of patches of white on the body are highly undesirable. The nose black whatever the colour of the dog.

Ideal height measured at the withers: Dogs: 36.8 cm (14.5 in). Bitches: 35.5 cm (14 in).

Anything more than 2.5 cm (1 in) above these heights to be considered a serious