Shetland

 

Often called ę mini-collie Ľ, but he has nothing to see with that breed and more the Shetland has his own identity.  Nothing to see itís a bit false because somewhere the Colley gave a bit of his genetic in the creation of that breed who go back more then 100 years and itís in 1906 that we see for the first time a Sheltie at a dog show in Crufts at Londre.  The breed was recognized in 1908 in England and the first Sheltie to be registered with the CKC waited until 1930.

The Shetland came from the Islands who have the same name.  On these islands, the climate is very hard and cold and because of that, all the species who live there became smaller in size (but not in temperament) because of that hard weather.  We can speak about the bovine, the sheep, the poney, the dogs, etc.  The Shetland is born from local dogs crossed with dogsí seaman who came to these island with a little Colleyís.

The Shetland sheepdog won rapidly in popularity after his creation and itís easy to understand when we look at them.  He became a breed very popular in North America.

The Shetland sheepdog may live until 13-15 years old then you should be ready to have that wonderful friend for so short !!!

Coat and colour

The Sheltie has a long coat accepted on the head and in front of the legs.  This coat has two type of hair.  A dense and shorter one; the under coat and a longer and straighter one; the guard coat.  The male has a more long collar.  We can see many different colour in the Shetland; the sable as Winnie and Charade, the tricolour as Zut, the biblack who is a two colours only, looks like Zut but without the brown.  Now we enter a dilution gene, the merle gene, if we put that gene with the tricolour, we will have the bleu-merle, itís a tricolour where we have spot in the black who are diluted then grey-blue and the bi-blue and the same dilution gene but on a biblue.

We should be ready to take care of that beautiful fur.  But even if very dense, itís pretty easy to take care of and we shouldnít forget to cut the claw, the hair between the fingers and around the ears but a better look, more awaked and beautiful !

Conformation

The Sheltie is a small dog, the standard write that he should be between or equal at 13 to 16 inches at the shoulder.  Sometimes, breeders obtain bigger or smaller dog, even if that dogs are the same then the other in the standard, they arenít suitable for breeding purpose but can be perfect for anything else that the sheltie is great to do.  The sheltie should be slim if we want to keep him his beautiful look.  He has tendency to be a big eater then we have to be careful if we donít want them to become overweight and then not beautiful look anymore.   His ears are half-erected and itís give them a look to dream for but this half-erected position isnít natural all the time and we should help them when the sheltie is young to help them to have this ideal ear position.  The muzzle is pretty long and his head shouldnít be too big or too thing.  The eyes should have an almond form.  The sheltieís body is a bit longer then their height, the female can be a bit longer.  The male has a masculine look and the female will be feminine in appearance.

Temperament

The breed is the Shepherd group and we can see his shepherdís natural habits when heís moving or playing; can be running around the people, the children ďkind of protect themĒ his herd !!!  Also if we let them do, he can also nibble at heel when people are running as he would do to sheep in the field.

Heís a perfect companion for any kind of family(big one vs small one, with or without children, etc) because even if we are attracted by his beauty, we should tell that heís easy to train, his character is easy sweet and easy and he loves to be part of the family for their trip, vacation, etc  Heís very loyal and affectionate, loves to play, can be a bit mischievous sometimes and will become childrenís best friend.  Heís very easy to train by the positive way and would not take a ruff training.   He may excel in any kind of canine sport; agility, obedience, flyball, conformation, freestyle, tracking, herding, etc  Even if small, the sheltie has a big endurance and here at Nicha, they have as much energy as my Belgian and maybe even more.  Because heís sensitive, he can feel our mind state as good shepherd dog has tendency to be able.  They should be socialized and it should start as they are very young, should be used to any kind of sounds to be a stable adult later.  A serious breeder will take care of that and then itís important to have a good sheltie to take care at the place we take our next dog.  The sheltie is naturally suspicious with stranger but not too much and that ďtoo muchĒ can happen by a lack of socialisation, thing that we observe in the big kennel where production come first and where no or so few attention is put on the puppies (kind of place the pet-shops take their dogs to sell).

Health

The Shetland sheepdog is in general an healthy breed but some diseases exist in the breed and we have to be careful about them.  As future owner, you should take informations about which health tests are done on the future parents, as breeder, he or she should take all the attention to produce the more healthy dog possible.  

The more frequent one is the hypothyroidism, the thyroid is a little gland in the throat and so important for all the organes and fonctions in the body.  If you look at the OFA (www.offa.org) the hypothyroidism exist in the breed and as much as 13% , the OFA consider 75% as normal with a 10% of grey zone!  Probably the real pourcentage of hypothyroidism dogs is higher since a lot of breeders donít test their breeding stock and then the disease continue to affect more sheltie.  You have to test many times during the life of your dogs since it's a disease who can appears later in the dog's life.  We need two carriers (no signs of disease) to produce affected ones.  If an affected dog is bred, all the offsprings will be carrier but if the other parent is carrier; 50% will be affected and 50% carrier.  Good point in that disease, the cost to treat it is not high and with pills for the rest of their life, the dog can have a pretty normal life but we should be carefull to not breed an affected one, why it's important to test the breeding stock.

Von Willebrand disease is a coagulation problem (as hemophilia) that we see on human and dog.  Here again the sheltie is a breed who has pretty much case of (as poodle, doberman, Scottish Terrier, Bernese Mountain dog, Rottweiler, Golden Retriever,  Welsh Corgi, German Shepherd, Teckel, etc are many other breeds with that problem).  The good point: a DNA test exist in the Shetland to detect the disease then we can know if a dog is sick of that (but probably would die before because of haemorrhage), carrier or clear.  In a breeding program, itís important to know which ones can be carrier and if they have a big value for the breed, we still can breed them (bette not) with a clear one.  The carrier will never be sick of that disease.  I heard that about 10% of the Sheltie are carrier 

Hipsí dysplasia : not only reserved for the big dog, the hips dysplasia affects a lot of smaller breed, the second breed the more affected in the dog world (whatever the size) is the Pug !  The Shetland sheepdog has a rate at 4-5 % of affected then still really important to do the X-ray to eliminate the sick one from the breeding program, itís an hips malformation who gives an instability of the sock and who will bring later arthritis with pain and then will cut the life or the quality of.

Elbowsí dysplasia : samething here, itís an articulationís malformation who bring instability and later arthritis, etc.  Often less painful, it still really important to test the futur parents.  Good point, here only 3-4 % of the sheltie were detected affected.

Hereditary eye disease, we may speak about cornea dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, cataract, etc.  itís an ophthalmologist veterinarian exam who can tell that the future parentsí eye are normal.  This exam should be done every year of before each breeding if not breed every year because the some hereditary eye diseases can begin as late as 7 years old.  

We can see also a hereditary deafness in the Shetland, that problem exists in many breeds and more in the one with white, a lot of white.  It can affects one ear (difficul to detect then) or both ears. Good thing, one test is available: BAER test who test each ear individually and who need to be done once only !  The test detects the affected only.  Both parents should be carrier minimum to give affected puppies, the disease is provoked by recessive genes.

These are the principal hereditary diseases who I think are important for the breed but we shouldnít neglict the dermatomyositis, hereditary disease who affects the skin, patella luxation,  and also a heartís malformation: le ductus arteriosus.  A breeder serious canít promess that the dog will be never affected by an hereditary disease but will do anything he or she can do to diminush the risk at the minimum on the dogs he or she produces by doing health tests and looking and do researh on the different pedigrees of his dogs or the dogs he or she wants to use.  I donít want to afraid you because every breed has her problems and with great breeders who really care about their breed, we are in good hand.  The Shetland is so a wonderful breed but we should be conscious to take your future sheltie only in the good breeders.  We will have then a very healthy friend for many years !