Shetland Sheepdog "Sheltie" a Small Collie?
They appear to be just a very small Collie. The same tulip ears, same colors, and the same long coat as the Rough Collie. Also the same undercoat. They must be a close relative, at least. Are they a Rough Collie, except for size? They must be a close relative. In any case, for someone who wants the characteristics of the Collie without the size a Sheltie might be the answer.
The Shetland Sheepdog originated in the Shetland Islands. which are about 130 miles north of Scotland. These Islands were a harsh place to live and make a living. Poor soil coupled with high winds and storms made it hard to farm but somewhat better for livestock. For livestock, dogs came in handy to control the stock Toward the end of the 19th Century the economy there was made up of small scale herding. The herders, tenant farmers, were known as “crofters.”
Dogs then were valuable as workers. Nobody cared what they looked like as long as they could do the job, which was to move sheep from pastures keeping them out of the gardens. The dogs sometimes herded other animals, such as ponies.
Dogs, horses, and even cattle are known to be smaller in the Shetland Islands. They are probably smaller because of scarceness of food for animals and the nature of the landscape. According to the web site, “Everything Sheltie,” the same breeds when bred in other places tend to be bigger.
For Shelties as well as smaller Scottish working dogs there may have been Scandinavian Spitz type dogs, large white Pomeranian dogs, and King Charles Spaniels in their backgrounds. There have been stories of a male Collie that traveled with its master between Iceland and the Shetland Islands on the masters fishing boat. This might have added some rough Collie genes to the pool.
In the early 20th Century British tourists started to tour the island and were attracted to these small dogs that are smart and active..A man named James Loggie took an interest in developing a breed to meet the needs of the people wanting these dogs. In 1908 a club was started in Lerwick and the breed was named Shetland Collies. A Scottish and English club followed in 1909 and 1910. However, Collie breeders objected to the name, so the name was changed to “The Shetland Sheepdog.” They also affectionately became known as “Shelties.”
Shetland Sheepdog -weavepoles
Sheltie and Collies together
he modern Sheltie is small to medium size- 13 to16 inches at the shoulder by American Kennel Club Standards. Colors include sable/white, tri-color, and blue Merle. There is a white Sheltie but they are considered undesirable. The breed is vocal, excitable, and energetic, according to Wikipedia.. I have heard a lot of mention of Shelties barking a lot. Oddly I have hardly ever seen one barking. Granted I have not been around a lot of them but we were at a gathering of a Sheltie rescue organization where owners of rescued Shelties met with their dogs. With all those dogs there I didn't hear any barking except once when two dogs got into an argument.
Generally Shelties have dark eyes but sometimes the Blue Merle and White Sheltie have blue eyes.They are good around children and are a good dog for people with limited space. I have read that they will find ways to exercise themselves even by following their masters around.
In 1909 the English Kennel Club recognized the breed. In 1901 the American Kennel Club recognized them. The American Shetland Sheepdog association was formed in 1929.
In the past attempts were made to cross the Sheltie with small Collies to improve the breed but the results were not good. Often the offspring would revert to the larger size and they failed to get uniform results. The Collie and Sheltie do seem to be related in having a common ancestor which is the Scottish Border Collie.
Sheltie looks much like the rough Collie which most people find very handsome and are an attractive dog, good with children, protective of property and active. They can be housed almost anywhere, are intelligent and want to please their owners. They do need combing and brushing to keep their hair from getting entangled, the male more than the female. It is somewhat less grooming tha needed by short haired dogs.
Shetland Sheepdogs edited by Beverly Pisano T.F.H. Publications, Inc.
Everything Sheltie website
Wikipedia article on Shetland Sheepdogs.
Copyright 2012 Don Hoglund
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