Everything about your Shetland Sheepdog - LUV My dogs

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Everything about your Shetland Sheepdog

  The Shetland Sheepdog, or Sheltie, as it is affectionately called, is by all appearances a miniature Collie, and while it does share some genetic traits with the Collie, it is not considered to be of that breed class. The Sheltie is a member of the working class of herding dogs, and it continues to excel in that area. With the ability to learn commands in less then five repetitions, it is considered to be one of the most intelligent breeds. An alert watchdog and an affectionate companion, the Sheltie is an ideal breed for an active and youthful family.
   Shelties are a breed of their own, with the personality to prove it. This loyal herding dog was bred to help farmers and protect homes and is known to vocalize its protective instincts by barking. Intelligent as can be, Shelties rank among the top performers in agility and obedience training.
  Bright eyed and bushy tailed, with a face that always seems to be smiling, the Shetland Sheepdog, has long been a family favorite. Not a Miniature Collie but his own distinctive breed, the Sheltie is loyal, funny, and smart. He is also a barker.
   Canines of the Shetland Sheepdog dog breed  stood guard for farmers in the Shetland Islands off the coast of Scotland, keeping hungry birds and sheep out of the farmer's garden, and they served as herding dogs as well. Today they're excellent family companions and superstars in dog sports.

  The Sheltie is an active, fun-loving dog who’s a little too big to be small but small enough to be cute. His gentle disposition, athleticism, and keen intelligence make him a dog who lives to please and loves to show off. Trick-training is a breeze with this breed.
   Although his barking may make him difficult to tolerate in noisy city environs, he’s well-suited to a suburban lifestyle and (overall health permitting) is a wonderful walking, running, or hiking companion who can go for miles. Expect attention when out with a Sheltie; his cuteness always attracts a crowd and admiring comments.
  Along with the Border Collie, this diminutive speed demon is tops at the canine sport of agility. Less competitively, he loves to learn tricks that require a degree of agility, such as jumping over a bar or through a hoop. Retrieving games are not in the breed’s contract, but some Shelties become tennis ball freaks and will fetch them for hours. Don’t toss the ball into water, however: Most Shelties seem to think they are made of sugar.
  Though the “Lassie” markings are most common and popular, Shelties come in other varieties with varying degrees of white ruff and paws, including dogs with mottled gray-black coats (blue merles) or solid black coats. Blue merle dogs may have blue eyes and may be deaf in one or both ears.
  • Many Shelties are very vocal, and they have a loud, piercing bark. To keep your relations with neighbors friendly, it's important to train your Sheltie at an early age to stop barking on command.
  • Expect your Sheltie to shed profusely in the spring, and sometimes at other times in the year.
  • Shelties are extremely intelligent and like to have a job to do. They can be stubborn, however. Make training fun and allow them time to make up their own minds to do what you want them to do.
  • Shelties have a lot of energy and need to be able to run. They thrive on activities such as agility and flyball, where they get both mental and physical exercise.
  • Shelties have been popular family dogs for many years. Because there's a big demand for puppies, there are many poorly bred Shelties for sale. If you're looking for a puppy, make sure you find a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they're free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies and who breeds for sound temperaments. To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from a puppy mill, a pet store, or a breeder who doesn't provide health clearances or guarantees.
Other Quick Facts
  • The Sheltie is among the top 20 breeds registered by the AKC.
  • Shelties have strong herding instinct and do well in herding instinct tests and herding trials. They are also hotshots at agility, obedience, rally, and tracking.

Breed standards
  • AKC group: Herding
  • UKC group: Herding dog
  • Average lifespan: 12 - 14 years
  • Average size: 14 - 30 pounds
  • Coat appearance: Thick, coarse, water-repellent
  • Coloration: Varies
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Other identifiers: Many identify it as a miniature Collie. Small, triangle ears that flop over at the tips.
  • Possible alterations: None.
  Unlike many miniature breeds that resemble their larger counterparts, this breed was not developed simply by selectively breeding the Rough Collie for smaller and smaller size. The original sheepdog of Shetland was a Spitz-type dog, probably similar to the modern Icelandic sheepdog. This dog was crossed with mainland working collies brought to the islands, and then after being brought to England, it was further extensively crossed with the Rough Collie, and other breeds including some or all of the extinct Greenland Yakki, the King Charles Spaniel (not the Cavalier), the Pomeranian, and possibly the Border Collie. The original Spitz-type working sheepdog of Shetland is now extinct, having been replaced for herding there by the Border Collie. The Shetland Sheepdog in its modern form has never been used as a working dog on Shetland, and ironically it is uncommon there.
  When the breed was originally introduced breeders called them Shetland Collies, which upset Rough Collie breeders, so the name was changed to Shetland Sheepdog. During the early 20th century (up until the 1940s), additional crosses were made to Rough Collies to help retain the desired Rough Collie type – in fact, the first AKC Sheltie champion's dam was a purebred rough Collie.
  The year 1909, marked the initial recognition of the Sheltie by the English Kennel Club, with the first registered Sheltie being a female called Badenock Rose. The first Sheltie to be registered by the American Kennel Club was "Lord Scott" in 1911.

Personality and Temperament
  Intensely loyal and affectionate with his family, the Sheltie has the typical herding breed reserve and even suspicion toward strangers. The Sheltie loves his people — and he’s very good with “his kids” — but he’s not all that fond of strangers. Shetland Sheepdog fanciers call him aloof and suggest the trait was intentional, to keep the small farm dogs from being stolen. Coupled with yapping, this trait can be very annoying to live with. So can the “Sheltie spin,” in which the dog will get revved up — typically at the sight of another dog — and bark furiously at the end of his leash while spinning like a top.
  His vocal warnings at the sight of strangers or, really, anything unusual, can go into overdrive. Unless someone is there to keep his barking under control, he can be entirely unsuitable as an apartment dweller, despite his small size.
  The Sheltie’s reserved nature can slide into shyness, timidity, or nervousness, all of which are inappropriate for the breed. He should not be stubborn, snappy, or ill-tempered. To have a Sheltie as he’s meant to be, it’s essential to make sure he gets plenty of socialization, coupled with firm, consistent training with respect to his barking.
  Like many a herding breed, the Sheltie has a tendency to nip at moving objects, which can mean children. Correct this every time you see it; a Sheltie should never get the idea that his nipping behavior is acceptable. On the plus side, Shelties generally get along with other dogs, typically seem to enjoy cats, and are fine with other household pets.
Shelties learn best with treats and praise, so teaching them good behaviors to substitute for the bad ones is the way to go. Fortunately, Shelties are really, really smart. That gives you a head start in training them.
  Begin training your puppy the day you bring him home. Even at 8 weeks old, he is capable of soaking up everything you can teach him. Never wait until he is 6 months old to begin training or you will have a more headstrong dog to deal with. If possible, get him into puppy kindergarten class by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old, and socialize, socialize, socialize. However, be aware that many puppy training classes require certain vaccines  to be up to date, and many veterinarians recommend limited exposure to other dogs and public places until puppy vaccines have been completed. In lieu of formal training, you can begin training your puppy at home and socializing him among family and friends until puppy vaccines are completed.
Talk to the breeder, describe exactly what you’re looking for in a dog, and ask for assistance in selecting a puppy. Breeders see their puppies daily and can make uncannily accurate recommendations once they know something about your lifestyle and personality. Whatever you want from a Sheltie, look for one whose parents have nice personalities and who has been well socialized from early puppyhood.

Physical Characteristics
  The Shetland has a questioning, intelligent, gentle and expression. Even though it appears like a miniature version of Rough Collie, it has some differences as well. This agile Sheepdog has a small body that is long in proportion to its height. Its gait is ground covering, smooth, effortless, and, imparts good speed, agility, and endurance necessary in a herding dog. Its double coat comprises a dense, soft, short undercoat that effectively keeps the Sheltie comfortable in both cold and warm environments, with a straight, long, harsh outer coat that repels rain and moisture. The mane, tail, and frill have abundant hair, with the mane growing to impressive sizes on the male Shelties especially. Colors are various. The two main colorations are sable colored - a mix of dark and light brown with white - or blue merle, with gray, white and black. The Sheltie can be as small as 12 inches, and as tall as 16 inches, but in either case is considered to be a small dog.

Basic coat colors
  • Sable – Sable is dominant over other colors. May be pure for sable (two sable genes) or may be tri-factored or bi-factored (carrying one sable gene and one tricolor or bicolor gene). "Tri-factored" sable and "shaded" sable are NOT interchangeable terms. A shaded dog (one with a lot of black overlay on a sable coat) may or may not be tri-factored or bi-factored.
  • Tricolor – black, white, and tan. Tricolor is dominant over bi-black. May be pure for tricolor (2 tri genes) or may be bi-factored (carrying one tricolor gene and one bicolor gene).
  • Bi-black – black and white. Bi-black is recessive. A bi-black Sheltie carries 2 bi-black genes; thus, any dog of any other color with a bi-black parent is also bi-factored.
"Modified" coat colors
  Any of the above colors may also have a color modification gene. The color modification genes are merling and white factoring. Merling dilutes the base color (sable, tricolor, or bi-black) causing a black dog's coat to show a mix of black, white, and gray hairs, often with black patches.
  • Blue merle—blue, white, and tan. A tricolor with the merling gene. May have blue eyes.
  • Bi-blue—blue and white. A bi-black with the merling gene. May have blue eyes.
  • Sable merle—faded or mottled sable and white. Often born with a mottled coat of darker brown over lighter brown, they usually present as a faded or lighter sable or can appear as a washed out blue-merle. Sable merles are shown in the breed ring as sables; therefore, blue eyes are a major fault in AKC. Blue eyes are not faulted in sable merles in UKC.
  White factoring affects the amount of white on the dog. It is hard to tell, without actually breeding, whether a dog is white-factored or not, though dogs with white going up the stifle (the front of the hind leg) are usually assumed to be white-factored. Breeding two white-factored dogs can result in color-headed whites-Shelties with colored heads (sable, tricolor, bi-black, or blue or sable merle) and white bodies. Since dogs with more than 50% white are heavily penalized, they are not shown in the breed ring, but are perfectly normal in every other way.
  Double merles, a product of breeding two merle Shelties together, have a very high incidence of deafness and/or blindness. There have been reports of a brindle Sheltie but many Sheltie enthusiasts agree that a cross sometime in the ancestry of that specific Sheltie could have produced a brindle. Unacceptable colors in the show ring are a rustiness in a blue or black coat. Colors may not be faded, no conspicuous white spots, and the color cannot be over 50% white.

Is this breed right for you?
  Shelties are a highly active breed and do best in outdoor environments where there is plenty of room to run. Farms and acreages would suit this breed perfectly, but apartment living could work provided they get consistent daily exercise and are trained to restrain their barking. Loyal to the core, this protective breed is loving and sweet but might intimidate strangers with its barking. If you're prone to allergies or simply dislike fur, you may want to opt for another breed as Shelties have a high-maintanance coat that sheds frequently.

  The Sheltie has a lifespan of 12 to 14 years and may be prone to minor concerns like patellar luxation, allergies, hypothyroidism, Legg-Perthes, canine hip dysplasia, hemophilia, trichiasis, cataract, Collie eye anomaly, and progressive retinal atrophy, or a major one like dermatomyositis. Occasionally this breed may suffer from epilepsy, von Willebrand Disease, patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), and deafness. Eye, hip, DNA, and thyroid tests are advised. Some may not tolerate ivermectin. One merle should not be bred with another merle as homozygous merle is harmful to health and can be lethal.

  Although Shelties were bred to withstand harsh weather conditions, they love their people and should live indoors with them as part of the family.
  While they can be relatively inactive indoors, Shelties were bred to be working farm dogs and need ample exercise. They enjoy going for walks, playing fetch with the kids, and running around the dining room table. Afterward, they'll help you hold down the sofa.
  Because of their small size, Shelties can do well in an apartment if their people are committed to providing daily walks and playtime, as well as training them not to bark incessantly.
  This requires finesse. Shelties can have their feelings easily hurt by harsh treatment. Instead of yelling at your Sheltie for barking, acknowledge his alert and give a verbal reprimand only if he continues barking. In general, Shelties respond best to positive reinforcement such as praise, play, and food rewards.
  Try to keep training interesting for your dog. Shelties can become bored easily, and see no point in repeating an exercise multiple times if it was done correctly the first time.

  Regular and thorough brushing and combing is a must for this double-coat breed, because the undercoat can mat into a layer of uncomfortable felt while the long outer coat still looks normal.   Ask your Sheltie’s breeder to show you how to brush him so you get all the way down to the skin.
  Professional grooming at six-week intervals will prevent the worst shedding and matting, and make it possible to keep up the grooming in the interim. Shelties shed a lot, typically more in spring and fall. Your new best friends will be an undercoat rake, a pin brush, and a slicker brush.
  Shelties are good at keeping themselves clean, especially if you do your part by brushing regularly. Give your Sheltie a bath once every month or two. He shouldn’t need one more often than that.
  The rest is basic care. Trim his nails as needed, usually every week or two. Brush the teeth with a vet-approved pet toothpaste for good overall health and fresh breath.

Living Conditions
  The Sheltie will do okay in an apartment if sufficiently exercised. They are fairly active indoors and will do okay without a yard.

  This active, graceful dog needs lots of exercise, which includes a daily walk or jog. They will also enjoy running free, but be sure the dog is in a safe area.

Children and other pets
  Shelties are excellent family companions, especially when they're raised with children who know how to handle dogs respectfully.
  As with any dog, always teach children how to approach and touch dogs. Supervise all interactions between dogs and young kids to prevent biting or ear pulling from either party. Never leave dogs and young children alone together.
  When it comes to other dogs, Shelties have a definite preference for their own kind, even if they don't live with other Shelties. On first introduction, they seem to recognize other Shelties as kindred spirits and are usually immediately friendly and willing to play. They tend to be standoffish with new dogs of other breeds, however. They can get along with cats, once the cat puts the Sheltie in his place for trying to herd him.

Famous Shetland Sheepdogs
  • Ch Halstor's Peter Pumpkin ROM - The Shetland sheepdog sire with the most Champions (160).
  • Am/Can/Jpn/Int'l Ch.Golden Hylites the Phantom ROM - One of the most expensive and campaigned Shetland sheepdog sires, sold to a kennel in Japan for a large amount.
  • Badenock Rose - the first Shetland sheepdog registered with the English Kennel Club.
  • Pikku - Shigeru Miyamoto's Shetland sheepdog
  • Reveille II - a past official mascot of Texas A&M University
  • Forrest as Grace O'Keefe's dog Lady in Kill the Irishman
  • Mickey - main character of Canadian children's series Mickey's Farm
  • Sam - The Dog in the Lethal Weapon series, owned by Riggs.
Did You Know?
  The Shetland Sheepdog has Collie in his ancestry and once went by the name Miniature Collie. He has also gone by the names Lilliputian Collie, Toonie Dog, and Fairy Dog.

A dream day-in-the-life
  Doing what it was born to do — herding, guarding and even swimming. This active breed loves to spend its days filled with athletic activities. To exercise its brain muscles, enrolling your Sheltie in agility or advanced obedience training would be highly welcomed. Living on a farm or home with room to run would make this pooch extra happy.

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