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Shetland Sheepdog

The origin of this dog is not really known because there is no written history of them. The Shetland sheepdog is thought to have originated from collies brought to the Shetland Islands. Although their ancestry is uncertain, it is believed that they and the large collies have a common ancestor. It has also been suggested that it shares genes with the larger Shetland sheepdog, Dwarf Spaniels and the Icelandic Yakkie. Unfortunately, the Shetlands history details were not recorded until the late 19th century.

Since the Shetland Islands are so small, they produced small breeds of animals such as Shetland sheep and Shetland ponies. Farmers on the Islands bred small hardy little dogs they called Toonies to help herd and protect their flocks. The name Toonie came from the Norwegian word tun which means farm.

Shetland SheepdogThe 1st Shetlands, or Toonies as they were then known, came to England sometime in the early 1800s. It is believed that they were brought to England by sailors as gifts for friends and family, or just as ship dogs. Some of the British people took an interest in the dogs recognizing them as great herders. Unfortunately by this time the dogs were declining on the Shetland Islands.

In England there was an attempt to improve the breed by a series of crossbreeding and soon the “Toonies” had some very serious differences. In an attempt to refine the breed, other breeders bred them to rough collies to preserve what they thought was the Shetlands’ best features. This resulted in a bigger dog known as Shetland Collies. Later, by crossing with toy breeds to get the smaller size back, the larger collie type was lost and the original Shetland Sheepdog returned.

The Shetland Sheepdog was officially recognized by the English Kennel Club in 1909 as the Shetland Collie, and in 1994 the AKC followed. The Collie fanciers objected to this name and so the breed was renamed the Shetland Sheepdog.

The Shetland Sheepdog was officially recognized by the English Kennel Club in 1909 as the Shetland Collie, and in 1994 the AKC followed. The Collie fanciers objected to this name and so the breed was renamed the Shetland Sheepdog.

There was a breeding ban during World War I that held back the progress of the Shetland Sheepdog. Fortunately, this was only temporary and the U.S. began importing them after the war.

The American Shetland Sheepdog Association was formed in 1929. In the 1950s the British imports were stopped because the U.S. and British breeds had become greatly different and were no longer crossbred.

Shetland Sheepdogs are beautiful, friendly, loyal, and dainty dogs that make great family pets.

Height: 13-16 in

Weight: Average 18 lbs

Size: Small

Life span: 12-15 years

Pros:

  • Good watchdog
  • Good with children
  • Easy to train
  • Low dominance
  • Very intelligent
  • Good for novice owners
  • Good with other pets
  • Ok for apartments if regularly exercised

Cons:

  • Barks a lot
  • Regular grooming needed
  • Seasonal heavy shedder
  • Fairly active indoors
  • Requires daily mental and physical activity
  • Can be prone to: Diseases of the eyes, hypothyroidism and displacement of the patella.

 

By: Linda Eastabrooks

Former AKC Breeder

Contributor, Web-DVM.net

One thought on “Shetland Sheepdog

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