About the Shetland Sheepdog

To enable the Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie) to fulfil its natural bent for Sheepdog work, its physical structure should be on the lines of strength and activity, free from cloddishness 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 off the most marked characteristics of the breed, is obtained by 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 Standard

General appearance: Small, long haired working dog of great beauty, free from cloddishness and coarseness. Outline symmetrical, so that no part appears out of proportion to the whole. Abundant coat, mane and frill, shapeliness of head wand sweetness of expression combine to present the ideal.

Characteristics: Alert, gentle, intelligent, strong and active.

Temperament: Affectionate and responsive to his owner, reserved towards strangers, never nervous.

Head and skull: Head refined; when viewed from top or sied a long, blunt wedge, tapering from ear to nose. Width of skull in proportion to length of skull and muzzle. Whole to be considered in connection with the size of dog. Skull flat, moderately wide between ears, with no prominence of occipital bone. Cheeks flat, merging smoothly into well rounded muzzle. Skull and muzzle of equal length, dividing point inner corner of eye. Top-line of skull parallel to top-line of muzzle, with slight but definite stop. Nose, lips and eye-rims back.The characteristic expression is obtained by the perfect balance and combination of skull and foreface, shape, colour and placement of eyes, correct position and carriage of ears.

Mouth: Jaws level, clean, strong with a well-developed underjaw. Lips tight. Teeth - sound with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping the lower teeth and set square to the jaws. A full complement of 42 properly placed teeth highly desired.

Eyes: Medium size, obliquely set, almond shape. Dark brown (except in the case of merles, where one or both may be blue or blue flecked).

Ears: Small, moderately wide at base, placed fairly close together on top of skull. In repose, thrown back; when alert brought forward and carried semi-erect with tips falling forward.

Neck: Muscular, well arched, of sufficient length to carry the head proudly.

Forequaters: Shoulders very well laid back. At the withers separated only by vertebrae, but blades sloping outwards to accommodate desired spring of ribs. Shoulder joint well angled. Upper arm and shoulder blade approximately equal in length. Elbow equidistant from ground and withers. Forelegs straight when vieuwed from front, muscular and clean with strong bone. Pasterns strong and flexible.

Body: Slightly long from point of shoulder to bottom of croup than height at withers. Chest deep, reaching to point of elbow. Ribs well sprung, tapering at lower half to allow free play of forelegs and shoulders. Back level, with graceful sweep over loins; croup slopes gradually to rear.

Hindquarters: Thigh broad and muscular, thig bones set into pelvis at right angles. Stifle joint has distinct angle, hock joint clean cut, angular, well let down with strong bone. Hock straight when viewed from behind.

Feet: Oval, soles well-padded, toes arched and close together.

Tail: Set low; tapering bone reaches to at least hocks, with abundant hair and slight upward sweep. May be slightly raised when moving but never over level of back. Never kinked.

Gait/movement: Lithe, smooth and graceful with drive from hindquarter, covering the maximum amount of ground with the minimum of effort. Pacing, plaiting, rolling or stiff, stilted up and down movement highly undesirable.

Coat: Double; outer coat of long hair, harsh textured and straight. Undercoat soft, short and close. Mane and frill very abundant, forelegs well-feathered. Hindlegs above hocks profusely covered with hair, below hocks fairly smooth. Face Smooth. Smooth coated speciments highly undesirable.

Size - ideal height at withers: Dogs 37 cms (=14,5 inch); Bitches 35,5 cms (=14 inch). More then 2,5 cms (= 1 inch) above or below these heights highly undesirable.

Faults: Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the foult should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree.


Sables: Clear or shaded, any colour from pale gold to deep mahogany, in its shade, rich in tone. Wolf sable and grey undesirable.

Tricolours: Intense black on body, rich tan markings preferred.

Blue Merles: Clear, silvery blue, splached and marbled with black. Rich tan markings preferred but absence not penelised. Heavy black markings, slate or rusty tinge in either top or undercoat highly undesirable; general effect must be blue.

Black & White / Black & Tan: Are also recognised colours. White markings may appear (except on black & tan) in blaze, collar an chest, frill, legs and tip of tail. All or some white markings ar preferred (except on black & tan) but absence of thes markings not to be penalised. Patches of white on body highly indesirable.

Note: Male animals should have 2 apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.