Shetland Sheepdog Breed Standard
Preamble-- The Shetland Sheepdog,
like the Collie, traces to the Border Collie of Scotland, which,
transported to the Shetland Islands and crossed with small,
intelligent, longhaired breeds, was reduced to miniature
proportions. Subsequently crosses were made from time to time with
Collies. This breed now bears the same relationship in size and
general appearance to the Rough Collie as the Shetland Pony does to
some of the larger breeds of horses. Although the resemblance
between the Shetland Sheepdog and the Rough Collie is marked, there
are differences which may be noted. The Shetland Sheepdog is a
small, alert, rough-coated, longhaired working dog. He must be
sound, agile and sturdy. The outline should be so symmetrical that
no part appears out of proportion to the whole. Dogs should appear
masculine; bitches feminine.
Size, Proportion, Substance
The Shetland Sheepdog should stand between 13
and 16 inches at the shoulder. Note: Height is determined by a line
perpendicular to the ground from the top of the shoulder blades, the
dog standing naturally, with forelegs parallel to line of
Disqualifications-- Heights below
or above the desired size range are to be disqualified from the show
In overall appearance, the body should
appear moderately long as measured from shoulder joint to ischium
(rearmost extremity of the pelvic bone), but much of this length is
actually due to the proper angulation and breadth of the shoulder
and hindquarter, as the back itself should be comparatively short.
The head should be refined and its
shape, when viewed from top or side, should be a long, blunt wedge
tapering slightly from ears to nose.
Expression-- Contours and
chiseling of the head, the shape, set and use of ears, the
placement, shape and color of the eyes combine to produce
expression. Normally the expression should be alert, gentle,
intelligent and questioning. Toward strangers the eyes should show
watchfulness and reserve, but no fear.
Eyes medium size with dark,
almond-shaped rims, set somewhat obliquely in skull. Color must be
dark, with blue or merle eyes permissible in blue merles only.
Faults-- Light, round, large or too small. Prominent haws.
Ears small and flexible, placed high, carried three-fourths
erect, with tips breaking forward. When in repose the ears fold
lengthwise and are thrown back into the frill. Faults-- Set
too low. Hound, prick, bat, twisted ears. Leather too thick or too
Skull and Muzzle Top of skull
should be flat, showing no prominence at nuchal crest (the top of
the occiput). Cheeks should be flat and should merge smoothly into a
well-rounded muzzle. Skull and muzzle should be of equal length,
balance point being inner corner of eye. In profile the top line of
skull should parallel the top line of muzzle, but on a higher plane
due to the presence of a slight but definite stop. Jaws clean and
powerful. The deep, well-developed underjaw, rounded at chin, should
extend to base of nostril. Nose must be black. Lips
tight. Upper and lower lips must meet and fit smoothly together all
the way around. Teeth level and evenly spaced. Scissors bite.
Faults-- Two-angled head. Too
prominent stop, or no stop. Overfill below, between, or above eyes.
Prominent nuchal crest. Domed skull. Prominent cheekbones. Snipy
muzzle. Short, receding, or shallow underjaw, lacking breadth and
depth. Overshot or undershot, missing or crooked teeth. Teeth
visible when mouth is closed.
Neck, Topline, Body
Neck should be muscular, arched, and of sufficient length
to carry the head proudly. Faults-- Too short and thick.
Back should be level and strongly
muscled. Chest should be deep, the brisket reaching to
point of elbow. The ribs should be well sprung, but flattened at
their lower half to allow free play of the foreleg and shoulder.
Abdomen moderately tucked up. Faults-- Back too long, too
short, swayed or roached. Barrel ribs. Slab-side. Chest narrow
and/or too shallow. There should be a slight arch at the loins, and
the croup should slope gradually to the rear. The hipbone (pelvis)
should be set at a 30-degree angle to the spine. Faults--
Croup higher than withers. Croup too straight or too steep.
The tail should be sufficiently
long so that when it is laid along the back edge of the hind legs
the last vertebra will reach the hock joint. Carriage of tail at
rest is straight down or in a slight upward curve. When the dog is
alert the tail is normally lifted, but it should not be curved
forward over the back. Faults-- Too short. Twisted at end.
From the withers, the shoulder blades should
slope at a 45-degree angle forward and downward to the shoulder
joints. At the withers they are separated only by the vertebra, but
they must slope outward sufficiently to accommodate the desired
spring of rib. The upper arm should join the shoulder blade at as
nearly as possible a right angle. Elbow joint should be equidistant
from the ground and from the withers. Forelegs straight viewed from
all angles, muscular and clean, and of strong bone. Pasterns very
strong, sinewy and flexible. Dewclaws may be removed. Faults--
Insufficient angulation between shoulder and upper arm. Upper arm
too short. Lack of outward slope of shoulders. Loose shoulders.
Turning in or out of elbows. Crooked legs. Light bone. Feet
should be oval and compact with the toes well arched and fitting
tightly together. Pads deep and tough, nails hard and strong.
Faults-- Feet turning in or out. Splay feet. Hare feet. Cat
The thigh should be broad and muscular. The
thighbone should be set into the pelvis at a right angle
corresponding to the angle of the shoulder blade and upper arm.
Stifle bones join the thighbone and should be distinctly angled at
the stifle joint. The overall length of the stifle should at least
equal the length of the thighbone, and preferably should slightly
exceed it. Hock joint should be clean-cut, angular, sinewy, with
good bone and strong ligamentation. The hock (metatarsus) should be
short and straight viewed from all angles. Dewclaws should be
removed. Faults-- Narrow thighs. Cow-hocks. Hocks turning
out. Poorly defined hock joint. Feet as in forequarters.
The coat should be double, the outer coat
consisting of long, straight, harsh hair; the undercoat short,
furry, and so dense as to give the entire coat its "standoff"
quality. The hair on face, tips of ears and feet should be smooth.
Mane and frill should be abundant, and particularly impressive in
males. The forelegs well feathered, the hind legs heavily so, but
smooth below the hock joint. Hair on tail profuse. Note:
Excess-hair on ears, feet, and on hocks may be trimmed for the show
ring. Faults-- Coat short or flat, in whole or in part;
wavy, curly, soft or silky. Lack of undercoat. Smooth-coated
Black, blue merle, and sable (ranging from
golden through mahogany); marked with varying amounts of white
and/or tan. Faults-- Rustiness in a black or a blue coat.
Washed-out or degenerate colors, such as pale sable and faded blue.
Self-color in the case of blue merle, that is, without any merling
or mottling and generally appearing as a faded or dilute tri-color.
Conspicuous white body spots. Specimens with more than 50 percent
white shall be so severely penalized as to effectively eliminate
them from competition. Disqualification-- Brindle.
The trotting gait of the Shetland Sheepdog
should denote effortless speed and smoothness. There should be no
jerkiness, nor stiff, stilted, up-and-down movement. The drive
should be from the rear, true and straight, dependent upon correct
angulation, musculation, and ligamentation of the entire
hindquarter, thus allowing the dog to reach well under his body with
his hind foot and propel himself forward. Reach of stride of the
foreleg is dependent upon correct angulation, musculation and
ligamentation of the forequarters, together with correct width of
chest and construction of rib cage. The foot should be lifted only
enough to clear the ground as the leg swings forward. Viewed from
the front, both forelegs and hindlegs should move forward almost
perpendicular to ground at the walk, slanting a little inward at a
slow trot, until at a swift trot the feet are brought so far inward
toward center line of body that the tracks left show two parallel
lines of footprints actually touching a center line at their inner
edges. There should be no crossing of the feet nor throwing of
the weight from side to side.
Faults-- Stiff, short steps, with
a choppy, jerky movement. Mincing steps, with a hopping up and down,
or a balancing of weight from side to side (often erroneously
admired as a "dancing gait" but permissible in young puppies).
Lifting of front feet in hackney-like action, resulting in loss of
speed and energy. Pacing gait.
The Shetland Sheepdog is intensely loyal,
affectionate, and responsive to his owner. However, he may be
reserved toward strangers but not to the point of showing
fear or cringing in the ring. Faults-- Shyness, timidity,
or nervousness. Stubbornness, snappiness, or ill temper.