Mari's Sweet Shelties

All About Shetland Sheepdogs
The following information is compiled from AKC and Wikipedia
The Shetland Sheepdog originated from the Shetland islands, which lie between Scotland and Norway.

In the middle of the nineteenth century, the islanders began to breed small dogs which they called "toonies," to keep the ponies and sheep out of their crops.

Nothing is recorded of the Shelties history until the end of the nineteenth century. The earlier, larger sheep dog of Shetland, various British working collies, the Icelandic Yakkie, and the continental dwarf spaniels all may have contributed to the genes of the Shetland Sheepdog.

Around 1890, British dog lovers became alarmed by reports that the Toonies numbers were disappearing. The Scottish and English breeders set about the task of "preserving and purifying" the little island dogs. They sought to strengthen what they perceived to be the Toonies best traits by crossing them with small rough Collies. These crosses produced a somewhat bigger dog, which became known as the Shetland Collie. In 1914, The Shetland Collie was officially renamed the Shetland Sheepdog.

Imports from England continued after World War 1, up until the 1950's, when the Shelties from Britian and America began to change greatly in type. This may be attributed to the Collie crosses in the U.S. It may also stem from the fact that the English standard has long set the ideal height for all Shelties at 14 inches for females and 14 1/2 inches for males. In America the standard does not give preferences to any height between 13 and 16 inches. Prior to adoption of the present standard in the 1950's, American Shelties champions could be as tall as 18 inches.

By the end of the 1970's the Shetland Sheepdog appeared on AKC's list of the ten most popular dogs in twelve of the next fifteen years. They have always stayed high on the list of AKC since then.

The AKC  Shetland Sheepdog Breed Standard [for Conformation Show Ring] can be viewed at
Shetland Sheepdog Sizes

Today Shelties come in a variety of sizes: over-sized, over 16', and under-sized, below 13'. Both sizes can appear in the same litter. Especially if a large Sheltie is bred to a small Sheltie. Shelties also mature at different rates, where the largest puppy at 6 weeks, might not be biggest at 6 months. A breeder who has invested years in studying their lines, will be able to provide the best estimate regarding the size a pup should reach at maturity, though there is no guarentee.

A Sheltie is measured at the shoulder.

While most Shelties measure between 13 - 16" at the shoulder, the vast majority are over 14". Keeping Shelties "in size" is a constant challenge for some breeders. Pet Shelties have been known to reach 20" or more and weigh upwards of 40 lbs. and then there are the petite ones below 13" inches which is becoming more rare. But all are called Shetland Sheepdogs.
Shetland Sheepdog Coat Colors

Shelties come in a variety of colors. Although genetically, there are only two Sheltie coat colors, black and brown, many terms are used to describe the different shades of the Sheltie.

Sable: Brown or tan, with coats ranging from pale ginger to mahogany, or red. They usual have white markings, but these may range from very prominent to almost non existent.

Tri:  Predominantly black, with white and tan markings.

Bi-blacks: Black and white only

Blue merle: They are genetically black dogs, whose coat color has been modified by the merling gene. This makes them appear to be dappled silver and black, usually with black patches. They also differ from other Shelties in that they may have blue or brown eyes, or one of each, or merle eyes, which appear to be both brown and blue. This does not cause any vision deficiency. They are marked with varying amounts of white, and may or may not have tan markings. Those without tan markings are called Bi-blues.

White: There are two kinds of white. Color-headed white & "White factor" or mostly white. They are over 50% white. Some all white except for a saddle on their backs or just a few patches of color, some with huge collars and white down there legs, hunches, or shoulders.