The Shetland Sheepdog, often known as the Sheltie, is a breed of herding dog. They are small to medium dogs, and come in a variety of colors, such as sable, tri-color, and blue merle. They are vocal, excitable, energetic dogs who are always willing to please and work hard. They are partly derived from dogs used in the Shetland Isles for herding and protecting sheep. The breed was formally recognized by the Kennel Club in 1909.
The Shetland Sheepdog's early history is not well known. Although of obscure origin, the sheltie is probably a descendant of small specimens of the Scottish collie and the King Charles spaniel. It was developed to tend the diminutive sheep of the Shetland Islands, whose rugged, stormy shores have produced other small-statured animals such as the Shetland pony. Today it is raised as a farm dog and family pet. They were originally a small mixed-breed dog, often 10–13 inches (250–330 mm) in height and it is thought that the original Shetland herding dogs were of Spitz type, and were crossed with collie-type sheepdogs from mainland Britain. In the early 20th century, James Loggie added a small Rough Collie to the breeding stock, and helped establish what would become the modern Shetland sheepdog. The original name of the breed was 'Shetland Collie', but this caused controversy among Rough Collie breeders at the time, so the breed's name was formally changed to Shetland Sheepdog.
The general appearance of the Sheltie is that of a miniature Rough Collie. They are a small, double coated, working dog, agile and sturdy. Blue merle Sheltiesmay have blue eyes or one brown and one blue eye, but all others have dark coloured eyes. Their expression should be that of alertness with a gentle and sometimes reserved nature. They carry their tail down low, only lifted when alert and never carried over the back. They are an intensely loyal breed, sometimes reserved with strangers but should not be shy or showing timidness as per the AKC breed standard.
Shelties have a double coat, which means that they have two layers of fur that make up their coat. The long, rough guard hairs lie on top of a thick, soft undercoat. The guard hairs are water-repellent, while the undercoat provides relief from both high and low temperatures.
The English Kennel Club describes three different colors: 'tri-colour, blue merle, and sable (ranging from golden through mahogany), marked with varying amounts of white and/or tan.' Essentially, however, a blue merle dog is a genetically black dog, either black, white, and tan (tricolor). In the show ring, blue merles may have blue eyes; all other colors must have brown eyes.
Source of information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shetland_Sheepdog
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