Did you know?
At the end of the Beatles’ song “A Day in the Life”, an ultrasonic whistle audible only to dogs was recorded by Paul McCartney for his Sheltie.
Dogs, bless them, operate on the premise that human beings are fragile and require incessant applications of affection and reassurance. The random lick of a hand and the furry chin draped over the instep are calculated to let the shaky owner know that a friend is nearby. – Mary McGrory
The Shetland Sheepdog or “Sheltie” is a native of the Shetland Islands off the north coast of Scotland. Before reaching the British mainland in the early 1900s, the Sheltie had been working on the Islands for over 135 years and had a more Spitz-like appearance.
It is believed that the Sheltie traces his ancestry back to the Scottish Border Collie who migrated to the Shetland Islands and was crossed with other small, long-haired breeds. Crosses with the Rough Collie produced the Sheltie’s modern appearance. The Sheltie was developed to herd the small sheep found on the Shetland Islands. The breed now appears to the Rough Collie as the similarly small Shetland pony appears to other horses.
The Sheltie was once called the “Toonie” from the Norwegian word for a farmhouse’s front yard. His job was to guard and herd sheep and keep an eye on any young children who might be playing in the yard.
Today, that original Sheltie working sheepdog has died out as Border Collies have taken over the herding on the Shetland Islands. The modern Sheltie is actually rare on the Islands.
Photos displayed courtesy of Judy Tulloch, CoastalView, British Columbia
The Shetland Sheepdog resembles the Rough Collie but is a separate and distinct breed. He stands up to 16 inches (40.6 cm) at the shoulder and has a long, straight, and dense double coat in black, blue merle, or sable (ranging from golden through mahogany) with white and/or tan markings. The outer coat is water resistant and the undercoat provides protection from extremes of heat and cold.
He is subject to seasonal shedding, and needs regular brushing and grooming to keep the fur tangle-free.
Affectionate, loyal, and charming, the Sheltie has become a popular family pet. He gets along very well with children if there is no excessive rough housing.
The Sheltie easily tolerates other dogs, cats, and household pets. However, Shelties do have a tendency to bark when excited, startled, or lonely. This is a family dog that should not be left alone for long periods.
The Sheltie’s size makes him a pet that will fit into most accommodation. The Sheltie is light on his feet and can run quickly and jump well. As an active, energetic dog, he should have regular daily walks.
He is intuitive and has an eager to please personality. He does well in obedience and agility as he is easily trained.
According to Dr. Stanley Coren, an expert on animal intelligence, the Shetland Sheepdog is one of the smartest dogs. He ranks 6th out of 132 breeds tested. Dr. Coren’s research found that an average Sheltie could understand a new command in less than 5 repetitions and would obey a command the first time it was given 95% of the time or better.