Although the origin of the Shetland Sheepdog is unknown it is thought (although not confirmed) that they are descended from a combination of King Charles spaniel and Scottish collie. What is known is that in the early 1900s the Rough collie breed was added to the stock to product the modern day Shetland sheepdog. This breed was first used for the herding of the smaller sheep on the Shetland islands and are still used to this day on farms for this purpose.
Specification of breed
This breed of dog is small weighing in at 11 to 24 pounds and 13 to 16 inches tall. They have a very thick coat made up from an upper(which is waterproof and provides protection from the elements) and a lower layer(to regulate heat) which can be one of 3 colors: Sable, Blue Merle and Tri color but due to breeding practices there have been instances of Modified colors which include a combination of the above colors.
Male : 13-15 in (33-38 cm)
Weight 14-18 lb (6-8 kg)
Female :12-14 in (30-36 cm)
Weight :12-16 lb (5-7 kg)
Being a long haired dog the Shetland sheepdog is very prone to matting of the hair causing much discomfort. Due to this it is very important to brush the coat regularly focusing especially behind the ears and elbows. The breed sheds at least twice a year (Females also often shed before giving birth) and sheds in clumps which are easy to brush out but if left will mat with the rest of the coat if left unattended. Make sure to clip the toenails often as if left unattended they can overgrow and cause limping and pain. Although it can be tempting to shave the hair to reduce shedding this can lead to alopecia and blotchy regrowth as well as skin irritation.
The Shetland sheepdog is a very affectionate breed and can integrate easily into a family setting although they are wary of strangers and can be very vocal. These traits combined with its high intelligence (ranked 6th in the world) make this breed an excellent guard dog and they are used often in this fashion. The average dog will need lots of care and attention needing at least an hour of exercise each day but their desire to please means that they are very easy to train and control.
This breed requires lots of care and attention from an owner and an owner must be prepared to spend a lot of time grooming and exercising the animal. As such this breed should not be confined to a small apartment or home. The breed does tend to carry defective genes affecting the eyes and an older dog will likely carry some kind of visual impairment such as progressive retinal atrophy. A healthy dog with no inherited gene problems can be expected to live up to 13 or 14 years. This breed likes excessive barking and can be a problem. Sensitive to various heartworm medications
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