Breed Standard of the Shetland Sheepdog

A Breed Standard is the guideline which describes the ideal characteristics, temperament and appearance of a

 breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function. Absolute soundness is essential. Breeders and judges should

 at all times be careful to avoid obvious conditions or exaggerations which would be detrimental in any way to

 the health, welfare or soundness of this breed. From time to time certain conditions or exaggerations may be

considered to have the potential to affect dogs in some breeds adversely, and judges and breeders are

requested to refer to the Breed Watch section of the

Kennel Club website here for details

 of any such current issues. If a feature or quality is desirable it should only be present in the right measure.

However, if a dog possesses a feature, characteristic or colour described as undesirable or highly undesirable it

 is strongly recommended that it should not be rewarded in the show ring.

GENERAL APPEARANCE: Small, long-haired working dog of great beauty, free from cloddiness and coarseness,

action lithe and graceful. Outline symmetrical so that no part appears out of proportion to whole. Abundant

 coat, mane and frill, shapeliness of head and sweetness of expression combine to present the ideal.

CHARACTERISTICS: Alert, gentle, intelligent, strong and active.

TEMPERAMENT: Affectionate and responsive to his owner, reserved towards strangers, never nervous.

HEAD AND SKULL: Head refined and elegant with no exaggerations; when viewed from top or side a long, blunt

 wedge, tapering from ear to nose. Width and depth of skull in proportion to length of skull and muzzle. Whole to

 be considered in connection with size of dog. Skull flat, moderately wide between ears, with no prominence of

 occipital bone. Cheeks flat, merging smoothly into well rounded muzzle. Skull and muzzle of equal length, dividing

 point inner corner of eye. Top-line of skull parallel to top-line of muzzle, with slight but definite stop. Nose, lips

 and eye rims black. The characteristic expression is obtained by the perfect balance and combination of skull

 and foreface, shape, colour and placement of eyes, correct position and carriage of ears.

EYES: Medium size obliquely set, almond-shape. Dark brown except in the case of merles, where one or both

 may be blue or blue flecked.

EARS: Small, moderately wide at base, placed fairly close together on top of skull. In repose, thrown back; when

 alert brought forward and carried semi-erect with tips falling forward.

MOUTH: Jaws level, clean, strong with well-developed under-jaw. Lips tight. Teeth sound with a perfect, regular

 and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws. A full

complement of 42 properly placed teeth highly desired.

NECK: Muscular, well arched, of sufficient length to carry head proudly.

FOREQUARTERS: Shoulders very well laid back. At withers, separated only by vertebrae, but blades sloping

 outwards to accommodate desired spring of ribs. Shoulder joint well angled. Upper arm and shoulder blade

 approximately equal in length. Elbow equidistant from ground and withers. Forelegs straight when viewed from

 front, muscular and clean with strong, but not heavy, bone. Pasterns strong and flexible.

BODY: Slightly longer from point of shoulder to bottom of croup than height at withers. Chest deep, reaching to

 point of elbow. Ribs well sprung, tapering at lower half to allow free play of forelegs and shoulders. Back level,

 with graceful sweep over loins, croup slopes gradually to rear.

HINDQUARTERS: Thigh broad and muscular, thigh bones set into pelvis at right angles. Stifle joint has distinct

 angle, hock joint clean cut, angular, well let down with strong bone. Hocks straight when viewed from behind.

FEET: Oval, soles well padded, toes arched and close together.

TAIL: Set low; tapering bone reaches to at least hock; with abundant hair and slight upward sweep. May be

 slightly raised when moving but never over level of back. Never kinked.

GAIT/MOVEMENT: Lithe, smooth and graceful with drive from hindquarters, covering the maximum amount of 

 ground with the minimum of effort. Pacing, plaiting, rolling, or stiff, stilted, up and down movement highly


COAT: Double; outer coat of long hair, harsh-textured and straight. Undercoat soft, short and close. Mane and

 frill very abundant, forelegs well feathered. Hind legs above hocks profusely covered with hair, below hocks

fairly smooth. Face smooth. The coat should fit the body and not dominate or detract from the outline of the

 dog. Smooth-coated specimens highly undesirable.


SABLE: clear or shaded, any colour from pale gold to deep mahogany, in its shade, rich in tone. Wolf-sable and

 grey undesirable.

TRICOLOUR: intense black on body, rich tan markings preferred.
BLUE MERLE: clear silvery blue, splashed and marbled with black. Rich tan markings preferred but absence not

 penalised. Heavy black markings, slate or rusty tinge in either top or undercoat highly undesirable; general

 effect must be blue.
BLACK AND WHITE, AND BLACK AND TAN: also recognised colours.

White markings may appear (except on black and tan) in blaze, collar and chest, frill, legs and tip of tail.

 All or some white markings are preferred (except on black and tan) but absence of these markings not

 to be penalised. Patches of white on body highly undesirable.

SIZE: Ideal height at withers: dogs: 37 cms (14.5 ins); bitches: 35.5 cms (14 ins). More than 2.5 cms

 (1 in) above or below these heights highly undesirable.

FAULTS: Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with

 which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the

 health and welfare of the dog.

NOTE: Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.

The copyright © of the Standard of the Shetland Sheepdog belongs to the Kennel Club and is reproduced

 with their kind permission.

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