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The Shetland sheepdog, often known as the Sheltie and sometimes as the Shetland collie, is a breed of dog in the herding dog group.
Shelties have the herding dog temperament. They are vocal, excitable, energetic dogs who are always willing to please and work hard. They were used in the Shetland Islands for herding and protecting sheep.
They are small to medium dogs, 13–16 inches (33–41 cm) at the withers by AKC Conformation standards, and they come in a variety of colors, such as Sable/White, Tri-color, Blue Merle, and so forth.
Their early history is not well-known. They originally were a small mixed breed dog, often 8-10 inches in height. It is thought that they were a cross of a Spitz type dog from Scandinavia with the local sheepdog. In the early 1900s, James Loggie added a small show Rough Collie to the stock, and the modern Shetland sheepdog was born. The original name of the breed was Shetland Collie, but this caused controversy among Rough Collie breeders, and the breed's official name was changed to Shetland sheepdog.
The breed was recognized by the English Kennel Club in 1909.
Unlike many miniature breeds that resemble their larger counterparts, this breed was not developed simply by selectively breeding the Rough Collie for smaller and smaller size. The original sheepdog of the Shetland Islands was a Spitz-type dog, probably similar to the modern Icelandic sheepdog. This dog was crossed with mainland working collies brought to the islands, and then after being brought to England, it was further extensively crossed with the rough collie, and other breeds including some or all of the extinct Greenland yakki, the King Charles Spaniel (not the Cavalier), the Pomeranian, and possibly the border collie. The original Spitz-type working sheepdog of Shetland is now extinct, having been replaced for herding there by the Border Collie. The Shetland sheepdog in its modern form has never been used as a working dog on Shetland, and ironically it is uncommon there.
When the breed was originally introduced fanciers called them Shetland collies, which upset collie fanciers, so the name was changed to Shetland sheepdog.
During the early 20th century (up until the 1940s), additional crosses were made to rough collies to help retain the desired rough collie type – in fact, the first AKC Sheltie champion's dam was a purebred rough collie bitch.
The year 1909 marked the initial recognition of the Sheltie by the English Kennel Club, with the first registered Sheltie being a female called Badenock Rose. The first Sheltie to be registered by the American Kennel Club was "Lord Scott" in 1911.
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