The Sheltie Family Tree: Collie Cousins and Greenland Grandparents
The Sheltie family tree includes many Collie breeds as well as the extinct Greenland Yakki. The original Shelties, a Scandinavian Spitz, breed were crossed with Rough Collies and Border Collies in the 19th and 20th centuries, which is why they share so much in common today.
Our Sheltie history revealed that the Sheltie family tree includes many Collie breeds. Farmers began importing Scandinavian herding dogs to the Shetland Islands in the 1700s, when the first crosses with mainland Collies were made.
Later crosses in the early 20th century developed the Toonie dogs into the modern Shetland Sheepdog we know today. So there is a good reason why they resemble Rough Collies.
The Collie Family
Collies are medium sized herding dogs originally from Britain. They generally have a lightweight build (underneath a lot of fur) and pointed snouts. They are active, intelligent and agile, ideal for herding cattle, sheep and other livestock.
Nowadays, many Collie dogs are bred for conformation showing and as pets, which has reduced their working dog instincts and produced a more subdued temperament.
Members of the extensive Collie / Sheltie family include:
- Australian Cattle Dog
- Australian Kelpie
- Australian Shepherd
- Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog
- Bearded Collie
- Blue Lacy
- Border Collie
- English Shepherd
- Farm Collie
- German Collie
- McNab Shepherd
- Old English Sheepdog
- Rough Collie
- Shetland Sheepdog
- Smooth Collie
- Welsh Sheepdog
The Rough Collie
Lassie was a famous TV series which began in the 1940s featuring a line of Rough Collies owned by Rudd Weatherwax. Over the years, his Collie dogs appeared in multiple movies, TV series, radio programs and novels. They're the reason we Sheltie owners so often get approached with coos of: "Ooh! A mini Lassie!"
But if we're going to get technical, Shetland Sheepdogs are not miniaturized Rough Collies. There were plenty of Lassies in the early Sheltie family tree, but the underlying Sheltie breed has its own distinctive line.
Rough Collies are somewhat larger than Shelties, with males standing 22-26 inches (56-66cm) at the shoulder and weighing 45-75 pounds (20-34kg). They have a more pointed face than their Sheltie cousins, but both share the same smallish eyes and attentive gaze.
Rough Collies show no nervousness or aggression; but like Shelties should be well socialized when young or may become shy. Their closest relative is the Smooth Collie, which is a short-coated version, and considered by many to be the same breed.
So next time someone calls your Sheltie a mini Lassie you can give them the whole backstory.
How to Care for a Shetland Sheepdog Puppy
All puppies are adorable. That's a scientific fact! But the Shetland Sheepdog puppy - with his big floppy ears, beautiful almond eyes, and silky soft fur - knows how to be deliberately cute on demand. Interestingly, sable Sheltie puppies usually have lighter fur when they're young, which deepens and intensifies as they age. In fact, it can take up to two years for the full adult double coat to grow, which is what gives this breed their distinctive look.
How to Clicker Train Your Dog
Clicker training is a gentle training method that uses only positive reinforcement to teach your dog new behaviors. All you need is a good clicker and an understanding about what makes this dog training method work so well, especially with intelligent dogs like Shelties. I'm going to help you get an overview of clicker training here, plus everything you need to get started.
How To Photograph Your Dog
One of the reasons I made Sheltie Planet is because I have an abundance of Sheltie photos I wanted to share. I love taking pictures of Howard and Piper and being able to capture them in a way that frames that moment forever. Today I'd like to share some general pet photography tips based on what I've learnt using my digital point-and-shoot camera. I hope this helps you get the most out of your pet photography and creates some great images that you will treasure forever.
The Top 10 Most Intelligent Dog Breeds
Dogs can be smart in different ways: a breed with an acute and wellhoned ability to work will be quick to learn how to do its job. Other breeds may be so eager to please their people that they're attentive and highly trainable. But intelligence alone doesn't make a good pet. Owners need to be willing to put in the work to channel a dog's inherent intelligence - and a good owner will understand a dog's natural traits to bring out his natural smarts.