This page shows a small collection of the earliest registered Shelties. Most of them
have descendants today, but nowadays many of us would not consider them as
The pictures are ordered by registration date (not shown here).
They show a wide variety of types. One could even wonder if they are
all of the same breed.
Around 1920 the Shetland Sheepdog breed was in big trouble. This was due to 2 reasons:
- The decline in breeders and registrations;
- Different people have different oppinions about Shelties.
For the first reason we first of all need to consider that the breed was founded in just
1909. Therefore, the number of registered generations can't be large. However the impact of
the First World War further diminished the number of breeders and registrations.
The second reason is a real fundamental question. It comes down to the question:
What makes a Sheltie a Sheltie?
The short answer could be: "the Sheltie is a Collie in miniature". However, then the
next question is: do we need a new breed?
Here are a few questions that need answers:
- What are the allowed sizes?
- Is the Wheaten Sable color of Foss allowed?
- Is the Maltese Blue eye of Blinx of Clerwood allowed?
- Is a double-merle OK?
- Is black and tan coat OK?
- Is the amount of white in
Astolot Lady Harlequin
not a bit too much?
The point is that under one judge a Sheltie would be thrown out of the ring as not
being a Sheltie; whereas another judge would make him champion. Clearly, something was
needed to done. And so English Shetland Sheepdog Club began to define a standard.
Just to make things more complicated: there were several standards. There was a Scottish,
a Brittish and an American standard.
E.g. Eltham Park Eureka was not considered a Sheltie
in America because Teena was a collie.
This resulted in a lot of close breeding (inbreeding if you like). And even more close breeding.
Eventually, some breeders felt the gene pool was becoming too tight, so they used collies.