The earliest Shetland Sheepdogs

Inverness Topsy (02-09-1908)
Inverness Yarrow (21-04-1909)
Lerwick Jarl

Crichton Olaf (01-03-1910)
Am Ch Lerwick Rex (26-03-1910)
Kilravock Laddie (26-05-1911)
Zesta (28-09-1911)

Wishaw Myrtle (17-09-1912)
Clifford Sharper (12-10-1912)
Wallace (12-11-1912)
Eng Ch Woodvold (21-06-1913)

Princess Nandi of Kilravock (06-01-1914)
Eng Ch Clifford Pat (22-04-1914)
Eng Ch Walesby Select (01-06-1919)
Eng Ch Foss (06-08-1919)


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 Shetland Sheepdogs.

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:

  1. The decline in breeders and registrations;
  2. 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.


Fipinella of Mountfort (31-10-1919)
Eng Ch Hurly Burly (06-11-1919)
Eng Ch Nettle of Mountfort (10-04-1921)
Lady Park (16-06-1921)

Eng Ch Larkbear Rusk (18-04-1922)
Kilravock Lassie (11-10-1922)
Chestnut Rainbow (11-10-1922)
Eng Ch Eltham Park Petite (01-01-1923)

Nut of Houghton Hill (20-02-1924)
Tango of Houghton Hill (22-11-1926)
Blinx of Clerwood (15-10-1927)
NL Ch Larkbear Buckweat Cake (31-07-1928)