AKC Breed Standard

General Appearance
The Shetland Sheepdog, like the Collie, traces to the Border Collie of
Scotland, which, transported to the
Shetland Islands and crossed with small, intelligent,
longhaired breeds, was reduced to miniature proportions. Subsequently crosses were
made from time to time with Collies. This breed now bears the same relationship in size
and general appearance to the R
ough Collie as the Shetland Pony does to some of the
larger breeds of horses. Although the resemblance between the Shetland Sheepdog and
the Rough Collie is marked, there are differences which may be noted. The Shetland
Sheepdog is a small, alert, rough
ated, longhaired working dog. He must be sound,
agile and sturdy. The outline should be so symmetrical that no part appears out of
proportion to the whole. Dogs should appear masculine; bitches feminine.
Size, Proportion, Substance
The Shetland Sheepdog sh
ould stand between 13 and 16 inches at the shoulder. Note:
Height is determined by a line perpendicular to the ground from the top of the shoulder
blades, the dog standing naturally, with forelegs parallel to line of measurement.
s below or above the desired size range are to be disqualified
from the show ring.
In overall appearance, the body should appear moderately long as measured from
shoulder joint to ischium (rearmost extremity of the pelvic bone), but much of this length
actually due to the proper angulation and breadth of the shoulder and hindquarter, as
the back itself should be comparatively short.
should be refined and its shape, when viewed from top or side, should be a
long, blunt wedge tapering slight
ly from ears to nose.
Contours and chiseling of the head, the shape, set and use of ears, the
placement, shape and color of the eyes combine to produce expression. Normally the
expression should be alert, gentle, intelligent and questioning. T
oward strangers the eyes
should show watchfulness and reserve, but no fear.
medium size with dark, almond
shaped rims, set somewhat obliquely in skull. Color
must be dark, with blue or merle eyes permissible in blue merles only.
large or too small. Prominent haws.
small and flexible, placed high, carried
fourths erect, with tips breaking forward. When in repose the ears fold lengthwise
and are thrown back into the frill.
Set too low. Hound, prick, bat, twisted
Leather too thick or too thin.
Skull and Muzzle
Top of skull should be flat, showing no prominence at nuchal crest (the
top of the occiput). Cheeks should be flat and should merge smoothly into a well
muzzle. Skull and muzzle should be of eq
ual length, balance point being inner corner of
eye. In profile the top line of skull should parallel the top line of muzzle, but on a higher
plane due to the presence of a slight but definite stop. Jaws clean and powerful. The deep,
developed underja
w, rounded at chin, should extend to base of nostril.
must be
tight. Upper and lower lips must meet and fit smoothly together all the way
around. Teeth level and evenly spaced. Scissors
angled head. Too prominent stop,
or no stop. Overfill below, between, or
above eyes. Prominent nuchal crest. Domed skull. Prominent cheekbones. Snipy muzzle.
Short, receding, or shallow underjaw, lacking breadth and depth. Overshot or undershot,
missing or crooked teeth. Teeth visible whe
n mouth is closed.
Neck, Topline, Body
should be muscular, arched, and of sufficient length to carry the head proudly.
Too short and thick.
should be level and strongly muscled.
should be deep, the brisket reaching to
point of el
bow. The ribs should be well sprung, but flattened at their lower half to allow
free play of the foreleg and shoulder. Abdomen moderately tucked up.
Back too
long, too short, swayed or roached. Barrel ribs. Slab
side. Chest narrow and/or too
ow. There should be a slight arch at the loins, and the croup should slope gradually
to the rear. The hipbone (pelvis) should be set at a 30
degree angle to the spine.
Croup higher than withers. Croup too straight or too steep.
should be
sufficiently long so that when it is laid along the back edge of the hind
legs the last vertebra will reach the hock joint. Carriage of tail at rest is straight down or
in a slight upward curve. When the dog is alert the tail is normally lifted, but it sho
uld not
be curved forward over the back.
Too short. Twisted at end.
From the withers, the shoulder blades should slope at a 45
degree angle forward and
downward to the shoulder joints. At the withers they are separated only by the ve
but they must slope outward sufficiently to accommodate the desired spring of rib. The
upper arm should join the shoulder blade at as nearly as possible a right angle. Elbow
joint should be equidistant from the ground and from the withers. Forelegs
viewed from all angles, muscular and clean, and of strong bone. Pasterns very strong,
sinewy and flexible. Dewclaws may be removed.
Insufficient angulation
between shoulder and upper arm. Upper arm too short. Lack of outward slope of
ulders. Loose shoulders. Turning in or out of elbows. Crooked legs. Light bone.
should be oval and compact with the toes well arched and fitting tightly together. Pads
deep and tough, nails hard and strong.
Feet turning in or out. Splay feet.
feet. Cat feet.
The thigh should be broad and muscular. The thighbone should be set into the pelvis at a
right angle corresponding to the angle of the shoulder blade and upper arm. Stifle bones
join the thighbone and should be distinctl
y angled at the stifle joint. The overall length of
the stifle should at least equal the length of the thighbone, and preferably should slightly
exceed it. Hock joint should be clean
cut, angular, sinewy, with good bone and strong
ligamentation. The hock (
metatarsus) should be short and straight viewed from all angles.