The Shetland Sheepdog Breed Standard

Reproduced by kind permission of The Kennel Club

General Appearance

Small, long-haired working dog of great beauty, free from cloddiness and coarseness.

Outline symmetrical so that no part appears out of proportion to whole. Abundant coat,

mane and frill, shapeliness of head and sweetness of expression combine to present the



Alert, gentle, intelligent, strong and active.


Affectionate and responsive to his owner, reserved towards strangers, never nervous.

Head and Skull

Head refined; when viewed from top or side a long, blunt wedge, tapering from ear to nose.

Width of skull in proportion to length of skull and muzzle. Whole to be considered in

connection with size of dog. Skull flat, moderately wide between ears, with no prominence

of occipital bone. Cheeks flat, merging smoothly into well rounded muzzle. Skull and muzzle

of equal length, dividing point inner corner of eye. Topline of skull parallel to topline of

muzzle, with slight but definite stop. Nose, lips and eye rims black. The characteristic

expression is obtained by the perfect balance and combination of skull and foreface, shape,

colour and placement of eyes, correct position and carriage of ears.


Medium size obliquely set, almond-shape. Dark brown except in the case of merles where one

or both may be blue or blue flecked.


Small, moderately wide at base, placed fairly close together on top of skull. In repose,

thrown back; when alert brought forward and carried semi-erect with tips falling forward.


Jaws level, clean, strong with well-developed underjaw. Lips tight. Teeth sound with a perfect,

regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set

square to the jaws. A full compliment of 42 properly placed teeth highly desired


Muscular, well-arched, of sufficient length to carry head proudly.


Shoulders very well laid back. At withers, seperated only by vertebrae, but blades sloping

outwards to accomodate desired spring of ribs. Shoulder joint well angled. Upper arm and

shoulder blade approximately equal in length. Elbow equidistant from ground and withers.

Forelegs straight when viewed from front, muscular and clean with strong bone.

Pasterns strong and flexible.


Slightly longer from point of shoulder to bottom of croup, than height at withers. Chest deep,

reaching point of elbow. Ribs well sprung, tapering at lower half to allow free play of forelegs

and shoulders. Back level, with graceful sweep over loins, croup slopes gradually to rear.


Thigh broad and muscular, thigh bones set into pelvis at right angles. Stifle joint has distinct

angle, hock joint clean cut, angular, well let down with strong bone. Hocks staight when

viewed from behind.


Oval, soles well padded, toes arched and close together.


Set low; tapering bone reaches to at least hock; with abundant hair and slight upward sweep.

May be raised when moving but never over level of back. Never kinked.


Lithe, smooth and graceful with drive from hindquarters, covering the maximum amount of

ground with the minimum of effort. Pacing, plaiting, rolling or stiff, stilted, up and down

movement highly undesireable.


Double; outer coat of long hair, harsh-textured and straight. Undercoat soft, short and close.

Mane and frill very abundant, forelegs well feathered. Hindlegs above hocks profusely

covered with hair, below hocks fairly smooth. Face smooth. Smooth coated specimens

highly undesirable.


Sable: clear or shaded, any colour from pale gold to deep mahogany, in its shade, rich in

tone. Wolf-sable and grey undesirable.

Tricolour: intense black on body, rich tan markings preferred.

Blue merle: clear silvery blue, splashed and marbled with black. Rich tan markings

preferred but absence not penalised. Heavy black markings, slate or rusty tinge in either top

or undercoat highly undesirable; general effect must be blue.

Black and White, and Black and Tan: also recognised colours. White markings

may appear ( except on Black and Tan) in blaze, collar, chest, frill, legs and tip of tail.

All or some white markings preferred (except on Black and Tan) but absence of these white

markings not to be penalised. Patches of white on body highly undesirable


Ideal height at withers: dogs 37cms (14 1/2 ins); bitches; 35.5cms (14 ins). More than

2.5cms (1 inch) above or below these heights is highly undesirable.


Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness

with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree.


Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.

Kennel Club

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