Walking a senior dog in the winter can be a bit challenging if you have a lot of snow, ice, and cold weather, especially with dogs who have trouble walking.
Do you want to learn more about the Shetland Sheepdog breed? Watch them in action? Perhaps meet breeders and inquire about the breed’s characteristics? Observe them in a conformation show?
One great way to decide if a Shetland Sheepdog would be a good fit in your home is to attend a dog show and obedience trials. Often, these events are free to the public.
Getting up close and personal to these active dogs you get a feel for the grooming requirements. Most Shelties are very energetic and require a large back yard (fenced) and lots of opportunity to run. Being intelligent, they crave to be challenged not just physically, but mentally as well. They are, after all, in the working / herding CKC class. They need a ‘job.’ If not given ample opportunity to channel their energy, barking could become a problem. They thrive on learning anything and everything. Anyone who is a couch potato should look elsewhere for a home canine companion.
At shows, you will also find products for sale – grooming products, limited edition prints, obedience equipment, crates and everything else to make your dog comfortable and your life easier.
2016 Shetland Sheepdog Specialty Shows in Alberta
- NACA Shetland Sheepdog & Collie Specialty: Conformation on June 5, 2016 at Edmonton, Alberta
- Canadian Shetland Sheepdog Association and Shetland Sheepdog Fanciers Club, Edmonton: October 24, 25, 26 2016 at Camrose, AB
All Breed Shows / Trials in Alberta
- Calgary Canine Centre: NADAC Agility Trials, February 27, 28, 2016
- Fort Saskatchewan and Area Canine Association: CKC Agility Trials and Scent Hurdling Trial, March 12, 13, 2016
- Rose County Canine Association: Obedience / Rally Trial at Sandhills Community Hall on March 18 – 20, 2016. See Facebook for RCCA’s Event
- Sit Happens; World Cynosport Rally at Calgary: Rally Obedience Trials March 19, 20, 2016
- Obedience and Rally Match, Camrose on March 24, 2016
- Battle River Canine Association Obedience, Rally, Scent Hurdling in Camrose on March 25-27, 2016
- Pug Club of Canada Conformation Sanction Match in Red Deer, March 31, 2016
- Obedience and Rally Fun Matches, Red Deer, March 31, 2016
Of course, Shetland Sheepdogs can be seen in many other competitions. For a complete listing of more events, see:
INSTITUTE OF CANINE BIOLOGY
The Institute of Canine Biology is an independent, international consortium of canine biologists.
By Carol Beuchat PhD
In many breeds, dodging genetic disorders is becoming a significant problem because troublesome recessive mutations can be widespread in the population. The need to avoid producing dogs that are homozygous for a particular mutation drives the search for the gene and subsequent development of a genetic test. In many cases, these efforts are funded by breeders who believe that “identify-and-eliminate” is the best strategy for dealing with the problem. (See Managing genetic disorders: “Just eliminate the bad gene”.)
Unfortunately, because there can be dozens or even hundreds of disease-causing mutations in every dog,there will always be another genetic problem waiting in the wings to suddenly pop up in a breed. If we had tests for all the mutations found in purebred dogs, both the ones we know about and the ones that have not yet been identified, it would become impossible to breed if breeders wanted to avoid every risk.
You can appreciate the futility of this search-and-destroy strategy when you see that even now, the number of known disorders in dogs outstrips the available tests. This is genetic whack-a-mole, and it will be no more successful in eliminating genetic disorders in dogs than the strategy of trying to rid your yard of moles by shooting just the ones that stick their heads out of a hole.
Claiming that a dog is “health tested” and therefore a good candidate for breeding is wholly misleading when there might be 5 available tests for a breed, but there are also dozens of known disorders without tests and more appearing every day (What does “health tested” really mean?).
We are trying to eliminate lung cancer without giving up cigarettes. We can spend millions on research and testing to battle genetic diseases in dogs, but we cannot win this fight unless we change the breeding strategies that produce the problems in the first place. Most genetic disorders in dogs are caused by recessive mutations that have been lurking harmlessly in the gene pool for hundreds of generations. They suddenly become a problem because of the way we breed purebred dogs, by inbreeding in a closed gene pool. The level of inbreeding in a closed population will increase relentlessly, and as homozygosity increases so will the expression of disease-causing mutations. This is not just predictable, but inevitable.
In an ideal world, studbooks would be open to the introduction of new dogs that could benefit the gene pool, and there are a few kennel clubs that are now permitting and even encouraging this. But whether the gene pool is open or closed, producing healthy animals requires a healthy gene pool, and for this breeders need to practice sound strategies for genetic management. In an open gene pool, this will prevent the development of problems, and in a closed one it will reduce the incidence of genetic disorders and the rate of genetic decline.
Here are three basic principles of sound genetic management that breeders can adopt to reduce the frequency of genetic disorders in their breed.
1) Increase the number of breeding animals
Smaller populations become inbred more quickly, so the simplest way to reduce the rate that inbreeding is to maintain a larger population of breeding animals. The easiest way to do this without producing an oversupply of puppies is to increase the number of different sires being used in breeding. Instead of a few individuals producing most of the next generation, limit the number of breedings per individual and make use of more dogs.
2) Eliminate popular sires
Popular sires are a double whammy on the gene pool. Not only do they reduce the number of male dogs contributing to the next generation by doing more than their fair share of breeding (see #1 above), they also distribute dozens or even hundreds of copies of their mutations (and ALL dogs have mutations!) in the puppies that they produce. The pups might all be healthy because they got only one copy of a mutation, but a generation or two down the road, those mutations will start showing up in pairs and suddenly breeders will find themselves dealing with a new genetic disease that seemingly came out of nowhere. In fact, the new genetic problem is the completely predictable result of a breeding strategy that creates many copies of a particular dog’s mutations. Blaming the dog (“We didn’t have this awful problem until Fido introduced it to the breed!”) is only an effort to deflect responsibility, because every breeder that used him as a sire participated in creating the resulting genetic problem. (For more about this, read The pox of popular sires.)
3) Use strategic outcrossing to reduce inbreeding
In many breeds, there are genetically-distinct subpopulations of dogs. They might represent bench versus field lines, color or coat varieties, geographic areas, size, or some other factor. Because they carry genes that will be less common in other groups, they can be used to reduce the level of inbreeding in a litter of puppies. The number of loci that are homozygous (with two copies of the same allele) will be reduced, and therefore the risk of expressing a recessive mutation will be less. An outcross every now and then can be sufficient to reset the inbreeding to a healthier level.By the way, you will hear some breeders claim that outcrossing will introduce new genetic disorders to your dogs. But if you understand how recessive genes work and you practice good genetic management, those new mutations are no different than the ones already in your lines – they won’t cause any problems unless you create puppies that inherit two copies in the same one. New mutations will have low frequencies in the population, and sound genetic management will keep it that way. (See Using inbreeding to manage inbreeding.)
Three key strategies to reduce genetic disorders
Every dog – in fact, every animal – has mutations that could potentially cause disease, and don’t let anybody try to claim that their dogs are any different. The key to producing healthier dogs is breeding in a way that reduces the chance that an animal will inherit two copies of the same mutation. Doing the available DNA tests for a breed then producing a litter with an inbreeding coefficient of 20% is self-defeating and just asking for trouble. Money to identify mutations, develop tests, and screen potential breeding stock is all for naught if we are using breeding strategies that are specifically designed to increase homozygosity of the genes for desirable traits, because homozygosity of mutations will necessarily increase as well. You cannot do one without the other.
If we’re serious about reducing genetic disorders in dogs, the things we must do are simple and clear. It is responsible breeders, not researchers and DNA tests, that will reduce the burden of genetic disease in dogs.
* How can you use inbreeding to protect genetic diversity?
* How can you assess the genetic health of your breed?
* How can you meet breeding goals and also protect health and longevity?
Online course starts 1 February 2016
— available anywhere in the world
— 10 weeks, $125
and that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge.Henry David Thoreau
Unfortunately not all animal rescue organizations operate as they are intended. Some blatantly use homeless or unwanted animals to beg for money supposedly used to support the animals, but mostly used to support the rescue operators. As sad as this is to report on, we want to hear your thoughts and stories, so please share.
Our blog is still in its infancy. Having received many positive responses, I have discovered that Sheltie people who are enjoying this site and are from beyond Edmonton’s borders. Thus, the name has been changed to Alberta Shetland Sheepdog Community. Our new blog address is:
It would be wonderful if you stop by and check us out from time to time and provide feedback. I am open to constructive criticism and helpful suggestions. Also, if you would like a photo of your sheltie in the “Our Shelties” sidebar, please submit it to our blogs email address: email@example.com.
I look forward to an exciting experience getting to know the many wonderful Sheltie people and their faithful companions.
Judy Weir: Several years ago, I had the crazy notion that I could train my three shelties to be sheep herders. My enthusiasm had been ignited by a conversation with their obedience instructor at Companion Dog, Derek Di Ciacca (http://www.companiondogobedienceschool.com/) who was training his Border Collie at his ranch. That evening became the beginning of my next mission. Find someone who would be willing to train my shelties.
To quote Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” And so it did. Within weeks, my three shelties were on Kathy Playdon’s sheep ranch. See article regarding Kathy Playdon and her famous sheep at: http://www.stonyplainreporter.com/2012/06/28/modern-day-sheep-herder-loves-the-lifestyle
My enthusiasm was about to hit reality. My two oldest Shelties had some natural herding instinct but lacked in enthusiasm. After five minutes, the fun of the chase wore off.
I had my doubts about my youngest and smallest Sheltie. However, when Kathy and I put Seamus through the test drill, he took my breath away. He was a natural. From that day on, I did everything possible to practice sheep herding with Seamus.
I still chuckle remembering the difficulty I had in learning how to herd sheep. It was rigorous work, and I lacked the instinct that Seamus had. I still can hear Kathy shouting, “Stop telling him what to do. He knows what he’s doing.” Finally, I realized that I had to shut up and trust in my dog’s instincts.
During the winter when Kathy shut down her herding sessions, I drove an hour weekly to another farm to fine tune Seamus’ “Way to me,” and “Come by” and “That’ll do” commands.
Seamus was a busy camper. He attended conformation shows and agility training. By the second year, Seamus was in herding competition with Border Collies. One day he got points in conformation, then hurried to a herding competition. He was never in first place, but he was also never took last place. However, by the third year, the herding training opportunities came to an end.
I still have a keen interest in giving my Shelties every opportunity to live a full life as intended by their ancestors. Recently, I connected again with Kathy Playdon. We discussed a Sheltie’s herding instincts. Briefly, this is what Kathy had to say on this subject.
Kathy Playdon: “Shelties could be selected for herding and improve their instincts through selective breeding for sure. Seamus was a very good herding sheltie and enjoyed it.”
Judy Weir: Is sheep herding becoming a thing of the past? Is it more of a sport now?
Kathy Playdon: “The herding dog is still a necessity with sheep, but the sheep dog training as a sport has definitely been declining in North America. However I think it will stick around forever and may even get a resurgence.”
Judy Weir: At what age should herding training begin?
Kathy Playdon: “Puppies that have an instinct to herd will usually show signs by 8 – 12 weeks. They have to be able to outrun the sheep. I often start my dogs before 12 weeks. Many trial dogs start trialing by 5-6 months and do very well. Some start later and still do well. Instinct has to be bred in, a trained dog is useful but can’t compete with one with instinct. Ducks are good to start dogs on, and easy to move sheep are good, (not crabby rams).”
Judy Weir: Can a sheep herding dog be treated like a pet or more like a partner?
Kathy Playdon: I used to treat my dogs more as employees, now they are more like pets and they work just as well.”
Judy Weir: Have you considered resuming your sheep herding clinics?
Kathy Playdon: “I would like to get back into the dog clinics again as well and I do have access to nice sheep, but ducks would also be useful.”
Judy Weir: Thank you, Kathy. It would be wonderful to evaluate Sammy and Jade’s herding instinct. And, I know there are others in our Edmonton and area that have a keen interest in this subject. Perhaps the universe will conspire to make this vision become a reality.
Should We Plan a Herding Clinic?
Herding dog enthusiasts, if you suspect your dog exhibits herding ability and would like to participate in a herding clinic, let me know. I will start a list of interested people to see if we have enough people to initiate a herding clinic near Edmonton, Alberta. Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Judy Weir: Deciding to have a pet in your home is a decision that some people fail to fully appreciate. It’s a commitment that will impact your home, family, your wallet and your lifestyle. After you decide on adopting a dog, you need to understand the characteristics of the different breeds. Even crossbred dogs will lean in one direction that the household may find too rambunctious, tend to be aggressive, requires a lot of grooming, has special health issues, etc. Once you have decided on a breed, the next challenge is to find a responsible breeder.
Of course, you can pick up a pup from a puppy mill or back yard breeder, perhaps cheaper than from a certified breeder. However, you may also pay more in the end to a vet as you discover the pup is overwhelmed with acute and/or chronic health problems. Vet fees are huge. The heartache – beyond words.
Over my many years as a Sheltie lover, I have been associated with many Shetland Sheepdog breeders. Yvonne Halkow of WillowGlyn Shelties, has been a valuable resource for me in caring for my Shelties. Below is an interview where Yvonne talks about how to know a good breeder from one you should avoid.
Please feel free to ask Yvonne questions you have about selecting a dog breeder, selecting dog breed, or anything else that is of interest to you about dog ownership.
Phone: 780-361-2205 (Canada)
Yvonne Halkow, owner and manager of WillowGlyn Shelties
Judy Weir: Thank you, Yvonne, for agreeing to this interview. First, how did you become known as WillowGlyn Shelties?
Yvonne: I decided to register a kennel name and at the time I owned a counseling business known as Willow Counseling so I decided to use that as part of my kennel name. The ‘Glyn’ part of it seemed to fit with the Shetland Isles where Shelties originated.
- How long you’ve been a breeder?
Although I purchased my first purebred Sheltie in 1979, I didn’t get into showing and breeding until 1990. My first purebred male Sheltie was CH and OTCH Shancryla Bay Beary Bailey purchsed from Lorna Scott/Shancryla Shelties as a young puppy. We learned obedience first and he was a very smart boy finishing his Obedience Trial Championship by the age of three. He was also shown in conformation gaining his championship as he was being trialled in obedience which showed how versatile he was as very often he would do both conformation and obedience at the same show.
My first litter was born in October of 1992. From that litter of four came one dead puppy, one live deformed puppy that had to be euthanized, one monorchid male and one lovely female, who grew up to become my very first Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) champion and Best Puppy in Show winner. She was CH WillowGlyn Ebony N’ Stardust CD and she lived to almost 16 years of age. Since then I have bred or co-bred 91 CKC champions along the way. Several of those also have obedience, agility or rally titles.
- Why did you choose to breed Shetland Sheepdogs?
I chose to breed Shetland Sheepdogs as I had always loved Collies but wanted a smaller dog so Shelties were ideal. They are also very people oriented and intelligent which was a major drawing card for me.
- How does a person choose/find a good dog breeder?
Prospective puppy buyers of any breed should do some homework before they purchase a puppy. First, one needs to determine which breed’s characteristics are a good fit with one’s lifestyle, time and energy.
- Finding a good breeder involves some research also… breeders are not all cut from the same cloth and even show breeders with lots of champions should not be automatically assumed to be the best place to purchase a puppy. Make sure that any breeder you choose does health testing for common breed disorderson both males and females in their breeding program. They should be able to produce paperwork for test results done.
Commonly, with Shelties the tests that can be done are for hip dysplasia, eye defects,hypothyroidism, and von Willebrands disease (VWD). Shelties can also get epilepsy or familial canine dermatomyositis (skin syndrome) for which there are no tests at present. They either have it or don’t and those that have either should not be used in breeding programs.
- For Shelties, I don’t believe they are a breed that can be properly socialized if they are not in regular contact with people so it is important to visit a breeder to see how they raise their dogs.
- You want to know if the puppy will be registered… breeders that are Canadian Kennel Club members are not allowed to sell non-registered dogs as purebred. If they don’t come with registration papers, they cannot be called purebred as there is no proof even if both parents are registered. Non-members can sell dogs without papers but they still cannot call them purebred.
- Registration papers also belong to the dog so a breeder who has a litter that can be registered should not be saying that the dog costs less without papers.
- All CKC members are expected to register all their litters and to all also register each individual puppy they produce at their own expense and in a timely manner.
- Some breeders do not show their dogs but should absolutely be aware of the common disorders in the breed and be doing health testing.
- For the breeders that you can visit, if you visit and feel comfortable with the way their dogs look and are cared for, as well as the knowledge level of the breeder including health testing, then you should be able to be confident about the puppy you purchase from them.
- All breeders should have some sort of health guarantee – a short term one for immediate health and temperament which both become out of the control of the breeder once the puppy leaves their premises, and a long-term genetic health guarantee for inheritable disorders.
- Pet stores generally get their stock from commercial breeders that mass produce puppies. Some are better than others but you will never know as any contact with the actual breeder of a pet store puppy is not part of the sales agreement… so you never really know where they come from, how they were raised or how much, if any socialization they receive. I doubt that most have health tested parents as testing is expensive and cuts into the profit margin.
- One may also want to contact rescue organizations but not many Shelties show up needing to be rescued although it does happen on the odd occasion.
Thank you, Yvonne. I wish you continued success breeding the very best Shelties.
AGILITY: Even if you don’t recognize it by name, you have probably seen an agility competition. Designed to demonstrate a dog’s willingness to work with his handler in a variety of situations, agility is an athletic event that requires conditioning, concentration, training, and teamwork. Dogs and handlers must negotiate an obstacle course while racing against the clock. Agility is a great form of exercise for both dog and handler, and a fun way to bond. And you don’t have to compete to enjoy agility. Taking an agility class offers many other benefits. But many people start the sport just for fun, only to get bitten by the agility bug and become lifelong competitors!
Shelties excel in agility because of their natural athleticism, working ability, and willingness to please their owners. The breed routinely comprises 20 percent or more of the top 20 dogs in AKC’s annual agility rankings.
Canadian Kennel Club
TOP FOUR AGILITY DOGS 2014, HERDING CLASS
- 1. Cassbar’s Kickstart My Heart 23 98.7 71 NP, AgX, AgXJ Shetland Sheepdog
- 2. Dynstar Mythical Creature 14 100.0 70 CGN, CDX, RE, AgX, AgMXJ Shetland Sheepdog
- 3. The Swirling Tuula Du Josar 15 99.7 61 CGN, IP, PCD, AgI, AgXJ Belgian Shepherd Dog
- 4. MOTCh. & AgMChV Dynstar Strider 12 100.0 60 CGN, RAE2, AgN, AgNJ, AgMXJV3, SHDMX Shetland Sheepdog
OVERALL: Cassbar’s Kickstart My Heart NP, AgX, AgXJ 23 98.7 71 Shetland Sheepdog came in ninth
I found this video clip on youtube. This sheltie is amazing. The owner/handler must have been very dedicated and practiced.
Since man developed a kinship with wolves, my ancestors understood that behind those mystical eyes a soul offered more than a hunting partnership. Both species found the other useful for their own purposes – survival. The human race owes a lot to the species that evolved into canis lupus familiaris.
We all know how the dog has become far more than a loyal ally. More recently, science has proved the significant health benefits of pet ownership. I feel it everyday. The stresses of everyday life can be overwhelming. I should know better at my age than to allow world politics and things I cannot control to suck the joy from my heart. But, like most of us, it takes an outside influence to get that monkey off our back. It takes a dog.
And, the dog’s healing secret has a better record than most modern clinical resolutions. Just gathering up my dog’s leashes and calling them to get ready for a ‘run-run’ triggers a switch. With Sammy and Jade in the back of my car heading to the off-leash park, I’ve left my troubles in the dust. Sammy chatters in the seat behind me, excited about running with his pals. The physical transformation is almost complete.
I’m me again. The me that’s strong, content, blissful.
I know that all dog breeds in general have this innate quality of slaying our dark moods. However, I find that the Shetland Sheepdog is gifted in magic. More than magic, really. It’s like they see through our barriers, see our woundedness, and like us anyways. Love us.
I’ve had several dogs over my lifetime. Loved them all. But it’s been the Sheltie that I felt knew me at a level like no other creature. There is an uncommon wisdom within those adoring eyes. I feel touched by a old soul.