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A Different Miniature Sheltie Perspective

News Flash!

Shetland Sheepdogs, just like any other dog breed alive, DID NOT spring from the forehead of God exactly as it is today. Generations of men and women, let alone thousands of generations of dogs and selective breeding brought each and every one of those separate breeds into existence.

And then proceeded to be adjusted even further over the years.

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The sheltie’s history as a breed is short and littered with all sorts of outcrossing to other breeds including collies, spitz, icelandic sheepdog, prince charles spaniel and pomeranian to name a few. Because of these outcrossings, the Shelties produced today are still pretty inconsistent with type, temperament AND size.

But before the outcrossings, shelties or “toonies” as they were called then, were about 12” tall. It essentially started out as a miniature sheltie breed.

My feelings are that returning to a more historical size is well within reasonable expectations.

I believe that all dog breeds are a matter of personal preference. Do you need a dog to hunt? Breed for that. Need a dog to be a guardian? Breed for that trait….

Want a companion? Think about it. There is a whole class of dogs that was created out of other breeds, for the sole purpose of being lap dogs. And those breeders will defend to the death their right to be considered as legit as any working dog breed.

Do Serious Breeders Dislike The Miniature Shetland Sheepdog?

In a word, yes they do.

But I have a serious problem with people who start wagging fingers and stereotyping anyone as “disreputable”, “only in it for the money”, or “puppy mill breeder” simply because of their desire to move in a different direction with their breeding program.



I have seen enough established show breeders lie, cheat and manipulate in order to make a name for themselves. It’s a matter of the pot calling the kettle black.

I find it much more important to look at how a breeder is trying to accomplish their goal and also why. Sometimes, I bet some people would be surprised at the answers if they actually listened.

A Story Parallel To The Miniature Sheltie

Did you know that Dalmatians have a genetic disorder that is crippling the breed? A breeder decided to do one outcrossing to another similar breed to get some genetic diversity and eradicate this disease. He took that one outcrossing and bred back to registered Dalmatians to keep the type and temperament but remove the defective gene.

He was ostracized for what he did by other established Dalmatian breeders.

Can’t cure stupid.

Will Finding A Miniature Sheltie Be Easy?

Understand that there is more to creating a miniature sheltie "breed" than taking two shelties, producing one or two generations of small shelties and calling it good.

  1. Because (and excuse me while I laugh up my sleeve) it tain’t easy to get consistent results, especially concerning sheltie size.
  2. Keeping the sheltie “look” is tough even if you aren’t watching size. It seems it is hard to maintain as you approach miniature sheltie size.
  3. When you select for any particular trait, you have to be on the look-out for unexpected, seemingly unrelated changes in other genetic areas. They could be appearance, behavior or health.

And when they crop up you have to be willing to admit it and not keep breeding poor specimens just to keep size.

While I am not expressly looking to create a miniature sheltie, I am working to reduce the size down to the low end of the standard of 13”. I also want to improve the look of my dogs as I reduce size and maintain good health as well. It is a challenge and fun at the same time.  

Toy Sheltie, Teacup Sheltie

I have seen advertisements on occasion for these size shelties. I would think it is a matter of semantics and marketing ploy to draw in prospective buyers. I know of no one that can consistently produce a healthy teacup sized sheltie.

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It isn’t a direct line from big to small when it comes to mixing up the genes in a live animal.

Which is why I have my behemoth sheltie, Ditto. Perfect in every way but size.

It’s not outrageous to think it’s possible.

All you have to do is look at the difference in size between the East Coast and the West Coast shelties. Then look at a British version. Look at the change of the look over the years.

A great book for that is The Shetland Sheepdog in America. Lots of great photos. You will be amazed.

I really don’t see a miniature sheltie ever being a separate breed so much as just a line of smaller shetland sheepdogs.

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