Mackland Shetland Sheepdogs
Owned by Nadine Shortland
083 554 4301
Dogs with heart
MY JOURNEY IN SHELTIES
A Sheltie is a very difficult dog to breed! My dogs are not perfect by any means, but I am always striving to learn more and improve my lines. I have set certain goals and criteria for the standard of my dogs, and I hope one day to achieve everything that I have set out to do.
My aim has always been to breed healthy Shelties, with good conformation, but that are also able to compete in the disciplines ie “do a job”.
I decided to make health testing a priority, using tests available in South Africa and abroad, and try and reach my goals with healthy dogs!
I began with a bitch from a good kennel in Germany, British type, with the idea that I would work her and find the perfect male for her, and hopefully have a litter or two. Her workability turned out to be absolutely fabulous, and she achieved Champion status easily, and also multiple Grand Champion in the disciplines.
I decided to import a male from the same kennel in Germany – one that I was advised to be suitable for my girl by their breeder. He was, in fact, very similar to my girl, and going by my Border Collie knowledge in breeding type to type, I agreed. The litter was born - 5 pups, but it was a difficult birth so I decided to spay my girl and keep a daughter [G]. While the litter was healthy and well bred, I knew that I lacked something in my dogs. So I decided to research some more and learn a bit more.
I keep going back to my aims:
Conformation, health, temperament, drive, structure & trainability
Although I was excited about my first litter, and I was happy with the overall quality when it came to structure and size of the puppies, I was disappointed with the temperaments. The pups were a bit weak in temperament, being a bit more reserved than I prefer. Although the sizes were good, their bone was quite fine. I came to the conclusion that I needed more substance and stronger temperaments, so I decided to take the plunge and import a Canadian bitch with the idea that I would add her to my British line and create a style at more of a happy medium. My British dogs are fine boned, with weaker personalities, but they also have some outstanding qualities that I wanted to keep. Expression was my number one criteria to maintain here, and also the workability, together with their cheeky and mischievous natures. Other things such as size, long arched necks, great tailsets and tail lengths were assets that I didn't want to lose either.
Breeding my British boy to my Canadian was not on the cards, I realised after numerous tries, so I had to go elsewhere and put her to another Canadian. Although the litter was nice, and also healthy, the litter showed no uniformity that I was so used to in Borders. First of all, the sizes varied from under- to over-sized, temperament and workability were all different, and the overall structures varied. I had very mixed feelings about this, as I felt that I was going nowhere.
I was also not sold on the Canadian look of the Sheltie – but I was totally in awe of the stable temperament, though! What worried me most was the head and expression of the Canadians – the eyes were rounder, harder and changed the “sweet” melting Sheltie expression that I had grown to love. The muzzle was also very strong, and although I do want a slightly stronger muzzle, together with a deeper underjaw, I was not ready for the added depth of head that it gave me. This to me, was the ultimate sacrifice, and I decided to try and avoid it in future. I loved the stronger bone and sturdier structure, though, and hoped to keep some of this. But sadly none of this was possible and I ended up with the line coming to an end.
So, I decided to go the slightly milder route and import a finer American bitch [Journey]. This, it seems, was the right thing to do, for me to work towards my goals. I got a lovely sized bitch, quite small, with a more moderate head, and relatively pretty expression. Her depth of head was still on the heavier side, but a huge improvement on where I had already been. I love her outgoing nature – she loves people, and is a very easy going little girl. I was planning on perhaps putting my British boy to her to see how that would turn out.
Meanwhile, the British girl [G] that I had kept from my first litter was coming of age to be bred, and I started thinking what to try there. I knew that I wanted something a little “more” added to her, so started looking in Australia for a nice mix. I found a lovely boy, and was planning on importing semen from him. He was from a kennel that I had been looking at because the breeders had exactly the same aims as me – to breed a mixture of American and British lines, and to try and keep the sweet expression, temperament and workability. They then offered me the boy's half-brother! I had a look at him and was so impressed. I really liked what I saw and said yes. He arrived and I was overjoyed to see that he had exceeded all of my expectations – I love him! [Reece]
So, for my breeding programme, I was left with 2 British, 1 light American and 1 mix to work with in the end. I felt that I was finally on stage 2 of my breeding learning curve!
The year 2016 was good to me, I did 2 matings – I decided to rather try the light American to the Australian mix and the British to Australian mix. By using the same male on 2 bitches, I could get an idea of what he produced to 2 different types of Shelties. That gave me one litter of a more British mix, and one litter of a more American mix. I loved both litters, and felt that I was much closer to my final aim. The more British litter has quite a nice look to it, but the size has crept in a bit, so I need to remember to try and keep this down in future. The light American girl produced a lovely litter, nicely sized and with good conformation, although the type varied slightly. I kept a boy from the UK-mix litter [Zz], and exported the pick girl from the more American litter to Australia.
2017 was the time for round 3, and by then I knew that I was getting closer! I have noticed a few things that have crept in that I should keep an eye on – the first being the straight topline (not to be confused with a level back as the standard states). The Sheltie topline starts at the tip of the ears to the end of the tail – it is a graceful sweep of lines and curves. My Americans have levelled out quite a bit, so I will be aiming at making sure their toplines improve. This, together with the refined head that I am sometimes getting are priorities at the moment, but my original goals remain in place – sweetness of expression, health and workability, and also the important stable temperament.
2018 started off with a bang, as I raised my 2017 mix-litter over the Christmas holidays and into 2018. This litter has exceeded my expectations, and perhaps I finally have my mix girl with which to go forward [Brave]. I have been wanting a daughter from my Australian import for quite a while, and it seems that I may have one!
2018 was an exciting year, with one litter born (another mix), and one new arrival at Mackland. My UK-mix boy was used by another breeder to her small Canadian bitch, and I could not resist a puppy from this. This girl has exceeded all my exprectations and she is a born Agility dog, taking after her German great granny! [Story]
I also decided to keep a daughter of the same male who was bred to my small American girl [GraVity] - these two girls are two peas in a pod and I am delighted with them!
2019 included a litter which produced a first for Mackland - some bi-blacks! While these weren't the aim of the breeding, they certainly were a hit amongst the Agility folk! Unfortunately only 1 pup from this litter was suitable for breeding on, and he was sold to a breeder friend nearby. Also in 2019, I attempted a repeat of my successful UK-mix litter. Unfortunately there were only 2 pups in the litter, but I decided to keep the little girl - all UK type, with added substance, and just what I was looking for!
At the end of 2019, Mackland's first tri-colour Sheltie arrived - a little UK-type boy from Australia! He is a fine, little guy, extremely sweet and ALL UK-type! I think that he may be the ticket to getting closer to my original goals - because at present I have a selection of lovely mixed girls with which to go forward!
So, at the start of 2020, I have some UK-type mix girls and boys as well as the pure UK-type boy. I believe that this will remain Mackland's signature “look”. I plan to gain uniformity by breeding only UK-type mixes together. There are three litters planned for the near future. It's all coming together nicely!