Mackland Shetland Sheepdogs Shelties South Africa
my story in shelties south africa

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.


After researching the health of the Sheltie, I was horrified to find that very few breeders in South Africa did any testing. There is a fair amount of testing available to the Sheltie breeder in SA, and a whole lot more overseas. I decided to make this a priority, and try and reach my goals with healthy dogs!

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 began with a dog 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 could not find a tested male in SA that suited her, and the owners of any that I looked at were not keen on spending any money on testing. I took it upon myself to test a couple of other people’s males myself, in the hopes that I could catch a break, but I wasn’t that lucky. Of those that I tested, not only were there no genetic CEA Clears, there were no Carriers either! ALL were Affected for CEA. So 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. 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.

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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 like. 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 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.
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I ended up adding a Canadian to my line. But sizes and overall structures varied. 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.
So, I decided to go the slightly milder route and import a finer American bitch. 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 then found a lovely boy in Australia and decided to breed a mixture of light American and British lines, and to try and keep the sweet expression, temperament and workability.
shetland sheepdog puppy sheltie south africa shetland sheepdog puppy sheltie south africa
These matings worked out very well, with some differences between the American mixes and the UK type mixes, but each having it's own virtues. I was left with some ideas to refine these styles, with the ultimate goal of achieving the ultimate UK type mix displaying the hallmark sweet expressions, and also while maintaining my health priorities.

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We have some exciting plans for 2021!