Humor us, and read the following line:
“The head should be refined and its shape, when viewed from top or side, should be a long, blunt wedge tapering slightly from ears to nose.”
Most of us probably wouldn’t infer from this language that it describes a breed that many fanciers consider to be a Head Breed. Sheltie fanciers, however, will recognize this as wording from their AKC breed standard.
We’ve written before that because the head is the first thing we usually notice about a dog, it’s an important feature, and one that often sets one breed apart from another. For that reason, all breeds are probably “head breeds.” That said, in the show world of conformation, there are a few breeds for which head type seems to merit extra attention, and the Shetland Sheepdog is one of them.
Fanciers spend a lifetime learning about their breed, and we won’t presume to imply a knowledge about the Sheltie head that we patently don’t have. We can, however, share, a “dummy’s understanding” of it.
When we stand next to a Sheltie, we are, of course, looking down at it. Remember that the Sheltie standard describes the head when viewed from the top or side, and that the head should have a long blunt wedge. Our “take away” from this line is that the dog’s head is a wedge shape when viewed from the top or side, and that the “wedge” shape is blunt, not shaped like a piece of pecan pie.
If we “dull” the pointy edge of the wedge illustration above, and compare it to the photo of Sheltie at the very top, we clearly have a dog with a blunt wedge-shaped head. Some judges have gone so far to say that no matter how well a Sheltie moves, if its head is poor, the dog is not a good Sheltie. That is a head breed. There is a better explanation of the Sheltie head here, and the Shetland Sheepdog Club of America provides a good visual aid here.
Head breeds. They are more complicated than we might know.