Collie Crosses behind Shetland Sheepdogs
Sue Ann Bowling
Collies have been crossed into the Sheltie from the beginning, on the Shetland Islands. Known crosses were outlined in the second ASSA Handbook, in an article reprinted in the 1995 Handbook. Here are some of the better known crosses:
Chestnut Sweet Lady/Rubislaw Lady Fayre
Montlethen Blue Prince
Blue Floss of Houghton Hill
Golden Spider of Houghton Hill
Eltham Park Evolution
Eltham Park Advance
No No Nanette
Gesta was the Collie dam of Eng Ch Woodvold, the first English Champion in the breed. This was a minor cross in terms of overall impact on the breed, though it does carry down through the bitch Monagard, the dam of Ronnie of Mountfort, sire of Ashbank Jean, granddam of Ch Wee Laird o'Downfield, Ch Ashbank Fairy, and Ch Downfield Grethe..
The first major cross (and I believe with the later cross involving the same bitch the only ones acknowledged to the Kennel Club at the time the offspring were registered) was during World War I and involved an 18'' sable Collie bitch called Teena. She was bred to Wallace first, producing War Baby of Mountfort, who because the cross was made during World War I when breeding was curtailed could never be shown. Teena was later bred to Wallace's son Rip of Mountfort, producing 4 daughters (Tiny Teena of Mountfort, Silverlining, Printfield Bess, Koko) which appear in later pedigrees. She accounts for around 5% of the modern gene pool (order of magnitude.) She is more important in British than US pedigrees, as many of her close descendants were denied registration in the US because the cross was made quite openly.
There may have been another Teena son. Sonja Perklin was recently going through handwritten pedigrees of some of the early Swedish imports, and came across the pedigree of Connis of Redbraes, the first Sheltie in Sweden. The pedigree, which shows this dog as owned by Beryl Thynne, a well-known early breeder, includes the breeding of an unregistered dog, Dondy Caesar, who appears as the sire of two registered Shelties, Dondy Pontiff (sire of the Swedish dog) and Dondy Tinto (sire of Linda of Clerwood, a bitch who carries down to modern American and English lines.) Here is the important part of the pedigree:
It appears that Bayview Jack, a dog who appears as the sire of both the unregistered Dondy Caesar and the registered dog Dondy Conqueror (sire of Dondy Firefly, also behind modern lines), was a full brother to the four Teena cross bitches. Whether he was a littermate is unknown, but it is possible in terms of timing.
A second major cross was in 1924 and involved a tricolor Collie bitch given Sheltie pedigrees. This was a tricolor with a crooked blaze called Chestnut Sweet Lady in the first breeding and Rubislaw Lady Fayre in the second, both breedings being to the unregistered Sheltie Chestnut Rainbow, a full brother to Catherine Coleman's Kilravock Lassie. Chestnut Sweet Lady makes up a whopping 22% of the modern American Sheltie gene pool. (Chestnut Rainbow is slightly higher yet, as he sired a few litters out of other bitches.) Chestnut Sweet Lady is only slightly less important in British lines. Chestnut Sweet Lady's sons Chestnut Lucky Boy, Rollo of Redbraes and Nut of Houghton Hill are behind the surviving CHE lines, and the BB lines all go through sons of bitches closely descended from Chestnut Sweet Lady. In official pedigrees Chestnut Sweet Lady is shown as a full sister to Chestnut Rainbow's dam, Chestnut Lassie:Nesting Topper (unregistered) Ashbank Olla Nesting Lassie (unregistered) Berryden Prince Ashbank Roy Berryden Nellie Dunrossness Queen Chestnut Sweet Lady Ashbank Laddie Elsick Beauty Tess Chestnut Queenie Highland Fluffa Lily (Unregistered) Fanny (Family 3 foundation)
Rubislaw Lady Fayre was given the pedigree:Berryden Prince Irvine Ronnie Chestnut Queenie Chestnut Rainbow Berryden Prince Chestnut Lassie Chestnut Queenie Rubislaw Lady Fayre Irvine Ronnie Chestnut Rainbow Chestnut Lassie Rubislaw Keturah (unregistered) Bob (unregistered) Oor Jean (unregistered) Bess (unregistered, Family 4 foundation)
Note that both of the Sheltie pedigrees applied to Chestnut Sweet Lady make the Chestnut cross litters appear to be very tighly linebred or even inbred. At the time, inbreeding was considered to be highly effective in "concentrating the blood" of an outstanding individual.
A dog called Ashbank Glitter was suspected of being a Collie cross or Collie in the mid 20's, as none of the other Sheltie breeders of the day knew anything about his alleged Sheltie parents. He was said to trace to the Collie, Eng Ch Thane of Athelney. Glitter sired only 1 litter in Great Britain, but that litter included the dams of Ch Wee Laird o'Downfield, Ch Ashbank Fairy, and Ch Downfield Grethe. As these are some of the most important imports behind US pedigrees, he plays a surprisingly large role in current US pedigrees - around 13 to 14%. Glitter's "official" Sheltie pedigree is:Patrick (unregistered, pedigree unknown) Ashbank Glitter Flora (unregistered, pedigree unknown)
It appears that all blue merles in the US (and probably in Great Britain) trace to blue merle Collies. The most important in this country was Monthlethen Blue Prince, now thought to be a purebred show Collie used with a pedigree "borrowed" from a registered Sheltie. He was siring in the late 20's and early 30's. He is the sire of the in utero import Ch Sheltieland Thistle, though most of his contribution to merle coloring in this country is through his great granddaughter, Peabody Silver Phantasy. His "official" pedigree is:Rip of Mountfort Chinkie Waspie Bobby Dazzler Reg of Mountfort Lady Newpark New Park Flossie Montlethen Blue Prince Reg of Mountfort Reg of Mountfort Tiny Teena of Mountfort Lady Newpark Berryden Prince New Park Flossie Bunty
Note that a dog was registered with this name and pedigree some time before the first of Montlethen Blue Prince's offspring were registered as by "Prince (unregistered)". These early offspring later had their registrations corrected to show the sire as "Montlethen Blue Prince."
Blue Floss of Houghton Hill was a small working Collie thought possibly to be of Sheltie stock. But since the then secretary of the English Shetland Sheepdog Club stated in an article published in 1917 that "blue merle is as yet unknown in the breed", Blue Floss must at least have had Collie crosses behind her to bring in the color. Blue Floss was registered as whelped in January 1922, and her offspring were whelped in 1924 and 1925. Her official pedigree is:Rover Blue Floss of Houghton Hill Gypsy (Family 9 foundation)
The other two merle sources also "come out of nowhere" in a way that suggests Collie crosses were involved. Both Teena and Chestnut Sweet Lady were mentioned as having a good deal of blue merle breeding behind them, and at least some of the Collie crosses seem to have been made as much with the goal of bringing the blue merle color into the Sheltie breed as to improve type.
Mrs. Baker of Houghton Hill is thought to have made at least one Collie cross in addition to the Blue Floss cross. Golden Spider of Houghton Hill is one of the key dogs behind the CHE line in Great Britain. He was registered in January 1931 as by Eng Ch Uam Var of Houghton Hill (inbred Chestnut cross) ex Flyette of Houghton Hill. Flyette, her dam Baby Fly of Houghton Hill and her granddam Fly of Houghton Hill were all registered in the same issue of the Gazette as Golden Spider himself. Mrs. Baker was generally very meticulous in registering her stock before she bred them (and certainly before she bred their grandchildren!) and the pattern alone made me suspicious, especially as I noticed the timing of the registrations at about the time that the Banchory pedigree corrections were being published by AKC. Felicity Rogers informed me that Mrs. Baker's kennelman had told her that Golden Spider, who Miss Rogers said had been described to her as a Collie on short legs, was out of a Collie bitch. Golden Spider's official pedigree is:Chestnut Rainbow Nut of Houghton Hill Chestnut Sweet Lady Eng Ch Uam Var of Houghton Hill Nut of Houghton Hill Lace Cap of Houghton Hill Granny of Houghton Hill (Family 7 Foundation) Golden Spider of Houghton Hill Nut of Houghton Hill Old Fogey of Houghton Hill Granny of Houghton Hill (Family 7 Foundation) Flyette of Houghton Hill Benvolio Baby Fly of Houghton Hill Fly of Houghton Hill
Eltham Park Evolution is another sire very important in British breeding (he is behind a large part of the modern BB sire line). His pedigree is given in the Handbook II article as:Rufus of Mountfort Eng Ch Specks of Mountfort Ko Ko Eng Ch Eltham Park Eureka War Baby of Mountfort Princess of Mountfort Christmas Box of Mountfort Eltham Park Evolution (sire of Blinx of Clerwood, whelped Oct 15, 1927) Forward Eltham Park Erling Farburn Stella Eltham Park Blue Bessie (crossbred) Eltham Park Blue Sol (Acknowledged Collie) Eltham Park Blue Bella (crossbred) Eltham Park Dinah (whelped February 14, 1924)
The pedigree as given would require three straight generations - two bitches and one dog - to be bred at 9 months of age and produce or sire healthy offspring that again bred at 9 months. Felicity Rogers referred to Evolution as being out of a Collie dam (the official pedigree makes his dam one quarter Collie.) He sired - or may have sired, there is a question here as well - the CC-winning tricolor with one blue eye, Blinx of Clerwood. There are a lot of unknowns here, even Evolution's color. Was he blue merle, or sable?
Eltham Park Advance was also suspected of being a Collie cross. if not a Collie. Again, he was a dog who produced exaggerated collie type and whose alleged pedigree was unknown to other breeders of the day. He sired 2 litters, both for Mr. Pierce of Eltham Park, and from the first litter several carry down to American foundation stock. In particular, he was the sire of Eltham Park Emmie and Eng Ch Eltham Park Ellaline. His official pedigree is:Bobby Lad Dornoch Laddie Brenda Eltham Park Advance Bobby Lad Dornoch Nell Flo
No No Nanette, the dam of the import Natalie of Clerwood was a big, Collie like tricolor bitch, of good enough type to win her way into the Stud Book. Her official pedigree was:Rip of Mountfort Helensdale Ned Rosemount Rosie Netherkeir Jacky Unknown Netherkeir Nellie (Family 6 foundation bitch) Unknown No No Nanette Wallace Rip of Mountfort Lerwick Mona Netherkeir Nellie (Family 6 foundation bitch) Unknown Unknown Unknown
but her sire was in fact believed to be a Collie, a son of Eng (?) Ch Wishaw Reliable
A number of other crosses were probably made in Great Britain in the 20's and early 30's, and others were undoubtedly made later. Felicity Rogers particularly mentioned the Aberlour dogs (heavily behind British lines, especially through Helensdale), and said that they had Collies and Shelties running around together and you could not always tell which was which. This would have been before or possibly during World War II.
There is little doubt that crosses were made in this country as well. J. Nate Levine (Page's Hill) is most often mentioned, with Jean of Anahassitt (the dam of Ch Mowgli ROM) and Ch Kim o'Page's Hill being the dogs most often referred to as crosses. There were undoubtedly others.
I believe most of the above is in print. Probably the best sources are the Handbook II article (which was reprinted in the 1995 Handbook) and Felicity Rogers' book on the breed (she was devastating in her honesty on some aspects of breed history, and I was honored to be able to correspond with her during the last years of her life.) The Page's Hill connection was I believe mentioned in the Pacesetter a few years back.
I do have one cross not mentioned in print, as I obtained from the Riverhill archives a copy of one of James Saunders' handwritten pedigrees which clearly states that Helensdale Nell was a Collie and gives her true pedigree. Nell was the dam of Glendale (by Greyhope Titbit) who in turn sired Aberlady Wendy, dam of both Helensdale Lassie and Eng/Am Ch Helensdale Laddie. The Saunders pedigree shows her as:Seedley Blue Sky Kinnersley Blue Peter Kinnersly Blue Princess Hillocks Blue Prince Seedley (Waterman or Marksman? - writing not clear) Kinnersley Sapphire Kinnersly Nigella Helensdale Nell, Rough Collie Lady Chapelle
The pedigree I have is for an unnamed crossbred by Reg of Mountfort ex Helensdale Nell, with the notation that "above must be Reg. as K.C. as a crossbreed. not eligable for Show." Nell's son Glendale (from a different litter) remained unregistered, and appears as unregistered in the registration of his daughter, Aberlady Wendy (Family 5)