Lines and Families in Shetland Sheepdogs

Sue Ann Bowling

Lines and families are a simplified way of keeping track of relationships among dogs. Lines consider only the top line of the pedigree, and are traced from sire to son. While a bitch may be said to be of her sire's line, she never passes that line designation on. Her sons take their line from their sire. Theoretically, dogs of the same line share the same Y chromosome, though given some of the uncertainties in the early breeding records, the results of comparing Y chromosomes within a nominal line might be embarassing. Families work in the same way but trace the bottom line of the pedigree, with descent counted from dam to daughter. Again, a dog may be said to have his mother's family, but he never passes that family designation on. Genetically, Shelties of the same family should share their mitochondrial DNA.

In most countries that issue club Handbooks, the lines and families of at least the current crop of Champions and CC winners are given in graphical form, a sort of inverted vertical pedigree. This was true of the first few US Handbooks as well. However, the graphical format is difficult to put together, a nightmare to typeset, and almost impossible to proofread fully, especially once dogs like Ch Halstors Peter Pumpkin ROM, sire of 160 Champions, entered the picture. Probably as a result of these factors, printing of the full lines and families of new US Champions stopped after the third US Handbook. Given the number of US Champions finishing each year, this is hardly surprising. It is still interesting, however, to see how the most important Shelties are related in the Line and Family charts.

The Line and Family charts presented here are in an indented text format rather than a graphical one. I have used small letters and indentation to indicate generations from the English foundation stock, and numbers and indentation to indicate generations from the English dogs imported to the US or Canada. The charts read like an outline. For instance, in this sample chart:

Head (Unregistered head of line)
  a. AA (Son of Head)
    b. AB (son of AA)
      c. AC (daughter of AB imported to US)
    b. AB2 (another son of AA, this one behind current foreign lines)
  a. AA2 (another son of Head, either a Champion or a dog with current descendants in direct sire-to-son line)

It can get a little complicated by the time you get out 15 to 20 generations, but the information is there.

This is a limited set of charts that tracks the lines and families of the dogs with individual pages on this site. This started out with the dogs in my Register of Merit list, but is now being extended to include National Specialty Best of Breed winners, dogs that have won a hundred or more Best of Breeds, dogs with titles in several different fields and, most recently, dogs with titles earned in Alaska. The English sections start with the foundation stock of the breed - by definition dogs of unknown pedigrees. They terminate when they reach important imports to North America or dogs heading currently active British lines. (The exception is line LJA, for which the English and Canadian sections are combined.) The US sections start with the Shelties imported from England.


English Lines | English Families