If you’re a regular reader, you know that I absolutely loathe the idea of designer dogs (see Why You Should Walk Away From Teacup Dogs). That said, when I talk about designer dogs, I mean animals that are bred for freakish characteristics like abnormal smallness, brachycephalic noses and other things that are just going to cause a world of misery for the dogs involved, and, ultimately, to their owners, as well. Then breeders saddle them with “cutesy” names like Chorkie, Doxie, ShiPoo and so on, and I just want to gag.
I have nothing whatsoever against good crossbreeds. A good cross occurs when you take two dogs of different breeds, both with desirable characteristics, and hope for puppies that will have all the best qualities of either breed, and none of the defects. I’m fine with this, and in fact, despite being a complete dog snob who very much favors purebreds, I once allowed Leroy to breed with a very pretty Doberman. Her person thought that Boxermans might be very nice dogs. I thought so, too, and as it turned out, Leroy and Suzy (the Doberman) presented us with some very pretty puppies, and we had no trouble selling them to good homes.
Of course, we had them all vet checked before placing them, and they all got a clean bill of health. Stephen, my vet, thinks that we probably bred out a lot of problems that are common to either breed – the tumors in the Boxers, and the von Willebrands disease in the Dobies, for instance. Of course, time will tell, but the thing is Lowell and I weren’t breeding our dogs for defects; we were trying to breed them out.
Sorry, I think this might have been one of those patented “Ash digressions.”
Okay, they’re not patented, but I’m thinking of patenting them!
Back to the point. Anyone breeding a “designer dog” for abnormal characteristics is an idiot, and so is anyone who buys one of those dogs. A good cross, though, can be a great choice. I’ll probably be talking more about good crossbreeds in blogs to follow, but for now, I’m going to talk about the Shollie.
What Is a Shollie?
I still don’t much like “blend” names, but since this the term that most of the people who own this particular mix use, I’ll stick with it.
A Shollie is a German Shepherd/Border Collie mix. Shollies are typically large dogs, anywhere from 21-29 inches at the shoulder and weighing 70-80 pounds. They are very active, very sociable, and can be good with kids and other pets if they are socialized early.
Toward the end of the 19th century, dogs were bred in Germany for intelligence and athleticism. Eventually, the German Shepherd came to be used for guarding, rescuing and carrying supplies. Today’s German Shepherd is used for any number of jobs, including guiding the blind, bomb detection and search and rescue.
The Border Collie originated in Britain, and was used to herd sheep on the borders of Scotland and England (hence the dog’s name). Queen Victoria is said to have been very partial to Border Collies.
The Shollie combines the best of the two, being very quick to learn, alert, hardworking and intelligent. If Shollies have any defects, it would be that they can be obstinate – they require a firm trainer – and if not socialized early on, they might try to herd children and other pets.
The Shollie is very energetic, hardworking, and beyond smart. He is also playful and loving with his family but might be a bit suspicious of strangers. The Shollie loves to run and play, so if socialized with kids early on, he can assume a lot of the “babysitting” duties that might otherwise fall to parents.
Shollies usually look more like German Shepherds than they do Border Collies. The tail is a bit less bushy, though, and the ears might tend to be a little floppier than those of a German Shepherd. A Shollie can have a short- to medium-length coat, and the coat could be black, white, cream tan, sable, yellow or brown.
If you are considering a Shollie as part of your family, keep in mind that this dog is a mix of two very active breeds. Shollies will not do well living in an apartment or small house.A big backyard is best. If you don’t have a big yard where your Shollie can run, then you will have to make sure to take him for a couple of long walks every day. Playtime in the dog park is also a good idea since Shollies love to run off-leash.
Shollies are not all that different from most other dogs in that they should be trained and socialized early. Because the Shollie loves to herd, he can be a bit rough with small children and other animals. If he gets a bit rambunctious, though, please don’t punish him.He’s only trying to do his job the way he sees it, and if you correct him harshly, not only will you hurt his feelings, you could bring out his innate stubbornness. Shollies are best trained using praise and positive reinforcement.
A Shollie will shed a bit, not just seasonally, but throughout the year. For this reason, you should brush your Shollie several times a week, and daily during the shedding season. Bathing isn’t usually necessary unless your Shollie gets into something nasty. In fact, too frequent bathing is a bad idea, since your Shollie has sensitive skin that needs to be protected by its natural oils.
Your Shollie should have his toenails clipped when they get too long. If you’re hearing “clicking” when he’s walking on a hard surface, it’s time for a trim. You should also brush your Shollie’s teeth – daily is best, but some dogs are resistant to teeth brushing. If this is the case with your Shollie, at least try for two or three times a week.
You should also try to clean your Shollie’s ears once a week. When you do this, also check for swelling, redness, or anything else that might indicate an infection. Use a tissue or a cotton ball with a vet-approved cleanser, and never push anything into your dog’s ear. If it can’t be cleaned from the outside, it’s a matter for your veterinarian.
Shollies are, generally speaking, good watchdogs. They don’t bark much, so if your Shollie does bark, pay attention; he’s definitely trying to tell you something. Shollies bond very hard and very fast to their families, and will do whatever it takes to keep them safe.
Given that a Shollie is a crossbreed, you probably won’t find that you have much to worry about in the way of vet bills; as I’ve stated about crossbreeds, often the health issues that are common to either breed of origin are bred out.
As to how much you could expect to pay for a Shollie puppy, it’s probably much the same as it would be for any other cross. Lowell and I charged $450 each for our Boxermans, which seems to be pretty standard for a good cross. Of course, you do have to consider the usual costs associated with any breed: initial shots, spaying and neutering, microchipping if you choose to go that route, and the incidental costs of collars, leashes and so on. And toys – don’t forget the toys, LOL!
The Final Word
If you’re looking for a really good crossbreed, I’d definitely recommend a Shollie. A Shollie might challenge you a bit, but it’s still a good choice even for a novice dog owner. You’ll also have a good friend that will be very devoted to you and the rest of your family. I have to admit that I have a soft spot for Boxermans when it comes to good crosses, but Shollies are pretty cool too!