Westminster’s Double Merle Sheltie BOB

History repeats itself and Wyndlair Avalanche isn’t the only intentionally bred double merle sire to have his progeny rewarded with Best of Breed at America’s biggest dog show. He’s merely the most recent.

At the 2010 Westminster Kennel Club show, the offspring of a double merle sheltie stud also won Best of Breed.  The handler even had the same lucky number 7 that Renee Beals wore when she showed her dog Wyndlair Cherokee Vindication to Best of Breed in Rough Collies.

7     Ch Shadow Hill’s Star Chaser
Breed: Shetland Sheepdog
Sex: Bitch
AKC: DN 03050303
Date of Birth: February 18, 2003
Breeder: Jane Hammett & Don E Bright
Sire: Shadow Hill’s Polaris
Dam: Shadow Hill Satin Pillow
Owner: Jane Hammett & Don Bright
Photos: Breed judging


Shadow Hill’s Star Chaser is not a double merle, but her father Shadow Hill’s Polaris is, and he’s already a “Register of Merit” sire, meaning that although he can’t be shown himself, his offspring are winning show championships left and right.  The breeder claims he’s perfectly fine. I have my doubts.  Oreo, like most double merles, appears to have very small eyes.

This Boomer son has really proved himself as an outstanding sheltie sire and has numerous CH and pointed offspring. Polaris is an outstanding shetland sheepdog with a beautiful headpiece, exquisite balance and outline, legs and movement. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this dog only that he can’t be shown in the ring for being a double dilute. He really stamps his look on his offspring and placed 3rd in the stud dog class at the 2005 ASSA National Specialty. Oreo is the sire of BIS BISS CH Shadow Hill’s Discovery, an ASSA Award of Merit winner.

Polaris recently earned his Register of Merit Title for his exceptional Siring abilities. The following are his champion offspring:

Ch Misty Mt’s North Star (8-15-2007)
Ch Sandance Stargate
Ch Norwood Saloona (3-30-2008)
Ch Shadow Hill’s Discovery (9-24-04)
Ch Shadow Hill’s Star Chaser (9-3-04)
Ch Shadow Hill’s Satin Dove (11-5-05)
Ch CH Shadow Hill’s Dot Com (7-31-08)
Ch Shadow Hill’s Satin Bows (3-24-04)
Ch Armitage Avalon (2-24-08)
Ch Carloway Clairvoyant (4-1-06)
Ch ParRay Purple Label (11-14-08)

You can confirm here that both of Oreo’s parents are merle dogs, BIS BISS Am Ch Shadow Hill’s Air Force One OA OAJ x Am Ch Shadow Hill’s Satin Doll ROM, and the breeder admits on their website that he’s a double merle.

One might think that this could have been an accidental breeding of two merle dogs, but a little searching shows that this isn’t even a rarity for this breeder. Here is another double merle stud ROM dog they produced and used:

Shadow Hill's Double Trouble, a double merle stud matador.

I actually find the cheeky name offensive given how often double merle is associated with eye and ear issues.  Is it really funny to name a dog “double trouble” when you’re so cavalier with health?

History of Shadow Hill’s Double Trouble ROM

Shadow Hill’s Double Trouble ROM: homozygous merle dog, bred by J. Hammett from A/C Ch Shadow Hill’s Blue Dynamic ex Ch Harvest Hill’s Soft Spoken Blue and whelped June 30, 1980. This dog’s pedigree breaks all the rules on color breeding. Not only was he a double merle from a merle to merle breeding, his sire was from a blue to sable mating and his maternal grandsire’s dam was also a homozygous merle. Highly successful in this case – he sired 10 blue merle champions from black bitches – but breedings of this type should not be undertaken by anyone not thoroughly familiar with the genetics of the merle gene and willing to take the risk of severely defective puppies. He is Line CHE Part IIb and Family 2 Part IV.

This is the breeder’s justification for creating and using this dog, named “Powder” in honor of the crack they must be smoking to think this is ethical:

This lovely sheltie left us with some the most impressive offspring. Powder lived to be 15 years old and earned his Register of Merit. He is one of the top producing double dilutes in the history of the shetland sheepdog breed. His progeny have played a fundamental role in creating the modern Shadow Hill Shelties’ line. This dog was truly a “gentlemen” in every respect. Everyone who saw him would stop and stare at his beauty. He turned heads wherever he went. Powder had a strong pedigree which emphasized beauty and brains with correct movement, balance, detailed heads, wonderful temperaments and beautiful blue markings. His descendents possess these qualities and are a joy to live with.

There are plenty of other double dilutes coming out of Shadow Hill dogs:

Shadow Hill White As Snow is an intentionally bred double merle.


Karashome Sunbury Elegance is a double merle sired by a Shadow Hill stud.


Shadow Hill's White Horizon is yet another double merle dog intentionally bred by a dog from Jane Hammett and Don Bright.

The callousness of these breeders brings shame to all of purebred dogdom, and with greater awareness of these unacceptable breeding practices will come unwanted scrutiny and legislation that will hurt all of us in purebred dogs.  It might have been the policy in the past to keep your mouth shut and accept that these things are just part of the game, but I don’t believe that’s a winning strategy for dogs, for breeders, or for simple ethical behavior.  To not speak out is tacit approval, and when the ship goes down, all of us will be hurt, guilty or not.

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About Christopher

Christopher Landauer is a fifth generation Colorado native and second generation Border Collie enthusiast. Border Collies have been the Landauer family dogs since the 1960s and Christopher got his first one as a toddler. He began his own modest breeding program with the purchase of Dublin and Celeste in 2006 and currently shares his home with their children Mercury and Gemma as well. His interest in genetics began in AP Chemistry and AP Biology and was honed at Stanford University.