Shetland Sheepdog

Type: Herding Dog

Height: 13 - 16 inches.

Weight: 14 - 25 lbs.

Life Span: 12 - 14 years.

Litter Size: 4 - 6 puppies.

Country of Origin: Scotland

Activity: Indoors - High. Outdoors - Very High.

Watch-dog: High

Guard-dog: Very Low. Sheltie's are very friendly.


Description: The Shetland Sheepdog bears resemblance to the Rough Collie. Strong, nimble and lightly built the Sheltie is a fast runner and can jump well. They are often called miniature collies, but are a distinctly separate breed. They do contain Collie blood in their lineage, however. Shelties are small to medium sized dogs, but can occasionally get a bigger pup in the litter. They have a thick, profuse coat that requires attention and grooming. Shetland Sheepdogs can be a variety of colors and shades, ranging from a mixture of colors of black, blue merle, sable, sable merle, or mostly white, with or without tan or white markings. Shetland Sheepdog puppies are beguiling and exhibit a desire to please from a very young age. Intuitive and responsive to their owners' wishes, they make charming family pets. Take care that they are not startled, teased, or left alone as Shetland Sheepdogs can be barky when excited or lonely. Shetland Sheepdogs are very intelligent dogs, and can learn fairly quickly. They are very friendly, affectionate and loyal to their family and friends. They can be wary with strangers, but are not good guard dogs. They are excellent watch dogs, however, as they like to bark. Shetland Sheepdogs are very responsive and very obedient, and make exceptional pets for the family.

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Other Names: Sheltie

Colors: Sable, sable merle, tricolor, blue merle, black and white and black and tan, or mostly white, with or without tan or white markings.

Coat: Outer coat is long, straight, harsh-textured and profuse hair. They have a soft, short-haired, close undercoat.

Temperament: Shetland Sheepdogs are active, intelligent, loyal, and affectionate. They are obedient, get along well with children and other pets, and are quite charming. They are hard working in the field, and love a job to do. They are wary with strangers, but are relatively friendly. They are very alert and watchful, as well as responsive. They like to bark. They are docile, rather healthy, and a fun breed.

With Children: Yes, as long as children are not too rowdy.

With Pets: Yes, gets along well with other dogs, cats and small animals.

Special Skills: Sheepdog or family pet.

Care and Training: Regular brushing is important to the Shetland Sheepdog. Mist the coat lightly with water before you begin and tease out mats. Check behind the ears, hindquarters and beneath the shoulders for tangles. Use a comb sparingly. Shelties shed twice a year. Bathe or dry shampoo when necessary. The Sheltie needs plenty of active exercise. This can be done through training, play, or regular walks. The Sheltie is not difficult to train but they will enjoy time spent in obedience or agility classes. They enjoy a job or activity to do, and are very good at obedience.

Learning Rate: Very High. Obedience - Very High. Problem Solving - Very High. Shelties are very intelligent.

Special Needs: Exercise, grooming, job or activity to do, socialization, and training.

Living Environment: Shetland Sheepdogs will adapt to small living quarters if given daily sufficient exercise, making them good in a suburban home or an apartment. An owner of a Sheltie must be able to give them a considerable amount of grooming and deal with a dog that is prone to barking. The best owner for this breed would be an active owner living in a suburban living environment.

Health Issues: Generally healthy, the Shetland Sheepdog may suffer from cataracts, PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy), epilepsy, hip dysplasia, Sheltie skin syndrome, thyroid problems, and von Willebrand's disease.

History: Claiming ancestry from the Collies of Scotland, the Shetland Sheepdog arrived from the Shetland Islands to mainland England before World War I. In fact, they were brought to Scotland by the Vikings as an older version of the Shetland Sheepdog, which eventually descended into the Sheltie we have today. They were brought there in the 10th century. These dogs were spitz-type and similar to the Vallhund. The dogs were isolated on the Shetland Islands until the 15th century, and soon after the islands became a part of Scotland. Thereafter, Scottish collies were introduced to the islands, and the two interbred. They were mostly bred by Shetland islanders, and brought them to the rest of the Scotland mainland. Other theories suggest the Sheltie dogs bred with traveling visitor dogs from ships in the 1700s. These dogs passed on their own legends to the Shelties of the island. The Sheltie has been bred true in the Shetland Islands off the north coast of Scotland for more than 135 years. At first they were called Toonie dogs, named for the word toon that means "town" or "farm". The island had its small farms, and on these small farms were rather small cattle and miniature ponies, so the need for a large herding dog was non-existent. The smaller Shetland Sheepdog worked perfectly with their size. Shelties were entered into the Crufts Dog show in 1906, and after the destructive World War II a breeder introduced Collie blood to the breed in order to ensure its survival. Today the breed has had a popular and well-received existence in the United States.

First Registered by the AKC: 1911

AKC Group: Herding Group

Class: Herding

Registries: AKC, ANKC, CKC, FCI (Group 1), KC(GB), UKC