Shetland Sheepdog

Shetland Sheepdog Overview

During the 1700s, the Shetland Islands were a thriving trading area, bringing fishing boats and along with it several breeds of herding dog. Working sheepdogs from Scotland combined with other Spitz-type dogs to create what is now known as the Shetland Sheepdog. Like many other creatures on the Shetland Islands, the Shetland Sheepdog, or Sheltie, also has the small size and eager attitude of the inhabitants there.

Shetland Sheepdog Characteristics

The small size of the Sheltie makes him ideal for herding the equally small animals such as miniature cattle, Shetland ponies, and dwarf sheep. They are an eager working breed and feature characteristics and coloration similar to other collie-type dogs like the Smooth-Coated Collie and Border Collie. These dogs are smart, active and friendly hard-workers.

Shetland Sheepdog Temperament

The Sheltie is lively but very gentle and responsive to his owners. He makes a great companion to people and especially children. However, the breed is predisposed to shyness, especially toward strangers, so the Sheltie should be socialized from puppyhood to keep him outgoing and active with everyone.

Shetland Sheepdog Care

Shelties live on average 12 to 14 years, good for a small to medium-sized dog. Several breed health concerns include Collie Eye Anomaly (failure of part of the eye to properly form), hemophilia, hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease, seizures and progressive retinal atrophy. Careful breeding and selection of parents can help decrease disease incidence.

Shetland Sheepdog Coat

The long, profuse coat of the Sheltie should be regularly brushed and groomed to keep it from matting and tangling. Brushing every few days will help keep the coat shiny and glossy, and remove any dead hairs. No special trimming or professional grooming is needed.

Shetland Sheepdog Training

Shelties are extremely intelligent and have a desire to please. This makes them very easily trainable and they will happily pick up on any obedience training. The Sheltie also excels in dog sports such as obedience, fly-ball, and agility, due to his quick wits and easy-going nature.

Shetland Sheepdog Activity

The Sheltie is a working dog at heart and does well with lots of activity. Daily walks, fun jogs or a mentally challenging training session will help keep the breed in shape and from getting bored. Without proper exercise, the Sheltie may quickly become overweight.