The Shetland Sheepdog

The Shetland Sheepdog is a small herding dog originally from the Shetland Islands off the northern coast of Scotland. The Sheltie, as this dog is known, is a great all-around family dog. They are loyal and bright, easy to train, and a whiz at obedience events. This breed is also a true companion. They prefer to be with their people when possible.

These Shetland Sheepdogs are looking alert with their soulful expression and three-quarter upright ears.

Shelties look like a smaller version of the rough-coat Collie. It is thought the isolation of the Shetland Islands caused food scarcity and animals of diminutive size like the sheepdog, Shetland ponies, and Shetland sheep. Shelties were bred smaller due to the severe, cold climate of the Shetland Islands. Smaller dogs required less food. It is not known when Collies were initially brought to the islands.

Originally, this breed was used in two capacities. They were needed to stand guard against birds and sheep eating the farmer’s garden. They make excellent watchdogs. They like to bark and are wary of strangers.

However, they were primarily used as herding dogs of sheep, ponies, and poultry. They have a strong herding instinct and will try to herd just about anything when given the opportunity, including children. Train them not to continue this habit. It can lead to biting. It is a good idea to discourage your Sheltie from herding unless they are participating in a herding class.

Shetland Sheepdog Stats

The Shetland Sheepdog stands 13 to 16 inches tall and weighs 15 to 25 pounds. They will live an average of twelve to fourteen years. The Sheltie has a long, sleek triangular face and three-quarter upright ears. The top fourth of their ear folds over. The breed was first recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1911.

Shetland Sheepdog sitting in the wind with her hair blowing.

Shetland Sheepdogs possess a long, dense double coat of fur that sheds quite a bit. It is a surprise to many Sheltie owners exactly how much loose fur is lying around. This breed requires daily brushings and additional brushings will be necessary will help during shedding season. They are susceptible to matting behind the ears, under the elbows on their front legs, and on their hind quarters under the tail. The Shetland Sheepdog needs only an occasional bath. All dogs should have their nails trimmed regularly.

The Shetland Sheepdog is sensitive and doesn’t like to be alone for too long. They be alone while everyone is at work and school but need companionship and play when you get home. They enjoy human companionship and long to be with you. It is important to keep this breed mentally and physically stimulated with work, training, and exercise.

Shetland Sheepdogs require a moderate amount of exercise but do adapt well to their family’s lifestyle as long as owners provide adequate activity. They need both mental and physical stimulation. They are proficient at and get a kick out of canine events like agility, obedience, herding and tracking. They are dog sport over-achievers. They also excel as therapy dogs.

Early socialization and puppy training classes are always recommended, as with every breed. When taught basic obedience, the Sheltie will be a rockstar companion and rock canine events as they are easy to train, smart, and eager to please. They are vocal dogs so they should be taught to stop barking on command. They also like to chase moving objects so fenced yards and leashes are a necessity.

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