Shetland Sheepdog

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Shetland Sheepdog

The Shetland Sheepdog, also called Sheltie, is an intelligent, obedient, eager to please, and hard-working small dog, from the Shetland Islands off the coast of Scotland. Although they can resemble a Rough Collie in miniature, they are still two breeds. The Shetland Sheepdogs are diminutive but hardy, although they are still outstanding in herding, it is usually bred as a farm dog or family pet today.

Other Names Sheltie
Color Black & White, Black White & Tan, Blue Merle & White, Blue Merle White & Tan, Sable & White, Sable Merle & White
Height Males: 14-16 inches. Females: 13-15 inches.
Weight Males: 14-27 pounds. Females: 14-27 pounds.
Life Span 12-14 years
Personality Playful, Energetic, Bright
Exercise Regular Exercise
Popularity #25
Groom Needs 2-3 Times a Week
Kids Friendly Yes
Dog Friendly Yes
Watch Dog
Family Dog
Litter Size 4-6

Shetland Sheepdog Pictures

Shetland Sheepdog Video


As remarkable watchdogs, Shetland Sheepdogs are fond of barking and keeping a noticeable aloofness to strangers. But with family, they are extremely active, playful, and intelligent companions. They are small dogs, popularly called Shelties, that come in a long double coat, the color of which could be black, blue, sable, or Merle, with white markings. 

Owing to their diminutive size, a standard Sheltie would weigh around 16-24 pounds and stand to a shoulder height of 14 or 15 inches. Ranked 25th most popular dog by the American Kennel Club, they have an average lifespan of 11-14 years.

Living with Shetland Sheepdog

The Shetland Sheepdog’s outer coat is composed of long, straight, harsh hair, while the undercoat is short, furry, and very dense. Their beautiful coat requires a thorough weekly brushing at least with a pin brush, and more often during shedding season to help remove the dead hair. Never brush a dry coat, and be sure to get right down to the skin. You can use a spray bottle to mist it to prevent damage to the hair. Pay special concerns to the fine hair behind the ears, which tends to tangle, and if you find a mat in this area early, it could usually be brushed out with a small slicker brush.

Shaving the dog is not recommended, because the coat protects against sunburn and heat as well as cold. If your dog gets brushing regularly, it just needs a bath occasionally and once a month or two is enough.

Check the ears on a weekly basis for signs and symptoms of infection, irritation, or wax build up. Brush the teeth at least once per week to prevent tartar buildup and fight gum disease. Besides, their fast-growing nails should be trimmed regularly, such as once per month.

As the Sheltie’s high energy, vigorous exercise daily is needed for your dog, which can be a long walking, short running or backyard games. Also, they can adaptable to a family’s way of life as other city dogs if the owners can provide enough exercise for them. And in a contest of agility, a Sheltie can make a good performance as the Border Collie.  

The Shelties need mental exercise to keep from becoming bored, and they are eager to learn advanced agility training, also, they are happy to play games of hide-and-seek with their owner at home. 

If possible, let your Sheltie participate in advanced obedience, skill training, and agility or organized herding activities. These smart dogs need to use their minds as much as possible and experience the opportunity to learn new things during exercise. Proper exercise and occupying Sheltie’s brain help keep calm indoors. Bored Sheltie may bark compulsively, which can drive the house crazy and alienate your neighbors, especially in apartment buildings.

It is recommended to feed a Sheltie with high-quality dog food twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, but the amount should depend on the dog’s size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. 

It is also important to give the dog the appropriate amount of exercise so that they can burn off excess calories or gain excessive weight, which can lead to various health problems. Obesity can shorten a dog’s life span by several years, so owners must pay attention to the dog’s waistline from the beginning.

Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Also, owners should learn about which food is safe for dogs and which is not. 

There should be clean fresh water at all times.

While this is generally a healthy breed, there still some health problems in the Shetland Sheepdog you should pay attention to:

Major concerns: dermatomyositis

Minor concerns: CEA, trichiasis, PRA, cataract, hemophilia, CHD, allergies, hypothyroidism, patellar luxation, Legg-Perthes

Occasionally seen: PDA, deafness, epilepsy

Suggested tests:

Hip Evaluation

Ophthalmologist Evaluation

Total Annual Cost: $2685

Cost is estimated for the first year and may vary depending on many factors, such as dog food, health care, leash, collar, licensing, possible fencing, crates, training and obedience classes, dog-walking, grooming, treats, toys, flea, tick, and heart-worm meds, microchips, etc.

The Shelties can learn basic obedience quickly as they are very intelligent, eager to please, and trainable, they can be good companions and do well in canine sports such as agility. You can start the obedience training from a puppy as your dog is smart enough to begin to learn it. Praise, gentle guidance, or food rewards can help you train this sensitive dog breed, and owners shouldn’t be too strict to them when training. 

The Shelties can express happiness by barking, which makes them be quite vocal, so the owner must be prepared to teach the dog to stop barking when needed.

They are very smart to learn some advanced skills. In one study, the Shelties rank sixth in intelligence, based on the ability to understand and retain a command after being told fewer than five times, and obeying commands on the first instance 95 percent of the time. This superior intelligence and willingness make a Sheltie an excellent candidate for advanced obedience training and performing well in the competition obedience competition.


Originally called Shetland Collies, since the breed was created by crossing the Spitz-type Shetland dogs to the Rough Collies, the name Shetland Sheepdog was later adopted due after some Rough Collie fanciers opposed the former name. The ancestors of the Shetland Sheepdogs are believed to be the original dogs of Shetland origin which resembled the Spitz dogs. 

The Shetland Isles belong to old Scotland, now a member of the United Kingdom. The region was popular for its harsh landscape — rugged, cold and parched. Thus, it had a natural way of dictating what sort of animals thrived on its soil, of which it favored tougher and hardier breeds of animal-kind. Most of which were small-sized, perhaps owing to the climatic conditions. The original Shetland dogs were of this caliber; small in appearance but tough and compact dogs that could brave the weather all year round.

These Shetland dogs had possibly inhabited this island since the 15th century and are rumored to have looked much like the Spitz. Some experts claim that this is true because the original Shetland dogs were brought to Shetland some centuries past, by settlers from Norse who used them to herd stock on the farm. Many years down the line, larger sizes of livestock were introduced into the Island and soon larger-sized herd dogs were in high demand. It was at that time that the Rough Collies almost took over the job of herding dogs from the Shetland dogs, which prompted breeders to seek to develop larger sizes of the Shetland dogs. So, the Shetland dogs were crossed with the Rough Collies, which resulted in a hybrid that took much after the Rough Collies.

This hybrid was bred out to other countries and, when it got to England, the “Shetland Collies” was crossed several times with other breeds including Pomeranians, Border Collies, and King Charles Spaniels to give what we know today as “Shetland Sheepdogs”. The Shetland Sheepdogs are smaller than the original Shetland dogs and barely resemble them.

Helpful Information


Breed Club Link:

Breed Club Rescue: National Sheltie Rescue Association

Breed Club Rescue Link: