Known as a devoted and docile dog with keen intelligence and understanding, the Shetland Sheepdog is a herding dog descended from the Rough Collie of Scotland.
Intensely loyal, affectionate and responsive, the Shetland Sheepdog is an excellent family dog. He thrives on farms but adapts to many living situations if provided adequate exercise.
Shelties are intelligent, eager and easy to train, which is why they excel in obedience, agility and herding trials. They are terrific watchdogs who won’t hesitate to bark.
The small, active and agile Shetland Sheepdog is a member of the Herding group. With his diminutive size, wedge-shaped head, erect ears and long, straight coat, the Sheltie looks like a miniature version of a rough-coated Collie.
12 to 14 years
The Shetland Sheepdog coat is a combination of white and one or two other colors, such as black, tan, blue merle, sable and sable merle.
The Shetland Sheepdog’s double coat sheds considerably. With an outer coat of long, straight hair and a dense, short undercoat it must be brushed weekly, and more often during shedding season.
Owners also need to check for mats that can form behind the ears, under the elbows and on the hindquarters. Shelties need a bath only occasionally and shouldn’t be shaved.
Thanks to responsible breeding, Shetland Sheepdogs are generally healthy. Breeders should screen for conditions such as hip dysplasia, thyroid disease, eye diseases, dermatomyositis, von Willebrand’s disease, gallbladder mucoceles and epilepsy.
Shetland Sheepdogs may benefit from the specialized nutrition and smaller kibble of a small breed dog food. For Shelties who need help with weight management, consider a healthy weight formula.
Shetland Sheepdog puppies should eat a small breed puppy food for their first year of life to aid in their growth and development.
Shetland Sheepdogs hail from the rugged Shetland Islands, where farmers used them to herd sheep, poultry and other livestock.
Like Shetland ponies, the Sheltie’s diminutive size makes him easier to feed than his Rough Collie cousin, or other larger herding dogs—an advantage in a harsh environment where food is scarcer.
Because there are no records from Shetland Island breeders, we don’t know exactly when Shelties were bred down to their smaller size. In fact, due to the remoteness of the Shetland Islands, this breed was virtually unknown to the rest of Britain until the early 1900s.
In 1909 the Kennel Club in England first recognized the breed as the Shetland Collie. Collie enthusiasts pushed for a name change, and the American Kennel Club (AKC) registered the breed as the Shetland Sheepdog in 1911.