The Shetland Sheepdog (nicknamed the “Sheltie” and originally named the “Shetland Collie”) is a herding breed that resembles a smaller version of the Rough Collie and commonly features a sable and white, black, white and tan, blue merle, sable merle or black and white coat. The breed first appeared in the 1700s, and was first used for the chief reason of herding smaller livestock.
A few of their more identifiable traits often are high intelligence as well as their loyal and affectionate temperament – which all help in making the Shetland Sheepdog a common choice for competitive agility or as a family companion dog.
Much of their early history is a mystery, though the Shetland Sheepdog was originally created in the Shetland Islands of Scotland when Border Collies and other herding dogs from the mainland such as the Rough Collie or Pomeranian were brought there and cross-bred with the smaller local dogs as early as the 1700s. Their smaller size enabled better control over the smaller livestock found in this area and they were also often chosen or protecting the homes of farming families.
Shetland Sheepdogs are classified as a small to medium-sized dog. The suggested standard size for the Shetland Sheepdog male and female is 13-16 inches tall from paw to shoulder and a weight of 14-27 pounds.
The Shetland Sheepdog is famous for their loyal, affectionate and obedient character. They are usually reserved with people they don’t know and can bark quite a lot at them, which often means they are somewhat suitable as a guard dog.
The Shetland Sheepdog is also demonstrated to be extremely intelligent – ranking 6th in comparison with other dogs in terms of their capability to learn obedience directives. They are also known to be excellent with kids – which makes them highly suitable as a family pet. The Shetland Sheepdog is quite well-suited with other dogs and smaller animals who they may try to herd without proper training.
The Shetland Sheepdog doesn’t always need a yard unlike many other herding breeds, so they are fairly suitable for living in an apartment if they are given adequate exercise. If you do have a yard, be sure it is well-fenced to prevent them escaping and chasing things like cars due to their herding instinct.
The Shetland Sheepdog benefits from pursuits like chasing after a frisbee or ball, taking part in agility, herding, flyball and running free in a safe open area. They possess a medium to high degree of energy and this necessitates daily exercise in the form of moderate walks to keep them happy – though often they may achieve much of their daily exercise needs by simply running around the yard.
The Shetland Sheepdog could make the ideal dog for a family or active owner with plenty of time to spend with a dog. They are suitable to anybody that is eager to execute a moderate level of grooming and allow time to provide them with early obedience training and ongoing mental challenges as well as take them for moderate walks each day and give a very high quantity of companionship and devotion – as with many herding breeds, they thrive on human contact and do not do well if left alone all day. Though they may be fairly out of place for those with less time to look after a dog, if you are capable of meeting their need for attention and regular mental stimulation then the Shetland Sheepdog possibly will be the ultimate dog breed for you.
The American Shetland Sheepdog Association (ASSA) is the AKC Parent club for the breed. Founded in 1929, the ASSA consists of 767 members and over 66 member breed clubs throughout the country. The club’s first specialty was held in 1933, and while much has changed, ASSA remains committed to protecting and advancing the interests of the breed through education, research, responsible breeding and rescue.
While many are drawn to the Sheltie for their melting expression and beautiful coats, it is their endearing personality that owners find so captivating. Their willingness to please and deep devotion to their family make them a joy to train and live with. They excel at almost everything they are asked, so it is no surprise that these versatile little dogs consistently rank as some of the top canine competitors in the world.
If you currently own a Sheltie, there are numerous activities you can get involved in with your dog that span all ages and interests. From obedience, agility and herding, to therapy dog work, tracking and junior showmanship – this breed truly “does it all!” If you are interested in getting move involved with your Sheltie, join a local Sheltie club and find other people that love the breed as much as you do.
We encourage you to explore our site to learn more about the breed and please feel free to reach out to our members if you have any questions. Enjoy!