Shetland Sheepdog – Beautiful, Loyal, Sensitive, And Intelligent Sweetie

Shetland Sheepdog – Beautiful, Loyal, Sensitive, And Intelligent Sweetie

Shetland Sheepdog dog (Sheltie) was a guard and herding dog in the Shetland Islands, Scotland. Nowadays, many families enjoy the company of this gentle and dedicated pet. It is always eager to please and protective of its human pack.

It is crucial to properly train this excellent watchdog and sixth in the intelligence of 132 tested dog breeds to get a perfect and properly socialized buddy. It requires activity and mental stimulation to be happy, making it an ideal companion for you if you are an active person and like spending a lot of time outdoors.


Shetland Sheepdog history is quite interesting. Shetland Sheepdog origin is connected with the Shetland Islands between Norway and Scotland, close to the Arctic Circle. Norwegians called this herding dog Toonie, from their word for farm. Many experts believed that the breed was finally developed by 1700, but people considered it miniature Collie once it came to England in the early 1800s.

In that period, farmers crossed Pomeranians and Prince Charles Spaniels with the native sheepdogs to get more trendy pets. As a result, the original dog type almost disappeared by the end of the 19th century. The England Kennel Club recognized the new breed in 1909 and initially registered only 28 dogs.

Sheltie history

Four of them are almost always a part of the current champion Shelties’ pedigrees:

  • Two males, Trim and Lerwick Tim
  • Two females, Inga and Inverness Topsy

In 1911, the American Kennel Club registered Lord Scott as the first Shetland Sheepdog in the US. However, controversy connected with this dog’s crossbreeding and original look lasted for years in the UK and the US. As a result, you can find numerous Shetland Sheepdog clubs formed in that period. The final decision and agreement between Scottish and English Clubs reached in 1930, and all admirers and breeders agreed that this dog breed resembles a miniature collie.

Most Shelties came to the US from England until the 1950s, when British and American types started diverging in size. Their popularity in the US was at its peak from the 1970s to the early 1990s. Ironically, Shetland Sheepdog is rare in Scotland and almost entirely replaced by the Border Collie.


Everything you should know about the Sheltie is summarized in a few crucial terms – intensely loyal, dedicated, sensitive, intelligent, and gentle. However, these dogs are much more than that, if it is even possible.

Shetland Sheepdog personality

Thanks to intense crossbreeding, their personalities can vary from boisterous and outgoing individuals to calm and shy doggies, meaning that anyone can find an ideal puppy for their needs and preferences. Be prepared that your sweet and pleasing Sheltie dog will enjoy your company and follow you everywhere.


Basically, all types of Shelties are affectionate with their family but reserve and a bit suspicious of unknown people. By adopting a Sheltie dog, you will get a high-energy, naturally protective watchdog that barks as soon as some stranger comes close to its territory, making this breed a bit annoying. You should think twice before adopting this dog when you have a toddler in your home. This lovely dog can be oversensitive to sudden movements and noise, so that it can overreact in some situations.

Sheltie temperament

It will follow its strong herding instinct and take care of playful kids by running around them and nipping their feet. On the other hand, a small Shetland Sheepdog will be a perfect companion once you teach your children how to behave appropriately in the dog’s presence.

It is also an ideal option for families with older kids and teenagers. Sheltie dog is usually friendly with other Shelties but often reserved to other breeds, especially when they meet for the first time. Once the family cat puts your new puppy in its place, they will most likely get along well.

Size And Look

Sheltie size and weight can significantly vary. An average Sheltie weight is approximately 15 to 22 pounds (38 – 10 kg), but large dogs can weigh even 35 to 40 pounds (16 – 18 kg).

Its height is about 13 to 16 inches (33 – 40.5 cm) at the shoulders, but it mostly depends on the dog’s gender. Female Sheltie is always slightly smaller than a male.

Height15 to 16 inches (38 – 40.5 cm)13 to 15 inches (33 – 38 cm)
Weight20 to 40 pounds (9 – 18 kg)15 to 35 pounds (7 – 16 kg)

Sheltie’s thick double fur has a long and straight outer coat with a dense and woolly undercoat.

Sheltie size and look

The official Shetland Sheepdog color standard includes:

  • Sable and white Shetland Sheepdog
  • Blue Shetland sheepdog
  • Blue merle Shetland Sheepdog
  • Brindle Sheltie
  • Tricolor Shetland Sheepdog
  • Black and white Sheltie
  • Black and tan Sheltie
  • Black Shetland Sheepdog

White Shetland Sheepdog, brindle Sheltie, and the one with more than half white coat are unacceptable as a standard.


Most people choose Shetland Sheepdog as a family pet because of its attractive double coat. However, be prepared to brush it thoroughly with a pin brush at least twice a week, or even more often during shedding season.

Sheltie grooming

Pay particular attention to the fur behind the dog’s ears that is more prone to tangling. Since its outer coat excellently repels dirt, there is no need to bathe your pet except its fur gets really muddy. Keep its nails trimmed and ears clean to prevent possible issues.


Active and athletic Shelties dogs require moderate to vigorous exercises, depending on living conditions. It will enjoy following you while walking, cycling, hiking, or accepting challenges like hide-and-seek games.

Shetland Sheepdog exercising

It is not a long-distance runner but will happily handle 2 miles (3 km) of running in your company when the day is not too warm. Never run on a hard surface when you have a young Sheltie. That way, you will prevent injuries while bones still form.


The big question is how to train a Sheltie. In most cases, it will depend on the living conditions and your pet’s temperament, but this smart creature is obedient enough to follow your requirements.

Sheltie training

Shetland Sheepdog training should primarily include mental challenges if you want to get desired results. Start as soon as possible, stay calm and firm, and offer it praise, food rewards, and treats.

Teach your buddy that chasing cars is forbidden to prevent possible accidents. If you enjoy sports, sporting dog training will help you get a perfect companion in various activities. Shelties are brilliant in agility contests and tracking.

Diet And Nutrition

Sheltie’s feeding guide is not complicated. In most cases, this modest dog requires 0.75 to two cups of the best food for Shelties divided into morning and evening meals. It is necessary to know your furry friend well to determine the exact amount its body needs. It primarily depends on its size, physical activity, age, and gender. For example, male Sheltie needs a bigger portion, while old Sheltie requires specific food to stay healthy and active.

Shetland Sheepdog diet

Keep in mind that food quality and type significantly affect the portion size. Always be careful with treats since purebred Sheltie often has a problem with obesity.

Possible Health Problems

Fortunately, the Shetland Sheepdog dog is a healthy breed, so you can expect your buddy to live a long and active life without any troubles.

Occasionally, you can notice some of the Sheltie health problems like:

General Predisposition

Obesity – This herding dog often suffers from joint problems, heart disease, and digestive disorders connected with obesity.

Dental disease – It is a common Sheltie health issue affecting 80% of Sheltie puppies by age two.

Sheltie health

Genetic Predispositions

When you adopt a Sheltie puppy from a reputable breeder, you should check whether its parents are tested and clean of undesired traits.

When you get an unchecked puppy, you can face an issue with hereditary diseases, including:

Hip dysplasia – The dog suffers from this hereditary condition when the femur and pelvic hip joint don’t fit perfectly.

Hypothyroidism – This disorder occurs when the dog’s body has a problem maintaining thyroid hormone levels.

Shetland Sheepdog health

Collie eye anomalies – Sheltie eye problems are inherited conditions in two-year-old dogs and often cause blindness.

Von Willebrand’s Disease – Clotting factor deficiency is a blood disorder in some Sheltie bloodlines.

Dermatomyositis – Dermatomyositis in Shelties is a common health issue. This inherited Sheltie skin syndrome causes skin lesions and may negatively affect the dog’s muscles in some severe cases.

Allergies – Sheltie allergies may include contact, food, and inhalant allergy types.


The National Breed Club recommends two tests for Shetland Sheepdog dogs, including hip and ophthalmologist evaluation.


Sheltie dog life expectancy is 12 to 15 years in most cases.


Sheltie dogs are like a sweet and cuddling alarm system. They are kind and gentle but sharp watchdogs at the same time. You can expect your pet to protect its human family, particularly kids.

It is considered one of the most beautiful, loyal, and intelligent breeds worldwide. If you look for a dog capable of sensing your needs and don’t mind its barking, you can be sure that this breed is a perfect choice for you and your family.