Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie) Breed Traits & Facts

Last Updated on September 20, 2023

Quick Summary: The Shetland Sheepdog, or Sheltie for short, is a small dog that weighs around 15 to 25 pounds. As one of the most intelligent breeds of dogs, you will have to vary their routine to ensure that they stay engaged and entertained. They must be cleaned once every 8-12 weeks to ensure they look and feel their best. Shetland Sheepdogs have an average life span of 12-14 years. Regular exercise and a high-quality diet can help keep them in tiptop shape.

The Shetland Sheepdog is an adorable puppy that makes the day more enjoyable for everyone he comes across. He is not only energetic, happy, and entertaining but is also flexible and productive. He is also self-sufficient and doesn’t like being kept in a secluded area for long periods of time. Popularly referred to as the Sheltie, he is a well-loved dog that is a great pet for families. However, he must be placed in the appropriate family.

Shetland Sheepdogs are an awful huge amount of work. Their high energy levels usually mean they are best suited to a family with an expansive yard and allow their dog to spend a lot of time outside. It is believed that the Shetland Sheepdog is at their most productive when they have work to complete or even some livestock to keep in herds.

This Sheltie guide will assist anyone who is pondering whether this wonderful dog is the perfect dog for their family and friends. This will cover his background from his appearance to his personality, in addition to grooming and exercise requirements. So, relax as you let us provide you with a little Scottish dog training.

Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie)

Breed Background and History

The official name of the Sheltie is the Shetland Sheepdog. This is due to the fact that he is a native of Scotland’s Shetland Islands which is the northernmost point of Scotland. Contrary to what many believe, the pup isn’t directly lineage from the Rough Collie. In fact, he is closer to the Scottish Collie as well as the King Charles Cavalier Spaniel.

The breed was developed to be small-sized due to the fact that food was limited on the island, and the farmers had to feed all of their other animals as well. This is the same reason that explains why Shetland Ponies are so tiny.

Through the years, he was crossed with other breeds, such as the Pomeranian, in order to make them smaller and more fluffy. We hope that people visiting the island could purchase them, giving farmers a new revenue source.

The breed eventually crossed with a variety of other breeds that they turned into an unnatural breed than a purebred dog. Breed enthusiasts intervened to help save this breed; however, there were three distinct types of Shelties. Breeders who bred Shelties with Shelties and Collies, those who crossed Shelties with Collies, and those who kept crossing breeds indiscriminately.

To make a long tale short, in 1930, English and Scottish dog clubs met and came to an agreement on what the ideal Sheltie ought to appear like. From that point on the Shelties ought to look like an equidistant (rough) Collie and there will be no more random breeding.

Shetland Sheepdogs were very popular in America and, in the 1980s, she was frequently featured in the top 10 breeds in America.

At first, he was used as an agricultural worker. He was used to keeping chickens and other animals away from his master’s garden to guard the vegetable patch. He also served to sound a warning alarm for canines against intruders as well as those who wanted to take food or animals. The Sheltie is employed as a rancher. However, he is often found at the home of his family, living a lifestyle of Riley.

Size and Appearance

The Sheltie breed standard stipulates that the dog should appear like a minuscule Collie. The Sheltie is between 13 and 16 inches from shoulder to paw.

With a weight of between 15 to 25 pounds, the Sheltie is a small dog. His body is proportional, and his hefty neck is proudly displaying his head.

He has a broad as well as a slim muzzle, and his skull appears slim when looking at him in comparison to other breeds of dogs. The breed standard for him refers to his facial features as a sharp wedge.

The ears of the Sheltie are three-quarters upright with the tips breaking inward. The eyes of the dog are almond-shaped and are always dark-colored. Other than blue merle-coated Shelties that often are blue-eyed. Shetland Sheepdogs can be confused with Border Collies as well as other smaller, fluffy dog breeds.

Coats and Colors

As a working dog of the traditional type from the harsh island of Shetland, the Sheltie is covered in a thick, double-layered coat. The fur is made to shield his body from the elements and to keep his body warm. The underlayer is soft and thick, while his exterior layer is clean and much more thick.

He is covered with a moderate-length hair which sheds lightly throughout the season. The hair that covers his mouth is slender so that you can clearly see his beautiful face. The rest of his hair is thick and gorgeous.

The Sheltie is similar to the Collie in that he wears many different colors. Blue, black, tan sable, sable, and merle, and sable merle (all of which are mixed with white) are the colors that he wears. The white of his coat is not supposed to cover more than 50 percent of his jacket. The nose of this dog is black, like his lips, and other parts of his face.

Temperament and Behavioral Traits

The Sheltie, unlike other breeds of dogs, comes with an array of characteristics. Some are extremely extravagant and confident; however, the majority are more reserved as well as sensitive. This is due to the different breeds of dogs that are in their bloodline up to the point of being a bit skewed (in terms of dogs, anyway). This means you have to be flexible regarding Shelties.

As we mentioned, many of them are reserved and shy when it comes to strangers. They’re also extremely vocal canines that bark at everything and anything. These traits make him a great watchdog. If you’re using an alarm or doorbell that is intermittently ringing, you can be sure to rely upon the Sheltie sound alarm to be there for you. But then, if your home is restricted by noise, you may find that the Shetland Sheepdog might not be the right choice for you.

When we talk about their family, they’re not reserved. They wear their hearts on their sleeves, and they’re awash with endless love and affection to offer. If you’re looking for someone to snuggle with on lazy Sunday afternoons, the Sheltie is an ideal choice. They love everyone within the family, even children. The guy does not tend to be a fan of one particular person.

As former farm dogs, they are full of smart working energy. When you combine that with Collie’s bloodlines and blood, you can be certain that they are smart. Based on the famed tests of dog intelligence carried out by Dr. Stanley Coren, the Sheltie was named the sixth-highest intelligent breed of dog around the globe.

It has its advantages and drawbacks, but you can use it for yourself. Do not underestimate the cute face, as he could turn a demon when uninterested and left alone. Shelties are frequently called too smart for their own good. They are, however, among the top scoring dogs in agility and obedience competitions.

As previously mentioned, the Sheltie isn’t a fan of being left to himself for a long time. More than a couple of hours and he’ll begin to get nervous. Still, people who work for long periods away from home may want to consider the possibility of a Sheltie as a new family pet. Crate training using the help of a dog cage is recommended, and we’ll talk about that later.

Basic Training

The Sheltie is a dog with a lot of intelligence that should be trained effectively. The fact that he is a top-ranked dog will mean that it won’t take him long to understand commands. This is a great thing for new dog owners who are looking to adopt a dog that is easy to train and manage. But, he is also known to be an independent dog. This means you have to keep your training sessions short and simple and ensure that they are enjoyable.

Training with positive reinforcement is the most effective way to teach a Sheltie, and he is a fan of delicious treats and balls to reward him. Make it a pleasant experience, and he’ll be eager to repeat the experience and repeatedly. A great Sheltie breeder will begin the basic training of his dog when he is able to walk. This increases your odds of having a loyal Sheltie into his later years.

This means interaction with humans and other dogs as a puppy. Make him comfortable with various sounds and sights and also different surroundings and he’ll transform into an ebullient dog. This is especially important for the Sheltie which is known for being cautious and reserved. This will increase the confidence of his owner and guarantee that the Sheltie doesn’t get too shy.

He is a herder which means that he could attempt to help youngsters or other pets around the house. If you observe this behaviour, it is important to stop it immediately. Change his focus to something else and stop the behavior immediately. The behavior of herding in the home is a clear indication that he’s not getting properly exercised.

If your dog is very vocal, you may have to limit his excessive barking. Learn how to stop the excessive noise. The earlier you begin this method of training the more efficient it will be. Utilizing a clear command like ‘quiet’ can do wonders. Be conscious of the fact that the Sheltie is an extremely sensitive dog and could be a bit agitated for a while or two after being told off.

Exercise Requirements and Living Conditions

The Sheltie is a dog that is active and requires an hour of vigorous exercise each day. Despite his petite and beautiful size, this dog is filled with huge dog energy (and he’s got to get rid of it). He requires more than an hour of walking through the park or around the block. Consider the amount of energy he could expend in the Shetland farm. You will have to be able to keep up with that during your workouts with him.

He is a fan of chasing things, so get an inflatable ball and enjoy playing fetch for 45 minutes. Your arm may be tired, but he’ll enjoy it! Despite his gorgeous coat, he’s not afraid to get wet. If it’s sunny and warm or it’s raining cats and dogs, he’ll want to get out. If you don’t get him out, he’ll become anxious and will let it out his frustrations on your most treasured possessions.

As the sixth-highest intelligent breed of dog You will have to vary his routine to ensure that he stays engaged. In the event that he is not, he could become bored. It is important to keep him entertained mentally as well. Being one of the top performing dogs at agility competitions and classes, it is advisable to visit your local dog park to try out his agility abilities. It’s a great experience for all the family members, and everyone will be jealous of your dog’s obedience and skill.

The Sheltie can be adapted to any type of house from small apartments to huge houses. It would be good if  he has access to a private backyard, but you’ll have to ensure that it is secured. He’s small enough to get away and is willing to try!

The Sheltie is also a fan of chasing things like birds, squirrels and even your cat’s neighbor. He’s so agile it is possible for him to climb trees and even climb high fences as well.

The Sheltie can be a part of other pets in the household, but it depends on the kind of pets you own. Other dogs are okay, however, that’s where he determines the boundaries. The strong desire to hunt and desire to chase things is a sign that he sees other non-canine companions as something to chase. However, this isn’t always the case which is why certain Shelties have been known to be a good companion for other animals, but you should not be relying on it.

Nutrition and Food

The Sheltie consumes between 1 and 2 cups of kibble each day. If he’s a working Sheltie, it is possible that he will require more food than this, based on the amount of energy he expends. A good quality food item will supply the dog with all the nutrients is required to remain fit and healthy. A balanced diet is comprised of high-quality meat proteins, carbohydrates, as well as fiber, Omega fats, vitamins, and minerals.

A dog of a smaller size with a narrow muzzle is likely to prefer kibbles that are made specifically for small breeds of dogs. There are a variety of small breed food items available – so if your dog is struggling with regular-sized pieces of kibble, make sure you give these a shot. It’s not common to see Shelties gain weight due to the fact that they’re so active. If you observe that your dog is gaining several pounds, think about switching to a weight-management diet.

Grooming Needs

A Sheltie’s soft double coat needs a lot of attention, so you must ensure that you’ve got ample time in your agenda. It is likely that he will appreciate the attention, and it can be an opportunity to bond with your pet as well. Brushing is required every two to three times every week all throughout the year and all the time during the time of shedding. A slicker or pin brush is the most suitable kind of brush for the Sheltie as well as a de-shedding tool.

He is covered in thick hair and is a moderate-to-heavy shedder all through the entire year. If you’re not a fan of hair on your dog, then the Sheltie may not be the ideal choice for you. Expect plenty of fur on your clothes, on the sofa, floor, and even your couch. A reliable pet hair vacuum is an investment worth it for any Sheltie household.

The Sheltie must be cleaned once every 8-12 weeks to ensure that he is looking and feeling his best. A gentle shampoo that is made from organic ingredients can be the ideal recipe to use on the Sheltie. The coat acts as a mop and will absorb a lot of dirt. If he’s not super dirty and covered in muck, make sure to clean off the dirt rather than washing him more than the recommended number of times. If you don’t, you could damage the coat’s oils.

The ears of your canine friend should be cleaned regularly. Be sure to examine his eyes while grooming him to check for any possibility of eye problems. It is recommended that he wears down his own nails while walking around. However, when you hear him tapping his nails across the ground, he may require nail clipping.

The small mouth is required to be cleaned twice every week or so since teeth that are small are more at risk of developing periodontal disease. Be sure to use dog-friendly toothpaste since human toothpaste can be toxic for dogs.

Health and Lifespan

It is believed that the Sheltie is a purebred healthy dog with an average life span of 12-14 years. To ensure that you keep your Sheltie in your home throughout the length of time you can keep him up-to-date by having regular check-ups with your veterinarian. Regular exercise and a high-quality diet can help keep him in top shape.

Like all breeds of dog are, the Sheltie is susceptible to certain health issues more than other breeds. It is important to know what conditions can be more prevalent in your Sheltie. In addition, you should be aware of any symptoms to know what to watch out for.

Eye conditions: A variety of eye problems affect those of the Sheltie breed. The most frequent problems are progressive retinal atrophy cataracts and collie eyes. All breeding dogs must undergo an ophthalmologist exam to ensure that their eyes are healthy.

Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is a condition where the hip joint is formed abnormally. As time passes, and with more damage, it can affect the mobility of the dog and can be extremely painful. Surgery is typically required for dogs who have a poor quality of life because of hip dysplasia. Reputable breeders will examine their dogs’ hips, so make sure to see their certifications when purchasing a puppy.

The Sheltie as Family Pets

  • The Sheltie is a wonderful dog that makes for a great pet for the family.
  • This dog wants a family that will spend a lot of time with them.
  • He is a very sweet dog that loves cuddles and kisses from his loved ones.
  • The Sheltie is not affixed to strangers and is known to bark whenever strangers are close.
  • Shelties are energetic and require a minimum of 45 minutes of intense daily training.
  • Shelties require playtime and social interactions throughout the day.
  • He’s a lot of fun for the entire family.
  • The Sheltie is a wonderful companion for young children.
  • Dogs in multiple households are okay. However, rodents or cats might not be a good fit for the Sheltie.
  • He requires regular grooming.
  • He is easily trained and well-suited for people who are looking to get their first dog.

Reputable Breeders and Puppy Costs

The price of a Sheltie puppy purchased from an established breeder can cost about $1000 and upwards. If you’re looking for an exhibit Sheltie then you should expect to spend higher than this. The same is true for a Sheltie from a prestigious line of farm dogs that are hard-working.

We’ve already discussed some of the reasons to choose a reputable breeder. Not only do they breed healthier puppies, they also start the socialization and training process immediately – this means a more happy puppy too. Therefore, it’s essential to research breeders for Shelties and choose the most suitable one for your needs. Always meet the breeders, the puppies, as well as their parents in person prior to signing any contracts.

Anyone who gives you a negative feeling (yes it could be as easy as this) or charges a cost that is vastly in contrast to the norm one, is most likely to be a part of a puppy mill. They not only produce sick and unhealthy dogs, they also deprive them of vet care and vital puppy nutrition, affection, and proper handling.

The price of the puppy isn’t the only factor to consider. Other expenses associated with when you welcome a puppy to your home include the cost of the initial setup. For example, beds, crates and harnesses, toys, and so on. Don’t forget the ongoing costs like food, vet checks, and medical insurance to mention some. Keep in mind that the Sheltie isn’t only for Christmas. He will be with you for the next 12-14 Christmases.

Rescues and Shelters

The purchase of a Sheltie puppy through breeders isn’t the only option that you have. It is also possible to think about saving the life of a Sheltie. You will not only save some cash compared to the expense of purchasing a puppy purchased from a breeder, but you may also save the life of a dog.

Go to the local rescue center to start your search. If you are unable to locate a Sheltie then speak with the staff at the center and inquire if it’s possible to contact them in the event that there a Sheltie is found.


The Sheltie is a wonderful dog which could be a perfect companion to any type of family (as long as you’ve got the time to entertain him throughout the day). Keeping up with his active body and smart mind is what makes him an excellent pet for your family. It is essential to ensure that you have checked every box that we’ve mentioned in this article, or else both of you will have a difficult time getting along.

If you want to be rewarded with utmost love and loyalty, get a Shelty. Shelties have a full personality packed into the tiny body of theirs. Many owners of Shelties claim that once you’ve owned a Sheltie, you’ll probably never want to own a different breed of dog in the future.

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