AKC Dog Breeds: Shetland Sheepdog

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Herding Group
Height:13-16 inches   Weight: 16-20 pounds  Color: Sable, golden brown, mahogany, Blue Merle, tricolored

The Shetland Sheepdog, or "Sheltie" as it is commonly called, is essentially a working Collie in miniature. A rough-coated, longhaired working dog, he is alert, intensely loyal and highly trainable and is known as a devoted, docile dog with a keen sense of intelligence and understanding. Agile and sturdy, the Sheltie is one of the most successful obedience breeds, but also excels in agility, herding and conformation. Like the Collie, the Sheltie’s history traces back to the Border Collie of Scotland, which, after being transported to the Shetland Islands and crossed with small, intelligent, longhaired breeds, was eventually reduced to miniature proportions. Over time, subsequent crosses were made with Collies. The breed worked as farm helpers and home protectors, watching over crofters’ cottages, flocks and herds from invaders of all kinds. The breed was registered with the AKC in 1911.

General Appearance
The Shetland Sheepdog is a strong, nimble, lightly built, beautiful dog, with a long, wedge-shaped head. Its coat is rough with a soft undercoat. Some say they are almost a perfect miniature copy in of the long-haired collie. The top plane of the muzzle should be parallel to that of the skull. The glorious long double coat sports a lion-like mane and frill around the neck, and comes in blue merle, sable and black with various amounts of white and/or tan. The outer coat is lined with a dense, woolly undercoat. The legs and long tail are feathered, and the hair on the face and feet is smooth. The tail should reach to the hock. The almond-shaped eyes are generally dark, except in blue merle dogs where they may be blue or merle color. The dog should have a watchful, gentle, questioning and intelligent expression. The nose should be black. The teeth should meet in a scissors bite. The ears are small, flexible and expressive, with dropping tips. The Sheltie is an agile, swift dog and a good jumper.

The Shetland Sheepdog is a charming, affectionate, and loyal dog, and makes a fine family pet or companion for both experienced and inexperienced dog owners. These are responsive and intelligent creatures, and are easy to train. He is one of the most trainable of all breeds. The Shetland Sheepdog thrives on the companionship and affection of his owners, and is not the right choice for those with little time for a pet, as he will get destructive if neglected. This is a sweet natured dog with grace, dignity, and a sociable attitude. The Sheltie is always enthusiastic and eager to please his owner, and is a quick learner. They are very in tune with their owners, and extremely responsive. The Shetland Sheepdog is a family dog through and through, and enjoys plenty of interaction and cuddles. Early socialization and consistent training is recommended to promote a stable, sociable, and well balanced temperament, as some Shetland Sheepdogs can be reserved and shy. The Sheltie needs a stable environment to live in, and does not like loud noises or tense atmospheres. This is a sensitive breed, and needs to be part of a loving, close family. They can bark a fair amount when excited, and due to their herding instincts may try and herd people and other animals into groups through nipping.


A Shetland Sheepdog generally only needs to be brushed once every one or two weeks when regular bathing is practiced. Shelties are very clean dogs and will tend to their coats themselves for the most part however it is up to the owner to brush the dog free of excess hair and remove mattes and tangles. It is also common practice to have your Shetland Sheepdog's hair cut in a fashion that keeps it from dragging the ground which further protects the beauty and clean cut look of the dog's coat. In warmer climates and seasons of high shedding there is an additional need for brushing the Shelties coat so the dog's coat does not tangle and hold the excess released hair, additional shampooing is also needed during seasons of high shedding to assist in keeping the coat clean and free of excess hair.

Health Problems and Life Expectancy
The life expectancy of the Shetland Sheepdog is around 12-14 years, and there are a number of health problems to look out for with this breed. This includes epilepsy, vWD, thyroid problems, luxating patella, PRA, HD, eye problems, seizures, and heart problems.

Activity Level

Shelties are lithe, agile and active dogs that will need both mental and physical challenges to keep them happy. Because they are descendants of herding dog breeds they are prone to chasing things such as animals, children, people and anything else that will cause visual stimulation or movement for chase. In other words they will most often try to "herd" anything that is movable in their yards. Also because of their ancestry Shetland Sheepdogs should have a large outdoor space to run and be active in.


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