Shetland Sheepdog | Information & Dog Breed Facts


The Shetland sheepdog or sheltie is a beautiful and elegant little dog, a bit like a Rough Collie but small. He was originally born as a shepherd, because this dog is a tireless worker, but is currently more appreciated as a pet for its beauty and its small size.

The Shetland Sheepdog has long been the ideal companion for farmers. She did an excellent job with the shepherd’s work, with the duties of a watchman. But over time, she was replaced by larger and stronger dogs.

Many people call the Shetland Sheepdog a miniature collie. In fact, the Shetland Sheepdog is a separate breed. The appearance indicates the affectionate and good-natured disposition of the dog. Currently, this species is valued as companions and pets.

If you want to find out everything about the Shetland sheepdog, this article from ‘ Pets Feed ‘ will detail everything about this dog, its history, its physical characteristics, its basic care, its character, and the possible health problems that he can present.

Shetland Sheepdog - Sheltie

Origin of Shetland Sheepdog

It derives its name from the Shetland Islands, located on the north-east coast of Scotland, where it developed as a breed and where it worked as a sheepdog in often very difficult conditions.

Originally, it was thought to be the result of a cross between several types of dogs, including one of the Spitz type and a Scottish shepherd, to which a resident of the area, James Loggie, added a small, long-haired collie to create what we know today as the Shetland Sheepdog – Sheltie.

Because of its beauty, he quickly began to be adopted as a pet, as we know it today. So much so that most of them no longer serve as sheepdogs, although a specimen always accompanies the shepherd to guide their flocks.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the Shetland Sheepdog was first introduced at a dog show, known as the Shetland Collar, but collie fans opposed it and the name was changed to a Shetland sheepdog.

Shetland Sheepdog - Sheltie

Physical characteristics of the Shetland Sheepdog

The easiest features to distinguish in a Shetland Sheepdog are that it is a small dog with long hair, with a rather large head compared to the body. He has a body a little longer than tall, although he still looks well proportioned, with a large chest which gives him an air of confidence.

As a good sheepdog, it has strong and solid legs, always prepared for running and physical exertion, and has a long tail and very populated with generally low hair. The head is thin, which narrows in its long snout, very similar to that of the collie, and ends with a black and rounded truffle. It usually shows dark almond eyes, although they can also be seen with blue eyes.

Size of the Shetland Sheepdog

The breed standard of the sheltie indicates that these dogs must not exceed 37 centimeters in height until the cross. The weight is not indicated, but is generally maintained between 6 and 8 kilos in the vast majority of specimens. This small size and its great beauty make it an ideal companion for small houses in cities, as long as they receive the contribution of exercise necessary to stay in good condition.

Shetland Sheepdog - Sheltie puppy

Shetland Sheepdog’s coat

One of its most striking features is the coat of the Shetland Sheepdog. This miniature collie has a long, dense and very crowded coat, with an inner layer designed to protect it from low temperatures. To the touch, it is rather rough on the outside and soft on the inside, and a wide variety of color shades ranging from brown and gold to black and white, bluebird or even tri-color are accepted.

Despite its appearance, it is not a coat that requires excessive care, beyond the necessary brushing. Something to keep in mind is that you should never trim the hair of a Shetland Sheepdog, let alone shave it, as you will be deprived of its natural protection with dire consequences for your skin.

Shetland Sheepdog - Sheltie

Character and behavior of the Shetland Sheepdog

The sheltie is a sheepdog, and as such, he will always tend to stay with his owner and obey any order given. In addition, these are dogs who generally have a good character, being affectionate with their family and sometimes playful with the young. They can, however, be shy and suspicious of strangers, which can be avoided if they are socialized correctly when they are puppies. Good education is also necessary to avoid unwanted behaviors related to your grazing instinct.

The Shetland Sheepdog has a strong obedience instinct also due to these origins of sheepdog and a tendency to stay close to its owner, which greatly facilitates the task of educating and training it. It is also a great advantage when you walk with this dog, because it can detach itself on the street without moving away, and it is easy to curb its instinct with a precise order.

The most important thing to have a well-educated and balanced Shetland Sheepdog, is to provide activities and tasks to do, which this dog will do with pleasure and dedication. On rare occasions, he is aggressive and never tends to fight with other dogs because he does not have the watchdog instinct. However, he will try to protect his family if the opportunity arises.

Shetland Sheepdog - Sheltie

Shetland sheepdog Health

Most herding dogs are naturally endowed with good health; The Shetland Sheepdog is no exception. With proper care and maintenance, the breed can live 12-13 years. To prevent health problems in time, the owner must know the diseases to which the Shetland Sheepdog is predisposed:

  • Von Willebrand’s disease is a hereditary disease, accompanied by a bleeding disorder, spontaneous bleeding.
  • Epilepsy – accompanied by seizures that occur against the background of the pathology of the brain.
  • Cryptorchitosis is an undescended testicle in the scrotum in males.
  • Hypothyroidism is a condition of the body that develops as a result of a long-term lack of thyroid hormones.
  • Dysplasia is a violation of the musculoskeletal function of the joint.
  • Elbow dislocation – in the Shetland Sheepdog it is more often congenital.
  • Dermatitis – manifested by itching, inflammation of the skin, covering all layers of the skin.
  • Cataracts – often lead to severe visual impairment.
  • Testicular tumor in males – Testicular cancer is most commonly diagnosed in cryptorchid males.
  • Entropion is an incorrect position of the upper, lower or both eyelids, which is surgically removed.
  • Congenital deafness.
  • Histiocytoma is a benign vascular-connective tissue tumor of the skin.

In terms of health, it is worth noting that the Shetland Sheepdog has a special sensitivity to milbemycin and ivermectin. These and other medications can only be used as directed by a veterinarian.

Without fail, the owner must undergo annual preventive examinations with the pet in the veterinary clinic and conduct routine vaccinations. Treatment for external and internal parasites is important, especially in the summer.

Shetland Sheepdog - Sheltie


Although small, the Shetland Sheepdog is a dog that needs a healthy dose of physical and mental exercise. A good daily walk and a play session can be used, but it can also practice dog sports such as grazing and canine freestyle.

Agility can be a good option as long as joint problems such as hip dysplasia has been excluded. On the other hand, as mentioned, mental exercises are essential to stimulate the animal and avoid a possible image of stress or anxiety due to boredom.

Because of its size, the Shetland sheepdog can live in an apartment as long as he gets the exercise. However, it tends to bark and this can cause conflicts with neighbors.

It should also be remembered that this dog is resistant to temperate to cold climates, but it is not a good idea to live isolated in the garden because it needs the company of its family.

Shetland Sheepdog - Sheltie puppy

Basic care

The Shetland Sheepdog feels great in the apartment, although on the outside, such a dog will also not freeze, thanks to the long, thick coat with undercoat. In any case, a dog of the specified breed must have enough space for an active pastime. He needs daily walks in the open air, jogging, in a word, physical activity. This is explained by a persistent shepherd’s instinct, having received the status of a pet, the SheShetland Sheepdog ltie did not cease to be a shepherd.

For beauty and health, the Shetland Sheepdog needs to carry out the following procedures:

  • Brush out the coat twice a week to prevent tangling and to rid the dog of dead hairs. During moulting and in hot summertime, daily combing is required, otherwise the whole apartment will be covered in wool.
  • It is not recommended to cut the Shetland Sheepdog hair, as the cutting of the breed violates the hormonal balance.
  • We bathe our dog as needed; this procedure is recommended no more than 1 time in 30-40 days. In this case, you do not need to abuse detergents.
  • We wipe the ears and eyes, examine them once a week. If you find excessive discharge or inflammation, contact your veterinarian urgently.
  • We cut the claws about once a month, but the frequency of the procedure depends on how much the dog itself grinds them against the road surface during walks.
Shetland Sheepdog - Sheltie puppy

For the normal development, growth and beauty of the listed procedures, you still need to provide your Shetland Sheepdog with a balanced diet with high-quality feed. Small puppies are fed 5-6 times a day, gradually decreasing the number of feedings as they grow older. Adult dogs eat 2 times a day. Feeding pets must be done at the same time.

Meat products and cereals are important in the diet. The emphasis is on buckwheat, rice and oatmeal. It is forbidden to give barley, peas, beans to the Shetland Sheepdog. Be sure to feed raw yolks to your herding dog. Clean water should always be in the pet’s bowl. If you have chosen artificial feeding, buy only premium class dry dog ​​food.

Shetland Sheepdog - Sheltie

Training and education

In contrast to training with fighting or hunting pickling dogs, the training of herding dogs should take place in a completely different form. Aggressive breeds have no fear of the Shetland Sheepdog and can be extremely timid. They can be frightened by screaming, traffic noise, criticism of the owner. If you develop fear in your pet, if you provoke it into this feeling, as a result, the animal will grow up cowardly.

The Shetland Sheepdog lessons should be conducted in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. You cannot shout, beat the dog for incorrectly executed commands. In this case, calmness and patience are required from the trainer.

The sheltie is a very active dog, you should not let her get bored, so it is recommended to plan training in a playful way. Thus, the pet will be happy to go to the training ground and quickly master the commands.

Shetland Sheepdog

Shetland Sheepdog Fun Facts

  • Experts on the intellectual development of animals call the Shetland Sheepdog one of the smartest dogs. It ranks sixth on this list. (The list of smartest dogs according to Stanley Coren)
  • Sheltie is able to understand and execute the command he hears for the first time.
  • Representatives of the breed are talented actors, showmen. They really like to show different tricks in public and be the center of attention.
  • The Shetland Sheepdog has been bred in purebred breeds for more than 140 years.
  • The Shetland Sheepdog finds lost items very quickly thanks to her exceptional sense of smell and ingenuity.
  • Shelties are extremely touchy, one might say, rancorous. Offended by the owner, such a dog, out of a desire for revenge, may refuse to obey commands.
Shetland Sheepdog

Shetland sheepdog Dog Breed Highlights

Positive points

  • The Shetland sheepdog is very affectionate and loyal by nature.
  • It is an excellent choice for new dog owners.
  • It is very intelligent and in good hands, easy to train.
  • The Shetland sheepdog thrives with human companionship.

Negative points

  • The Sheltie loses a lot during the year, but even more so in the spring and fall.
  • This dog is not best for families with small children.
  • The Shetland sheepdog is wary of strangers and people he does not already know.
  • It is a dog breed that suffers from separation anxiety.
  • The Shetland sheepdog  is known to suffer from particular health problems, so veterinary bills can be high.
  • It requires a lot of maintenance on the grooming front.