Shetland Sheepdog: Breed Profile & Facts

The Shetland Sheepdog is a long haired herding dog. Shelties are known as one of the most intelligent, obedient, and loyal breeds.

They are devoted to their families. Shelties are loving, loyal dogs that, when raised in the right environment, will be a friend for life.

The Shetland Sheepdog traces back to the Border Collie of Scotland. Shelties are a small breed but are quite agile and sturdy. They make good companions and are eager and willing to please their owner. Shetland Sheepdogs will require mental and physical exercise on a daily basis.


Shelties stand between 13 and 16 inches at the shoulder. Weight is between 14 to 27 pounds. The Shetland Sheepdog resembles a miniature version of the rough coated Collie. Nose is black and eyes are dark almond shaped.

Shelties have a long double coat. The outer coat is harsh and straight, while the undercoat remains tight and soft. Coat colors are either sable and black, blue merle, or various amounts of white and tan.


Shelties are affectionate and responsive to their owner. They make an excellent choice for a family dog.

Shetland Sheepdogs are reserved toward strangers. Shelties are at times shy, timid, or nervous. On the other hand, some Shelties are stubborn, snappy, and ill tempered. Early socialization can help avoid some of the negative personality traits.

The Shetlands are highly intelligent and easily trained. They are considered one of the smartest breeds of dogs. Shelties were originally breed for herding and this instinct is very strong. They will chase cars unless taught otherwise. This is dangerous behavior, as the dog runs a high risk of being hit by a vehicle.

Shelties will try to rule the house. Negative behavior needs to be addressed immediately with this breed. Shelties are sensitive to their owners voices and will not respond or listen to harsh tones. Always be calm, confident, and consistent with a Sheltie.

What Should You Tak Into Account Before Getting A Sheltie?

Shelties are loyal and generally have a kind temperament. They will nip at human ankles because of their strong herding instincts. Yes, they will try to heard their family and other people. Being leery of strangers makes the Shelties great watch dogs. Barking will become an issue if the Sheltie is not properly trained.

Shelties have a life expectancy of 12 to 15 years. The breed is one of the top 20 in popularity in the United States. This breed is an excellent choice for novice dog owners and will adapt to an apartment as long as proper mental and physical exercise is received.

Owners should ask themselves a few questions before they bring a Sheltie into their lives.

  • Do you have the time, energy and patience to raise a dog properly?
  • If you purchase a puppy are you willing to change your time lines to meet that of a young dog?
  • Are you willing to devote your free time to your Sheltie?
  • Do you understand the commitment you are making?
  • Do you have a safe yard or an area nearby where your Sheltie can get the exercise it needs?

Like most dogs, Shelties need consistent, proper training and positive attention. Puppies take more time to train than adult dogs which new owners need to commit to. Sheltie’s love their people and need to spend time with them. The Shetland’s life span is 12 years or more and as it is a working dog, requires regular, frequent exercise. Sucher says the Sheltie’s mental and physical welfare depend on sufficient exercise.

Are Shetland Puppies Expensive?

The cost of any pet goes far beyond the purchase price. Finding out if an animal will fit into the family budget, before bringing it home can eliminate stress for both owner and pet. Ask the breeder what food the puppy eats and how much it will cost per month. Talking to a veterinarian will shed some light on the frequency and cost of vaccinations.

Spaying or neutering is part of responsible ownership when not breeding animals and varies from $200 and up. A vet can explain the procedures available and let an owner know what annual medical maintenance, such as teeth cleaning, includes and the costs involved.

You must factor toys, beds, kennels, treats, a collar and leash.

Breed Health Problems

Shetland Sheepdogs can experience health related problems with inherited malformation and diseases of the eyes. Common eye problems include Collie eye anomaly, Von Willebrands Disease, and Progressive Retinal Atrophy.

Dermatomyositis, hypothyroidism, and hip dysplasia are associated with the Shetland Sheepdogs. Not all Shelties experience these conditions. However, Shetland Sheepdogs should be monitored for their associated health risks, in order to seek treatment at the first signs.

Taking a Sheltie Puppy Home

Once a perspective owner has learned all they can about their new pet and has factored in the costs, it may be time to pick a puppy or adult dog. Shelties are cautious by nature, it’s in their breeding but aside from that puppies vary in temperament. Some may be bold and other’s shy. A Sheltie’s personality as a puppy is a good gauge on what they’ll be like as an adult. Choosing the puppy or adult that will fit best into the home environment is important.

Reputable breeders will have pedigrees and records on their animals for owners. The dog should have a healthy, shiny coat and be alert. A good breeder will also allow new owners to call them with any future questions concerning the dog.

If a dog has already been chosen, new owners should visit it a few times before taking it home. This will make the dog feel more secure on moving day. If visiting beforehand isn’t possible, owners need to plan on taking their new pet home on a day they can be with them. Just like humans, moving can be stressful to a dog, as well they are leaving a place they know and moving in with strangers.

Shelties, like all living creatures need to be treated with respect and kindness. They will develop a close bond with their family resulting in a lifetime of rewarding friendship.

Origin of The Shetland Sheepdog

Contrary to popular belief, the Shetland Sheepdog or Sheltie is not a miniature Collie. It is believed that the two breeds share ancestry (likely the Border Collie) but the lines split into the large breed Collie and the smaller, rugged Sheltie.

The breed gets its name from the Shetland Islands in Scotland where the breed originated. The Shetlands are a small group of islands along the North coast. The stormy shores have a harsh terrain, rocky crags and are low in vegetation leading to smaller versions of rugged animals. Shetland ponies and sheep are also indicative of this theory.

As the name suggests, Shetland Sheepdogs were originally bred to herd sheep. Traits for this working canine had to include loyalty, obedience and courage. The Sheltie had to protect the flock without scaring them, work independently and be able to protect itself from other animals. These traits resulted in a loving, loyal dog with a protective nature, which makes the Sheltie a popular pet choice today.

Updated: January 4, 2020

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