Shetland Sheepdog - A Hard Working Dog Breed

Shetland sheepdog is a farmer’s friend. It herds the cattle especially sheep and livestock of ranchers and farmers. It keeps away birds and animals out of farmer’s irrigated land by barking loudly to shoo them away. Beside this, it is also a marvelous family companion. The breed is also called by the name “sheltie”.

Earlier it was called as Shetland Collie because of similar appearance with breed Rough Collie. But because of controversy and interchangeability of the breed, it was named as Shetland sheepdog. The dog is suitable for kids. It tends to be energetic, playful and joyful around them.


It is also patient with other animals. With strangers it tends to be aloof and shy. They dominate the dog’s sports which require agility and alertness. They are intelligent and their willingness to please make them highly trainable dog.

The dog has strong herding instincts so it has uncontrollable desire to chase small animals like rats, hare and rodents. The dog is extremely vocal, even a slight unusual sight or voice in the environment makes him attentive and alert. Though small in size but never estimate the versatility of this dog.


This breed is a native of Shetland Islands, Scotland. People wanted a versatile sheep herding dog which is smaller in size and could even guard farms. In 1700s fisherman brought many small animals of varied breeds like black-and-tan King Charles Spaniels, Yakki dogs from Greenland and spitz-type dogs from Scandinavia. Shetland sheepdog is a result of cross mating of these dogs with native dogs found in island.


In the 19th century when transportation facilities revolutionized, royal people visited the island and took Shetland sheepdog to their home for companionship. In this way the breed’s popularity grew and today it is one of the most sought after family dog. The striking beauty of the dog and amiable nature, melts everyone hearts.

Shetland Sheepdog Facts And Characteristics

  1. The breed belongs to Scotland and is lovingly known as sheltie
  2. The breed sheds heavily especially in the spring season
  3. They tend to be stubborn in nature, keep the training fun filled so that they take interest in learning
  4. They are enormously energetic breeds. Work keeps them happy and engaged
  5. The breed lives up to 12 to 13 years
  6. The height of the breed ranges from 33–41 cm
  7. They weigh around 6.4–12 kg
  8. The breed is affectionate, loyal, playful and alert
  9. It is not a hypoallergenic breed
  10. The price of the puppy is $1000 to $1200
  11. The breed gets attached to the family and if left alone can suffer from psychotic problems
  12. They are excessive barkers and needs exposure to as many sights and sound.
Shetland Sheepdog


The breed looks similar to miniature collie. It has beautiful and glowing fur on its body which makes it look desirable. The breed is middle sized dog and has an agile body. The face is round at the top and gets narrower at the bottom. Muzzle is wedged shape and blunt. Nose and eyes are dark in color. The ears are small and sit atop the head. Tail is long and bushy.

  • Size and Weight

The ideal height of both the genders ranges between 13 to 16 inches at the shoulder. The average weight of the breed is 18 pounds.

  • Coat and Color

It has a lion like fur, straight and flowing gracefully. The dog possess double coat which is dense in structure. Top coat is straight and of medium size. It is coarse to touch. Undercoat is short and soft to touch. Because of short undercoat it can happily survive hot and cold environment. Its coat can be of combination of white and brown color or can be tricolored- blue merle, with white and black.


  1. Personality – The breed gets excessively attachedto its family and prefers to be part of family activity whether outside or inside. The breed is champion when it comes to agility sports. It is also cheerful and playful around kids. The breed will not mind any other pet at home. In order to pet this breed, owner has to be active and devotes time to it.
  2. Behavior – The breed has ear piercing voice. It barks at almost everything. ‘No bark command’is essential for this breed to learn. This breed tends to be reserved with strangers. It is advisable that you should not leave the breed alone at home as they are highly prone to separation anxiety.
  3. Activities Requirement – The dog should be given opportunity to vent out its energy. It is suitable for apartment life on the condition that you provide it daily dose of mental as well physical stimulation. As they are herding dogs, so the dog should be given herding task. They also love to chase bikes, cars and people. The dog is passionately curious, it cannot stay still. Make sure that his mind is occupied if you want it to stay calm and quiet inside home.
  4. Trainability – Basic and advanced obedience lesson, socialization lesson and no barking command are must for the breed. Make sure that you treat the breed gently on training. Training lessons should be filled with fun and rewards.


Shetland Sheepdog require 3/4 to 2 cups of high quality food per day divided into two equal meals. They might need three meals while growing and you can reduce it to two when they reach adult stage.

Provide them raw and natural food rather than commercial food from market. Their diet can include fish, chicken, lamb, beef and turkey. While preparing food for Shelties, you can add cooked rice or yams and vegetables like carrot, peas, broccoli.  Feed them fruits cottage cheese and boiled eggs.

If you are providing dry food, check the label for what is in it. It is fine as far as you provide high quality nutrient food by checking the ingredients in commercial food. Avoid additives, artificial flavors and feed them rich protein food.

Baby carrots, boiled liver and chicken cut into small cubes or dried yams as the snacks, but remember snacks doesn’t replace meals for basic nutrition.

To avoid unnecessary weight gain and to keep them in shape, maintain proper diet regime by following consistent schedule. You should feel but not able to see their ribs without too hard push and able to see waistline when looking down.


Shetland Sheepdog can live up to 12 to 15 years of age.

Health Issues

Shetlies are generally healthy breeds and they may prone to minor health concerns include hypothyroidism, coolie eye anomaly, Legg-Perthes, Patellar luxation, progressive retinal atrophy, canine hip dysplasia, Trichiasis and dermatomyositis. It may also suffer from deafness, von Willebrand Disease, epilepsy, Patent ductus arteriosus. They are sensitive to drugs like Ivermectin.

Grooming and Caring

Its coat should be brushed daily to prevent formation of mats and to reduce the lose hair. It is recommended to use spray on its coat before brushing because dry coat can damage its hair.  Male breed will lose its hair once while the female breed will lose its hair twice the year. Its coat is dirt resistant so bath it only when required. Brushing its teeth, cleaning its ears and trimming its nails should also be a part of grooming routine.


The dog can live in any climate. It is suitable for apartment life provided you give it exercise and attention which it requires.

Shetland Sheepdog

Pet Names

  • Male : Pikku, Teddy, Finley, Thunder, Rocky, Scout, Sam
  • Female : Misty, Honey, Sadie, Ruby, Sable

Things To Consider Before Buying


  1. They are excellent family companions and excel in dog sports.
  2. They are child friendly and adore kids.
  3. Shetlies are dog and cat friendly.
  4. The breed is loyal, affectionate and gets attached to family members easily.


  1. It has a shrill barking voice. It is an excessive barker which can irritate the neighbors
  2. The breed sheds a lot. You need to vacuum quite often
  3. The breed tends to develop separation anxiety if left alone
  4. The breed is not hypoallergenic in nature.