Shetland Sheepdog – Full Breed Profile

The Shetland Sheepdog is a small dog, also known for being a miniature version of rough Collie. Are you interested in this breed? Read on to learn about the breed's history, personality, and grooming needs.
Dog Breed Group:
Herding Dogs
13 to 16 inches tall at the shoulder
Starts at 20 pounds
Life Span:
12 to 15 years

Breed Characteristics:

Apartment Friendly


How well will this breed adapt to apartment living? Is the apartment size the most important factor when it comes to proper living conditions? Is the breed suitable for apartment living?

Good For First-Time Owners


Some dogs aren't suitable for first-time dog owners. Is this breed a good match for someone with no dog experience? Can training help them be on their best behavior with owners with no dog experience? Are they suitable to be handled by someone who is just entering the canine world?

Overall Sensitivity


Some dogs are sensitive. Certain breeds are rough on the outside, while having the softest heart on the inside. In other words, some dogs are 'thick-skinned' while some are 'easygoing.' Is this breed prone to sensitivity?

Tolerates Being Alone


Separation anxiety in dogs is a serious condition that can affect a dog's life quality. Is this breed prone to this condition? Can you leave him alone for hours? How destructive this breed can become when bored, neglected, or not loved enough?

Affectionate With Family


How affectionate this breed will be around his humans? Will he welcome new family friends easily or he will choose to be shy? Some breeds can be clingy with owners, while others don't attach a lot. Will this breed act as the family's best friend?



Some dogs will tolerate children, while others will adore well-behaved ones. Dogs and children should always be supervised, no matter how well trained the dog might be. Will this breed act as a nanny dog or he will stay away from children?

Friendly Toward Other Dogs


Some dog breeds cannot wait to run to the dog park and run with others. Others prefer to be with their humans, and not to be a part of a multi-pet household. Is this breed dog lover or not? How friendly this breed will be toward other dogs?

Friendly Toward Strangers


Some dog breeds tend to be reserved toward strangers and highly suspicious. Others are fast to walk away with them easily. How welcoming this breed is toward strangers?

Drooling Level


If you love to clean all the time drooling level in dogs is a trait that you should mind. Is this breed less likely to drool, or you will always need a towel on hand?

Easy To Groom


Heavier shedding during the shedding season is something that every dog needs to go through. However, some dogs shed just a bit all year round. Is this breed one of them? How often should you groom this dog?

Overall Health


What can you expect from this breed in terms of health? Are there any genetic conditions to vary about? Is obesity a major issue in this breed? By knowing more about the dog's health, you are learning how to help him live a longer and healthier life.

Prone To Obesity


Treats are a great addition to training sessions. Dogs love sweet bites of dog treats but they should be served in moderation. Treats can lead to obesity, next to poor nutrition. Can this breed gain extra weight from treats? How prone to obesity this breed actually is?

Trainability Level


Training some dogs is easier than others. How easy this dog will be to train? What can you expect? Some dogs are huge people pleasers and they will master commands easily, while others will try to outsmart you.

Intelligence Level


Dogs are smart beings. We do our best to train them, but they do still end up training us to adapt to their needs. How intelligent is this breed? Will he try to outsmart you? Or he will need multiple training sessions to master basic commands?

Prey Drive


Dogs were bred for a specific purpose. Those who were bred to hunt have natural instincts to hunt, even today. This is why many dogs, like Terriers, will chase other animals. They will also have a hard time concentrating on your commands when there is something small moving. Is this breed prone to following his prey instincts?

Barking Level


How vocal this breed is? Can you expect neighbors to ring you often to calm your dog? Or you can sleep without worries of hearing your Fido bark? Some breeds are highly vocal, others have unusual sounds, and some are silent. Is this breed prone to barking?

Energy Level


Low-energy dogs are happy with regular walks and indoor chill times. High-energy dogs are always ready for action. Is this breed a couch potato, energetic dog, or somewhere in between?

Exercise Needs


Some dogs are more than happy with a slow stroll down the street. Others need hours of active time to stay happy and fit. Is this breed demanding in terms of exercise? How much exercise this breed needs to stay happy and healthy?

Playfulness Level


Some dogs never lose that puppy spirit, not even in their senior years. Others are more serious and prefer having a job to do. Is this breed demanding in terms of playfulness? Can you expect playfulness in their senior years as well?

The Shetland Sheepdog or Sheltie is a smart herder from Scotland. This breed comes from the hilly areas of the Shetland Islands, hence the name.

They are by many described as beautiful, although they are physically most alike to famous Collie, their distant cousins.

The Shetland Sheepdog is a small dog, that is packed with high energy. These high-energy dogs aren’t for those who aren’t used to spending hours outside being active.

Even indoors, this breed will demand playtime, activity, and fun hours.

Be sure that you can meet this breed’s needs. They have a long coat, which means that weekly brushing is a must.

They are in a way rough-coated Collie but in a smaller version. They are easy to train and they thrive on positive training methods.

Early socialization is the key to having the well-behaved Shetland Sheepdog.

Quick Facts

Real name: Shetland Sheepdog
Other names: Shetland Collie (out of date), Dwarf Scotch Shepherd (out of date)
Common Nicknames: Sheltie
Origin: Scotland
Breed type: Herding Dogs
Weight: Starts at 20 pounds
Height: 13 to 16 inches tall at the shoulder
Lifespan: 12 to 15 years
Litter Size: 4 – 6 puppies
Color: Many colors, including sablr, tri-coloured, sable merle, black and tan
Coat: Long and double coat

Shetland Sheepdog History

Sheltie is a miniature dog that resembles Collie.

If you are a Collie lover already and you know the breed’s characteristics it’s fair enough to say that this is indeed a tiny Collie.

This tiny Collie wasn’t a breeder’s creation, but a naturally produced dog.

Dog experts believe that Spitz-type dog was the original sheepdog of Scotland (in appearance similar to a breed that today we know as Icelandic Sheepdog).

They also believe that this dog was crossed with mainland working collies who were brought to the islands and later on to England.

This original Spitz-type dog is today extinct. In fact, this breed was replaced with today’s Border Collie.

Originally, Shetland Sheepdogs were used for herding. At least they were used for tasks that didn’t require large dog breeds.

Sheltie was first named the Shetland Collie, but their name changed to Shetland Sheepdog. The beginning of the 20th century marked mixing this breed with Rough Collies to save that Rough Collie type appearance.

The English Kennel Club recognized the Shetland Sheepdog as a separate breed in 1909.

In 1911, the AKC registered the first Shetland Sheepdog, named ‘Lord Scott.’

Shetland Sheepdog Physical Appearance

Shetland Sheepdog is best described as a really small version of the Rough Collie.

They may be small in size, but they are well-built and compact.

Shetland Sheepdogs were built to be active, to spend an entire day running and chasing – their body supports that.

Their head is wedge-shaped, and for the color, they come in many colors including black, blue merle, or sable.

Shetland Sheepdogs are commonly marked with white, tan, or both. As for the size, they stand 13 to 16 inches tall at the shoulder and have a weight that starts at 20 pounds.

As such they are compact and often seen strolling the busiest city streets. Their ears are of medium size, while the neck is muscular and strong.

The tail should be longer, while the coat should be double. The outer coat should be harsh on touch and straight, while the undercoat should be short and denser.

The hair on the face should always be smooth, including the hair on the ears and feet. The breed’s gait should be light and effortless.

Shetland Sheepdog Personality

Shetland Sheepdogs are gentle and affectionate dogs.

They are great family dogs and a great choice for first time dog owners due to to their soft nature.

Just like bigger Collies, Shelties are intelligent and enjoy performing tasks or participating in dog sports. They need only five repetitions to master a new command – making them officially highly intelligent dogs.

Repetition is what defines dogs as intelligent or highly intelligent. Fewer the number of repetitions, the smarter the dog.

If you’re searching for an active family dog, the Shetland Sheepdog is a breed to consider having. They are great with children who know their way around dogs.

Children must know how to behave around dogs, and what is allowed and what isn’t.

For example, children should know not to pull a dog’s ears and tails, and never to disturb them while they are eating, sleeping, or resting in their crate.

This is a loyal breed. They will commonly attach to one person or one family. Keeping this breed alone for long periods isn’t an option.

This small dog will demand that you take him everywhere with you.

Otherwise, you may experience having a dog with separation anxiety or strong destructive behavior. All in all, Shelties are emotional dogs who need gentle but firm hand.

Shetland Sheepdog Training

Training should start as soon as you bring your Shetland Sheepdog home.

Did you know that dogs are capable of mastering basic commands as of eight weeks of age?

Before your Fido arrives, prepare the right toys, learn indoor games, and arm yourself with a lot of patience. These dogs are highly trainable and such they are eager to please.

Use the socialization window to teach your dog the following:

  • Basic commands
  • How to behave around people
  • How to walk on a leash
  • To ‘come‘ when called
  • To keep himself busy with interactive toys

To have effective training sessions, you should keep them short, fun, interactive, consistent, and packed with treats.

This is a herding breed, which means that he will love to chase anything that moves, including cars. This is why walks on leas are a must.

Let your Shetland roam freely only in well-secured areas, such as dog parks.

Shetland Sheepdog Exercise

To keep your dog healthy and happy, you need to provide enough exercise.

This is how your dog will get enough physical exercise, keep strong joints, and keep his mind busy.

Dogs learn and explore by moving and indulging in different smells.

Extra tricks can only lead to much-needed mental exercise. So… How much exercise per day you should provide for your Shetland?

Next to regular walks, enable up to one hour of exercise a day.

Be careful with puppies, they are still developing, so extra exercise can put pressure on their body that they aren’t ready for.

Always ask your veterinarian how much exercise to provide at what age.

If you love dog competitions, think about enrolling your Shetland Sheepdog in dog agility – this is a great way to keep his mind sharp and his joints strong.

Plus, Shetland Sheepdogs are among the best agility dogs of today: as such, they are much appreciated for their intelligence, fast movement, and speed.

If you have experience training dogs for competitions, you will enjoy training this breed. Now, let’s see where does Shetland Sheepdog stand when it comes to grooming.

Shetland Sheepdog Grooming

The Sheltie comes with a double coat that needs to be brushed regularly. To keep that neat look elegant and clean you will have to use the right grooming tools.

Brush your Shetland once to twice a week and always search for any sign of fleas or skin infections.

Brushing time is also a great way to make the bond with your canine stronger.

The rest is basic care:

  • Trim or grind nails monthly
  • Bathe only when needed. When bathing make sure that you only use a shampoo that is specially designed for dogs
  • Check eyes weekly
  • Check gums weekly
  • Learn how to clean dog’s ears and when needed

Next to regular grooming practice, you should care further. That being said, you should provide regular parasite control, stick to a vaccination schedule, and provide high-quality nutrition.

Shetland Sheepdog Nutrition

The Shetland Sheepdog should have regular meals of high-quality food if possible.

Just like any other breed, the Shetland Sheepdog will try to have a bite of anything, which is why you should know which human foods are safe for dogs, and which should be avoided no matter what.

If you are thinking about switching to a raw food diet, which is also known as home-prepared food, talk with your veterinarian first.

In fact, you should talk with your veterinarian about anything food-related.

Learn how much your Shetland Sheepdog should eat, how many times per day, and why you should never serve a dog a meal after an intense workout.

Some dogs are prone to obesity, which is why you should stick to recommended food amount.

Obesity in dogs is on the rise and you don’t want your Shetland to be part of this unhealthy trend.

If you have any concerns regarding your dog’s diet always talk to your veterinarian first.

Shetland Sheepdog Health

Shetland Sheepdogs are considered to be healthy dogs.

If you are buying a puppy, you should deal with responsible dog breeders only.

This means that you should find a reputable breeder who will show you medical documentation on puppies and inform you of any possible future health-related issues.

Some of the conditions that you may see in this breed include epilepsy, hip dysplasia, and eye diseases. This doesn’t mean that your Shetland will experience any of these disturbances, it just means that you should provide regular veterinarian check-ups.

Prevention is the best way to keep your dog healthy in the long run. Plus, this is usually the best practice money-wise.

Prevention is far cheaper than treating certain conditions.

Is Shetland Sheepdog For You?

The Shetland Sheepdog isn’t for you iof you dont want to deal with separation anxiety and intense barking.

The Shetland Sheepdog needs regular brushing and extra care and love – if this sounds too much, this breed isn’t for you.

However, if you want an attentive dog, loves to learn tricks, and is peaceful with strangers and other animals, this small Collie may be right for you.

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