The Shetland Sheepdog, also known as the Sheltie, is a playful, energetic and obedient herding dog who is great with kids.
Weight: 15-25 pounds
Height: 13-16 inches
Life Expectancy: 12-14 years
Group: Herding group
Temperament: playful, affectionate, obedient
Ease of Training:
Shetland Sheepdogs were bred on Scotland’s Shetland Islands and used by farmers to herd sheep, ponies, and poultry. Smart and affectionate, Shelties look like miniature Collies, with long, dense double coats that come in black, sable and blue merle with white markings. The bright, expressive eyes and “smiling” face of the Sheltie makes him a favorite among dog owners.
Shelties are devoted to their families and are good with other pets. Because they are very adaptable, they do well as city dogs. Early training and socialization are important. They are reserved around strangers and like to express their opinions, so they are excellent watchdogs.
Because the Sheltie was bred to be a herding dog, he is easily trained and eager to please, so he will excel at agility and herding events, and he would also be a great therapy dog. Due to his herding dog instincts, he likes to chase moving things, so care needs to be taken to keep him on a leash or in a securely-fenced yard.
One of the quirks of the Shetland Sheepdog is the “Sheltie spin.” He may jump and spin in circles when he gets excited. Another amusing trait of the Sheltie is his habit of sleeping on his back with his legs up in the air or spread out in relaxation.
The Sheltie has a long, dense double coat that sheds significantly. Frequent brushing is required to prevent mats. Care is needed to check for mats hidden behind the ears, in the area under the tail, and under the elbow on each front leg. Shaving is not recommended because the coat protects against heat and cold. You’ll also want to clip his nails, clean his teeth and give him the occasional bath.
Shelties are athletic and energetic but don’t require strenuous exercise. They enjoy activities with the family that give their bodies and minds a good workout. They enjoy agility, herding and obedience activities.
Health problems to be aware of among Shelties include hip dysplasia and eye diseases such as Sheltie Eye Syndrome, a hereditary disorder in which parts of the eye do not develop properly. They are also susceptible to patellar luxation, like a “trick knee” in humans. It is recommended to get pet health insurance for your Sheltie, which can help cover conditions like these, provided enrollment occurs before symptoms appear.