Sheltie Dog Breed

Black White & Tan Shetland Sheepdog
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  • Other names:
  • Dwarf Scotch Shepherd
  • Shetland Collie
  • Shetland Sheepdog
  • Toonie Dog
  • View all 4...
Overview

The Sheltie is known by several different names including Shetland Sheepdog, Toonie, Dwarf Scotch Shepherd. Members of this breed are working dogs known for herding and they appear to be miniature versions of the Collie. Although still popular on farms, they have been favorites of those seeking a companion dog for quite some time. They are not shy to bark and are naturally protective and loyal to their owners, making an excellent watch dog. Shelties are also instinctively obedient and are therefore great for first time owners who are looking for an easy to train pet. They are energetic and playful additions to a household with children and other pets.

High maintenance would describe the grooming requirements of these long-haired shedders but this is made up for by their ease in training. Moderate exercise is required and they enjoy a fenced yard, but this is not a requirement. They can live indoors and enjoy doing so as they should not be left without company for long periods of time. Even though many Shelties live the full 12-14 years without any health issues, owners should make routine veterinary visits and look into genetic testing if they are concerned for their pet's health.

Sheltie Breed Details

Breed Specs
TypeLifespanHeightWeight
Purebred12-14 yrs.13-16 in.11-24 lbs
  • Friendliness
  • Overall
  • Family Friendly
  • Kid Friendly
  • Pet Friendly
  • Stranger Friendly
  • Maintenance
  • Easy to Groom
  • Energy Level
  • Exercise Needs
  • General Health
  • Shedding Amount
  • Behavior
  • Barks / Howls
  • Easy to Train
  • Guard Dog
  • Playfulness
  • Watch Dog
  • Ownership
  • Apartment Friendly
  • Can Be Alone
  • Good for Busy Owners
  • Good for Novice Owners
  • Intelligence
* The more green the stronger the trait.

Below are the details and specs for the Sheltie dog breed.

Sheltie Breed Description

The Sheltie is medium sized, appearing proportionately sturdy yet poised. They are generally 13-16 inches tall at the shoulders and weigh around 20 pounds. Males are slightly larger than females and appear even more so due to the abundance of hair around their heads and on their chests (mane and frills).

This breed is both hard worker and loyal companion. They are within the 10 easiest breeds to train and are intuitive with their owner/family. Members of this breed make an playful yet gentle companion for children and even get along well with other pets. They will not hesitate to bark and make capable watch dogs. These guys will be reserved and watchful around strangers but not aggressive.

Overall, Shelties are a moderate maintenance breed. Their abundant double coat requires several times per week brushing and they shed almost constantly. They make up for the high maintenance grooming requirement by being notoriously easy to train. They naturally obedient and intuitive and within the top ten most intelligent and trainable breeds; they will require little repetition to catch on to commands. Exercise needs will be moderate and can be met with a daily long walk, run, outdoor playtime, games and training (obedience, agility, herding, etc.).

Sheltie Breed History

Shetland Sheepdogs were and still are working dogs descending from the same ancestor as the standard and Border Collies. Historians believe these Spitz type dogs were brought by Scandinavian settlers and likely bred with Pomeranians and King Charles Spaniels. They were employed to herd and protect livestock as well as guard homes. The Shetland Islands of Scotland produce stock animals, such as sheep and fowl, that are small in size due to sparse population and vegetation; therefore it was not necessary for the breeding of larger sheepdogs in this area. This produced a sturdy, agile, quick and extremely intelligent dog that not only protected and herded but was understood the need to keep the animals from the neighboring crops. Isolation of these islands from the constant ins and outs of tourism left this breed basically unchanged and even unrecognized by canine associations until the early 1900s when British visitors began taking puppies with them via boat.

The AKC recognized this breed's unique charm quite early, 1911, although the English Kennel Club preceded them in recognizing the Sheltie in 1909. It took several years (1914) for them to achieve their own designation apart from the Collie, this breed was previously named the Shetland Collie. The parent club for the breed, the American Shetland Sheepdog Association, appeared in 1929 and continues to hold specialty breed shows. The Shetland Sheepdog appears well within the top 50 dog breeds as ranked by the AKC.

Sheltie Appearance

Overall, the Shetland Sheepdog may appear a Collie in miniature form but they have all the gentle, poised and intelligent expression of the standard Collie. They have many working dog traits; sturdy, well-proportioned and attentive. The head is wedge shaped and tapers from the ears to nose. They have triangular ears that slightly bend or tip and typically round, dark eyes. The outer coat is water-repellent, long and coarse and appears even more voluminous due to the short, super dense undercoat. The Shelties hair is even more abundant around the head and chest which causes many to describe they resemble proud lions; this is even more noticeable in males than females. Underneath all this hair they are well muscled from neck to back. The forelegs appear straight and strong while the hind legs are bent and muscular. Feathering of the outer coat is prominent on the limbs. Members of this breed have tails that remain in their natural form, the tail also is covered in an abundance of hair.

Sheltie Coloring

Colors considered standard by the AKC include: black and white, sable and white, blue merle and white, black white and tan, blue merle white and tan, and sable merle and white. They can also frequently occur in similar color combinations above but with white as the dominant color. Shelties can also be only black and tan or even simply white.

Sheltie Size

The Sheltie is medium sized, appearing proportionately sturdy yet poised. They are generally 13-16 inches tall at the shoulders and weigh around 20 pounds. Males are slightly larger than females and appear even more so due to the abundance of hair around their heads and on their chests (mane and frills).

Average Adult Height

13-16 in
*Height is measured in inches from the front paws to the top of the shoulder while the dog is standing on all four legs.

Average Adult Weight

11-24 lbs

Sheltie Variations

Miniature Shelties or Miniature Shetland Sheepdogs are not their own breed, neither are toy or teacup Shelties. A true Sheltie has one size, the standard size, that is 13-16 inches and 15-23 pounds. Breeders claiming to have the extra small Shelties are usually doing one of two things. First, they could be selecting the smallest (runts) that often have increased health issues and breed them together to produce puppies that have an even more likely chance of developing. Second, they could be outcrossing a Sheltie with a similar breed-- which would be mean you certainly aren't getting a purebred Sheltie. If you insist on buying a Mini, Toy or Teacup anything, make sure to ask for health guarantees and proof of parent's certifications.

In regards to the coat length-- although there is not necessarily a short haired Sheltie, the smooth coated type is slightly shorter than the rough haired type.

Sheltie Temperament

Bright, playful and energetic are among the Shelties most prized qualities. They love to run and play but also thrive when given tasks (they are still working dogs, after all.) These dogs are not shy and have no reservations with barking and even trying to herd people and other animals. Training may be required so the barking does not become bothersome but these qualities usually make for a very confident watchdog. They are very loyal and protective towards their family.

Training your Shetland Sheepdog should not be difficult considering, according to research, they are within the top 10 brightest dog breeds. In fact, this breed is said to be naturally obedient and requires very little repetition to remember concepts. They are smart, hard-working and intuitive dogs that excel in obedience, agility, tricks, and, of course, herding activities. Training is a great way to bond with your pet and make sure they get enough mental and physical exercise.

His expression portrays his personality well-- intelligent, gentle, intuitive and ever vigilant. Members of this breed love to spend time with their owner or family and will make your business theirs, following you around the house. They do not do well left alone for long periods of time or to live in a yard by themselves. They are an excellent addition to families with children and other pets; although they may have a tendency to try to "herd" them when playing, they are gentle, companionable and playful.

Sheltie and Children

Shelties are well mannered, calm and intuitive making them a safe pet to have around children. They are also playful and can be energetic when appropriate, so they also make great companions and playmates for the family. When in play mode these dogs may nip at the heels to "herd" small kids but these behaviors can be reduced with training.

Sheltie and Other Pets

Members of this breed usually get along very well with other pets. They are very easily trained so, although they may tend to try to herd other pets, any unwanted behaviors can be curbed.

Sheltie and Strangers

Around strangers the Sheltie is alert, watchful but reserved. They are not scared of unknown people and certainly not scared to bark. These traits, along with loyalty to their owner/family, ensure your pet will be an excellent watchdog.

Sheltie Photos

Below are pictures and images of the Shetland Sheepdog.

Black White & Tan Shetland Sheepdog
Sable and White Shetland Sheepdog
Black White & Tan Shetland Sheepdog
Sable and White Shetland Sheepdog Puppy
Sable & White Shetland Sheepdog Puppy

Sheltie Maintenance

Overall, Shelties are a moderate maintenance breed. Their abundant double coat requires several times per week brushing and they shed almost constantly. They make up for the high maintenance grooming requirement by being notoriously easy to train. They naturally obedient and intuitive and within the top ten most intelligent and trainable breeds; they will require little repetition to catch on to commands. Exercise needs will be moderate and can be met with a daily long walk, run, outdoor playtime, games and training (obedience, agility, herding, etc.).

Grooming Requirements

The Shetland Sheepdog has more than a fair share of hair and it is recommended to brush them every other day. They shed much of the time and heavily during the spring and fall. It is recommended not to shave them as this is said to cause skin problems and even permanent hair loss. Due to the very hairy nature of the Sheltie, they should have their ears checked weekly to check for dirt or wax buildup. They also have fast growing nails that should be monitored and trimmed as needed.

Exercise Requirements

Do not let their small size fool you! Members of this breed are agile, quick and nimble. The Sheltie has a moderate energy level and is considered playful and energetic. They enjoy time to run and play in a fenced yard. Obedience, agility, and herding training along with learning tricks is a great way to bond with them and keep them fit. They like being around their owner and, if you are an active person, you can turn this into an opportunity to hike, run, or walk with them. These dogs should be leashed if not in an enclosed area as they are very energetic and don't mind expending that energy by chasing things - even cars!

Living Requirements

A fenced yard is always appreciated by a Sheltie; they love to run and play. This breed originated and still thrives as a farm dog, working and herding exercise their bodies and minds. This is not a necessity though, as they like to be wherever their owners are, as long as they get enough stimulation; that being said, they will not be happy if left alone for long periods of time and are not solely outdoor dogs.

Temperature Range

Due to their very thick undercoat and abundantly long outer coat, this breed may not thrive in hot areas. They do require outdoor walks and playtime so if the owner insists on having a Sheltie in these conditions they should take care to exercise them during the coolest part of the day.

Sheltie Health

Many Shelties will live a long, healthy life with routine veterinary checkups, however, it is the owner's responsibility to familiarize themselves with possible health concerns. Common to the Shetland Sheepdog are typical disorders such as hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, patellar luxation as well as eye disease such as Collie Eye Anomaly, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, trichiasis and cataracts. Dermatomyositis is sometimes seen in young Shelties and is an inflammatory disease of the skin, muscles and blood vessels that results in weak muscles and lesions. Occasionally seen are congenital heart defects, bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, epilepsy, haemophilia and Von Willebrand's Disease (blood clotting disorders). MDR1 Gene Mutation which causes sensitivity to many drugs can be tested for, along with many of the aforementioned diseases, with blood tests at a veterinary office. Members of this breed frequently live between 12 and 14 years.

  • Cancer
  • Cataracts
  • Collie Eye Anomaly
  • Drug Sensitivity
  • Elbow Dysplasia
  • Epilepsy
  • Haemophilia
  • Heart Problems
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Patellar Luxation
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy
  • Trichiasis
  • Von Willebrand's Disease
  • View all 14...

Sheltie Breed Recognition

The following dog breed registries and organizations recognize the Sheltie as a dog breed:

  • American Canine Registry
  • American Kennel Club
  • America's Pet Registry
  • Australian National Kennel Council
  • Canadian Canine Registry
  • Canadian Kennel Club
  • Continental Kennel Club
  • Dog Registry of America Inc.
  • Federation Cynologique Internationale
  • Kennel Club of Great Britain
  • National Kennel Club
  • New Zealand Kennel Club
  • North American Purebred Registry, Inc.
  • United Kennel Club
  • American Canine Association, Inc.
  • View all 15...

Sheltie Breeders

Interested in the Sheltie? Contact a breeder below:

Breeder Name
Fox Point Farm
Burgs Kennel LLC
All breeders with 'Quality Breeder' recognition have met our Quality Breeder Requirements.
* Please note - we are not endorsed or affiliated with any of the breeders listed above. However, we do our best to only list reputable and established breeders.
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