Shetland Sheepdog

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14-27 lbs
Scotland (Shetland Islands)

The Shetland Sheepdog, also known as the Sheltie, looks like a smaller version of a Collie. In fact, that is the breed from which the Sheltie was derived. The smaller Collie dogs (approximately 18 inches high) were used to breed what would become known as the Shetland Sheepdog. The dog was originally used for herding livestock such as sheep in Scotland, specifically on the Shetland Islands. It is possible that the dog was also bred with Border Collies, some Icelandic dogs, and possibly even a black and tan King Charles Terrier in order to arrive at the Shetland Sheepdog we know today.

sheep herding
Date of Origin

Shetland Sheepdog Health

Average Size
Height: 13-16 inches Weight: 14-27 lbs
Height: 13-16 inches Weight: 14-27 lbs
Major Concerns
  • Dermatomyositis
  • Sensitive to Ivermectin
Minor Concerns
  • Patellar Luxation
  • Cataract
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Collie Eye Anomaly
Occasional Diagnoses
  • Von Willebrand's Disease
  • Deafness
  • Epilepsy
  • Hemophilia
  • Trichiasis
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease
Occasional Tests
  • Eye
  • Hip
  • Hearing
  • Blood Test
  • Hip X-Rays
  • Dna For Vwd
  • Eye Examination
  • Physical Examination

Shetland Sheepdog Breed History

The dog is named the Shetland Sheepdog due to its beginnings on the Scottish Shetland Islands. It was originally bred for herding sheep and other livestock, hence that part of its name. It is most commonly called the “Sheltie” – its nickname. The Sheltie is a mixture of Collie, some Icelandic dogs, and maybe a black and tan King Charles Terrier. Vegetation was usually scarce on the Shetland Islands; therefore, herds were smaller and did not require the size of the Collie dog to perform the work. The Sheltie herded not only sheep and cattle, but also ponies and even chickens. The British Navy visited the Shetland Islands during training and brought the dog back to England before 1917. Around 1906, the breed was known as Shetland Collies, much to the chagrin of Collie lovers, who protested the comparison. The name was changed to the Shetland Sheepdog at this time. In 1911, the AKC first recognized the breed and registered its first Sheltie, Lord Scott, a Shetland Sheepdog brought from Scotland by John G. Sherman to his home in New York.

Shetland Sheepdog Breed Appearance

Many Shelties truly look like a smaller version of a Rough Collie. Its body is long although it is short in stature. He has a double coat and a mane of hair on his upper chest and neck. It has a short, close undercoat; the outer coat is usually long and straight. Because the undercoat is dense, the outer coat often looks as if it is standing out from the body. The hair on the Sheltie’s head, ears, and feet is long and straight; the mane is frilly and abundant. The legs and tail have long hair and are furry. There are three basic colors in the Sheltie breed: a golden to mahogany sable, black, or blue merle (blue-gray with some black).

Eye Color Possibilities
Nose Color Possibilities
Coat Color Possibilities
Coat Length
Short Medium Long
Coat Density
Sparse Normal Dense
Coat Texture
Straight Wiry Wavy Curly Corded

Shetland Sheepdog Breed Maintenance

Because the Shetland Sheepdog has very long and abundant hair, a thorough weekly brushing (at minimum) is required; it is recommended that owners use a pin brush to do weekly grooming. In order to prevent damage to the coat, spritz the coat with water from a spray bottle and brush from the bottom of the coat to the tip of the hair. Hair between the ears has the potential to tangle, so be sure to brush there carefully as well. Shelties only really need a bath when they are truly dirty, so routine bathing is not necessary. Extra attention is to be paid to the Sheltie during shedding season, which is normally once or twice a year. Brush your Sheltie’s teeth at least two or three times a week. It is recommended that you begin grooming your Sheltie at a young age to get him accustomed to the practice. 

Brushes for Shetland Sheepdog
Pin Brush
Nail Clipper
Brushing Frequency
Daily Weekly Monthly

Shetland Sheepdog Temperament

The Sheltie is intensely loving and loyal to his family. While not fond of strangers, the Sheltie is good with his own family. One distinct Sheltie personality trait is to get tremendously excited, bark incessantly, and spin “like a top” if he gets excited (usually at the sight of another dog). The Sheltie can be reserved, even aloof. Some say this was bred into the dog so that he would be a better herding dog. The dog barks a lot; often much more than other breeds. It should also be noted that the Sheltie has a bad habit of nipping at objects and, unfortunately, children (this is also the herding instinct in him). Shelties are very smart, so start training them at an early age, and many of the unpleasant characteristics can be trained out of the Sheltie. 

Activity Level
Low Medium High
Rec. Walk Mileage Per Week
8 miles
Minutes of Activity Per Day
45 minutes

Shetland Sheepdog Food Consumption

Cups Per Day
2 cups
Daily Cost
$1.2 - $1.4
Monthly Cost
$34 - $45

Shetland Sheepdog Height & Weight

6 Months
Height: 7 inches Weight: 12 lbs
Height: 7 inches Weight: 12 lbs
12 Months
Height: 14 inches Weight: 17 lbs
Height: 14 inches Weight: 17 lbs
18 Months
Height: 14 inches Weight: 19 lbs
Height: 14 inches Weight: 19 lbs

Top Shetland Sheepdog Breeders

Check out who made our list for the most reputable Shetland Sheepdog breeders of 2017.
Chelson Shelties
Bellingham, Washington
Saranac Shelties
Huntsville, Alabama
Sunnyvale Shelties
Phoenix, Arizona
Caitlin Shelties
San Jose, California
Belmark Shelties
De Graff, Ohio
Rockwood Shetland Sheepdogs
Moosup, Connecticut
Maplecove Shelties
Brandywine, Delaware
Donlyn Shelties
Plant City, Florida

Shetland Sheepdog Owner Experiences