Shetland Sheepdog

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

Sketch of Shetland Sheepdog
Average Size
Male Shetland Sheepdog size stats
Height: 13-16 inches Weight: 14-27 lbs
Female Shetland Sheepdog size stats
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).

Appearance of Shetland Sheepdog
Eye Color Possibilities
blue Shetland Sheepdog eyes
brown Shetland Sheepdog eyes
Nose Color Possibilities
black Shetland Sheepdog nose
Coat Color Possibilities
sable Shetland Sheepdog coat
black Shetland Sheepdog coat
blue Shetland Sheepdog coat
white Shetland Sheepdog coat
Coat Length
Short Medium Long
Coat Density
Sparse Normal Dense
Coat Texture
Shetland Sheepdog straight 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
Shetland Sheepdog requires weekly brushing
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
$1.20 - $1.40
Monthly Cost
$34.00 - $45.00

Shetland Sheepdog Height & Weight

6 Months
Sketch of Shetland Sheepdog at six months
Male Shetland Sheepdog size stats at six months
Height: 7 inches Weight: 12 lbs
Female Shetland Sheepdog size stats at six months
Height: 7 inches Weight: 12 lbs
12 Months
Sketch of Shetland Sheepdog at 12 months
Male Shetland Sheepdog size stats at 12 months
Height: 14 inches Weight: 17 lbs
Female Shetland Sheepdog size stats at 12 months
Height: 14 inches Weight: 17 lbs
18 Months
Sketch of Shetland Sheepdog at 18 months
Male Shetland Sheepdog size stats at 18 months
Height: 14 inches Weight: 19 lbs
Female Shetland Sheepdog size stats at 18 months
Height: 14 inches Weight: 19 lbs

Top Shetland Sheepdog Breeders

Check out who made our list for the most reputable Shetland Sheepdog breeders of 2018.
Top Shetland Sheepdog breeder Chelson Shelties
Chelson Shelties
Bellingham, Washington
Top Shetland Sheepdog breeder Saranac Shelties
Saranac Shelties
Huntsville, Alabama
Top Shetland Sheepdog breeder Sunnyvale Shelties
Sunnyvale Shelties
Phoenix, Arizona
Top Shetland Sheepdog breeder Caitlin Shelties
Caitlin Shelties
San Jose, California
Top Shetland Sheepdog breeder Belmark Shelties
Belmark Shelties
De Graff, Ohio
Top Shetland Sheepdog breeder Rockwood Shetland Sheepdogs
Rockwood Shetland Sheepdogs
Moosup, Connecticut
Top Shetland Sheepdog breeder Maplecove Shelties
Maplecove Shelties
Brandywine, Delaware
Top Shetland Sheepdog breeder Donlyn Shelties
Donlyn Shelties
Plant City, Florida

Shetland Sheepdog Owner Experiences

7 Years
4 People
Lucky is one of the best dogs we have ever owned as a family companion. He is loving, playful, trainable, and family oriented. He loves to work with us such as doing “chores” and “laundry”. He walks the kids and loves his parents. He is so great.
9 months, 3 weeks ago
3 Years
The Sheltie that I walked was extremely fluffy and quite excitable, but was very affectionate and loving towards both her owner and me. The dog did have quite a loud bark, and would bark anytime she got excited, for example when she heard me turning the key in the door or when we would start the walk. She was very good around other dogs though and didn't bark at them. She was very adorable and quite a quick walker, and not one that tired out quickly. They like to be close to you, especially if they are getting pet, which is probably derived from their natural instinct to herd, so be prepared for the dog to get all up in your face asking for some ear scratched or belly rubs.
11 months, 3 weeks ago
3 Months
Explore the city
Meet Renya, the 3 month old Sheltie Mix puppy! Renya was so very much a puppy in a lot of ways but also seemed older in other ways! Renya is one cutie patootie who I'm pretty sure could solve world peace if she was brought to the next UN meeting. Renya loved exploring the new world around her and stopping to take in all the new sights and smells. Renya and I came across a very large (and very friendly) pitbull that grunted and sounded just like a pig. This scared Renya a little bit but just whined a little until I picked her up to pass the scary pig/pitbull hybrid. Renya did a good job with crossing the busy streets of DC and we practiced sitting and waiting before crossing.
12 months ago
3 Years
Tug of war
Playing fetch
Shetland sheepdogs are incredibly intelligent. They learn and follow commands very well. Since they are bred for corralling sheep, they have LOTS of energy and love to run in giant circles if given the space. They love playing fetch and are a great family dog. Lots of personality. They shed a lot.
12 months ago
7 Years
Shetland Sheepdogs "Shelties" are so adorable they are dogs who were bred to herd so likely they will herd you down your hallway, they have a bark but it's not something that is too horrible. They are very easy to train extremely smart willing to please. They look to you to see what you want next but they aren't the type to go looking for something to do! Overall they're wonderful dogs and a pretty nice size - not small not large, a nice medium. But they do get matted so frequent brushing and grooming is a must to dematt and deshed!!
12 months ago
5 Years
This little guy was so cute and sweet but spun itself in circles tapping at cars on the street, other dogs, squirrels, etc!
12 months ago
Book me a walkiee?
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd