A small/medium-sized, graceful and dainty dog, the Shetland Sheepdog has an attractive, long coat with a profuse mane around the neck and chest, and abundant feathering (longer hair) on the legs and tail. The coat comes in several colours, patterns and combinations – see the breed standard for details. Adult males stand at approximately 37cm and females at 35.5cm. The weight of a fully grown Sheltie ranges from 6-12kg.
- Category size: Small
- Grooming requirements: Daily
- Shedding: Heavy
- Allergies: No
- Noise: Vocal
- Dog Group Kennel Club: Pastoral
- Alone: 1 to 3 hours
- Other pets: High
- Stability as a guard: Medium
Taking its name after the Shetland Isles off the north-east coast of Scotland, where he developed as a breed, the Shetland Sheepdog breed (or 'Sheltie') worked as a sheepdog in sometimes very demanding conditions. Originally thought to be a mixture of many types of dog, including a Spitz-type and a Scottish Sheepdog, a small Rough Collie was introduced to the mix by a native Shetlander called James Loggie to produce the modern Sheltie. Mr Loggie went on to become the first secretary of a Shetland breed club in 1908.
The Sheltie may look glamorous and graceful, but he is also a strong, active working breed with oodles of energy. Utterly devoted to his owner, he can be standoffish with those he doesn't know. A Shetland Sheepdog is ever alert and will feel the need to tell you if anything catches his attention; this could be a problem if you have near neighbours and/or you are unable to control his vocal tendencies.
As with many breeds, the Shetland Sheepdog can suffer from various hereditary eye disorders, and hip dysplasia (a condition that can lead to mobility problems). Eye testing and hip scoring of dogs prior to breeding is therefore important.
A minimum of an hour's exercise is needed daily, though the energetic Shetland Sheepdog will happily take more. As well as walking with his owner, this dog enjoys training and has done well in many of the canine sports, including agility, obedience and flyball.
Small dogs have a fast metabolism, meaning they burn energy at a high rate, although their small stomachs mean that they must eat little and often. Small-breed foods are specifically designed with appropriate levels of key nutrients and smaller kibble sizes to suit smaller mouths. This also encourages chewing and improves digestion.
The Shetland Sheepdog is a fairly high-maintenance coat, with a long, straight top coat and a short, fluffy, thick undercoat. Daily attention will stop the task of grooming becoming too onerous – ensuring that you remove tangles promptly before they become a problem.
Is this the right dog breed for you?
All dogs have their own, unique personality, but some instincts and behaviours they’re born with. Try our breed selector and find out which dog breeds better match your preferences and lifestyle. If you and your dog enjoy similar things, you will be more likely to live a happy, fulfilling life together.
What to Consider next
It is incredibly fulfilling to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or rescue organization. It often means offering them a second chance in life. There are many dogs waiting for a loving family, a forever home. Reputable centers will be very careful about matching the right people with the right dogs. Staff learns all they can about the dogs they take in, and will spend time getting to know you, your family and your lifestyle, before they match you with any of their dogs. They’ll also be happy to give you advice and answer any questions you might have before and after the adoption.
Finding a good breeder
If your heart is set on a pedigree puppy, then your best bet is to find a reputable breeder. Contact The Kennel Club or a breed-club secretary who may have a list of litters available, or should be able to put you in contact with breeders in your area. Try to choose a breeder who is part of the Kennel Club’s assured breeder scheme.Visit dog shows to meet breeders in person and inquire about availability of pups of your chosen breed.
Welcoming your dog home
Whether you’re bringing home a tiny puppy or rehoming an adult dog, this is a hugely exciting time for everyone. While you’re waiting for the big day you might need to distract yourself, so luckily there are a few things you need to sort out before you welcome your new arrival. Click here for more information