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Your Pet, Our Passion.

Shetland Sheepdog

Glamorous yet dainty and neat, the Shetland Sheepdog is, at least in appearance, a miniature of the Rough Collie. The coat is long, hard and straight, with a profuse mane and frill and luxurious feathering on the legs and tail. 

The need-to-know
  • Dog suitable for owners with some experience
  • Extra training required
  • Need to be aware of potential health issues
  • Enjoys active walks
  • Enjoys one to two hours of walking a day
  • Small dog
  • Minimum drool
  • Requires grooming daily
  • Chatty and vocal dog
  • Barks and alerts to visitors/anything unusual
  • Generally friendly with other dogs
  • Gets along with other pets with training
  • May need additional supervision to live with children
  • Needs a small garden
  • Can live in semi-rural areas
  • Can be left occasionally with training
This breed may encounter health problems

The Shetland Sheepdog breed can suffer from: 
- Patellar luxation
- Legg- Perthes disease 
- Collie eye anomaly which is an inherited condition where the eye does not develop properly, potentially leading to blindness.
- Multiple drug sensitivity which is a condition where dogs are particularly sensitive to certain types of drugs. 
- Von Willebrand's disease which is where a dog produces insufficient or faulty clotting factors which can result in uncontrolled bleeding. 
- Progressive retinal atrophy which is an inherited disorder where part of the eye degenerates and wastes away which can result in blindness.
 - Hypothyroidism¹ where the thyroid gland is underactive and does not product enough thyroid hormone. This can result in low energy levels, weight gain and skin problems. 
- Distichiasis² which is an often painful condition where small eyelashes grow from the inside of the eyelid, rubbing on the surface of the eye.

Priority Kennel Club health schemes and testing: 
- Eye screening scheme

¹L. J. Kennedy , 'Association of canine hypothyroidism with a common major histocompatibility complex DLA class II allele', 2006, Tissue Antigens
²K. Zdzisław et al, 'Co2 Laser Treatment Of Canine Distichiasis', 2014, Eastern European Journal of Veterinary Ophthalmology

Key Facts

Lifespan: 12-13 years
Weight:  6-12kg
Height:  Males stand around 37cm and females 35.5cm
Colours:  Commonly sable and white, but also black and white, tricolour, merle and black and tan
Size:  Small
UK Kennel Club Groups: Pastoral


Family-friendly: 5/5
Exercise needs: 4/5
Easy to train: 5/5
Tolerates being alone: 2/5
Likes other pets: 4/5
Energy level: 4/5
Grooming needs: 3/5
Shedding: 5/5
Shetland Sheepdog standing at the park


The Sheltie may look every inch the show dog, and these days many are, but under the glorious coat, there is a strong, active working breed with a sharp mind and bags of energy. Devoted to their owners, Shetland Sheepdogs can take a while to warm to strangers, and they are never off duty – always ready to alert their owner to whatever catches their eye! 

Shetland Sheepdog walking on green grass

History and Origins

Country of Origin: Shetland Isles

Named for the Shetland Isles off the North-East coast of Scotland where this breed was developed, the Shetland Sheepdogs original job was aiding crofters in herding sheep, and protecting unfenced crops from anything that fancied a free meal.  

Many animals native to Shetland are notable for their smaller stature - the sheep and ponies in particular. As a result, crofters had no need of a large, expensive to feed working dog when a nimble smaller dog would do better. 

Likely derived from a variety of local working dogs including collie and possibly spitz types, with remarkably little input from the Rough Collie which is surprising given the similar appearance. When the breed was recognised by the Kennel Club the name had to be changed from ‘Shetland Collie’ as breeders of the Rough Collie at the time did not want the two breeds associated!

did you know?

Did You Know?

  • Whilst there have been many ‘presidential dogs’ residing at the White House, it was President Calvin Coolidge who had, for the benefit of his Shetland Sheepdog ‘Calamity Jane’, a special dog bath built, to keep her coat clean and sweet smelling.
  • More recently, popstar Miley Cyrus has a Sheltie called Emu whose portrait she has had tattooed on her arm.