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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Breeds > Shetland Sheepdog

Shetland Sheepdog

Origin: Great Britain

AKC Group: Herding

Height: 13 - 16 inches (Male)

Weight: 14 - 18 pounds (Male)

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Great Britain
Male height: 
13 - 16 inches
Male weight: 
14 - 18 pounds
Rough, abundant double coat meant to guard against the elements.
Black, blue merle or sable, all with varying amounts of white markings and/or tan points.

While the Shetland Sheepdog, known to his admirers as the Sheltie, may look like a miniaturized version of a rough Collie (or "mini Lassie") he's not - the breed has actually existed as a much-valued working dog for hundreds of years. Developed on Scotland's Shetland Islands, the sheep farmers there needed a smaller-type sheepdog who could withstand the harsh terrain and cold, damp weather. The original Shetland Collie (from whom the Sheltie is derived) was nimble footed, compact, highly intelligent and eager to please - traits that made him well suited as a herder of the smaller strains of livestock bred to forage the sparse landscape of that rugged place. This ancestor was intermixed with many other breeds, possibly including the Icelandic Sheepdog, Greenland Yaki, small spaniels and collies, including the Border Collie.

Once the breed was standardized in Britain, around 1908, it began to appear on American shores. At that time, American breeders began crossing Shelties with Collies, making for a slightly larger breed than in England and Scotland. Outcrossing eventually stopped, and the breed was standardized to the size seen today.

The Sheltie's lively but gentle and responsive temperament makes him an outstanding companion. Naturally attentive and protective, given his shepherd ancestry, he is also extremely bright and intensely loyal. He is very attached to his family but can be reserved with strangers and has a predisposition to shyness, so he must be well socialized from an early age.
At home: 
The Sheltie's size makes him convenient for any type of living situation, from the farm to the city. He was bred to use his voice in herding, so he is likely to bark a lot. He should be kept leashed when out and about because his herding tendencies can suddenly arise, and he may try to herd passing cars, bikes or even groups of children.
A moderately active breed, Shelties will benefit from a good walk, short jog or vigorous play or training session every day. They tend to adjust their energy level to that of their owners, but they do need daily exercise - if they don't receive it, they may turn to unwanted behaviors like excessive barking.
The Sheltie is generally a good eater. Feed a high-quality food twice a day.
With his extreme intelligence and natural focus on his owner, the Sheltie is one of the most trainable of all breeds. Harsh methods should never be used on this sensitive fellow; he works for praise and encouragement, even more than for food rewards.
Their natural sweetness and devotion make Shelties the perfect companions for children. They can get along well with other dogs but usually prefer to live with other Shelties. They tend to herd cats and other small pets, so they must be socialized and supervised in multi-pet households.
The average life span of the Shetland Sheepdog is 12 to 15 years. Health problems seen in the breed include dermatomyositis (Sheltie Skin Syndrome); epilepsy; eye diseases; hip dysplasia; sensitivity to ivermectin (a chemical found in some worming medications and heartworm preventives); thyroid disease; and von Willebrand disease.
Fun fact: 

The first Shelties shown in England were known as "Shetland Collies," as they could be sold for more money to capitalize on the popularity of the Collie. After Collie breeders complained, the name was changed to "Shetland Sheepdog," around 1908.

Grooming blurb: 
The Sheltie is one of the easiest "coated" breeds to care for. Brushing every few days will help keep his profuse coat healthy, attractive and free from mats.
This document has been published with the intent to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter within. While every reasonable precaution has been taken in preparation of this document, the author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any errors, omissions, or adverse effects arising from the use or application of the information contained herein. The techniques and suggestions are used at the reader's discretion.