Originally bred as herding dogs, the Shetland Sheepdog, also known as a “Sheltie” are the famously quick and bright miniature cousin to the rough coat Collie. These little “Lassie dogs” originated in the rocky Shetland Islands of Ireland, where they were effective, loyal herding dogs. Since the islands were so isolated, Shelties lived in virtual isolation from other breeds and were nearly unknown elsewhere until the 1900’s, first being recognized by the English Kennel Club in 1909.
The Sheltie is a remarkably bright, obedient breed. Their herding/working instincts are strong within them, so this is a puppy that will want to be challenged and will love to show off! The compact and agile Sheltie will be eager to learn athletic tricks. They are very playful and friendly puppies that make them a family-favorite. They have strong instincts to protect their pack and are hotshots of agility, obedience, rally and tracking. It is no wonder they are among AKC’s top 20 most popular breeds.
The Sheltie puppy will grow to be between 15-25 lbs and require plenty of attention and exercise in order to thrive. They are loving companions for families, including kids, but they can be somewhat reserved around strangers. Due to their protective nature, they’re quick to bark if something is amiss in their territory. This makes them excellent watchdogs, but training is a must to keep this trait from becoming a nuisance. They just need to learn some discrimination in their barking.
Shelties are very intelligent and bright, and they will want to show that off! This means they can be barkers. They can also be show-offs. Train your Sheltie to run a course or perform a trick and they will be eager to please you with how well they can do it!
This incredibly loyal breed is always loyal to their pack. They are sometimes suspicious of strangers but Shelties love their people. This instinct to protect will reveal itself as excessive barking if left untrained, which can be problematic for apartment owners. To ensure you get the best out of your Sheltie, make sure they get plenty of socialization, coupled with firm, consistent training with respect to the barking.
These incredible dogs are a fabulous option for a both a family or single working person as they will do just fine being left alone for periods of time. They do have a lot of energy and can be very vocal so it is important to give them exercise and attention as well training.
The Sheltie is especially loyal and gentle. Their personalities can vary greatly, from outgoing and boisterous to shy and calm. If you get a Sheltie puppy, they will benefit from early socialization to develop that skill. Regardless of their personality type, a Sheltie will always prefer to be with their people and follow them room to room during the course of the day.
Shelties have a long, dense, furry coat and shed heavily. Regularly brushing and combing through a Shetland Sheepdogs coat is a must to prevent the undercoat from matting. Often the long fluff of the exterior coat will look fine, while the undercoat is matting. Be sure to prevent this by brushing your Sheltie all the way to the skin.
Shelties should be groomed professionally every six weeks to keep up with their fur and prevent the worst of the shedding. Shelties are good at keeping themselves clean, especially if you do your part with brushing and grooming. Give them a bath once every month or so. They shouldn’t need one more often than that. The rest is basic care; trim the nails and keep their ears clean!
Because of their intelligence and athletic ability, Shelties are wonderful to train and excel in performance events. They dominate the fields in agility competitions and often excel in competitive obedience, fly-ball, tracking and herding. These dogs are incredibly smart, almost to the point of being too smart for their own good. They will need a job to keep them occupied and provide mental stimulation so they do not become bored and create their own mischievous entertainment.
Ask any Sheltie puppy owner and they will happily tell you how smart their dog is. Shetland Sheepdogs ranked sixth in Dr. Stanley Coren’s study of 132 breeds by being able to understand a new command after being told it fewer than five times on average, and obeying commands the first time they were given them at least 95% percent of the time.
Shetland Sheepdogs retain a strong herding instinct. They will enthusiastically chase and try to “herd” squirrels, rabbits and children. You should discourage this habit, especially with children, to prevent it from leading to biting. They are relatively inactive when indoors and can handle apartment living if they’re walked daily. These puppies desire a place where they can run and play safely (in a fenced in yard where they cannot chase something to “herd”).
Average Weight: 15-25 lbs.
Personality Traits: Playful, energetic, bright
Country of Origin: United States
Clubs, Registries & Associations
(Based on breed recognition. See store for details on a particular puppy.)
- American Shetland Sheepdog Association
- Dog Registry of America, Inc.
- American Canine Association
- American Kennel Club