Shetland Sheepdog Breed Information

All About Shetland Sheepdog Dogs and Puppies


This is a general breed description of the Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie). Individual dogs within a breed may vary in physical appearance, behavior and temperament.

The beautiful Shetland Sheepdog is characteristically gentle, intelligent and eager to please, all qualities which have made this breed a popular family companion dog. Also known as the Sheltie, the Shetland Sheepdog traces its ancestry to the Shetland Islands located between Scotland and Norway.

Photo of a Pair of Shetland Sheepdogs

Shelties lean toward independence, but are fond of their people and eager to please them. They need an owner who will keep a firm, but gentle, upper hand while training his dog. A poorly socialized and untrained Shetland Sheepdog may exhibit “small dog syndrome.” This syndrome is not exclusive to Shelties, but is possible with any dog who is overindulged by his owner and treated like a person instead of a dog.

Lively, gentle and fun-loving, they make great playmates for kids and may learn to do tricks for them. Shelties are quite affectionate with their families and get along with other household pets, but are often wary of strangers. Their tendency to bark at strangers makes them excellent family watch dogs who will surely let you know when someone is approaching.

Shetland Sheepdog Dog Breed Facts and Information

Photo of a Pair of Shetland Sheepdogs

Shetland Sheepdog Facts

  • Country of Origin: United Kingdom
  • Size:
  • Height:
  • Weight
  • Color:
  • Exercise Needs:
  • Grooming Demands:
  • Life Expectancy:
  • Good With Children: Yes
  • Ease of Training: Moderate
  • AKC Breed Group: breedgroup

Shetland Sheepdog History

It is believed that Scottish collies were crossed with small Icelandic dogs brought to the island by fishermen. By the 1700’s, Shelties were popular sheep herding dogs that were capable of guarding their flocks without human supervision, since much of the island was uninhabited grazing land. The Shetland Sheepdog we know now was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1911.

Shetland Sheepdog Appearance

Pretty Shetland Sheepdog

Adult dogs of this breed are 13″ to 16″ tall, and weigh 14 to 27 pounds. Life expectancy is 12 to 15 years. With a lion-type ruff around the neck, the Sheltie resembles a miniature version of the Collie, but a bit stockier in proportion.

The Shetland Sheepdog has a moderately long body with a deep chest, muscular neck and long, wedge-shaped head. The shoulders slope toward wide hindquarters. The tail is long and carried low at rest, sometimes with a slight curve at the tip.

The weather-resistant coat is usually straight, long and rough, with a wooly undercoat. The face and feet are covered with short, smooth hair, and the legs and tail are feathered. Common colors are merle, sable, and black with varying amounts of white markings.

Shetland Sheepdog Photo Gallery

Shetland Sheepdog Temperament and Personality

Shelties are typically good-natured dogs, intelligent, energetic, and easy to train. Herding behavior and independence are still strong traits in some individual dogs of this breed. They may try to herd family members, which should not be allowed. Active working breed dogs, they require mental stimulation as well as physical exercise to keep them content. This versatile breed excels in hunting, tracking, herding and guarding, and is often in the winners’ circle at obedience and agility trials.

Poorly socialized Shelties may become nervous and distrustful. Early, extensive socialization is necessary to give these dogs confidence when they are confronted by new people, sights, and sounds. These are vocal dogs, and may bark persistently unless this behavior is trained out of them.

Shetland Sheepdog Health Concerns

Some breed lines may have a genetic predisposition to epilepsy, which may not appear until the dog is mature. Other health concerns include hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, heart disease, congenital eye disorders and other eye conditions. Buy your Sheltie from a reputable breeder who is known to produce dogs of sound health and even temperament.

Shetland Sheepdog Exercise Needs

Shelties are active indoors, and will do fine in an apartment if they have one long, brisk daily walk or a trip to the dog park for exercise and mental stimulation. They don’t do well left alone all day, and may become nervous when bored. Being a working dog breed, they need activity to keep them content. The Shetland Sheepdog may be the best choice for an owner who wants an award-winning dog for obedience and agility trials who is also a superb family companion.

Shetland Sheepdog Training Tips

Shetland Sheepdog Grooming Tips

Shelties require a moderate amount of grooming. The long hair can become quickly matted and should be brushed daily to keep it in optimum weather- and dirt-repelling condition. Mats should be misted with water and carefully combed out. Shelties tend to be fastidious, and bathing is seldom necessary. The coat will shed heavily twice a year, but regular grooming can greatly reduce the amount of dog hair in your home.

Finding a Reputable Shetland Sheepdog Breeder Near You

Find a reputable local puppy breeder on our Shetland Sheepdog Dog Breeder Directory.

Choosing the right Shetland Sheepdog breeder is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in your quest for the perfect Shetland Sheepdog puppy. There are many dog breeders out there – some are highly responsible – others not so much.

We recommend the following criteria be used when choosing a responsible Shetland Sheepdog breeder:

  • Breeding only health screened, AKC registered parents, or health screened generational Cockapoos with AKC registered, health screened lineage.
  • Breeds for health and temperament.
  • Is knowledgeable and truthful about their dogs and puppies.
  • Offers advice and assistance with house training, puppy care, nutrition, etc.
  • Places puppies only with carefully screened owners with a good potential for providing a loving, forever home.
  • Puts the welfare of her dogs and puppies before profit.
  • Is committed to her dogs and puppies for life, and will provide advice and support after you take your puppy home.
  • Can provide you with plenty of references from past puppy buyers, veterinary references, etc.

Additional Shetland Sheepdog Resources

Learn more about Shetland Sheepdogs here.