The Shetland Sheepdog is a working Collie in miniature. The actual origin of the breed cannot be traced to written records, but traditionally Shelties are thought to be as old as the working Collies of Scotland which frequently came to Shetland Islands. The breed is highly responsive to training which made it one of the most successful of all breeds in Obedience trial competitions. The instict to guard property or places and to give watchdog warning makes Shetland Sheepdogs invaluable for work as farm helpers or home protectors.
The Shetland Sheepdog, Sheltie, is descended from the Scottish Rough Collies brought to the Shetland Islands (Scotland) and crossed with the Icelandic Yakkin, a small local dog breed brought over in the boats of fishermen. For centuries these little dogs were used to herd and guard the small sheep flocks of the Shetland Islands off the Scottish coast.
Refinement of the breed took place mainly in the 20th century after the export of Shelties to Scotland. These small shepherds were very gentle when herding the miniature stock, and today it is one of the top obedience competition breeds.
Shelties make excellent watchdogs that will alert you to visitors or anything unusual. They can be easily trained to bark only when necessary.
Their ability to run swiftly and gracefully, and jump with agility over obstacles, makes them a delight in fields and woods as well as in farm work. But the most endearing thing about Shelties is their devoted, docile nature and their keen, almost human-like intelligence and understanding.
Photo courtesy of Sunburst Shelties
Other Names: Sheltie
Utilization: Sheepdog, Companion Dog
Registration FCI Classification: Group 1 Section 1 : Sheepdogs Section 2 : Cattle Dogs (except Swiss Cattle dogs); AKC Classification: Herding Group
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Size: Medium (13-16 inches at the shoulders)
Colors: Sable, tricolor (black/white/tan), black and white, black and tan, blue merle. White markings may appear (except on black and tan) in blaze, collar and chest, frill, legs and tip of tail.
Litter Size: 4-6
Life Span: 9-15 years
Grooming Requirements: Need regular brushing to prevent matting. Occasional trimming is required too.
Personality: Affectionate, intelligent, quick learner, loyal, active, reserved with strangers but never aggressive.
Social skills: Gets along with other animals when properly socialized from puppyhood.
Suitability for Children: Even though Shelties are very good with older children, they are not recommended to families with toddlers since they are so eager to nip at moving objects and are very sensitive to loud voices and sudden moves which may result in defensive biting.
Exercise Needs: Medium-High. Shetland Sheepdogs require daily 60-90 minutes energetic exercise. Otherwise, they become destructive and yappy.
Train Ability: Attentive and eager to learn.
Health & Behavioral Issues: Shetland Sheepdogs have several serious health problems. The most common are PRA (blindness disorder), cataracts and epilepsy.