Shetland Sheepdog
Puppy Information, Behavior and Training

Can't visualize a Shetland Sheepdog puppy as anything other than a pet? Many people can't but, in fact, these were working dogs long before they became pets!

These dogs were Scottish farmers' best friends, sounding the alarm when strangers approached the property and shooing the crows away from the produce garden.

Additionally, this versatile, all-around farm dog was used for keeping a bunch of stubborn sheep in line.

Thinking about buying a puppy or adopting an adult dog? Want to know if this is the right breed for you or just want to learn more about this breed? I hope this article will help you find the answers to your questions.

Shetland Sheepdog History

Also known as Miniature Collie and Sheltie, at first glance a Shetland Sheepdog may resemble a Collie in miniature. However, while these 2 breeds are somewhat related, the Shetland Sheepdog is not a miniature Collie. It's believed to have been obtained by crossing Border Collies with several smaller breeds, such as the King Charles Spaniel and the Pomeranian, for the purpose of herding the small Shetland sheep.

One of the reasons for developing this breed was smaller than average size of Shetland cattle. With smaller cattle and sheep, a smaller than average herding dog was needed. However, some farmers went an extra mile and started breeding even smaller, miniature Shelties for the purpose of selling them to the visitors touring the Shetland Islands. By the 19th century, the original breed appeared to be on the verge of disappearing; therefore, efforts were made to regain the breed's original look.

Originally named Shetland Collie, this breed's name was then changed to Shetland Sheepdog due to the objections of many Collie fanciers.

The breed was introduced to the United States in 1908. It was then recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1911 and categorized under the herding group. One of the famous owners of this breed was President John Calvin Coolidge.

Nowadays, Shetland Sheepdogs continue to be loyal workers on farms and affectionate companions in the home. Whether you are looking for a relentless worker or a loving pet, a Shetland Sheepdog puppy will impress you with his intelligence, loyalty, willingness to please and athleticism.

Blue Merle Shetland Sheepdog

Breed Profile

Standing between 13 and 16 inches, this breed looks like the miniaturized version of Lassie. But don't be fooled by this breed's small size; this dog is the perfect combination of agility and speed.

The Shetland Sheepdog breed has a body that is moderately long. The muscular, arched neck is carried proudly and blends smoothly into a deep chest. The well-muscled back is level. The long tail is carried low or in a slight upward curve.

The front legs are muscular and straight. The pasterns are flexible and strong as steel. The rear legs boast broad, muscular thighs with clean-cut and angular hocks. The oval feet are compact, with well-arched toes and tough paw pads.

The head denotes an intelligent and inquisitive expression. The eyes are typically dark in color and have almond-shaped rims. Blue or merle eyes are only acceptable in blue merle Shelties. The small ears are flexible, placed high and erect so to capture the faintest sounds. The nose must always be black. The powerful jaws enclose teeth that must meet in a scissor bite.

Blessed with a double coat, these dogs have a dense, furry undercoat and a long, straight outer coat with harsh hair. Males have an impressive mane and frill. Accepted Sheltie colors include black, blue merle and sable with varying amounts of tan and white. White color exceeding 50 percent of the total coat color in a tri-color Sheltie is severely penalized. Brindle coats are grounds for disqualification.

    Height Weight
  Male 13 to 16 inches 12 to 25 pounds
  Female 13 to 16 inches 12 to 25 pounds


This proud and animated breed is a joy to have around. Prancing in a swift, light-footed manner, these dogs are pure expression of grace and athleticism. But if you are considering a Shetland Sheepdog puppy, keep in mind that this breed is not meant to sit in the backyard doing nothing all day!

Shetland Sheepdog Puppy

While a lot of dogs are wary with strangers, this breed is even more so. They may not appreciate being petted by someone they do not know and will use persistent barking to let humans know they want to be left alone. Make sure you providing your Shetland Sheepdog puppy with loads of early socialization training.

On the other hand, alert of their surroundings and prone to barking, Sheltie puppies grow into wonderful watchdogs.

With a sweet-natured temperament, you can expect your Shetland Sheepdog puppy to be the ideal companion for older children who know how to treat dogs with respect. Small children, though, may easily overwhelm these dogs that are very sensitive to loud noises, erratic movements and boisterous play.

Shetland Sheepdog training should revolve around positive reinforcement training methods. Scolding, jerking on the leash or using other harsh training methods may cause your Shetland Sheepdog puppy to lose trust in you. Clicker training, praise and rewards work wonders for this sensitive breed.

Best Owner and Living Conditions

The best owner is a calm, kind person who understands this breed's needs. Ideally, the owner should be home most of the time. A Shetland Sheepdog puppy can easily become unhappy when left alone for too long and too frequently. At times, this can lead to neurotic behaviors that may grow into full-blown cases of separation anxiety, a behavioral problem that may require the intervention of a professional.

This breed will do best in a country home with some acreage and lots of space to romp around. If you don't own a farm, you can still keep your Shetland Sheepdog puppy happy in an apartment as long as you can channel this breed's energy and prevent excessive barking.

Forget about putting your Shetland Sheepdog puppy or an adult dog out in the yard and leaving him there all day; this breed craves human companionship and will bark or engage in other destructive behaviors to vent its frustration.

Two Sheltie Dogs

Activity and Exercise

These dogs can be a handful when it comes to exercise and mental stimulation. In order to be happy and well-adjusted, these dogs require at least two walks a day and "mental exercise" in the form of interactive toys and fun, challenging games.

You may also provide them with additional outlets for pent-up energy through sports such as dog agility, Flyball, advanced obedience, herding or tracking.

Sheltie Grooming

This breed was blessed with a lovely feathered coat that comes in many appealing colors. However, that pretty coat comes at a price - these dogs are heavy shedders. Be especially prepared in the spring and fall when this breed blows its coat, leaving stray hairs just about everywhere imaginable.

When not shedding, brush once or twice a week. Brush more often during shedding periods. Before you brush, mist the coat with water and be prepared to brush for at least 1/2 hour. Because heavy shedding removes most of the dirt, bathe only when necessary.

Health Concerns

This is not one of the healthiest breeds around. Epilepsy, joint problems, bleeding disorders, heart disease, eye diseases and endocrine system disorders are just some of the known problems in this breed.

Visit dog health problems to learn more about dog diseases and health care.

To reduce health and temperamental concerns, make sure you purchase your puppy from reputable Shetland Sheepdog breeders.

Even healthy dogs get sick. While many health problems will require an immediate attention from your Vet, there are many others that you may handle on your own. Learn how to save time and money (and how to prevent small problems from becoming big problems) by diagnosing and treating dog health problems that don't require your Vet's attention.

Life Expectancy

The average life expectancy is 10 to 14 years.

Three Sheltie Puppies

Final Thoughts...

Ask any Sheltie breeders or owners about this breed and the majority will brag about the intelligence and overall peaceful disposition of their puppies and dogs. If you are considering a Shetland Sheepdog puppy, consider the fact that this breed thrives in a home where it's provided with companionship, loads of playtime and training. If you can provide your Shetland Sheepdog puppy all of that, he'll turn out being your best friend.

Did you ever consider adopting your next pet?

If this is the breed you are interested in, and adoption appeals to you, consider contacting your local Shetland Sheepdog rescue and adoption center. There are thousands of pets waiting for a loving home and, yes, it's possible to adopt a purebred dog.

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