The Shetland Sheepdog is extremely bright, sensitive and willing to please. This combination makes for a dog that is very obedient, quick to learn and utterly devoted to his family. He is not only gentle, playful, amiable and companionable, but also excellent with children, although he can nip at heels in play. He barks a lot.
Shetland Sheepdog Dog Care
The Sheltie is energetic, but his exercise needs can be met with a good walk, short jog or active game and training session. He is too attached to his family to do well separated from them so the Sheltie should be a house dog. His thick coat needs brushing or combing every other day.
Shetland Sheepdog Dog Health
Major concerns: dermatomyositis
Minor concerns: CEA, PRA, trichiasis, cataract, CHD, hemophilia, Legg - Perthes, patellar luxation
Occasionally seen: PDA, deafness, epilepsy, vWD
Suggested tests: eye, hip, DNA for vWD
Life span: 12-14 years
Note: may be sensitive to ivermectin. Merles should not be bred to merles because homozygous merle is lethal or detrimental to health.
Interested in the history of the Shetland Sheepdog dog breed?
The ancestors of the Shetland Sheepdog were the herding dogs of Scotland that also provided the rootstock for the collie and border collie. Some of these dogs were quite small, measuring only about 18 inches in height. The Shetland sheepdog almost certainly is derived from these early collie type dogs, which then were further developed on the Shetland Islands. Some Iceland dogs may have also played a role, and perhaps even a black and tan King Charles spaniel. The paucity of vegetation favored smaller livestock, and the animals needed to herd them were proportionately smaller. In a land with few fences, an adept herder was essential to keep livestock away from cultivated land. As all-around farm dogs, they herded not only sheep but also ponies and chickens. In some remote areas, it was customary to keep all animals in the family's home building during winter, and the amiable herding dog no doubt worked his way right into the family part of the home. Because of its isolation from the rest of the world, the breed was able to breed true in a comparatively short time. The British naval fleet used to frequent the islands for maneuvers and often bought puppies to take home to England. Early dogs were referred to as 'toonie dogs' (toon being the local Shetland word for farm), but they were initially shown (around 1906) as Shetland Collies. Collie fanciers objected to the name, so it was changed to Shetland Sheepdog. The breed is far more often referred to by its nickname of 'Sheltie' however. In the early years in England, breeders often discreetly crossed Shelties with rough-coated Collies in an attempt to improve on their Collie characteristics. This practice led to oversized Shelties, however, and has long since stopped. Following the immense popularity of the collie, the Sheltie became the answer to the family wanting a loyal, striking pet of smaller size, and is one of the most popular breeds in the world.