Affectionate, Alert, Gentle, Intelligent, Lively, Playful, Responsive
The Shetland Sheepdog, also known by its nickname “Sheltie,” originated from the Shetland Islands off the north coast of Scotland. The exact breed origin is not known but unlike many miniature breeds that resemble their bigger counterparts, the Sheltie was not developed by selective breeding in order to reduce its size but rather, it is the result of several centuries of the intermingling of the same Scottish herding stock that produced the Collie and Border Collie with other herding breeds including the Yakki (Greenland whaler dog), the black and tan King Charles terrier and the Icelandic sheepdog. The result is the small herding dog that we know today, perfect for herding the small livestock on the islands. The breed was brought to England before the onset of the First World War by British sailors who called them “toonie dogs” (toonie is the local word for farm.) It was first exhibited in England in 1906 as the Shetland Collie but was changed later on to Shetland sheepdog and was officially recognized in 1909. Because of its benevolent character, the Shetland sheepdog has become one of today’s favourite companion dogs, although still lacking behind the more famous Border Collie.
The Shetland sheepdog is a gentle, loyal and friendly breed. Its strong herding instinct may manifest at nipping at heels during play. It may also have a tendency to excessive barking, which on the other hand, are traits that make a good watchdog. Its natural willingness to please and obey makes it a highly trainable breed.
Shelties love training sessions as well as all other dog activities. They are enthusiastic and and intelligent breed who respond very well to reward based training methods. Shelties are a little bit on the sensitive side harsh training techniques such as force correction punishment will only do bad.
The Sheltie is a very clean breed and should only be brushed once or twice a week preferably with an undercoat rake to remove loose or dead hairs and to prevent mats from forming behind the ears, under the elbow on the forelegs and in the fur on the back legs. This breed sheds twice a year, usually during spring and fall and will require a lot more attention than usual during this time.
The Shetland Sheepdog has an average lifespan between 12 to 15 years. Similar to the Rough Collie, the Sheltie is prone to some hereditary diseases of the eyes (particularly Collie eye anomaly and progressive retinal atrophy) while some lines may be prone to hypothyroidism, epilepsy, hip dysplasia or skin allergies.
Foods with a blend of lamb, fish, potato and barley are an ideal diet for the Shetland sheepdog.
The Shetland sheepdog is quite an active dog both in and out of the house and requires moderate amounts of exercise. A short walk or jog, a session of play in an open area or just a free time in the yard will give this breed the physical stimulation that it needs. It is a family-oriented breed and will do best with a family that will be able to give the dog a lot of attention. It is a highly adaptable breed and will do just fine living in an apartment dwelling as it is in a house with a yard, provided of course, that it is given the right amount of nutrients and exercise.
It is very submissive and has a playful character which makes it an excellent pet for a family with children. It is generally good with other dogs, cats and other household animals. However, this breed is cautious of strangers and does not appreciate being petted by anyone it does not know.