Shelties: Working Dogs from the Shetland Islands

More properly known the Shetland Sheepdog, the Sheltie is a working dog that can trace its lineage to Scotland’s Border Collie. When the Border Collie was taken to the Shetland Islands and crossed with smaller, longhaired breeds, as well as with Collies, the result was the Sheltie dog. It served as a farming helper, herding flocks and guarding homes.

The Sheltie’s rough, long outer coat comes in merle or sable colors, often marked with white and/or tan. The undercoat is dense, short and furry. The coat can form a mane-like appearance around the neck and chest. The Sheltie also possesses a long, furry tail. The breed’s double coat requires regular brushing and grooming to keep it from matting. The coat readily sheds dirt and mud, and therefore, frequent bathing is not necessary.

Shelties are known for their devotion and docility. However, they can be barkers and may even try to herd members of their human family. They are often wary of strangers. This, combined with their frequency of barking, helps make them good watchdogs but doesn’t necessarily make fans of neighbors.

sheltie shetland sheepdogThe breed’s trainability, intelligence, and eagerness to please, make it an excellent competitor in obedience trials. It also excels in agility, herding and conformation.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the breed in 1911; England recognized the Sheltie two years previous. The Sheltie dog is a member of the Herding Group.

A miniature version of the Rough-coated Collie, the Sheltie stands 13 to 16 inches (33 to 40.6 cm) tall and weighs 14 to 27 pounds (6.4 to 12.3 kg).

Although the dog’s small size allows it to adapt to various living arrangements, the Sheltie’s energy level requires an owner to provide the dog with regular exercise. Because of its herding instinct, this breed can be prone to chasing cars, therefore, a Sheltie must be trained not to do so at a young age. It’s not wise to have a Sheltie live near a roadway without providing a secure, fenced yard.

A Sheltie’s expression is considered alert, intelligent and questioning toward its owners and watchful and reserved of strangers.

The Shetland Sheepdog, or Sheltie, is an intelligent, affectionate and energetic little dog that enjoys the companionship of their human. It is a popular pet not only for its dedication, but also for its instinct as a watchdog. A Sheltie dog can live 12 to 15 years. Paired with a kind person who will provide regular exercise and mind challenges like agility and obedience competition, this little working dog offers years of loyalty and fun!

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