Sheltie Planet

All About Shetland Sheepdogs

Here are our articles on the Sheltie temperament, appearance, breed history, coat colors and more. You can learn about how Shetland Sheepdogs rank for intelligence and popularity, plus fun tidbits on unusual traits like the Sheltie singing voice!

Typically standing at 13-16 inches (33-41cm) at the shoulder and weighing 15-25 pounds (7-11kg), Shelties are a small to medium dog breed with a moderate need for exercise.

Unlike many herding dogs, they don't have a bottomless fuel tank. They're content living in a city apartment or a country house, as long as they get active exercise for at least 30-60 minutes every day.


10 Things I Love About Shelties

The Sheltie leads the pack among small breeds for their intelligence and downright fluffiness. Here we share what we think makes Shetland Sheepdogs special to us.

As the world's 6th most intelligent dog breed, Shetland Sheepdogs have a lot going on in the brains department. They have exceptional alarm dog and agility skills thanks to their working dog history. They can learn new commands in as little as five repetitions and have the capacity to learn hundreds of spoken words.

Naturally, the Sheltie is very curious to explore the world around him and has lots of mental energy to expend. While many small dog breeds have a bad reputation for being yappy (sorry little guys, we still love you!) the brains of the Sheltie make him easy to love... [continue reading 10 Things I Love About Shelties]


The History of The Sheltie Breed

We all know that Shetland Sheepdogs come from the Shetland Islands of Scotland. But the complete Sheltie history is lesser known and makes for an intriguing story.

The most likely explanation of the Sheltie's origins is a Scandinavian herding dog, perhaps a Spitz breed similar to the modern Icelandic Sheepdog. Their thick double coats made them well equipped to deal with harsh winters and they were excellent working dog candidates for the islands of Scotland.

Once imported into the Shetland Islands in the 1700s, the Scandinavian Spitz breed was extensively crossed with mainland working collies. These included the Border Collie and Rough Collie, along with other breeds like the now extinct Greenland Yakki, the King Charles Spaniel and the Pomeranian... [continue reading The History of The Sheltie Breed]


The 8 Sheltie Coat Colors

The Sheltie colors come in three broad strokes: Sable, Black and Blue Merle, which are made up of varying amounts of tan, mahogany, black, gray and white fur. The result? Many beautiful coat types officially known as Sable, Tri Color, Bi Black, Blue Merle and Bi Blue.

Is your head spinning yet? The color variations can get complicated so I've broken them all down here. My goal today is to give you a good insight into the overall appearance, breed standard, and genetics of the Shetland Sheepdog coat colors... [continue reading The 8 Sheltie Coat Colors]


Miniature Shelties

Do Miniature Shelties exist? Sure, if what you're talking about is an undersize Shetland Sheepdog (which stand 13-16 inches tall). However, minis aren't recognized by the American Kennel Club. Which is why many breeders frown upon deliberately breeding toy Shelties.

Others see it differently. Breeders of miniature Shelties point out that the AKC does recognize Miniature and Toy Poodles. They would like to see Miniature Shetland Sheepdogs added to the official dog breeds list, so that they can compete in conformation trials and breed champions.

This means that you can still buy miniature Sheltie puppies as pets, but you'll have a hard time finding a breeder. You're also more likely to run into illegal puppy mills, whose trade is based on novelty dogs including Sheltie mixes, miniatures, and designer dogs... [continue reading The Story of Miniature Shelties]


The Sheltie FAQ

Here you'll find TONS of questions and answers about Shelties. Questions like: How often should I groom my Sheltie? What should I feed him? Should I keep multiple Shelties? Should I spay/neuter? How much do Shelties bark? Our Sheltie FAQ covers all the common questions about raising a Sheltie and giving her a healthy, happy life... [continue reading The Sheltie FAQ]


The Sheltie Smile

Is your Shetland Sheepdog smiling at you? What's going on when they seem to grin? Are our dogs actually happy or are we just anthropomorphizing them?

Dog experts say they are smiling, but not for the reason we think. In the wild, wolves smile to indicate submission. In the same vein, dogs instinctively interpret this grin as sign of submission. It says this particular dog isn't a threat. If you think about it, the social smile is what we humans often do too!

Confident, alpha dogs rarely smile. They have no desire to show their submission to anyone. And since Shelties are usually gentle, submissive dogs, you're more likely to see them submit with a Sheltie smile.

The exception to this rule is when dogs appear to laugh with their upper teeth bared. This is not at all submissive, but is a sign of aggression. If you see a dog making this face (including dear sweet Shelties) than back off quick... [continue reading The Sheltie Smile]


Hear Our Shelties Talk

What I call "Sheltie talk" is just about any noise a Sheltie makes that isn't a bark or a whine. It is, without question, completely adorable.

Shetland Sheepdogs have a reputation for barking to alert their owners to potential intruders. This innate habit is why they make excellent alarm dogs. But they can also be trained to be obedient, quieter dogs, or just give a few short warning barks instead.

However, besides barking, Shelties also engage in a lot of hilarious dog talk. They can make strange and beautiful vocalisations that to us sound like they are singing. Most other dog breeds seem just too quiet in comparison!

Piper is a real Sheltie talker. Here's montage of the moments I caught on camera today. He loves to give a deep, guttural bellow which turns into a yelp when he yawns... [continue reading Hear Our Shelties Talk]


Your Sheltie Tales

Today I'm shoving Howard's furry little butt out of the limelight to share some of your most heart-warming Sheltie photos and stories. (Don't worry about Howard, he's busy eating a shoe.)

Here are your Sheltie tales: how-we-met stories, happy adventures, and tributes to Shelties past. By sharing these reader stories we hope to memorialize your treasured pets and reveal the beautiful nature of these sweet companion dogs... [continue reading Your Sheltie Tales]


Why Do Shelties Sleep on Their Backs?

Shelties have an amusing trait of sleeping on their backs, legs akimbo. It's not a unique trait to the breed but they do look extra hilarious with all the fur sticking up.

In dog psychology, this position is submissive. It shows they are feeling safe and secure by allowing their vulnerable body parts (chest, throat, stomach) open to attack. This is still an important instinct for dogs who, although domesticated, still maintain many of their wild instincts at the gut level.

Recently I asked Sheltie Planet readers to submit their Shelties sleeping on their backs and looking oh-so-relaxed... [continue reading Why Do Shelties Sleep on Their Backs?]


Are Shelties Barkers?

A lot of potential Sheltie owners want to know: are Shelties barkers? It's a reasonable question to ask. If you're not geared up for the Sheltie lifestyle, it can be a real surprise when you realize you're already living with it.

Left unchecked, a Sheltie's barking can drive you crazy - not to mention being disruptive to your sleeping baby, your work-at-home husband, or your frazzled neighbors... I'm talking from personal experience here.

Some dogs breeds and mixes are virtually silent by comparison. Shelties are so involved with the family and the day-to-day comings and goings, that they feel the deep urge to chime in when anything remotely interesting happens... [continue reading Are Shelties Barkers?]


53 Ridiculously Cute Sheltie Antics

Have you ever seen a giant ball of fluff run around the living room seventeen times? How about a ball of fluff that rolls on his back, waggles all four limbs in the air, then flops back over with long ear-fur hanging over his face, grinning at you with sparkling eyes? Then you've never met a Sheltie.

When it comes to the Shetland Sheepdog personality, quirky doesn't even cover it. I asked our Sheltie Planet readers: what's the cutest or most ridiculous thing your Sheltie has done recently? Here are the hilarious responses... [continue reading Shelties Being Ridiculous]


Cute Quotes About Dogs

"The better I get to know men, the more I find myself loving dogs." – Charles de Gaulle.

"I have caught more ills from people sneezing over me and giving me virus infections than from kissing dogs." – Barbara Woodhouse.

"Dogs have a way of finding the people who need them, and filling an emptiness we didn’t ever know we had." – Thom Jones.

"No one appreciates the very special genius of your conversation as much as the dog does." – Christopher Morley.

"Such short little lives our pets have to spend with us, and they spend most of it watching for us to come home each day." – John Grogan.

"Life is a series of dogs." – George Carlin

[Continue reading Awesome Dog Quotes]


The Shetland Sheepdog Breed Standard

There are very slight variations in the Sheltie Standards of the American Kennel Club and the English Shetland Sheepdog Club and most Shelties would have some issues competing in the other's show ring. But ultimately all breeding lines are from the same original stock of the early 20th century.

Shelties trace their ancestry back to the Shetland Islands of Scotland, where their Collie genes were crossed with small, intelligent, long-haired breeds. This reduced the herding breed then known as Toonies to miniature proportions.

However, the breed has become a lot more refined over the years and in 1959 the American Kennel Club (AKC) created a new Standard. They agreed that Shelties should be small, alert, rough-coated and long-haired. They should also be sound, agile and sturdy. Dogs should appear masculine and bitches feminine... [continue reading The Shetland Sheepdog Breed Standard]


Why Do We Have Dog Breed Standards?

In this guest article, Charlotte Hulett of Sunridge Shelties in Missouri considers the breed Standard after breeding Shelties professionally for 50 years. She offers comparisons of US and English Champions as well as five excellent reasons why we should endeavor to breed Shelties correctly... [continue reading Why Do We Have Dog Breed Standards?]


The Top 10 Most Popular Dog Breeds

The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes 190 dog breeds, each boasting unique qualities to their appearance and temperament. Surveys found that while the average person can identify only about 10% of dog breeds, dog lovers may still only recognize around 25%.

This goes to show that as a population, we tend to favor only a few dozen particular dog breeds as pets, out of all the varied and unusual breeds out there. Here our top 10 lists of the most popular dog breeds in America, ranked by the number of dog registrations with the AKC... [continue reading The Top 10 Most Popular Dog Breeds]


The Top 10 Most Intelligent Dog Breeds

Before we dive in, it's useful to recognize that, like people, dogs are intelligent in different ways. A breed with an acute and well­honed ability to work will be quick to learn how to do its job. Other breeds may be so eager to please that they're attentive and highly trainable.

But intelligence alone doesn't make a good pet. You have to be willing to put in the work to channel your dog's natural smarts. Left untrained and without a "job" to do, an intelligent dog can become a neurotic mess. That said, here are the top 10 most intelligent dog breeds in the world today... [continue reading The Top 10 Most Intelligent Dog Breeds]


The Sheltie Family Tree

Our Sheltie history revealed that the Sheltie family tree includes many Collie breeds. So there is a good reason why they resemble Rough Collies.

Collies are medium sized herding dogs originally from Britain. They generally have a lightweight build (underneath a lot of fur) and pointed snouts. They are active, intelligent and agile, ideal for herding cattle, sheep and other livestock.

Nowadays, many Collie dogs are bred for conformation showing and as pets, which has reduced their working dog instincts and produced a more subdued temperament. Members of the extensive Collie and Sheltie family include... [continue reading The Sheltie Family Tree]


Author Bio

Becky Casale is a writer and science student. She has two Sheltie babies and two human babies who all smell like popcorn. See her Pet Owner's Guide to Shelties and her illustrated blog Science Me.


The Pet Owner's Guide to Shelties by Becky Casale