About Shetland Sheepdogs
Discover the Sheltie temperament, appearance, trainability, family tree and more. Learn how Shetland Sheepdogs rank among other breeds and discover personality traits unique to Shelties.
The Shetland Sheepdog is an intelligent, sensitive and affectionate dog breed. Shelties are family-oriented dogs, making them very loyal to their human pack. They are also great with kids if you socialize them early and they make excellent lap dogs.
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 some herding dogs, they don't need to run around all day long. They are perfectly happy living in a city apartment or a country house, as long as they get active exercise for at least 30-60 minutes every day.
The Sheltie dog leads the pack among small breeds for their intelligence and downright fluffiness. Of course, we love to meet all types of dogs and having two Shetland Sheepdogs as pets, we may be a little bit biased. Nevertheless, today we're going to 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 watchdog 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 dog 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 snappy and yappy (sorry little guys, we still love you!) the brains of the Sheltie dog make him easy to love... [continue reading 10 Things I Love About Shelties]
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 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.
The Sable coat is the classic Shetland Sheepdog look, with Sable coats ranging from golden to mahogany. As you can see in the mahogany example, the tan color can be overlaid with flashes of black. Traditional golden Sables might have no black at all. Sable Shelties feature patches of white around the neck, chest, legs and toes in what's called an "Irish" pattern, common to all the Sheltie coats... [continue reading The 8 Sheltie Coat Colors]
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.
All this means that you can still buy miniature Sheltie puppies as pets, but you'll have a harder time finding a dedicated breeder. You're also more likely to run into an illegal puppy mill, whose trade is based on novelty dogs. These include Sheltie mixes, miniatures and so-called designer dogs... [continue reading The Story of Miniature Shelties]
How often should I groom my Sheltie? How often should I bathe my Sheltie? How do I clean my Sheltie's teeth? What should I feed my Sheltie? Should I teach my Sheltie to swim? Should I keep multiple Shelties? Should I spay/neuter my Sheltie? Should I breed my Sheltie? Do Shelties get along with children? How much do Shelties bark? Do Shelties have any genetic health problems? How long do Shelties live for? How do I rescue a Sheltie dog? Where can I get a Sheltie puppy? What is the best way to housebreak a puppy? What is the best dog training method for Shelties? What is puppy socialization? How much exercise does a Sheltie need? What are Sheltie personalities like? How smart are Shelties? [continue reading The Sheltie FAQ]
Many dogs appear to smile. It's an endearing trait that's not unique to Shetland Sheepdogs. But what's going on when they appear to grin at us? Are our dogs actually happy or are we just anthropomorphizing them?
The experts say they are smiling, but not for the reason we imagine. Apparently, wolves appear to smile to indicate submission to another wolf. Equally, dogs instinctively interpret this grin as sign of submission; telling them that this particular dog isn't a threat to them. So it makes sense that 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]
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 watchdogs. But they can also be trained to be obedient, quieter dogs or just give a few short warning barks instead.
However, besides watchdog barking, Shelties also engage in a lot of hilarious dog talk. They can make strange and beautiful noises that to us sound like they are singing. In fact, 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]
These are your Sheltie tales - from cute anecdotes to life stories of Shelties past. Learn about the beautiful nature of these sweet companion dogs.
Sandy was 10 years old when she came to bless our family. Her gait was sprightly and so was her spirit. If left to her own devices she could drag the toilet paper from the roll through the entire house - or until the paper tore, whichever came first. If the roll was empty, she would munch on the edges of the extra rolls kept in a basket.
Packing a sandwich for lunch took extra precautions because she could find a sandwich in your purse or briefcase in seconds. Fresh bread was her passion and more than once she managed to get a fresh baguette from the bakery down from the kitchen counter and devour it all by herself... [continue reading Your Sheltie Tales]
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?]
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?]
Have you ever seen a giant ball of fluff dart around the living room three times. Then toll on his back waggling all four limbs in the air. Then do a long yawn that turns into a song. Then roll over with long ear-fur flopped over his face, grinning at you and panting 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 thing your Sheltie has done recently? Here are the hilarious responses... [continue reading 53 Ridiculously Cute Sheltie Antics]
"I have caught more ills from people sneezing over me and giving me virus infections than from kissing dogs." – Barbara Woodhouse. "The better I get to know men, the more I find myself loving dogs." – Charles de Gaulle. "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 Cute Quotes About Dogs]
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]
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.
Over to Charlotte: I have recently had long discussions with a couple of other long time Sheltie breeders regarding what is required to breed to The Standard. It is interesting that even among long time breeders, opinions can differ on what exactly constitutes a breeding that is made in accordance with The Breed Standard.
Ever since I learned that there was something called The Breed Standard, I have endeavored to use it as my guide. My original reason for doing that was quite simple; like many others, I was raised with the admonition: If you're going to do it, do it right... [continue reading Why Breed to The Standard?]
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]
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]
Our Sheltie history revealed that the Sheltie family tree includes many Collie breeds. Farmers began importing Scandinavian herding dogs to the Shetland Islands in the 1700s, when the first crosses with mainland Collies were made. Later crosses in the early 20th century developed the Toonie dogs into the modern Shetland Sheepdog we know today.
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 / Sheltie family include... [continue reading The Sheltie Family Tree]