The Shetland sheepdog originated on the bleak wind blown Shetland Islands off the coast of Scotland. The breed were originally known as "toonies" and first began to be developed in the early 1800s when it was found that a small dog suited to herding sheep on the rough terrain was needed.
In fact many aspects of this herding instinct still remain in the modern day Sheltie. The shepherd required absolute obedience so the dog was taught to follow the commands of its master. Even now the Shetland sheepdog will stay close to its owner, following them about the house and remaining only a few feet away. This heeling trait is especially useful if the dog slips its collar while out as it will usually return to its owner when called. One of the greatest benefits of this breed of dog is that they're very easy to control.
Shelties fit into new and unfamiliar situations with the minimum of fuss. They don't initiate fights with other dogs although they will defend their owners if they think the need arises. In fact they have been known to perform heroic acts including rescues. They need very little extra attention and will happily fit into a suburban situation although they do require a space in which to exercise safely. Although they can receive enough of this inside (where they'll be busily supervising the household) it will still be necessary for the dog to have a couple of breaks outside during the day.
With its strong constitution the Shetland sheepdog can endure cold temperatures although their sleeping area should be free of draughts. In fact with their adaptable nature they can be trained to sleep anywhere whether it is in their own kennel or at the foot of your bed. Although they can live outside quite happily they much prefer living inside the house as an accepted member of the family.
Obedience training is extremely easy with this breed as they're intelligent and only wish to please their owner. A firm "no" when they do something wrong is often all that is required to correct a behavioural problem. It is simple to teach them tricks as these are just an extension of the Sheltie's natural abilities. They can learn to fetch and catch balls etc as long as you pat them and make a great fuss of them when they perform a task correctly.
Although Shetland sheepdogs can be inclined to be yappy shouting at them or clapping your hands loudly when they get carried away can curb barking. However if the dog feels that there is a genuine threat to the family then he will continue barking until the situation is resolved. They do not usually bark when left at home alone.
At a height of only 13-16 inches at the shoulder the Sheltie is small and sturdy. Their coat consists of an outer layer of harsher straight hair and a softer undercoat. The forelegs should be feathered and the hind legs smooth beneath the hock. The tail should be busy and full. There are three main colors: black, Blue Merle and Sable (which ranges in shade from golden to a rich brown). The coat does require regular brushing to keep it in good order but the dog will only need bathing twice a year if that.
Compared to the larger collie breeds the Sheltie has much finer features. The head is dainty and tapering with almond shaped eyes, and ears that tip forward at the ends. The expression should always be alert, gentle and slightly questioning.
In nature Shetland sheepdogs are loyal and affectionate although they do have a tendency to be reserved with strangers. They're very patient and gentle with children and also ideal for the elderly who don't want to be overpowered with an oversized canine. Suited to both country and town living this breed would be high on the list of dogs that would make an ideal pet.
Think Lassie, but about half the size, and you have a Shetland Sheepdog, more commonly called a Sheltie. You may also hear them referred to as a miniature collie, for the simple fact they do look like a miniature Lassie. The Sheltie is a breed of its own however, and has endeared itself to dog owners around the world. Shetland Sheepdogs originate from the Shetland Islands, as do Shetland ponies and Shetland sheep. It is a hardy dog, with a dense coat, quick movement, and intelligent thinking. While at one time used for herding, it has found its way into the hearts of dog owners for its quick learning, easy going temperament, and small size.
Shetland sheepdogs are often used in agility and flyball, two sports in the dog world. Agility is like an obstacle course, but for dogs. Shelties and border collies dominate the sport, generally speaking, because of their quick movement and because they are easily trained and very intelligent. Flyball has several jumps set up in a straight line, one for each of two teams, with a box at one end where the dog grabs a tennis ball before returning with it to the owner. As soon as one dog crosses a specified line, the next dog dashes off, and the first team with all dogs and tennis balls back wins. Again, Shetland sheepdogs and border collies excel in this sport. Shelties do require some exercise to burn off the energy, but most are thrilled to play fetch with a tennis ball in the back yard. They are one of the most intelligent breeds, and learn quickly both basic and more difficult commands. They enjoy pleasing, and are often seen with a "Sheltie smile," that tells you every single thing in their world is going just fine.
Shetland sheepdogs come in various colors, the most common being sable, tri-colored, and merle. Within these colors, along with others not listed, is a wide range of "sub-colors" so to speak. Sable is not just sable. Sable can be golden sable, which is a light coloring, to "mahogany sable," which is a dark red coloring. Merles can be blue merle and sable merle, and so many other options can be seen as well. There is certain to be a color for anyone's tastes. They typically stand thirteen to sixteen inches tall at the shoulder, and weigh twenty to twenty-five pounds. However, some shelties weigh a few pounds less, or a few pounds more. Genetics plays the main role in determining adult size, just as it does in humans.
Shelties can be vocal dogs on occasion, but they have an easygoing temperament and get along well with children and other dogs, though they can be reserved with strangers. They usually make great apartment dogs with the proper amount of exercise and grooming. They do shed, usually having two main shedding periods a year. With proper grooming, this should not be a significant problem for anyone.
The main health concerns with shelties pertain to their eyes. They can suffer from collie eye anomaly (CEA) along with a few other diseases. Be sure to research these before purchasing a puppy, and ask the breeder or rescue about them.
Shetland sheepdogs are absolutely fantastic dogs. They are very loving, and very people friendly. They adore spending time with their humans, and make fantastic pets, and friends, for anyone willing to devote the time required to care for them.
Shetland Sheepdog Description
It has a rough external coat with a smooth undercoat. The Shetland Sheepdog has a mane that has been likened to a lion, and the acceptable coat colors for these dogs are sable, blue/merle, black, or white and tan. The legs of this breed should be covered with fur, and the tail must extend to the hock. The fur on the face of these dogs should be fine. The eyes should be shaped like almonds, and the color of the eyes is dependent on the coat.
These dogs make great companions. They are calm and well mannered and are extremely intelligent. Studies have consistently shown that the Shetland Sheepdog is one of the most intelligent dog breeds in the world. They are easy to train and are quick to obey the commands that are given to them by their masters. The Shetland Sheepdog has a high level of intelligence that has often been compared to humans. While they are loving to their families, they are cautious of any strangers they encounter. This breed is known for being both a good watchdog and a good guard dog. They are one of the most well-balanced breeds in the world.
These dogs have a tendency to develop conditions that affect their eyes. It is important for owners to make sure the eyes of these dogs are analyzed while they are puppies. In addition to this, some Shetland Sheepdogs may have problems with their kneecaps. Like the Collie, these dogs have become popular. This breed has a maximum life expectancy of 15 years. They should not be overfed.
These dogs need large amounts of exercise, and they should only be purchased by people who can give it to them. They will exercise best when they are allowed to run free in a wide-open area that is secure. While they can live in apartments, it is important for owners to make sure they are taken for extended walks.
Special Grooming Needs
The coat of the Shetland Sheepdog does not require large amounts of maintenance. The coat should be brushed regularly, and it is important to make sure the mats are removed. The Shetland Terrier will shed extensive amounts of fur each year. These dogs should only be bathed when they need it.