The Shetland Sheepdog breed – or Sheltie as they’re very often called – is a fabulous, active, bright, very smart little dog. They’re fantastic with children, they don’t have any aggression, and they make super pets. They fit easily into the car. They’re always pleased to see you, and they just are a fantastic breed. Shetland Sheepdogs are one of the most popular of the herding breeds. You have to remember they do have a herding past, but that does make them very trainable. So they’re a very biddable dog. They do very well in obedience and agility. The sky’s the limit with a Sheltie. They can do anything. They’re not going to jump as high as the bigger Border Collies, but they’re certainly going to do it with as much pizzazz.
Shetland Sheepdogs are fantastic to live in a flat because they’re small and manageable. But they also, if they live in the country, they can go with a horse all day. They’re so adaptable. Sometimes they can be a little bit shy with strangers. So if we got one in, we’d look to re-home it in a quieter household, where there weren’t too many people coming and going. Lovely companions. On the Shetland Islands, where they are few and far between the houses, the dog would get to know its own family and so it would be a bit suspicious of anybody that approached their property. That’s why they’re a little bit reserved towards strangers. They make excellent house dogs. Because of their slight reserve, they’ll let you know if there’s anyone around that shouldn’t be.
An average, healthy, fit Sheltie dog needs a good hour of running – I don’t mean jogging with the family – I mean out in the fields having a good run. If you can’t do that, they’re happy to go on the lead, but if you wanted them to go on a marathon – they’d go with you. Because they’re hardy, they’re very – like the Shetland pony – anything that lives in that kind of climate has to be hardy.
There has been some timidity in some of the (breed) lines. So you need to think about checking with the breeder because they can be quite a noise-sensitive. And because of that, you need to start your socialization program very early on. Get them used to live. Get them used to loud noises. Make all of that a game, make it a very positive experience. The big thing is the door. If anyone comes to the door and you say “ooh – there’s someone at the door” – and you rush to the door – and the door thinks it must be something quite exciting – I’ll bark. If you don’t stop them when they do that, they can be a bit naughty. I always tell people if they buy a puppy that they’ve got to stop that before it starts.
Shetland Sheepdog breed is a lovely looking dog – with its long flowing coat. With that coat, there needs to be somebody with the time to groom them to keep on top of it. The coat is a double-coat. The coat is a double-coat. It’s got a soft undercoat which protects it from the weather, and its’ got a long topcoat which is harsh and so if it rains, the topcoat will collect the rain and won’t wet the skin. I think a Sheltie needs a good groom down to the skin once a week. But quick flick over with the brush two or three days maybe. And of course, if they’ve been out for a walk and they get dirty, and they need a bit of clean, but they – don’t have a coat that knots up or mats up.
They can have an eye condition called Collie Eye Anomaly. Any good breeder always tests for Collie Eye. And if you’re buying a Sheltie puppy, you should ask if they tested and you should see the evidence. We don’t have hip dysplasia; it’s not something that is a problem in the breed because they’re a small breed. We have heard of Shelties with hip dysplasia, but it happens if they’re overweight. But it’s not something that the breed has a problem with, and we’re very lucky we don’t have a list of hereditary diseases.
I like to see them with a family – you know, Mum and Dad and two or three children, because they get so much pleasure from the dog. They give you so much pleasure, Shelties.
Developed in Shetland Islands of Scotland
Females 33 to 41 cm, male 33 to 41 cm
1 Hour daily
12 – 15 years
The average house, flat if exercise available
Twice a week
Long (double coat)