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Shetland Sheepdog: A Fine Family Pet

This breed is charming, loyal and affectionate, and great for both experienced or inexperienced new pet owners.

May 24, 2018 3 min read
Shetland Sheepdog: A Fine Family Pet

The Shetland Sheepdog is a charming, affectionate, and loyal dog, and makes a fine family pet or companion for both experienced and inexperienced dog owners.


Bred from larger farm collies, the Shetland Sheepdog originates from the Shetland Islands. They were introduced in mainland England shortly before the First World War. They have a history that is thought to go back well over a century, and the breed was registered with the American Kennel Club in 1911.


The Shetland Sheepdog resembles a Rough Collie, but is much smaller in size. These small-to-medium sized dogs have a sturdy build, a very sweet face, and an intelligent expression. Shetland's have a long, straight outer coat that is harsh to the touch, with a softer, close fitting undercoat. The coloring of the Shetland Sheepdog includes sable, blue merle, and black, with white or tan markings; some may be tri-colored. The height of the Shetland Sheepdog is around 13-16 inches, and these dogs weigh in at around 15-25 pounds.


The Shetland Sheepdog thrives on the companionship and affection of his owners, and is not the right choice for those with little time for a pet, as he can become destructive if neglected. This is a beautiful, sweet-natured dog with a highly sociable attitude who enjoys plenty of interaction and affection. Shetland Sheepdogs are responsive and intelligent creatures that are very easy to train. In fact, this breed is one of the most trainable of all dog breeds. The Shetland Sheepdog, commonly referred to as a "Sheltie" is enthusiastic and very in tune with their owner; always eager to please and extremely responsive. Early socialization and consistent training is recommended to promote a stable, sociable, and well-balanced temperament, as some Shelties can be reserved and shy. This breed can be startled easily and does not like to be teased.

These dogs are best around gentler or older children, and will usually get along fine with other animals. They can be shy and reserved around strangers. The Sheltie needs a stable environment to live in, and does not like loud noises or tense atmospheres. Shetland Sheepdogs are a sensitive breed, and need to be part of a loving, close family.

Shelties can bark a fair amount when excited, and due to their herding instincts may try and herd people and other animals into groups through nipping, but this is not done aggressively. This breed needs a fair amount of exercise, and should have a safe, secure area to play and run around in when not on a leash.

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Known Health Issues and Life Expectancy

There are a number of health problems to look out for with this breed including:

  • Epilepsy
  • vWD - Von Willebrand's disease, a type of hemophilia (bleeding disorder) in dogs caused by a lack of a specific blood clotting factor.
  • Thyroid problems
  • Luxating patella - a common knee problem and cause of lameness in dogs
  • PRA - Progressive Retinal Atrophy is a genetic, non-painful, inherited disease of the retina which occurs in both eyes simultaneously which causes eventual blindness. There is no cure.
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Seizures
  • Heart problems

The parents of the Shetland Sheepdog puppy should have OFA and CERF certificates.

The life expectancy of the Shetland Sheepdog is around 12-14 years.


The Shetland Sheepdog is a relatively low maintenance dog, which is ideal for those with little time to spend on grooming. You can brush his coat around twice a week to keep it in good condition, although you will need to increase this at times when he is shedding more heavily. He is a medium shedder, and sheds more heavily on a seasonal basis, so he is not the best choice for those suffering from allergies.

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