Shetland Sheepdog Breed Caring and Family, Social Life, Physical Traits, Diet Info

Shetland Sheepdog Breed Caring and Family, Social Life, Physical Traits, Diet Info

The Shetland Sheepdog, also known as the Sheltie, looks like a smaller version of a Collie, which some say is the cousin of Shelties. Canines of the Shetland Sheepdog dog breed stood guard for farmers in the Shetland Islands off the coast of Scotland, keeping hungry birds and sheep out of the farmer’s garden, and they served as herding dogs as well. Today they’re excellent family companions and superstars in dog sports.

The Shetland Sheepdog has a beautiful, multicolored coat of long, textured fur that identifies this fantastic breed. Well-known for their intelligence and ease of training, the most famous Shetland Sheepdog personality trait is devotion to their owner, followed by their love for children. 

Shetland Sheepdogs tend to have quite friendly and attentive personalities. And they notoriously have good temperaments for households with children, as long as they have proper training and socialization. They are relatively active and playful dogs, and they can be rather vocal.

The average weight of Shetland Sheepdogs is 24 pounds, and their average height is 12 inches. Shetland Sheepdogs have 4 to 8 puppies per litter once a year, and their lifespan is 10 to 14 years.

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What are the Breed Traits and Characteristics of Shetland Sheepdogs?

The Shetland Sheepdog is a good-natured, friendly dog with no aggressiveness in him. He adapts well to city and country life, so long as he is with his human family, but he will need lots of exercise. The Shetland Sheepdog is cheerful, full of energy, devoted and sensitive, and enjoys people’s company. Shetland Sheepdogs are strongly tied to their masters.

The Shetland Sheepdog is a high-energy, people-pleasin’, award-winnin’ pup. This sweet-natured breed has it all, brains, beauty, and brawn. They literally excel at everything they do: show ring, agility and herding competitions, therapy and herding jobs, and of course, stealing your heart.

The Shelties are clearly over-achievers whose playful and affectionate nature makes them a great choice for newbie pet parents. They’re ready and eager to join in all your adventures, whether it’s playtime in the backyard or a weekend camping trip. 

Shetland Sheepdog Breed Traits

Shetland Sheepdog Information


Males and females 12 to 17 inches


Males and females 13 to 27 pounds

Relation with family

Loyal, Affectionate, Guardian, Strong-willed

Relation with children

Playful and lovable

Relation with other dogs


Shedding level

More than average

Drooling level


Coat type 

Double coat

Coat length

The outer coat is long, straight, and harsh to the touch.

The undercoat, however, is soft, furry, and close together.

Coat grooming frequency

Brushing 2 or 3 times a week 

Reaction to strangers

Alert but friendly

Playfulness level


Adaptability level


Openness to strangers


Trainability level


Energy level


Barking level


Mental stimulation needs level



10 -14 years 

How Does the Shetland Sheepdog Interact with Family?

Shetland Sheepdogs love children, love playing with them, and bond closely with all family members. Although Shelties are not one-person dogs, some Shelties form strong bonds with one person or one family if they were not socialized early. After proper socialization, Shelties are protective of everyone in the family, and they think of everyone as their friend. They are an excellent choice as a family dog and get along with other pets. 

Be aware that their herding heritage may cause them to nip at heels, frightening some children. The Shetland Sheepdog will also practice its innate herding skills with your neighbor’s chickens, the neighborhood kids, and other dogs and cats. Shelties thrive on being with people, and if left alone for long periods with nothing to do, they become bored and fill the time with barking and other mischievous behavior.

A Sheltie is not a good choice for someone allergic to dogs. Shetland Sheepdogs shed throughout the year and blow coat twice a year, during which you can easily pull clumps of hair out with your fingers, and they need good brushing more frequently when they blow coat.

As a herding breed, the Shetland Sheepdog is bred to work all day and requires quite a bit of exercise. A 30- to 45-minute walk or playtime twice a day is a good start. When he’s done with his activity for the day, he’s a calm housedog and a fun canine companion for the entire family.

How Does the Shetland Sheepdog Interact with Other Dogs?

Shetland Sheepdogs are good with other dogs, and they usually love to play with cats if adequately socialized or raised with them. Any other animal is fine, but as with any pet introduction, be sure to do it slowly and in a controlled environment to make sure that they like each other. 

If you are a multi-pet household, make sure you know that all the animals get along well before you commit to the Shetland Sheepdog. As long as the Sheltie is socialized as a pup, he will get along with most other pets. However, even if your Shetland Sheepdog has never worked as a herder of flocks, its innate herding instincts will likely have your furry friend nipping at the heels of kids and other pets.

How are Shetland Sheepdogs with Older People?

Shetland Sheepdogs are okay with older people; however, their energy level might be overwhelming. Shetland Sheepdogs need a lot of exercise and grooming. If the senior person lives in an apartment, space could be a problem because very active dogs could wreak havoc if cooped up with insufficient space.

However, a Sheltie will happily live in an apartment with sufficient exercise, and reaching out to a doggie walker could resolve the problem. Another potential problem for older people is the grooming burden that might be too much for elderly fragile people. Fortunately, even that can be done by younger family members or professional groomers.

How are Shetland Sheepdogs with Children?

Shetland Sheepdogs are loving and gently protective of children, but they should always be supervised around kids. Owners often share stories about how their Sheltie will ‘herd’ a toddler back to the family if they stray too far. However, while this could be a positive trait, herding and nipping at the heels often go together, and it might scare small children even if it doesn’t hurt them.

Parents should always supervise dogs when they’re around young kids. That way, the dog can get to know your kids and learn that they’re okay. It also helps if you have kids when you get a young Sheltie so that the dog can grow up around kids. The earlier you socialize your Shetland Sheepdog with kids, the better they will be around kids later.

If you don’t have kids now, you can get a Shetland Sheepdog, but make sure you train it to behave around smaller kids and babies so it will already be familiar with kiddies when you start to build a family. Likewise, parents should teach children how to respectfully interact with dogs from an early age. That way, your children will be comfortable when you take them to visit families with dogs even if you don’t have dogs yet.

How are Shetland Sheepdogs with Neighbors or Guests?

Shetland Sheepdogs, as a breed, are very affectionate, thinking everyone is their friend. They will snuggle up with anyone willing. Of course, if you’re there, your Shetland Sheepdog will accept anyone you introduce. Neighbors and familiar guests will be welcomed as part of the family. 

What are the Physical Traits of the Shetland Sheepdog?

The long-haired Scottish Shepherd dog is considered by many to be the world’s most beautiful dog. The small Shelti stands between 12 and 17 inches high and weighs between 13 and 27 pounds for both males and females. The long double coat of this dog sheds consistently, needing frequent brushing.

Shelties have five different coat colors, with Sable most prevalent. The ears are erect and the tail long and feathery, and the expression on this dog’s face is sensitive, alert, and gentle. When the Sheltie runs, the flow of its beautiful long coat and smooth wedge shape head is a picture of elegance. 

Shetland Sheepdogs can do well in the country or the city, but they need companionship and daily runs or long walks. Sheltie’s physical traits are summarized in the table below. 


Trait information




Males and females 13 to 27 pounds


Males and females 12 to 17 inches

Skull/ Head

Angular, tapering


Medium, almond-shaped, dark brown, or blue in coat color varieties


Small, moderately wide at the base, placed fairly close together on top of the skull


Clean and powerful, with a well-developed underjaw





Exercise Needs



10 to 14 years


The outer coat is long, harsh textured, and straight.

The undercoat is soft, short, and dense.

Coat color

Acceptable colors include black, blue merle, sable, sable merle, and predominantly white. The black, blue merle, sable, and sable merle are marked with varying amounts of white, tan, or white and tan trim.


The tail is set low, forming a natural extension of the topline. It is thicker at the base and tapers to the tip.


Straight, showing good bone and muscle

How to Feed a Shetland Sheepdog?

Your Shetland Sheepdog’s adult size determines its dietary needs through all life stages. Thus, base your Shetland Sheepdog’s diet on a small breed’s unique nutritional and digestive needs throughout its different life stages. Most dog food companies have breed-specific formulas for small, medium, large, giant, and even toy breeds. 

It is always a good idea to discuss your dog’s dietary needs with your vet to ensure you are prepared to deal with age-related issues as your Shetland Sheepdog grows. A veterinarian can advise on diets, portion sizes, meal frequencies, and all nutrition matters to ensure your furry friend lives a long life with optimal health. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times, and some of the essential nutrients are listed below:

  • Protein
  • Fatty acids
  • Carbohydrates
  • Minerals
  • Vitamins

Avoid feeding your Shetland Sheepdog from the table; all it does is add weight; instead, follow the advice below to ensure your furry friend’s optimal health.

Despite the Shetland Sheepdog’s small size, it is an agile, athletic breed that needs food containing animal proteins and carbohydrates for energy, vitamins and minerals for digestive and immune health, and omega fatty acids for coat and skin wellness. A dog of this size, activity level, and demeanor will thrive best on premium dry food because this food type contains balanced portions of the above-listed ingredients.

However, your Shetland Sheepdog’s daily portion depends on life stage, health, metabolism, activity level, and of course, the brand and formula of food it eats. Feed your Sheltie food formulated for a small breed with recipes for puppies, adults, and seniors, or look for a brand developed for all life stages.

The Shetland Sheepdog’s daily cups of food should be spread over 2 to 3 meals per day. Feeding Shelties several meals instead of one meal per day can prevent life-threatening bloat. However, fresh drinking water must always be available for your furry friend. When in doubt, consult your veterinarian. 

An example of premium food specially formulated for Shelties and its benefits is listed below: The best dry dog food for Shetland Sheepdogs is CANIDAE PURE Petite Adult Small Breed Grain-Free Dry Dog Food formulas.

CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Petite is made with limited ingredients and designed with simple recipes for sensitive small breed dogs, including fresh proteins paired with whole ingredients like peas, lentils, and eggs. There are 8 key ingredients, and you’ll never find any corn, wheat, or soy on the list. With wet and dry food options, you can choose the CANIDAE PURE Petite Adult Small Breed Grain-Free Dry Dog Food formula that works best for your Sheltie.

Below is a list of the benefits offered by the six CANIDAE Grain Free PURE formulas in this range:

  • Crafted with 8 key ingredients, starting with real salmon.
  • Grain-free freeze-dried kibble raw coated with real salmon for the wag-worthy taste dogs love.
  • The small kibble size is specially designed for petite adult dogs.
  • Contains omega-6 and -3 fatty acids to promote healthy skin and a lustrous coat.
  • Good for pets, people, and the planet.

When Shetland Sheepdogs are healthy and active, every day is an adventure. That’s why CANIDAE PURE Petite Adult Small Breed Grain-Free Dry Dog Food formulas are crafted with everything dogs need to thrive, starting with real protein as the first ingredient.

How Much Should a Shetland Sheepdog Puppy Eat? 

The Shetland Sheepdog is a small breed whose puppies need high-quality puppy food formulated for a small breed dog like the Shetland Sheepdog. It is essential not to feed puppies all their food at once, and they should have it spread over the day. When Shetland Sheepdog puppies become three months old, owners can provide them with three meals per day until they reach six months, reducing the food intake to 2 meals per day. Only high-quality and branded puppy food is acceptable. Guidance for feeding puppies is listed below.

  • Shetland Sheepdog puppies need slow, sustained growth to help prevent orthopedic problems, such as hip dysplasia. Raise them on a diet designed for small-breed puppies. Whatever diet you choose shouldn’t overemphasize protein, fat, and calorie levels.
  • Shetland Sheepdogs should be fed according to a schedule, spreading meal times two or three times per day. Getting the puppy accustomed to meals at specific times is better than leaving food out to allow feeding through the day.
  • The exceptions are Shetland Sheepdogs with medical conditions like hypoglycemia or low blood sugar because they need to nibble bits of food throughout the day.
  • Never feed your puppy from the table. It only encourages begging. Everyone in the family must follow this rule.

What are the Health Tests that a Shetland Sheepdogs Should Take?

Shetland Sheepdogs can be affected by several genetic health problems. Not all of these conditions are detectable in a growing puppy, and it can be hard to predict whether an animal will be free of these maladies, which is why you must find a reputable breeder who is committed to breeding the healthiest animals possible. They should be able to produce independent certification that the parents of the dog (and grandparents, etc.) have been screened for genetic defects and deemed healthy for breeding. That’s where health registries come in. 

There are three types of tests for Shetland Sheepdog breeders to consider – some required and some optional. The list below indicates tests your chosen breeder should have done before selling purebred Sheltie puppies.

Required, Elective & Optional Tests

Required Tests

Hip dysplasia evaluation

OFA or PennHIP


Eye clearance

Eye examination by a board-certified American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO) veterinarian with the results registered with OFA

Plus at least 2 from the elective test list below:


Elective tests *

von Willebrand’s Disease 

Type III DNA test


Multiple drug sensitivity

(MDR1) DNA test


Autoimmune thyroiditis

OFA evaluation from an approved laboratory


Collie eye anomaly

DNA test


Elbow dysplasia evaluation




The 3-gene DNA test as developed by Clemson Genetics Lab

*Test results must be registered with OFA


Optional Tests

Degenerative Myelopathy 

DNA test with result registered with the OFA


Progressive Retinal Atrophy 

There are DNA tests for at least 2 forms of PRA in Shelties – CNGA1 and BBS2


Patellar Luxation

Congenital cardiac database (OFA evaluation by board-certified cardiologist or internal medicine specialist)


Lance Canine Tooth Susceptibility

MCM DNA test


Dentition database 

Dental exam by a licensed veterinarian to certify full dentition

Other tests and Xrays: Hip and Elbow Evaluation, Patella Check, General Health Check, including Heart, Vaccines, Fleas, and Worms.

What are the common health problems of Shetland Sheepdogs?

All dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. The Shetland Sheepdog has some health conditions that can be a concern. However, even healthy Shelties should have regular veterinarian checkups. Owners should ensure the following list of health conditions are monitored throughout the dog’s life.

  • Hip dysplasia is a deformation that occurs and develops as Shetland Sheepdog puppies grow. It is caused by loose joints that prevent the ball part of one bone from sliding smoothly in the socket of the other joint bone. Instead, it grinds and rubs in the joint, causing painful wear and tear damage as the Shetland Sheepdog ages.
  • Elbow dysplasia happens when the growth of the elbow is disturbed. A condition called elbow dysplasia may ensue. While this condition is generally inherited, other factors, such as nutrition and exercise, also play a role in its development. Most dogs will display symptoms before the age of one – though some may not show any signs until several years old.
  • Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA) is a disorder caused by incomplete eye development. The severity of the anomaly ranges from no apparent visual defect to total blindness. A board-certified ophthalmologist can easily check it when the puppies are 6-8 weeks old.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is a progressive degenerative disease affecting the retina, leading to blindness.
  • Patellar luxation occurs when the dog patella (kneecap), which normally sits on the groove of the femur (thighbone), shifts out of alignment. When luxation of the patella occurs, your dog may experience intermittent hind limb “skipping,” lameness, or a locking up of the limb at an odd angle.
  • Dermatomyositis in dogs is a hereditary, immune-mediated disease that affects the skin and, sometimes, the muscles and blood vessels. The disease is most common in Collies, Shetland Sheepdogs.
  • Von Willebrand’s Disease is a platelet disorder affecting blood clotting in Shelties.

You can minimize the chances of serious health concerns in a Shetland Sheepdog by purchasing a Shetland Sheepdog from a reputable breeder who engages in responsible breeding practices and screening for common diseases and conditions.

Are Shetland Sheepdogs Hypoallergenic?

No. The Shetland Sheepdog is not hypoallergenic. It sheds a lot and even more profusely at certain times in the year. Because a Sheltie sheds constantly, it means this dog produces plenty of dander, a common allergen.

But there is no breed completely non-allergenic. The hypoallergenic breeds are typically minimal shedders with hair coats instead of fur. These dogs might still produce allergens besides dander.

What is the Exercise Need of a Shetland Sheepdog?

Shetland Sheepdogs are very demanding when it comes to their exercise needs. Even for an hour or two, a casual stroll around the block will not do here. Instead, this guy needs at least 60 to 90 minutes of intense exercise every day. And because he is so intelligent, you’ll need to mix his activities up to keep him interested.

Shetland Sheepdogs have relatively weak limbs that shouldn’t be stressed during their primary growing time, lest they develop joint and hip complications as they age. Your Sheltieis a small canine that requires gentle play, and this means no aggressive running and no over-tiring your puppy in the name of training. However, as your canine companion matures, you can be sure of a capable jogging companion.

What are the nutritional needs of Shetland Sheepdogs?

The nutritional needs of a Shetland Sheepdog include high levels of specific nutrients. The essential nutrients for the Sheltie are listed below.

  • Protein: Shelties need natural animal protein, valuable for the amino acids essential for Shetland Sheepdog’s health. Equally important is the fact that protein builds lean muscles and provides energy.
  • Fat: Animal protein provides adequate fat, an additional energy source that boosts the Shetland Sheepdog’s metabolism. However, there is a fine line between enough and too much. Excessive fat levels in the dog’s daily diet could result in weight gain and, ultimately, obesity. Most importantly, adults and senior Shelties need lower fat levels than puppies.
  • Carbohydrates: Although carbs are not essential nutrients, they are crucial energy sources. Giving the Shetland Sheepdogs sufficient carbs will provide energy, encouraging the body’s protein absorption to build lean muscle. Beware, though, too much carbohydrates can lead to obesity.
  • DHA: It is one of the components of omega-3 fatty acids. It promotes proper eye and brain development in Shetland Sheepdog puppies, and DHA develops cognitive development in puppies and slows cognitive decline in older dogs. Furthermore, omega fatty acids benefit aging Shelties by treating chronic kidney disease and canine arthritis. Omega-3 oils improve the coat health of the Shetland Sheepdog.
  • Micronutrient: Taurine is one micronutrient that aids heart health, and other valuable micronutrients for promoting strong joints in Shetland Sheepdogs are chondroitin and glucosamine.
  • Minerals: Beneficial minerals for a Shetland Sheepdog’s growth include a healthy balance of phosphorus and calcium. Pre- and probiotics and chelated minerals provide additional health to the diets of Shelties.

What is the Shedding Level of Shetland Sheepdogs?

Shetland Sheepdogs are double-coated. These pups shed year-round and “blow” their coats twice yearly in the spring and fall. That means massive shedding all over your place. Because of the amount of shedding your Sheltie does, this breed is not suitable for a home with allergy sufferers.

What is the Coat Grooming Frequency of Shetland Sheepdogs?

Regular and thorough brushing and combing is a must for your Sheltie’s double coat. In this case, regular brushing means every day because the undercoat can mat into a layer of uncomfortable felt while the long outer coat still looks normal. Furthermore, fungal infections can develop in the warmth between the inner coat and the Sheltie’s skin. 

You could reach out to your Sheltie’s breeder for guidance on the best brushing practices to ensure you get all the way down to the skin. Professional grooming at six-week intervals will prevent the worst shedding and matting and make it possible to keep up the grooming in the interim. Shelties shed a lot, typically more in spring and fall. Your new best friends will be an undercoat rake, a pin brush, and a slicker brush.

Shelties are good at keeping themselves clean, especially if you do your part by brushing regularly. Bathe your Sheltie once every month or two. He shouldn’t need one more often than that. Note that overbathing will strip them of their protective oils and destroy their coat’s water resistance. So keep bathing to a minimum; it would be best to rinse any dirt off with clear water without shampoo or other chemicals.

Coat grooming is essential for various reasons, as listed below.

  • Grooming gives your dog a healthy look and promotes hygiene. 
  • Proper grooming lowers the risks of skin infections.
  • Grooming promotes the growth and development of a lustrous and shiny coat.
  • Grooming allows you to check for fleas and take early preventive and treatment measures.
  • Proper grooming lowers the risks of ear infections since you can check the ears and wipe them dry after regular grooming.
  • While grooming, you can check the skin folds for any skin problems and alert the vet before they worsen.
  • Grooming boosts the bond between you and your Shetland Sheepdog.

Your dog should be calm during grooming. Short walks before the grooming session could calm your Shetland Sheepdog enough to make the grooming process the ideal time for bonding with your furry friend. You can also give your Shetland Sheepdogs their favorite treats to munch on while you groom them. Grooming must be an enjoyable and stress-free process for your Shetland Sheepdog. 

What is the Drooling Level of Shetland Sheepdogs?

As a Sheltie owner, you could expect to find your furry friend’s drooling is below average. However, drooling is a natural process, and the primary triggers of drooling are listed below, which, in Shelties, will increase drooling levels. In the event of unusual or excessive drooling, a trip to the vet is recommended.

  • The thought of delicious meals like a favorite treat or meat
  • Mouth and throat problems like fractures in the mouth, throat, or esophagus.
  • Plaque build-up can also irritate the mouth and cause excessive saliva.
  • A foreign object stuck in the throat prevents swallowing, thus causing drooling. 
  • Growth in the mouth also stimulates drooling.
  • Stomach upsets.
  • Excessive heat, especially during summer
  • The main symptom of diseases like kidney disease, liver problems, seizures, botulism, and rabies is drooling.
  • Motion sickness and anxiety. Dogs who do not like traveling will get anxious whenever they board a car. Stress makes dogs pant and breathe with open mouths, thus causing drooling.
  • Excitement and agitation make dogs drool.
  • Sexual excitement, like when a male Shetland Sheepdog spots a female Shetland Sheepdog in heat, causes drooling. Likewise, a female in her heat cycle might drool if she picks up the scent of a male.

What is the Coat Type of the Shetland Sheepdog?

The Shetland Sheepdog has a double coat with a straight, coarse outer coat that is abundant over most of the body, including on the mane around the Shetland Sheepdog’s face.

What is the Coat Lenght of the Shetland Sheepdog? 

The Shetland Sheepdog has a short undercoat of fine wool to help the Sheltie maintain body temperature. The outer coat is luxurious and approximately 5 to 6 inches long, depending on the location of the hair, for example, the fur around the Shetland Sheepdog’s neck is long and full.

What are the Colors of Shetland Sheepdog?

Shelties have a double coat. The undercoat is short and dense, causing the longer, harsher topcoat to stand out from the body. 

  • You’ll see three basic colors in the breed, all with varying amounts of white and tan markings. 
  • Some Shelties have sable coats, ranging from golden to mahogany. 
  • There is also black and blue merle (blue-gray with black).

A Sheltie who’s more than 50 percent white or one with a brindle coat won’t do for the show ring, but his color doesn’t affect his ability to be a great companion.

What are the Social Traits of the Shetland Sheepdog Breed?

The social traits of the Shetland Sheepdog are affection, playfulness, and friendly nature. Shelties are intelligent and learn fast, but they can be bored with long training sessions. Shelties are fun-loving and have the charm to lighten you up when you are not in a happy mood. Other social traits of Shetland Sheepdogs are listed below.

  • Elderly-friendly: Shetland Sheepdogs love playing with their family, from children to grandparents, but seniors who live in apartments away from their families might struggle to keep up with the Sheltie’s energy. If the owner can’t take them for 60 to 90-minute walks, play in a dog park, or both, it might be a good idea to hire a walker. If the Sheltie is exercised enough, it will spend several hours of calmness and sleep. 
  •  Children-friendly: Shetland Sheepdogs enjoy running around or chasing after children and playing catch is one of their favorite games. Shelties are sensible enough to take care when young children are part of the play. However, supervision is essential in such circumstances. Socialization is essential for kids and dogs.
  • Family-friendly: Shetland Sheepdogs are the perfect canine companions for active families. They are not couch potatoes and prefer to spend most of their time outside. Shetland Sheepdogs will always be ready to join a family member jogging, skateboarding, cycling or hiking.
  • Pet-friendly: Shetland Sheepdogs can get along great with cats and other animals, especially if they’re raised with them. However, the innate herding instincts of the Shetland Sheepdog might cause some ankle nipping and pet herding.

How Do Shetland Sheepdogs Interact with Strangers?

Shetland Sheepdogs love all, and anyone their owners invite into their home would be welcomed by the Sheltie. However, Shetland Sheepdogs are alert even when they don’t seem to. They are always aware of anything that happens around them, and any strangers and potential intruders will be warned to back off. The Shetland Sheepdog will use a unique warning bark to alert the owner of a potential threat, and they will continue barking until they believe their family is safe.

Is the Shetland Sheepdog Playful?

The Sheltie loves a good challenge, as his mind is permanently active. He loves when you play games with him that involve a challenge, like hiding a toy and making him find it. Even just playing fetch is fulfilling, as he loves trying to find the ball or Frisbee, and if there are no outside options, even running around the dining table could be fun.

Are Shetland Sheepdogs Protective?

Yes, Shetland Sheepdogs are protective; even if they look half asleep, they are always aware of everything that goes on. Shelties make excellent watchdogs—it is the main task for which the breed was originally developed. The Sheltie is thus naturally protective, quick to bark if he deems anything amiss within his territory. Training is necessary to keep this predisposition from evolving into nuisance barking.

What is the Adaptability Level of Shetland Sheepdogs?

Shetland Sheepdogs are highly adaptable. Even if relocating from a farm or a ranch to an apartment in the city, they will quickly adapt if they are not separated from their human families and if they have ample outside play space. They would not live happily in an apartment with limited outdoor space. Boredom can lead to destructive behavior.

What are the Personality Traits of Shetland Sheepdogs?

The Shetland Sheepdog has a charming, good-natured personality, a high tolerance for adversity, and relatively low stubbornness. Thanks to the Shetland Sheepdog’s breeding history, obedience and devotion are some of its many endearing qualities. The Shetland Sheepdog will invest so much time and effort into the relationship with its owner that you will find it easy to train and socialize with.

Shetland Sheepdogs also get along fine with other dogs. However, this also means that the Sheltie requires almost constant companionship and care to be fully happy and satisfied within the home. Shetland Sheepdogs do not like apartment life; they need wide-open spaces to spend their days. Cabin fever will surely follow, and there is no way to tell what behavioral problems will happen.

What are the Temperament Features of Shetland Sheepdog?

The Sheltie dog is an affectionate, loving friend who just wants to play and make you happy. With a low prey drive, they’re great around cats or other pets, and they can be great with kids, especially their family’s young children. (Although you might catch them occasionally trying to affectionately “herd” the littles!) Some Shelties are less tolerant of strangers’ children, but this really varies from dog to dog.

Shelties can be cautious or shy around strangers, and a Sheltie who isn’t well-socialized as a puppy might nip or even bite at strangers if they feel overwhelmed, so early training is essential. Remember that each dog is an individual. Some Shelties will be very tolerant and rarely nip at anyone. They also tend to sound the bark alarm to alert their family to anything that may be amiss, whether that’s an approaching stranger to the door or a rogue truck rolling down the street.

Shelties love to play and are quite intelligent, and the more time they have to burn off their high energy levels, the better. They love to have a home with yards or large spaces of land where they can run and play, but they can be just as happy in a smaller home too, as long as you take them on a walk or two every day.

Can Shetland Sheepdogs be Aggressive?

Shetland Sheepdogs may seem like a calm and lazy breed, but they always know what’s going on around them, even if it doesn’t seem that way. They will be ready at a moment’s notice if they feel that their families are under threat. They aren’t usually aggressive, but they will show aggression if the threat persists.

Can Shetland Sheepdogs be Dangerous?

Like any other animal, a Shetland Sheepdog will become aggressive if they are scared or if they have to defend themselves. Aggressiveness in Shetland Sheepdogs may manifest as growling or snarling, especially at strangers near their homes. Putting themselves between you and an intruder could be a dangerous situation. 

Do Shetland Sheepdogs Ever Attack?

Shetland Sheepdogs are more standoffish than aggressive with people they don’t know. If they weren’t properly socialized as pups, they could be aggressive towards other dogs. But for the most part, Shetland Sheepdogs stand their ground and won’t go on the offensive unless clearly provoked or they sense immediate danger to themselves or their family.

Can Shetland Sheepdogs Kill Humans?

Yes, Shetland Sheepdogs can kill humans, although it is highly improbable. Shetland Sheepdogs are exceptionally protective of their human families, but certain circumstances could drive any dog to attack violently. Circumstances that could cause a violent attack include attacks on their human families, protecting their own safety, and mistreatment by their owners. Whatever the circumstances, the serious provocation must be present to trigger a violent attack by a Sheltie.

Do Shetland Sheepdogs cope with being left alone?

Shetland Sheepdogs can live alone for a few hours without any problems but they are not the kind of canines that you could leave alone for a long time.

Can I leave my Shetland Sheepdog at home?

Shetland Sheepdogs tend to become anxious and withdrawn when left alone for some time, but they will not be affected if some of the family members remain behind. When they are left in isolation, they display signs of separation anxiety. Some Shelties tend to form strong bonds with one family member. When that person has to go somewhere, the Sheltie will be okay if the rest of the family is there.

Can Shetland Sheepdogs be left alone for 8 hours?

Shetland Sheepdogs need company, and they do not enjoy spending time alone for many hours. Shelties are predisposed to anxiety, and isolation for more than a couple of hours could cause separation anxiety. Don’t get a Shetland Sheepdog if you must leave him on his own for hours on end. You can, however, leave him alone for short periods. Leaving your Shetland Sheepdog alone for more than four hours at a time is not recommended. If there is no other way, getting a dog walker or a sitter for a part of the day could prevent separation anxiety.

How to Train a Shetland Sheepdog?

The Sheltie not only excels at basic obedience but needs the mental challenge of it. Start obedience training your Sheltie pup right away when you bring him home; even at eight weeks, he is smart enough to begin absorbing it. If you wait until he’s six months, you’ll have a much bigger task and a more headstrong dog. Puppy kindergarten by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks is recommended. But a word of caution: the Sheltie is easy to train when your voice is calm, and your touch on the leash is light, give only verbal corrections to this sensitive breed, for example, praise, gentle guidance, or food rewards.

  • Praise good behavior by making a fuss. Your Shetland Sheepdog will know if you fake it.
  • Time commands wisely because corrections after the fact will confuse your Shetland Sheepdog.
  • Be consistent and persistent. Never let it slip because your Shetland Sheepdog will learn to obey only sometimes.
  • Be the pack leader and show happiness while training your Shetland Sheepdog.
  • Making your Shetland Sheepdog sit and wait for your command to start eating will confirm your status as pack leader.
  • Training your Shetland Sheepdog with love in your heart will avoid your Shetland Sheepdog seeing training as punishment.

How Frequently does a Shetland Sheepdog Bark?

The Shelties’ propensity to bark might have something to do with their early history as herding dogs. They needed a loud, piercing bark to frighten away small prey or warn their owners of intruders.

These dogs are primarily not herding dogs anymore, but they have retained their barking instinct. But they do not bark without reason. Training and socialization can control excessive barking, but Shelties will always bark when necessary.

Below is a list of bark types that owners will learn to recognize. 

  • Shetland Sheepdogs hate being left alone, and one way of coping with loneliness is barking. 
  • A lack of exercise and anxiety can also trigger barking.
  • Alarm barking is when your Sheltie is barking as a way of alerting you of approaching danger. Alarm barking can save you from danger; however, Shelties may bark before ascertaining that there is a real danger. 
  • Another type of barking is demand barking, where a Shetland Sheepdog feels entitled to something or your attention and would bark as a way of demanding their rights. This type can be lowered through proper training and ignoring the barking.
  • The Shetland Sheepdog uses arousal barking to show their frustrations.
  • Boredom barking signals that your Sheltie is tired or bored due to being left alone or infrequent exercises. 
  • Frequent barking can be a nuisance to both the owner and neighbors. Some types of barking tend to be monotonous and continuous. 

Even though Shetland Sheepdogs are not typically nuisance barkers, knowing their language might come in handy. However, if your Shetland Sheepdog is the exception to the rule, below are some positive and negative motivators that might help to change your canine companion’s barking habits.

  • Whenever your Sheltie starts barking, command him to be quiet and if your Shetland Sheepdog obeys, reward him with his favorite treat or toy. If he disobeys your command, withdraw some benefits like not giving him his favorite toy.
  • Engage Shetland Sheepdog in her favorite activity or exercise. Tired Shelties might sleep while you are away.
  • Look for attractive toys that would keep your Shetland Sheepdog busy while you are away.
  • Continuous barking might call for a visit to the vet.

What is the need for Mental Stimulation of a Shetland Sheepdog?

Constant stimulation throughout the day is required to keep your Shetland Sheepdog happy. Brain games are a great and easy way to stimulate his mind, so be sure to rotate a few of these games throughout the week to keep your Sheltie occupied.

Shelties are smart and learn fast, and they need regular mental stimulation. Shelties’ playful and intelligent nature further calls for frequent mental activity. There are different ways of mentally stimulating your Shetland Sheepdog, and some of them are listed below.

  • Playing with interactive games or toys, including dog puzzles and canine board games.
  • Encourage sniffing during regular evening walks.
  • Provide healthy chews like dehydrated sweet potato strips. Chewing for more extended periods calms the brain, thus lowering stress levels.
  • Hide and seek games
  • Drop and fetch games
  • Regular walks

These mental stimulation techniques should start at an early stage. Shetland Sheepdogs who are six years and older tend to have problems with their thinking ability. The primary signs of mental disorientation are listed below.

  • Excessive anxiety.
  • Frequent accidents.
  • Failure to recall previously learned commands.
  • Changes in sleep and wake patterns.
  • Low interest in physical activities.
  • Poor social skills.

What are the Breed Standards of Shetland Sheepdog?

A born herding dog, Shetland Sheepdogs are known for their alert, intense gaze that developed to help them spot and wrangle wandering sheep. They are intelligent, playful, and are usually gentle with children. The breed’s long-coated variety with the distinctive mane is the most common and familiar.

Some of the breed standards of Shetland Sheepdogs are given in the table below.

Breed Standards 

Shetland Sheepdog Breed Information 


You’ll see three basic colors in the breed, all with varying amounts of white and/or tan markings:

  • Sable, ranging from golden to mahogany
  • Black
  • Blue Merle (blue-gray with black)

A Sheltie who’s more than 50 percent white or who has a brindle coat won’t do for the show ring, but his color doesn’t affect his ability to be a great companion.


Shetland Sheepdogs are classified as a small breed

Eye Color 

The Shetland Sheepdog breed’s eyes are dark-colored. They’re almond-shaped, and might sometimes appear blue or merle in color in dogs with blue merle coats.


Weight is 13 to 27 pounds.


Height 12 to 17 inches at the withers

Average lifespan 

Shetland Sheepdogs have a lifespan of 10 to 12 years

What is the General Information about Shetland Sheepdog?

Though Shelties may remind you of the famous TV collie, Lassie, the Shetland Sheepdog is not actually a direct descendant of the collie, unlike some other miniature breeds that resemble their larger relatives. Instead, the Sheltie is more closely related to the Scottish Collie and King Charles Spaniel’s Cavalier.

During the early 20th century, James Loggie added the smaller rough-coat collie to the breeding stock, which helped lay the groundwork for what would eventually become the Shetland Sheepdog of today. In 1909, the initial recognition of the Sheltie was made by the English Kennel Club; the first registered Shetland sheepdog was a female named “Badenock Rose,” and the first Sheltie to be registered by the American Kennel Club was “Lord Scott” two years later.

When the breed was initially introduced, they were known by breeders as Shetland Collies, but the name was later changed to Shetland Sheepdog. During the early 20th century (up until around the 1940s), other crosses were made to help retain the more desirable characteristics of the rough-coat Collie.

Where to Buy or Adopt a Shetland Sheepdog?

A purebred Shetland Sheepdog’s price can range between $1,000 and $2,000. Lower prices are generally available within shelters and rescues, but puppies can cost as much as $5,000 from top breeders. 

If you want to bring a Sheltie home, you should not rush. The only “purebreds” available upon request are not the real thing and are likely bred on puppy farms. The more realistic way is to put your name on a waiting list, and while you’re waiting, learn as much as you can about this giant dog in the cutest little dog body.

Finding a reputable breeder or rescue facility is crucial. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy and will, without question, have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. They are more interested in placing pups in suitable homes than making big bucks. 

Be wary of breeders who only tell you the good things about the breed or make irrational promises to promote their puppies. Be especially suspicious when you are offered a two-for-the-price-of-one deal. 

Shetland Sheepdog puppies are adorable, and it’s one of the reasons they are so popular. Cute puppies sell, making the Shetland Sheepdog a favorite of puppy mills and greedy, irresponsible breeders. Do your homework before buying one of these little dogs, and you’ll be well rewarded with a beautiful companion dog.

The best way to ensure you get a healthy Shetland Sheepdog puppy from a breeder or a rescue organization is to reach out to the registered organizations for the specific breed, if available. The Shetland Sheepdog is recognized by the AKC, UKC, and FIC, listed below, along with other registered kennel clubs that might put potential Shetland Sheepdog owners in touch with reputable breeders. 

  • Fédération Cynologique Internationale (International)
  • United Kennel Club (International)
  • The Kennel Club (United Kingdom)
  • American Kennel Club Market Place
  • Canadian Kennel Club
  • Continental Kennel Club
  • American Shetland Sheepdog Association 
  • England Shetland Sheepdog Club (ESSC)
  • The Scottish Shetland Sheepdog Club
  • Chelson Shelties Bellingham, Washington Saranac Shelties Huntsville, Alabama Sunnyvale Shelties Phoenix, Arizona
  • Caitlin Shelties San Jose, California 
  • Belmark Shelties De Graff, Ohio 
  • Rockwood Shetland Sheepdogs Moosup, Connecticut
  • Maplecove Shelties Brandywine, Delaware Donlyn Shelties Plant City, Florida

If you manage to track down Shetland Sheepdog breeders, make sure you go to the facility and insist on meeting both the puppies’ parents so that you can get a feel for their temperament. Shetland Sheepdog puppies are often peppy and playful, all should have cheery expressions and kind eyes. 

It might take some time to find a legitimate breeder, and travel may very well be in the cards. Steer clear of backyard breeding by avoiding sales sites and ad pages. When you select a breeder, make sure they have proof of successful, healthy litters with any documentation necessary.

You might find a Sheltie puppy or a rescued adult to adopt or buy from abroad, but not all countries allow importing adopted dogs. Those whose countries will enable the importation of Shetland Sheepdogs may find the logistics challenging. 

Procedures include obtaining certification from a vet to prove the Shetland Sheepdog is fully vaccinated and providing all the additional required veterinary documents before the travel. Furthermore, your country must approve the veterinarian to authorize the importation, and it will be your responsibility to ensure you use the services of a certified vet.

What are the Rescue Clubs for Shetland Sheepdogs?

There are millions of homeless dogs worldwide; many are purebreds needing homes. Adopting a Sheltie can be life-changing, not only for the dog but also for the adopter. If you prefer adoption over purchasing a pup from a breeder, then your first stop should be the National Shetland Sheepdog Rescue website. A Shetland Sheepdog rescue group is an excellent idea if you want to adopt an older dog or even a Shetland Sheepdog mix.

Shetland Sheepdog mixes adopted from a shelter may share physical characteristics of the breed, but their temperament may not match the breed standard. Shelters and rescues attempt to determine each dog’s personality to a series of evaluations; even if the dog’s temperament does not follow the breed standard, you can get the dog that suits your home. 

The adoption fee for a Shetland Sheepdog from a rescue group or animal shelter will probably be between $2000 and $3000. Most dogs from rescue groups and shelters will be vaccinated, microchipped, spayed/neutered, and vetted before adoption

You can also reach out to your local rescue organization or animal shelter and ask if they have any Shetland Sheepdogs or related mixes available for adoption. If not, you can always put your name on a list so that when one comes in, you’re the first one they call.

Below is a list of registered rescue centers and kennel clubs to reach out to for guidance.

  • The National Sheltie Rescue Association
  • American Shetland Sheepdog Association – American
  • National Shetland Sheepdog Rescue Of Canada
  • Southern Ontario Sheltie Rescue Society
  • Canada Shetland Sheepdog Rescue Group
  •  US Shetland Sheepdog Club’s rescue network
  • Birmingham & Montgomery, Alabama Sheltie Rescue
  • Northern Virginia Sheltie Rescue
  • Second Chance Sheltie Rescue, AR
  • Shetland Sheepdog Club Rescue of Gr Baltimore

Facebook is another resource for pet adoption. You can search for Shetland Sheepdog rescue groups in your region.

You can also search for adoptable Shetland Sheepdogs online with reliable websites such as:

  • AnimalShelter 

Shetland Sheepdog mixes may be available for adoption in shelters and rescues. If you want to adopt an AKC registered or a mixed breed Shetland Sheepdog, the best first step is to contact shelters and breed-specific rescues to let them know you’re interested.

Below is a list of several Shetland Sheepdog mixes.

  • Shetland Sheepdog Border Collie Mix (Border Sheepdogs or Sheltie Border)
  • Shetland Sheepdog Poodle Mix (Sheltie Poodle)
  • Shetland Sheepdog Corgi Mix (Pembroke Sheltie)
  • Shetland Sheepdog German Shepherd Mix (Sheltie Shepherd)
  • Shetland Sheepdog Husky Mix (Shepsky)

What is the History of the Shetland Sheepdog?

Everything is slightly smaller on the Shetland Islands to suit the rugged but small area. That included the miniature sheepdogs, which helped the crofters tend their small livestock and barked to warn off strangers.

The origin of the little dogs is unknown. Theories suggest that the Sheltie might be a blend of Nordic breeds, including the Pomeranian, the larger Collie, and maybe even a King Charles Spaniel. Through the years, he has gone by several names: Lilliputian Collie, Toonie Dog, Fairy Dog, and Miniature Collie.

Visitors to the remote islands were often entranced by the fluffy little dogs and took them home as souvenirs. Islanders began breeding them for income, and dog fanciers became interested in them as well. Some people bred them with Collies for more consistency in size and look.

It’s even suspected that other unknown breeds were mixed in, which may be the source of the blue merle with a tan pattern. To this day, Shelties vary widely in size, even within the same litter, because of the variety of dogs in their relatively recent background.

What is the Average Maintenance Cost for Shetland Sheepdogs?

The prices of Shetland Sheepdogs range between $1,200 and $1,800. The cost of a puppy from a registered breeder could vary, depending on the breeder you select, the location, the sex of the puppy, and, of course, the demand for the breed at the time. 

The bloodline of the puppy and its parents could also affect the price. You will be hard-pressed to find this breed in a shelter, but if you do, the price could be $300 to $500, based on the cost of care provided while keeping the Sheltie and extras like vaccinations and sterilizations. 

It is always best to consider annual expenses related to maintaining your Shetland Sheepdog and its wellbeing before making the purchase. The first year will be the most expensive, as puppies require extra vet care and more one-time purchases like microchips, sterilization, licensing, etc. You can expect to spend about $6,900 for your dog’s first year. After that, the price will go down to about $2,100 a year. 

Food and medical only, excluding toys, food and water bowls, cages, doggy blankets, beds, etc., could cost an average of $850. The most regular annual expenses for dogs similar to the Shetland Sheepdog are listed below.

  • Food items
  • Veterinary care
  • Vaccinations
  • Preventive medicine
  • Toys
  • Pet insurance
  • Pet Supplies

Other potential expenses include training, socializing, doggy daycare, dog sitters, dog walkers, etc. Grooming would likely add a significant amount to the maintenance costs of Shetland Sheepdogs because they need occasional professional grooming to trim and bathe the Sheltie.

How to Name a Shetland Sheepdog?

Choosing a name for your Shetland Sheepdog involves essential building blocks, including the significance of the sound. The Shetland Sheepdog’s name will mean something to the humans in the dog’s life, but for your canine companion, only the sound matters. Shetland Sheepdogs respond best to two-syllable names that are not short enough to be confused with single-syllable command words like “sit,” stay,” “come,” and “down.” However, the names should not be long enough to become puzzling.

It is always a good idea not to rush into choosing a name. Spend a week or so with your new Shetland Sheepdog pup, and its character traits might be all the inspiration you need. Call out any name ideas, using different tones and sounds for the two syllables, and watch your puppy’s reaction to the sound. Remember, you must compose a sound that your Sheltie will recognize from a distance, among many other sounds. 

Choose a name that could sound different in regular interaction and yelling or calling your Shetland Sheepdog. Below is a list of suggestions of names inspired by your Shetland Sheepdog’s ancestors and famous owners. 

Shetland Sheepdog Breed Names

Ode to Scotland and the Sheltie’s Beauty

Shetland Sheepdog Boy Names

Shetland Sheepdog Girl Names


Of Scottish origin meaning fair warrior


Because Scotland has several misty days


Because your Sheltie is your cuddly teddy bear


A Scottish diminutive of Sarah


For the dog that likes to make its presence known


For the Sheltie with black markings


Inspired by the rocky landscape of the Shetland Islands


Inspired by the pooch in the movie Kill the Irishman


Inspired by the Canadian Children’s TV series Mickey’s Farm


For the dog that is sweet; and also a color inspiration

What are the Different Types of Shetland Sheepdogs?

Sheltie owners will agree that the Sheltie is one of a kind. However, there are several other herding dogs as shown on the list below. 

  • Shetland Sheepdog
  • Border Collie
  • Scotch Collie
  • Belgian Tervuren
  • Belgian Sheepdog
  • Bergamasco Sheepdog
  • Keeshond
  • Papillon

What Dog Breeds are Similar to the Shetland Sheepdog?

Shetland Sheepdogs may not be too difficult to find, but purebreds are expensive and involve long waiting lists. Finding a Shetland Sheepdog at a rescue center might be equally challenging because they are so popular. However, as wonderful of a dog as the Shetland Sheepdog may be, they aren’t for everyone. Here are some dogs that are similar to the Shetland Sheepdogs.

Below is a list of similar breeds that might be a good match for your family.

  • Border Collie – This highly energetic herding dog is one of the most popular breeds in the world. It is intelligent, playful, and caring and requires high maintenance and care. 
  • Icelandic SheepdogThe Icelandic sheepdog is a medium-sized herding dog from Iceland with a thick, waterproof, medium-length double coat, which comes in various colors. The hardy, athletic, and intelligent breed was developed to herd livestock in the mountainous regions of Iceland.
  • Australian Shepherd – Like the Sheltie, the Aussie Shepherd is extremely intelligent, loyal, and hard-working. It makes an excellent companion dog for high-energy owners. It also is adept at herding. more about Australian Shepherd social life, care & diet information.

Sarah Brady

Sarah Brady is an animal lover and the proud dog-mom of a Golden Retriever named Brody and an Italian Greyhound named Jessup. Unfortunately, Jessup developed serious allergies to many different types of dog foods and ingredients when she was just a puppy. Meanwhile, Brody could eat seemingly anything and carry on as healthy as could be. Sarah spent hours of time researching and testing different foods and brands before finding something that worked for little Jessup. She wants Dog Food Care to simplify this experience for future dog-parents who face food allergy or tolerance issues of their own.