The Shetland Sheepdog

descriptive text Dog breed info
Shetland Sheepdog
Weight: 18 — 20 lbs
Height: 13” — 16”
AKC Rank 2008 #19
Life Span: 12—14 yrs
Group Herding
Origin Scotland, 1800’

  • Breeders And Rescue Groups
  • Dog Health, Dog Illness, Medical Problems

    Dog Breed Info - The Shetland Sheepdog

    Happy Sheltie in a hurry!
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    Breed Overview

    The ancestors of the Shetland were herding dogs of Scotland that also provided the root stock for the Collie and Border Collie. Some of these dogs were small,. measuring only 18 inches in height. The Shetland Sheepdog probably comes from early Collie-type dogs which then were developed on the Shetland Islands.

    They were initially shown around 1906 as Shetland Collies. Collie lovers objected to the name and it was changed to Shetland Sheepdog. The breed is more often referred to by it’s nickname, “Sheltie.”

    In early England, breeders often discreetly crossed Shelties with Rough Coated Collies in an attempt to improve on the Collie characteristics. This practice led to over sized Shetland Sheepdogs. However, this has long since stopped.


    Intelligent. Easy to train. Use clicker training for excellent results and dogs like the technique too. Get a clicker for around $3 at most pet stores.

    Crate Training

    Want to crate train your Shetland Sheepdog? It's easy and if you're interested, take a look and you'll see what to do. Crate training your puppy will save many headaches and problems.

    This is Howard, a Sheltie chewing a yummy stick
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    Howard is a Shetland Sheepdog, a loyal and intelligent herding breed from the Shetland Islands of Scotland. Photo sent by the owner of the website featured below:

    Want more information about the Sheltie? Here's a lady who owns them end wants to tell you about them:

    Sheltie Planet: The Complete Pet Owner's Guide to Shetland Sheepdogs
    Discover the unique Sheltie dog breed with free info on gorgeous Shetland Sheepdogs. Includes cute pictures, videos, tips and advice on Sheltie puppies.


    Potty Training

    Most Shetland Sheepdogs are easy to house train, potty train, toilet train, housebreak or whatever you want to call it. If you have a puppy, decide if you want to crate or paper potty train it. For the best results, we have a page at Crate vs Paper Potty Training which will help you decide and from there you can get all the information you need to get the job done. Always praise the pup profusely when she goes potty in the RIGHT PLACE so she knows she has done a good thing. Either method will work for this breed.

    If you have an older dog, take the dog outside every two hours until she gets the idea which door leads to her potty area. Older dogs catch on to the potty or housebreaking pretty fast once they are shown what to do.

    Fast running Sheltie!
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    The Sheltie is smart, sensitive and extremely willing to please. This combination makes for a dog that is obedient, quick to learn, and very devoted to its family. It is not only gentle, playful, friendly, and companionable, but also excellent with children, although it can nip at heels when playing. The dog is reserved and often timid toward strangers. This breed barks a lot.

    If you happen to get a Sheltie with a separation anxiety problem, that can be dealt with by investing a few hours of work on your part and some "tough love."

    Friendly Toward Other Dogs

    Fairly friendly toward other dogs. Not very aggressive.

    Friendly Toward Other Pets

    Gets along quite well with other pets. No guarantee about the cat. If raised with a cat, OK.

    Friendly Toward Strangers

    No. Loyal to family, but not to strangers. Leave the relatives at home.


    Usually quite playful.


    The Sheltie is a pleasant, lively dog, used to outdoor running, but can rest on your lap too.

    Two beautiful adult Sheltie brothers, Howard
    and Piper in on the right. Sent in by Becky of New Zealand.

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    Good with children

    Yes, Shetland Sheepdogs tolerate kids pretty well. Not for toddlers though.

    Good with Seniors over 65?

    No needs too much exercise.

    Living environment?

    Apartment, farm, city condo life OK, made for indoor living. Shetland Sheepdogs need to live with their family around them.

    If they have a medium size, fenced yard to fetch balls in, much the better. Good way to get exercise.

    Energy level

    Moderate energy, but enough to be good for herding.

    Exercise needs, daily

    The Shetland Sheepdog is energetic but it’s exercise needs can be met with some good walking, short jogging, or active game and training session.

    This Sheltie just won the lottery!
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    Excellent watchdog. Barks at anything moving.

    Guard dog

    No. Not aggressive enough.


    Some shedding but light.


    Yes. Long fur. Clip regularly. Comb and brush every other day to keep coat from tangling.

    Consider a professional groomer every 6 to 8 weeks


    Suggested Reading For The Shetland Sheepdog

    The book on the right is by the American National Red Cross and deals with dog emergencies, illnesses and injuries. I find it a useful book.


    Howard, a 4-month old Sheltie playing
    at the beach.Sent in by Becky of New Zealand.

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    Sheltie Breeders

    In the event you decide to go looking for Shetland Sheepdog puppies, be SURE to find reputable breeders that really know what they are doing. Be sure the puppy has been well socialized and started in obedience training.
    Shetland Sheepdog Breeders with puppies for sale.

    Sheltie Rescue

    In the event you are seriously considering the adoption of a Sheltie and are looking for a Sheltie rescue group or groups in your state, here are several links that might help:
    Petfinder - Sheltie Rescue - (Nationwide)Inquire about prior dog health problems when adopting your new pet.
    Adopt A Pet This is an interesting site that may give you some ideas. Also, look for Sheltie rescue groups online and in your classifieds.

    Dog Health Issues For The Shetland Sheepdog
    Below: The dog illness / illnesses or medical problems listed for the Shetland Sheepdog by various vets.

    This is basically a healthy breed. Don’t let the list below scare you! Your own dog will probably never have ANY of these problems. These are medical issues this breed is prone to that have been listed by various veterinarians at different times over the past decade or so and some pertain to puppies and very young dogs that a breeder would deal with.

    The information contained herein has been gathered from numerous books by veterinarians and is intended as general information only. Every dog and situation is different. You must see your vet. Our information is for general interest only and not intended to replace the advice provided by your own veterinarian.

    • Patellar luxation—Limping, Hind Leg Held Up, Can’t straighten back leg. Caused by an unusually shallow spot on the femur, weak ligaments and misalignment of tendons and muscles that align the knee joint and allow the knee cap (patella) to float sideways in and out of position of your Shetland Sheepdog. This can be caused by injury or be present at birth and can affect both rear legs. It’s most common in small and toy dogs. If your dog has trouble straightening the leg, is limping, or is walking on three legs and holding one hind leg up, look for patellar luxation. Several of my dogs have had the problem and all I’ve done is reach down, massage the knee a little until they drop their leg, and we’re good to go for another 3 or 4 months. Severe cases require surgery for a fully lame leg.

    • Hip dysplasia - Hind end limping, back legs act lame. Wear and time causes the femur to fit poorly into the pelvic socket of the Shetland Sheepdog with improper rotation causing great pain and difficulty walking. You may notice the dog “hopping”” like a rabbit when running plus hesitating to climb stairs, all due to pain in the hind quarters. The problem actually starts as a very young puppy with an abnormal formation of the hip joint and grows progressively. A vet can locate this with a diagnostics test.

    • Dermatomyositis—A hereditary inflammatory condition of skin and muscles in young Collies and Shetland Sheepdogs, as well as the Welsh Corgi, German Shepherd Dog and Chow. Lesions can appear as early as 7 to 11 weeks of age.. Lesions are commonly seen on the face and around the eyes. If you see strange spots on your dog's face, get her to the vet to check it out.

    • Collie eye anomaly—Abnormal eye development. Watch your dog closely, as many will experience retinal detachment causing blindness, usually around 6 to 12 months old. If your Collie is bumping into things, get it to the vet fast. Also, look for abnormal blood vessels or vessels have a twisted appearance, or you find holes or shallow areas in the dog’s eyes which could be inadequate development of a fiber coating Any change in the eyes is reason to call the vet NOW.

      >li> Renal dysplasia—Disease of the kidney. Improper function of the kidney. If you own a Shih Tzu, or other breed prone to this, check twice a year with your vet for kidney function or.... sooner if you observe any unusual symptoms such as... increased drinking, increased or decreased urination, very little color to the urine, depression, loss of appetite, bad odor in breath plus any other unusual behaviors. See vet immediately!

    • Progressive Retinal Atrophy—An inherited, untreatable disease of the retina affecting both eyes causing blindness. It’s in the genes of the dog and is not painful. Starts with night blindness and progresses as the retina gradually deteriorates.

    • Urinary Bladder Cancer—Life threatening cancer and bladder stones blocking and making urination impossible. Can metastasize and spread quickly. Look for blood in urine, difficulty pooping, difficulty urinating, breathing problems, more frequent trips to urinate with little coming out. Go to the vet immediately for checkup. Survival will depend on where the cancer is, how far along it is and if it has metastasized or not.

    • Trichiasis— is a hereditary condition where normal eyelashes growing from normal sites turn inward and irritate the eyes by rubbing on them. Sometimes the eyelashes grow unusually long causing further problems. When the problem becomes serious, cryosurgery is normally used to remove the errant lashes and follicles once and for all.

    • Patent ductus arteriosus—Canine congenital heart failure. Before birth, blood from the heart passes the lungs by a small vessel called the ductus arteriosus. That small vessel is supposes to vanish after birth and the infant breathes on it’s own With this disease, the vessel does not go away resulting in improper circulation of blood.

    • Entropion—Eye irritation caused by the eyelids and lashes rolling inward. The problem is usually inherited and found in young, adult dogs. It can come from an eyelid spasm. Affected eyes will be held partially shut and tear excessively. Both eyes will usually be affected the same. Treatment for the condition requires eye surgery.

    • Cataracts—hazy vision, similar to humans and can cause blindness if not treated.

    • Corneal Dystrophy—An inherited disease of the eye. A fluid buildup causing the outer part of the cornea to appear white and move inward toward the center.. A very painful and difficult to treat ulcer will develop.

    • Distichiasis—An eye condition involving the cornea. Eyelashes, growing improperly on the inner surface of the eyelid cause corneal ulcers due to the constant rubbing and irritation. The problem is fixed by having the vet remove the lashes if the ulcers don’t heal.

    • Hemophilia—A lack of a clotting factor in the blood. The mutation responsible for canine hemophilia B is a lack of factor IX in the affected dogs and requires gene therapy. Obviously, if you find your dog is bleeding and the bleeding won't stop, you go to the vet, NOW.

    • Nasal solar dermatitis—Hereditary immune diseases In the Shetland Sheepdog. The skin of the face and nose are involved… it is called “Collie Nose” though many breeds have it. There will be rough, scaly skin or ulceration where the nose and skin meet, also, a loss of color on the nose. Sores may be on the skin at the nose. The disease is not a killer but is not easy to look at. If too much sunlight hits the nose area, cancer may develop. That area will sunburn easily. Treatment includes no sunlight or use sunscreen, corticosteroids in cream form, medicine as pills, injections and a vitamin E supplement.

    • Hypothyroidism—An underactive thyroid gland produces too little thyroid hormone which reduces the dog's metabolism level. Hypothyroidism stems from the dog’s immune system attacking the tissues of the thyroid gland. Bottom line is the dog becomes symptomatic. The cause can be a predisposition for thyroid problems, air pollution and allergies. A FEW symptoms of the disorder include lethargy, weight gain, skin infections, dry skin, hair loss, slow heart rate, ear infections, depression. See your set right away.

    • Legg-Perthes—A disease of the hip joint in young Shetland Sheepdogs. It is a deforming of the head of the femur head where it fits into the pelvic socket and is generally noticed at around 6 to 8 months age. The disease affects small and toy breeds and can range from mildly debilitating to totally debilitating. It’s very painful and the dog will have a lame leg at the affected hip. Pain can become severe in some dogs and the dog will go from occasional limping to continuous carrying of the leg. Severe muscle atrophy can set in with the appearance of shortening of the affected leg. Restricted joint movement is also a common sign Legg-Perthes. Surgery will usually restore a dog to a fairly normal life but prevention at the breeding stage is the right solution.

    • Von Willebrand"s Disease—A deficiency in clotting factor in the blood. The affected dog does not properly utilize the blood-platelets for blood-clotting. Thus, the dog is prone to excessive bleeding if in an accident or surgery.

    • Deafness—Hereditary or caused by: Excessive loud noise, Intolerance to anesthesia, drug toxicity, and Otitis (middle ear infection), In some cases, one ear can have no hearing from birth and the other ear can be losing the ability to hear over time, undetected, then suddenly one morning the hearing is totally gone. There is no reversing once that happens.

    • Congenital elbow luxation - Very little information available. Essentially, this is a dislocated elbow joint occurring at birth and resolved with surgery.

    • Malassezia dermatitis—A highly itchy skin infection, usually around the ears, muzzle, inner thighs, eyes or feet. The dog may become frantic, chewing and scratching the ears and feet. If an ear infection, there might be a waxy discharge and smelly odor. The dog will be rubbing and pawing at the ear. Look for Malassezia in the summer, humidity and allergy seasons. Your vet will treat this with appropriate medications and bathing after a diagnosis.

    • Epilepsy—a serious seizure disorder that usually shows up at around 2 to 4 or 5 years of age in the dog.

    Other health problems could occur in your Shetland Sheepdog. If you notice any problems with your dog, take it to the vet immediately. This website is for general information only and is not intended to, in any way, be a medical guide.


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