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Shetland Sheepdog

Shetland Sheepdog

Country of Origin: Scotland

Height: 13 to 16 inches

Weight: 14 to 27 pounds [est.]

Coat: Double coat with long, straight, harsh outercoat and short, furry, dense undercoat; mane

Colors: Black, blue merle, shades of sable, all marked with varying amounts of white and/or tan|also predominately white [UKC]

Other Names: English Bull Terrier

Registries (With Group): AKC (Herding); UKC (Herding)


During the 1700s, fishing boats arrived regularly on the Shetland Islands, bringing black-and-tan King Charles Spaniels, Yakki dogs from Greenland, spitz-type herding dogs from the Scandinavian countries, and working sheepdogs from Scotland. These likely ancestors of the Shetland Sheepdog, or “Sheltie,” interbred with native island dogs to create alert, eager working dogs. The Shelties’ gait carried them lightly over rough terrain, and their easygoing manner made them gentle with stock.

Eventually, a Shetlander named James Loggie standardized type for the show ring, and the breed was entered at Crufts in 1906, where it was shown with the Collies, as miniatures. After the destructive years of World War I, some breeders introduced Collies into the surviving lines and created the type known at this time. However, the Shetland Sheepdog is not simply a miniature of the Collie—the breed has existed on its own as a much-valued worker for hundreds of years.


The Sheltie’s lively but gentle and responsive temperament makes him an outstanding companion. Because he is bright and willing, he is a top performer in obedience, agility, and other canine sports. He was bred to use his voice in herding, so he is likely to bark a lot. His owner should take special care to socialize him as a puppy in order to offset a predisposition to shyness.


Exercise: Bred to work a full day, the Shetland Sheepdog benefits from a good walk, jog, or vigorous play or training session daily.

Grooming: Brushing every few days will help keep the Sheltie’s profuse coat healthy, attractive, and free from mats.

Life Span: The average life span of the Shetland Sheepdog is 12 to 14 years.

Training: With his extreme intelligence, desire to please, and natural focus on his owner, the Sheltie is one of the most trainable of all breeds. Many Shelties work for praise and encouragement even more than for food rewards.

Find a Nylabone chew, treat, or toy for your Shetland Sheepdog or small dog!

Excerpt from World Atlas of Dog Breeds, 6th Edition © 2009 TFH Publications, Inc.

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