Also known as Shelties, this breed is the definition of a herding dog and have guarded their owner’s gardens against hungry wildlife for quite some time. Like other herding dogs, Shelties are intelligent, take well to training, and love having a job like being a service/therapy animal or participating in dog sports like agility and rally. They’re sensitive dogs and can be very affectionate and friendly but grooming can be a bit of a pain with their long coats.
Standing at 13 to 16 inches tall at the shoulder and weighing 14-20 pounds, Shetland Sheepdogs are small and can be mistaken for miniature Collies. While both Collies and Shelties originate from Scotland, there are some differences and both are considered separate breeds. These two breeds do have similar ancestors but Shelties originate from Scotland’s Shetland Islands, which is also known for Shetland ponies! Shelties are also closely related to Scottish Collies and King Charles Cavalier Spaniels.
Despite their small size, these dogs are energetic, intelligent, and playful and are surprisingly good watchdogs. They’re intuitive herders, making them great as farm dogs but they’re also very friendly and affectionate, making them great as family/companion dogs in more urban settings too. With daily walks, they can adapt to apartment living but would also love a fenced-in yard to play in. A secure fence and being on a leash are both important, as Shelties will try to herd just about everything (including moving cars!).
These dogs can also be quite vocal, especially when bored, and if you live in an apartment complex, that can result in some upset neighbors. Training, puzzles, and exercise can go a long way with this breed and can help reduce their barking. As mentioned, Shelties both love and thrive in dog sports so if you’re interested in activities like agility courses, this might be the breed for you.
In addition to their high energy levels, Shelties have a long, dense coat that can be rather high maintance. Their coats sheds heavily year-round and even more during the spring so weekly brushing is the very least these dogs need to avoid matting and other issues. These coats usually come in a sable, black, and blue merle coloring. Like other dogs, they’ll also need regular dental care and nail trimming and while they’re generally healthy, they can get health problems like Collie Eye Anomaly and hip dysplasia.
If you’re looking for an active, happy, and small breed, a Sheltie just might be for you! Because of their history as herding dogs, Shetland Sheepdogs like to be busy and thrive when given a job or activity to do. They can adapt to apartment life, given that they go on walks, runs, or do other activities every day, and they’re great family dogs. As herding dogs, Shelties will try to herd almost anything (including moving cars and other threats) but a securely fenced yard and a close eye can help keep them out of danger.