Shetland Sheepdog

Shetland Sheepdog

The Shetland Sheepdog originates from...

Hailing from the Shetland Islands off northeast Scotland, the Shetland Sheepdog or Shetland Collie, as it was formerly known, was developed in the 1700s and falls within the Kennel Club's 'pastoral' breed group, being primarily bred as a flock guardian on the small island hills. Recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1911, the true ancestry of the breed is uncertain, with some suggesting a relation to the Nordic breeds, and others theorising a connection to the Rough and Border Collies, with contributing King Charles Spaniel blood. Another theory suggests that Border Collies were introduced to the Shetland Islands, only to breed with the now extinct Greenland Yakki. A truly versatile, working dog, the Shetland Sheepdog of today is commonly observed in herding, tracking, guarding, agility, and competitive obedience.

The Shetland Sheepdog is characterised by...

Bearing a striking resemblance to the Rough Collie in everything but size, the Shetland Sheepdog is proportioned and elegant in both structure and appearance. With moderate-length legs, a tapering muzzle, brown eyes unless the dog is of a merle variety and then the eyes will be blue, and a profuse double coat. The coat is typically rough on top, and soft in texture underneath. Common colours include blue merle and sable, ranging from golden to mahogany. Further characteristic of the breed is the ears, which should bend or tip in line with the breed standard. Compatible with children as well as other house pets, although its natural inclination to herd or round up smaller animals needs management from an early age.

The average Shetland Sheepdog...

An outstanding companion, the Shetland Sheepdog makes the ideal breed choice for families or a dedicated sole owner, providing they understand the dog's need for regular exercise and enrichment. Intelligent and versatile, the Sheltie can be applied to a variety of tasks, whilst being easy to house and obedience train. Affectionate and mannered, the Sheltie should never be timid or aggressive, but devoted to its master. A healthy Shetland Sheepdog weighs an average of 6.5-12.5 kg depending on its gender, with a life expectancy of 12-15 years. It is not uncommon for the breed to outlive this expectancy when shown appropriate care.


Typically healthy and long-lived, the Shetland Sheepdog is prone to few hereditary diseases, and breed-specific ailments are limited. Inherited eye disorders are prevalent in the breed, however. Similarly, the Sheltie is known to suffer with skin allergies, arthritis and orthopedic complaints, with incidences of bladder cancer being seen. Some herding breeds carry a gene that makes them unsuited to receiving certain types of medication, and testing for this gene is essential before any drugs are administered. The Sheltie is also susceptible to easy weight gain so feeding human foods is not encouraged for this reason.

Our Shetland Sheepdog owners have uploaded 77 photos

Our Shetland Sheepdog owners' thoughts

Added on 05/09/2013
Joined 17/06/2008
From United Kingdom

Shelties are adorable dogs who always receive the "ah how cute" response! They can be nervy and wary of strangers but defend their own territory with zeal warning people of their presence with lots of barking. They are very affectionate once they know you and are great attention seekers. They require a lot of grooming due to their long hairy coats.

Added on 29/09/2014
Joined 23/10/2011
From Derbyshire, United Kingdom

Having owned Border Collies for many years, I decided that it was time to 'downsize' and after much consideration I chose a Shetland Sheepdog. They are wonderful little dogs - intelligent, easy to train and very loving and loyal. There is a saying amongst sheltie owners that 'one is never enough' - quite true, I've recently acquired my second pup. A delightful breed.

Added on 13/01/2015

I have a 3 year old sable and white Shetland Sheepdog. He likes most people and dogs. He is a very friendly dog.

Added on 30/07/2017
Joined 11/08/2015
From Hertfordshire, United Kingdom

Actually Amy is a Rough Collie but there wasn't a category for her, only a smooth collie. Amy is really friendly and lovable, lots of people adore her. She was very wilful when she was a pup but lots of training and love made her the dog she is today, totally dependable and extremely faithful. She loves agility is very intelligent.

Added on 13/04/2018
Joined 09/12/2016
From Dorset, United Kingdom

Mungo isn’t a 9 year old sheltie. She is happy 100%of the time, is lovable, friendly, loves her food, her toys and the two cats she lives with.
Ideal dog for families,and the grooming really isn’t too bad.
Mungo knows only how to love-and lick, she likes to lick.

Added on 02/02/2019
Joined 09/07/2015
From East Dunbartonshire, United Kingdom

Shelties are a great breed and my current one is my third. She loves her flock - rounds up the kids and thinks she’s one of them. Very loyal and protective also extremely vocal so we don’t require a doorbell!!
She does cast a lot so requires plenty of grooming but plenty of sticky rollers solves the problem!!

Added on 02/12/2019
Joined 02/12/2019
From Cumbria, United Kingdom

I’ve had Shelties for around forty years. They are faithful, loyal and loving little dogs. Downside is their barking but they think they’re protecting your home and they do tend to moult which needs keeping on top of. They are the breed for me. Love forever.

Added on 13/08/2020
Joined 03/08/2016
From Norfolk, United Kingdom

I've been owned by Shelties for forty years. They have all been different in personality. My present girls are Coco, seven years, and Bluebell who is two. Coco is very nervous of other dogs and strangers. Bluebell is friendly and extrovert. Coco is full of energy and enjoys agility.
Bluebell is very laid back and considers tennis balls to be unnecessary to a happy life. Shelties can be noisy and need careful training to keep barking in check. Coat maintenance is a priority to keep their fur and skin healthy and looking good. Regular brushing is absolutely essential. They are extremely loving little dogs, very affectionate and make excellent pets if you have time to train them and take care of their coats.