*Description: Shelties have a short body structure. Their legs are also relatively short as well, dew claws are removed sometimes. The tail is long and feathered and may lay flat or have a slight curve. The head is blunt and resembles a wedge shape. Shelties have almond shaped eyes which are usually brown but can also be blue. The ears are fairly tall and generally bend slightly at the tip. Some owners will brace or bend the ears to get this desired “Sheltie” expression.
*History: Shelties were originally bred as a farm dog. They were used to guard and herd livestock, chase rabbits and mice from gardens, and acted as a guard dog. While the Shetland Sheepdog looks very similar to the Rough Collie, the Sheltie is not selectively bread to be a miniature version of the Rough Collie. A spitz-like sheepdog of the Shetland Isles was bred with with Rough Collies, Border Collies, King Charles Spaniels, and Pomeranians, which produced a dog that resembles the Shetland Sheepdog. In the early 1900’s the Shetland Sheepdog was bred with the Rough Collie to maintain the breeds’ appearance. The Shetland Sheepdog was originally named the Shetland Collie but, due to discrepancies with with Rough Collie breeders, breeders of the Shetland Collie changed the breeds name to Shetland Sheepdog. The Shetland Sheepdogs first came to the US in 1908 and became recognized by the AKC in 1911.
Size: Males: 13–16 inches at the withers, weighing 16-20 pounds. Females: 13–16 inches at the withers, weighing 16-20 pounds.
Temperament: The Shetland is a good watch dog. These dogs are known for their intelligence and how easy they are to train. Shelties love their family, are playful, and loyal. The Shetland Sheepdog has a strong herding instinct, and will herd people and other animals. These dogs love their families but are wary of strangers. Need a calm yet firm and consistent pack leader. These dogs have a tendency to chase cars and should be trained to not to do so. These dogs can live in an apartment but will need sufficient exercise. They are active indoors. Has a tendency to bark a lot. Okay with children if raised with them but, they are typically wary of children with whom they are unfamiliar. All interactions between dogs and children should be supervised. Shelties are small and can easily become injured by a child who plays too rough. Excels at agility. May bark excessively if it doesn’t have mental and physical energy requirements fulfilled.
Grooming: The Shelty has a double coat. The outer coat is longer and water resistant while the undercoat is short, fluffy, and acts as insulation in colder weather. The Shelty needs to be brushed frequently to avoid mats that can appear in their fur. These dogs shed two times a year; once in the spring and again in the fall. However, they will still shed year round.
Health: A major health concern for Shetland Sheepdogs is dermatomyositis, which is characterized by hair loss on the head and face as well as muscle atrophy. Other concerns include Transitional Cell Carcinoma, which is a cancer of the bladder; patellar luxation, or dislocated knee cap; von Willebrand disease; hypothyroidism; and hip dysplasia.
Exercise: Having been bred as a working dog, the Shelty is a fairly active dog and requires a daily walk or jog. A big yard to run around as well as training sessions are also good for exercise.
Lifespan: About 12 to 14 years.
Trivia: President Calvin Coolidge was gifted a pure white Shetland Sheepdog named Calamity Jane.