Shetland Sheepdog

AKC Herding Group


Photo Copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

Photo Copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

The Shetland Sheepdog probably originated from collies brought to the Shetland Isles, off the coast of Scotland. These small shepherds were very gentle when herding the miniature stock. One of the top obedience-competition breeds, the Sheltie is an extremely smart and willing worker. The Shetland Sheepdog was first recognized in England in 1909, and first registered in the United States in 1911. Because of his kindly disposition, the Sheltie has become one of today’s most popular companion dogs. The breed also excels at competitive obedience and agility.


The Shetland Sheepdog is a beautiful rough-coated collie in miniature with a long, blunt, wedge-shaped head. The top plane of the muzzle should be parallel to that of the skull. The glorious long double coat sports a lion-like mane and frill around the neck, and comes in blue merle, sable, and black with various amounts of white and/or tan. The outer coat is lined with a dense, woolly undercoat. The legs and long tail are feathered, and the hair on the face and feet is smooth. The tail should reach to the hock, and is carried low. The almond-shaped eyes are generally dark, except in blue merle dogs, in which they might be blue or a merle color. The dog should have a watchful, gentle, questioning, and intelligent expression. The nose should be black. The teeth should meet in a scissors bite. The ears are small, flexible, and expressive, with dropping tips. The Sheltie is an agile, swift dog and a good jumper. Dogs should appear masculine and bitches, feminine.

Key Facts

  • Height:  13 to 16 in.
  • Size:  Small
  • Weight:  Averages 18 lbs.
  • Availability:  Very popular
  • Talents:  Tracking, herding, watchdog, guarding, agility, competitive obedience, and performing tricks


Might bark a lot. Don’t overfeed. Some lines might be prone to hypothyroidism. Buy only from stock with current CERF or OFA eye clearance; each individual puppy should have his eyes examined by a qualified veterinary ophthalmologist. Should be brushed thoroughly once a week. The Sheltie is a very popular breed, leading to the sale of many poorly bred animals. Buy only from a reputable breeder.


An outstanding companion dog with a delightful temperament. The Sheltie is gentle, sensitive, loyal, and dainty. The Shetland Sheepdog is one of the smartest breeds—very willing to please and obey. These dogs are so smart that many fanciers consider them to have almost human intelligence. Some say males make better and more affectionate pets. Lively and loving with children and the family, though suspicious of strangers. A good guard and watchdog. Socialize extensively as a puppy. This breed needs people and must be raised in a home where he can have a lot of companionship.


  • Children:  Best with older, considerate children
  • Friendliness:  Reserved with strangers
  • Trainability:  Very easy to train
  • Independence:  Moderately dependent on people
  • Dominance:  Low
  • Other Pets:  Generally good with other pets
  • Combativeness:  Friendly with other dogs
  • Noise:  Likes to bark
  • Indoors:  Fairly active indoors
  • Owner:  Good for novice owners


  • Grooming:  Regular grooming needed
  • Trimming and Stripping:  Some trimming or stripping (little skill required)
  • Coat:  Long coat
  • Shedding:  Seasonally heavy shedder
  • Exercise:  Moderate exercise needed
  • Jogging:  A good jogging companion
  • Apartments:  Will be OK in an apartment if sufficiently exercised
  • Outdoor Space:  Does all right without a yard
  • Climate:  Does well in most climates
  • Longevity:  Moderately long lived (12 to 15 years)

Useful Links

AKC® Shetland Sheepdog Breed Standard

Shetland Sheepdog Breed Club

Search for a Breeder

Rescue Organizations

Books about the Shetland Sheepdog

Shetland Sheepdog Gifts