The Shetland Sheepdog, or Sheltie, is a small, active dog with a penchant for barking and a heart full of love.Shelties are not to be confused with a smaller version of Collies; these are two distinctly different breeds. These dogs love an active life and make great family pets too. Ranked 6th out of 132 dog breeds for intelligence, Shelties are incredibly fast learners and need an equally intelligent family to train them. Their beautiful long coats require hours of regular grooming, so be prepared for a lot of bonding time with your Sheltie whilst you brush and clean.History
Shelties hail from the Shetland Islands which lie between Scotland and Norway. For several years, they were referred to as ‘Toonies’, a Norwegian word that means ‘farm’. Farmers bred these dogs by crossing the Border Collie with smaller dogs with herding instincts in order to protect their flocks. The herding instinct is something that Shelties retain to this day, quite content to herd their family, smaller animals in the house and, alarmingly, cars on the street. Shelties were transported to England and Scotland in the early 1800s and soon enough, farmers started breeding smaller and fluffier versions of this breed so that they became attractive enough for visitors to buy. By the end of the 19th century, there was so much crossbreeding that the original Sheltie was fast disappearing. Some breeders started crossing Shelties with Collies in order to retain some of the original characteristics of the breed. Others continued to cross-breed them indiscriminately for the sake of profit.As the breed became more popular, their numbers increased multifold. Today, Shelties continue to be amongst the most popular breeds in the United States, while their numbers have ironically dwindled in their place of origin, with the Border Collie being more popular amongst the islanders.Unique Aspects
Shelties are often very vocal dogs with a loud, piercing bark. If you have neighbours who are easily annoyed by canine conversation, bark inhibition will need to become a big part of your Sheltie’s training from a very young age. Shelties are shedders. They shed profusely, mostly in the spring, and often during other parts of the year as well. Regular grooming is a must, to protect the dog from skin conditions and your house from being fur-lined. There are few breeds more intelligent than Shelties. They are quick to learn and love to please their humans. While this makes training easy, it’s widely known that Shelties are intelligent to a fault. A bored Sheltie can quickly get destructive or incessantly vocal. Make training fun and your interactions with them, intelligent.
The Shetland Sheepdog is not as popular as its look-alike, the Border Collie, when it comes to the silver screen. That said, this breed is featured in a popular video game called Nintendo Dogs.
Shelties are celebrated for their gorgeous coats. Keep in mind that maintaining this coat requires a lot of grooming. The bare minimum of a weekly thorough brushing with a pin brush, is a must. Whilst brushing, remember to go all the way down to the skin, so as to get all the dead hair and skin out. Never brush a Sheltie when the coat is dry; use a spray to dampen the area as you go along, to prevent damage to the hair. Males and spayed females shed once a year, while unspayed females shed twice a year, a couple of months after their heat has passed. They will need extra grooming during these times. Pay special attention to the hair behind their ears, as this hair gets easily tangled when left unattended. Shelties have naturally water- and dirt-proof coats, so they don’t need to be bathed as often as certain other breeds.
While Shelties are generally healthy dogs, they are prone to some genetic as well as generic health conditions. While all Shelties are not likely to develop any or all of these, it is best to educate yourself about these ailments and watch out for them. Some Shelties are prone to hypothyroidism, a condition in which the body cannot maintain the required levels of thyroid hormones by itself. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include weight gain, thinning and dull coat, dry skin, slow heart rate and increased sensitivity to cold. This condition is easily managed with daily medication, which will most likely have to be continued for the rest of the dog’s life.
Shelties are prone to another condition called Collie Eye Anomaly or CEA. This is a genetic disorder and usually occurs by the time the dog is 2 years old. Often, both eyes are affected, although not necessarily to the same degree. There is no cure for CEA and dogs who develop this often lose their sight within a few years of diagnosis. However, like most dogs, Shelties get accustomed to their lack of sight quite well, by learning to depend on their other senses. Hip dysplasia, a condition in which the femur doesn’t fit snugly into the pelvic bone, is another condition to watch out for. Hip dysplasia is manageable through medication in older dogs, although in some extreme cases, surgery may be recommended. Shelties can also inherit von Willebrand’s Disease, a blood disorder caused by a deficiency in clotting factor VIII antigen, also known as the von Willebrand factor. Signs of von Willebrand’s disease include excessive bleeding after surgery or injury, nosebleeds, bleeding gums, and bleeding in the stomach or intestines.
Shelties are famous for two things: loyalty and intelligence. They make perfect companions for families and are happy to live in an apartment or a home with a yard, as long as they get their much-needed exercise. They thrive on human companionship and make great guard dogs as well. They’re prone to barking often and incessantly, when alert, so socialising and teaching them bark inhibition at an early age is the best way to go. Known to be amongst the most intelligent breeds the world over, Shelties are a dream when it comes to training. They work very well with innovative and creative training methods, since they learn so fast that they can easily get bored with repetition. Shelties are happy to follow you around the house and behave themselves when left alone for a few hours a day, provided you make up for it by taking them out and exercising both their mind and body.Environment
Shetland Sheepdog is a very active breed and will require a lot of exercise or something to keep him or her busy but they can do equally well in apartment living as well. They are an active breed indoors and do not necessarily need a yard. They just require an environment of love and affection and will reciprocate the same back to you.
The Shelties do well with other pets but it is very important to socialize them early as they are a little sensitive to sound and touch and can respond adversely if approached in the wrong way. Once trained and socialized the natural instinct of this breed will herd not only your pets but the family members as well.
This is a perfect breed for working people as well; this breed will easily stay in your home alone without troubling the neighbors. The only thing you have to remember is that they have to be given attention once you come back home.Training & Intelligence
Ranked 6th for intelligence amongst 132 breeds, Shelties are exceptionally smart and quick to learn. As in the case of any dog, it is best to use positive reinforcement methods while training. Because of how smart they are, they can easily get bored with repetitive training instructions, so be sure to get creative and mix things up. The best way to train them will be to develop a training program that integrates both mental and physical exercise. To ensure their own safety, Shelties will have to be kept on a leash when outdoors.They love to herd and will happily take off into traffic to herd vehicles. This breed is especially sensitive to sound, so early socialisation, sound-desensitisation and bark inhibition is a must.
Shelties are generally healthy, robust dogs with few problems during breeding. The average litter comprises four to six puppies. Shelties will attain sexual maturity between six and nine months of age, but they are still too young to be mated. If you must mate your Sheltie, wait till he or she is at least two years old. Finally, as in the case of any breed, ensure that you have found responsible families to take the puppies even before you get them mated, so that they don’t fall into the wrong hands. If you’re breeding your dog for the first time, ensure that you’re consulting with a vet regularly and have adequate help during the birthing process.Puppies
Sheltie puppies are super active and will melt your heart with their coy eyes and hilarious antics. These puppies have a gentle disposition and love to please. While they are a breeze to train in most cases, early socialisation, toilet training and bark inhibition will go a long way in making them well-rounded adults.
Shelties are beautiful dogs with a long fluffy coat that requires lots of care. They have a waterproof double coat, with a long, harsh, straight outer coat and a soft, dense undercoat. The coats come in black, blue, merle or sable with white and tan markings. Shelties have a deep chest with a level back and a gently sloping rump. The ribs are well sprung, forelegs are straight and feathered, and hind legs are powerful, with muscular thighs. The feet are oval, compact and well arched, with close-set toes and tough pads. The tail is long and covered in a thick coat. It is generally set low with a slight upwards sweep and mostly carried straight down. The head is long and tapered from the ears to the nose. The cheeks are flat and jaws are powerful. The eyes are almond shaped and medium sized, usually dark brown in colour with blue tints in some cases. The ears are small and set high, appearing semi-erect when the dog is alert and thrown back when the dog is in repose. Shelties usually live between 12 and 15 years.