11 Facts about Shelties


Shetland Sheepdogs are not Miniature Collies

Shetland sheepdogs, or Shelties as they are known, look like miniature rough collies. They’re often called Mini collies and do share ancestry with rough collies as well as border collies. Shelties are a breed on their own and developed under unique circumstances.


Shelties originated in the Shetland Islands of Scotland and are also known for Shetland ponies and other small breeds of animals. The harsh conditions in these islands, with their sparse vegetation, favor smaller livestock breeds. That is the reason for Shetland Sheepdogs and their smaller size. Shelties are the result of crossing the rough collie of the time with other island dogs, including small herding breeds and spaniels. Historians believe these small dogs were developed by 1700. After that, the breed was refined and then imported to mainland Scotland during the 20th century. Shelties were recognized in England in 1909 and registered in the United States in 1911.


They are known for their sweet, gentle, pleasing personality and playful and affectionate attitude. These traits make them a great family pet. Experts often say Shelties like to please. These traits, along with their intelligence, help them excel at obedience training.

Around Strangers

Shelties are suspicious of strangers, which makes them good watchdogs. They greet outsiders with lots of barking and also bark when excited. Shelties aren’t usually aggressive, but some of them may nip at strangers to them. Some Shelties are pretty timid around people they don’t know.


Many Shetland sheepdogs look like smaller versions of the rough collie. They are strong, compact, and agile with wedge-shaped heads. The small, high-set ears are erect, the tips falling forward. However, some Shelties have completely erect ears. Shelties stand from twelve to fifteen inches tall and weigh from fourteen to twenty-five pounds. Their average life span is twelve to fifteen years, but they can live longer.  


Shetland Sheepdogs are prone to certain diseases more than others. Eye issues such as cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy, and eyelash abnormalities can affect them.  They can develop epilepsy more than some other breeds.

Living with a Shelties

Shelties are active, working dogs and love to be kept busy and love the company of their person or people. These dogs aren’t content to lie around alone all day. Shelties love to bark, and some can do it in excess. Shelties can do well in smaller homes or apartments as long as they get exercise either in spacious fenced areas or a walk on the leash.Their coat requires a good brushing at least twice a week and sheds heavily in the fall and spring.


Shelties have thick, double coats that provide excellent protection from the weather. The outer fur is long and straight with dense woolly undercoats. These dogs have a great mane and frill and feathering on the legs and tail. Shelties come in several colors, sable, tri-color, blue-merle, and bi-black with white or tan coloring. There are a few rare colors as well.


Shelties are standoffish by nature and need extensive exposure to people and unusual sights and sounds. Otherwise, their natural caution may cause them to become too shy.


Shetland Sheepdogs have keen senses and use their sharp voice in herding to control the sheep. That also means they are quick to bark at every new sight and sound. If you don’t want them doing this you’ll have to be quick and firm to stop them.

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