You need to get to know a shetland sheepdog before you decide that this is the breed for you.   Just because they are small dogs doesn’t mean they behave like other little canines, have the same instincts, traits or grooming requirements.  You can never make any assumptions about the pooch you want to make your pet.  You need to research and find out all that you can or else you risk making the wrong choice that has a disastrous outcome for you and the animal.

To get you started on your path of discovery, the following are some things you should know about your potential shetland sheepdog:

Origins – Although they closely resemble a Border Collie, and this breed was part of their development, they are not (as some people believe) miniature collies.  The sheltie was developed in the 18th century and was used for centuries to herd and guard flocks of sheep on the Scottish Island, Shetland.  For years they have been celebrated for their gentle herding skills with small-sized stock.

Physical appearance – The shetland sheepdog stands approximately 13 – 16 inches and weighs between 14 – 27 pounds.  They have a strong, light build and an agile body.  Their head is wedge-shaped and their muzzle is well defined.  Their small ears are mostly erect but are flexible and the tips usually fall forward.  They have dark, almond-shaped eyes that are alert and alive with enthusiasm.   This purebred has a double coat.  The top portion is water-repellant, long and straight, while the undercoat is very thick, short and furry.  Colors of their coat include: black, blue merle and sable that feature varying amounts of white and/or tan.

Personality – A wonderful companion pooch he is devoted, intelligent, loving and affectionate.  He is loyal to his family but requires socialization at a young age to prevent him from becoming too wary of strangers.  He is vocal and is a tremendous watchdog.  Keep in mind that he has a strong herding instinct and this must be controlled so he doesn’t attempt to chase cars, herd children or exhibit other unwanted behaviors such as aggression.   The shelti requires proper obedience training and must respect you as leader of the pack.

Care – Grooming the long Shetland sheepdog coat can be quite the chore and is something that needs to be done on a regular basis.  You should brush and comb the fur a few times per week, paying close attention to areas that can easily become knotted, such as under the elbows, hind legs and behind their ears.  In addition, shelties have plenty of energy to burn and require significant exercise.  They can live happily in apartments without a yard but they need sufficient exercising.  Daily walks, playtime and the freedom to run around are all necessary activities.

Health – Shetland’s live an average of 12- 15 years and are prone to certain ailments that include, but are not limited to: progressive retinal atrophy, sheltie eye syndrome, hypothyroidism, patella luxation (, dermatomyositis (inflammation of muscles and skin) and von willebrand disease (blood disease).

There is much shetland sheepdog information for you to learn, so don’t fall victim to laziness.   Your companion deserves the very best life you can provide him and only you have the power to make this happen.  Take the time to learn and teach because you’ll discover that a good dog is worth all of your hard work and study.