The Shetland Sheepdog is of the herd dog breed, and is often known as the Sheltie. The Original Sheepdog of Shetland was a Spitz type dog, and was probably similar to the modern Icelandic Sheepdog. This dog was mixed with mainland working collies that had been brought to the islands. Later after it was brought to England, it was again crossed with the Rough Collie, and others including some or all of the extinct Greenland Yakki, the Pomeranian, the King Charles Spaniel, and possibly the Border Collie. Having been replaced for herding there by the Border Collie, the original Spitz-type working sheepdog of Shetland is now extinct. The modern form of the Shetland Sheepdog has never been used as a working dog, and funny enough is uncommon in Shetland.
This breed’s general appearance resembles that of a miniature Rough Collie. The Sheltie is small, hardworking, agile and sturdy. All of the dogs of this breed have dark colored eyes, except Blue merle Shelties, who may have blue eyes or one brown and one blue eyes. The expression of the Sheltie is that of alertness, having a gentle and sometimes reserved nature. The tail is carried down low and is only lifted when it is alert. It should never be carried over the back. Shelties sport a double coat. The undercoat is thick and soft, while the topcoat has long rough guard hairs. The basic coat colors of the Sheltie are sable, tricolor, and Bi-black. Modified coat colors include blue merle, bi-blue, and sable merle. Generally Shelties normally weigh 11-24 lbs, males, in general are taller and heavier. The US breed standards state that males and females can be 13-16 inches tall. The ears of the Sheltie should bend slightly or “tip” (the top third to quarter end of the ear should tip). The ears are wide-set.
This breed loves their families, and love to be included in all the activities, both those indoors and outdoors. The Sheltie gets along great with kids and is an all-around good family dog. They are very intelligent and are easily trained. This breed requires walks on a daily basis, and the opportunity to run as much as possible. This breed needs to exercise their minds as much as their bodies and they appreciate learning new things. The bark of the Shletie is its trademark, as it is high pitched and ear-piercing. Training the Sheltie to obey commands to quiet down is essential. Early socialization is also important so that he can learn to alert you when strangers approach, but not friends, or the mailman, or anything else that should wander near the house.
Shelties for the most part are healthy dogs. They do have a tendency towards inherited malformation and diseases of the eyes. Other problems that may arise within the breed include hypothyroidism, epilepsy, hip dysplasia, or skin allergies. They are also at a higher risk for developing transitional cell carcinoma. Dermatomyositis and Von Willebrand disease may also be a concern, and are inherited.