All About the Shetland Sheepdog, a Herding Dog With Energy to Spare

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The , more popularly known as the Sheltie, is a breed of herding dog that originated in the Shetland Islands of Scotland. The breed's name, originally Shetland Collie, was formally changed when it caused some controversy with Rough Collie breeders. However, Shelties do bear a resemblance to Collies, which are larger in size.

Shelties are very intelligent and excel in competitive settings.
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The Shetland Sheepdog, more popularly known as the Sheltie, is a breed of herding dog that originated in the Shetland Islands of Scotland. The breed's name, originally Shetland Collie, was formally changed when it caused some controversy with Rough Collie breeders. However, Shelties do bear a resemblance to Collies, which are larger in size.

The Shetland Islands of Scotland are located on the northernmost point of the United Kingdom. Food could be scarce in this harsh, cold climate, which is why Shelties were bred to be smaller than Collies – to eat less.

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It's not known when Collies were brought to the Shetland Islands and bred down to Sheltie size, as breeders at the time did not keep written records about this detail. However, Shelties were isolated from other breeds because of the remote islands, and not so well-known throughout Britain for this reason as well. The Kennel Club of England first officially recognized the Shetland Collie in 1909 before Collie breeders advocated for a name change.

In 1911, the AKC registered its first breed of the Shetland Sheepdog.

Shetland Sheepdog Characteristics

Blue Merle is a common coat color for Shelties.
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Shelties are small in size, with both males and females measuring approximately 13-16 inches in height and weighing between 14-27 pounds. Their length is between 13 and 16 inches. Life span is typically 12-13 years. Their coat colors include Merle, Tri-color, Blue Merle, Sable, Sable and White, Black and White, and Black and Tan. Their double coat sheds most of the time, regardless of season. The topcoat features long, straight, water-repellent hair, while the undercoat is short and dense, helping to keep them warm. Shelties are in the Herding Group.

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Shetland Sheepdog Temperament & Training

Shelties love to be close to family members.
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Although breed is never a reliable indicator of personality, Shelties were bred to be intelligent, agile, and alert so that they could herd livestock in the Shetland Islands. Shelties are often used as medical alert dogs, service dogs, and therapy dogs, because they are generally quick to learn and remember cues. As far as competition goes, Shelties are often ranked among the best.

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Shelties can be sensitive and don't like to be left alone for long periods of time. They may follow family members around to be close to them. Shelties can bark excessively sometimes. However, they also bark to alert of someone approaching, which can make them good watchdogs. Though typically not aggressive, Shelties can be reserved around strangers.

When it comes to training, as with any new dog, it is important to only use positive reinforcement. Some tips to remember include: be quick with praise and treats before your puppy forgets what he did to earn both things; try to have reasonable expectations – puppies do not understand commands immediately or know what "no" means from the get-go; show your puppy what you want her to do instead of telling her; set yourself and your puppy up for success by learning dog body language.

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Shetland Sheepdog Grooming

Shelties need their coats brushed at least once a week.
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Never shave your Sheltie's coat. Their double coat keeps them insulated against heat and cold. Sometimes shaving their coat can result in hair and fur not growing back completely. Brushing is especially important in keeping your Sheltie's coat healthy and clean. A thorough brushing about once a week can help control shedding. If you can teach your Sheltie to lie on its side, brushing will be that much easier.

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Tip: Misting with water or a waterless shampoo can help control static and fly-away hair. If the loose undercoat is not brushed thoroughly and regularly, it can lead to matting, which can then lead to skin infections.

Clip your Sheltie's nails as needed to prevent them from getting too long. Long toenails can affect gait and cause discomfort. A general guideline for bathing is every 1-2 months.

Shetland Sheepdog Exercise & Health

Shelties generally enjoy good health.
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Shelties are very energetic and will need regular exercise to keep them happy and healthy and less likely to be destructive out of boredom.

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Shelties are generally healthy. Common health conditions may include eye diseases, hip dysplasia, thyroid disease, dermatomyositis (Sheltie skin syndrome), von Willebrand's disease (vWD), gallbladder mucoceles, and epilepsy. Shelties are four times more at risk of develop transitional cell carcinoma (a cancer of the bladder) than other breeds. Von Willebrand disease (an inherited bleeding disorder) can be discovered through various DNA tests. Affected Shelties will generally not live long with vWD. Shelties can also suffer from MDR1 (Multi Drug Resistance) mutation, making them sensitive to many drugs.

Shetland Sheepdog Puppies

Sheltie puppies are just plain adorable.
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Sheltie puppies will weigh between 5-10 pounds at 8 weeks old. It takes about 12 months for them to be fully grown.

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