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Shetland Sheepdog

Glamorous yet dainty and neat, the Shetland Sheepdog is, at least in appearance, a miniature of the Rough Collie. The coat is long, hard and straight, with a profuse mane and frill and luxurious feathering on the legs and tail. 

The need-to-know
  • Dog suitable for owners with some experience
  • Basic training required
  • Enjoys active walks
  • Enjoys walking one to two hours a day
  • Small dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming daily
  • Non hypoallergenic breed
  • Quiet dog
  • Guard dog. Barks and alerts
  • May require training to live with other pets
  • May require training to live with children

Key Facts

Lifespan: 12-13 years
Weight:  6-12kg
Height:  Males stand around 37cm and females 35.5cm
Colours:  Commonly sable and white, but also black and white, tricolour, merle and black and tan
Size:  Small
UK Kennel Club Groups: Pastoral


Family-friendly: 5/5
Exercise needs: 4/5
Easy to train: 5/5
Tolerates being alone: 2/5
Likes other pets: 4/5
Energy level: 4/5
Grooming needs: 3/5
Shedding: 5/5


The Sheltie may look every inch the show dog, and these days many are, but under the glorious coat, there is a strong, active working breed with a sharp mind and bags of energy. Devoted to their owners, Shetland Sheepdogs can take a while to warm to strangers, and they are never off duty – always ready to alert their owner to whatever catches their eye! 

History and Origins

Country of Origin: Shetland Isles

Named for the Shetland Isles off the North-East coast of Scotland where this breed was developed, the Shetland Sheepdogs original job was aiding crofters in herding sheep, and protecting unfenced crops from anything that fancied a free meal.  

Many animals native to Shetland are notable for their smaller stature - the sheep and ponies in particular. As a result, crofters had no need of a large, expensive to feed working dog when a nimble smaller dog would do better. 

Likely derived from a variety of local working dogs including collie and possibly spitz types, with remarkably little input from the Rough Collie which is surprising given the similar appearance. When the breed was recognised by the Kennel Club the name had to be changed from ‘Shetland Collie’ as breeders of the Rough Collie at the time did not want the two breeds associated!

Health and Common Concerns

Exercise Needs

Space Requirements

Nutrition and Feeding

Grooming Shetland Sheepdogs

Training Shetland Sheepdogs

Best Family Dog Breeds

Did You Know?

  • Whilst there have been many ‘presidential dogs’ residing at the White House, it was President Calvin Coolidge who had, for the benefit of his Shetland Sheepdog ‘Calamity Jane’, a special dog bath built, to keep her coat clean and sweet smelling.
  • More recently, popstar Miley Cyrus has a Sheltie called Emu whose portrait she has had tattooed on her arm.

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