The Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie)
I have a friend who has kept Shetland Sheepdogs all her life. The beautifully graceful dogs look like miniature Rough Collie’s. They have thick, luscious coats and endearing faces. I think that one of the main features of the Sheltie is their wonderful loving characters.
The coat originates from the days of herding sheep in the Shetland Isles where temperatures can be extremely low. They were used by Scottish farmers to keep birds off the crops so barking comes very naturally to them.
Their athletic ability has made them superstars at agility including obedience and flyball. They are extremely intelligent and quick to learn a command. I love to watch Sheltie’s outdoors, they are extremely graceful, light-footed dogs and can jump really high.
Size is around 14 inches to the shoulder and weight is around 25 pounds, however, some Sheltie’s can be much larger.
The Sheltie’s I have met have been friendly, inquisitive and playful. They are known to be sensitive, so only quiet reprimands are advised. A quiet, calm household is advised, where noise is kept to a minimum. They need early socialisation because there is a tendency to be skittish and timid in just a few Shelties.
Shetland Sheepdogs adapt well to apartment living as long as they get a daily walk. They are excellent companions but will bark to protect their owners and property. At certain times of the year, the coat shedding is high, so daily grooming is required.
My friend’s dogs are Sable, and Tricolour. The Sables coat ranges from a light sandy colour to deep gold with white legs. The first photograph shows them at just nine weeks old. Their markings are seen clearly at this age, however, as the puppy gets older the fur grows much denser around the head and chest. There is also a Black and Tan colour and Blue Merle which is a silvery blue/grey coloured coat.
Like all dogs, Shetland Sheepdog’s have hereditary health issues. Here are the main ones;
Allergies and Skin Problems
Degenerative Hip Disease
It is best to seek out a registered breeder who has certificates to prove that both parents have been tested for genetic conditions.
Alternatively, contact a breed rescue centre and adopt a fully grown adult dog with no health problems.
Is a Sheltie the right dog for you?
There is no doubt that Shetland Sheepdogs make excellent companions. They have loving personalities and thrive on affection. However, they are sensitive dogs and a calm household is advised. Sheltie owners must have the time to give the dog a daily five-minute brush and brisk walk. Anyone who lives in close proximity to other people may need to put in extra training to reduce barking.
A quiet home in the countryside with active owners would be ideal.