Shetland Sheepdogs,or Shelties as they are frequently called, resemble the Collie.
Although they are often called Miniature Collies or Toy Collies, the Sheltie is
actually a completely separate breed. The breed evolved from its ancestors who once
lived on the Shetland Islands off the northeast coast of Scotland. The Sheltie was
developed as a herding and guard dog and an intelligent and affectionate
companion. The breed's attentiveness and his willingness to obey were qualities
desired by the crofter and the shepherd alike.
Shelties have a very strong desire to please their owners
and an enormous capacity for love and affection. Each sheltie has its own
personality. Some are more reserved while others are very excitable and energetic.
They are usually very easy to train and are responsive companions, as well as
outstanding learners and workers in obedience, herding and agility events. Shelties raised
as pets develop a lasting loyalty to their owners. Shelties are very alert and protective,
and will bark to let you know something is different in their realm. Their natural
affinity for children make them gentle and loving companions. Unlike some breeds, there is
little difference in temperament between male and female shelties. Both make wonderful
companions and pets.
Is A Sheltie Right for Your Family?
While Shelties possess many delightful qualities that make
them rewarding companions, they also have two traits that may give pause to potential
adopters: They have long hair to shed and they bark. Before acquiring a Sheltie, you
should consider carefully whether you are willing to assume the special responsibilities
associated with these.
Shelties are a double-coated breed and require a
minimum of one thorough brushing a week to maintain their coats. During sheds,
daily attention is a must. Most adult Shelties shed their coat once a year. When
youngsters "blow" their puppy coat, it seems as if there is fur everywhere, but
this only happens once. Generally, males have heavier coats than the females, and
of course the bigger the adult Sheltie, the more coat there will be to deal with.
The other challenge to owning a Sheltie is that they are notorious barkers. To some
extent, this varies with the individual, but as a breed they are known to be vocal. And
unlike some smaller breeds which are barky but have "baby" voices, Shelties
possess a penetrating bark. Your neighbors may not appreciate the fact that your dog's
ancestors always lived within three miles of the ocean, and had to be heard over the sound
of crashing surf, the call of sea animals, the bleating of lambs, and the howl of high
The Sheltie comes in five preferred colors, all set off
by white markings: The most common color is Sable,
ranging from golden brown to mahogany, with touches of black; Tricolor with black, and
tan; Blue Merle with blue-gray, black, and tan; Bi-blue with blue-gray and black; and Bi-black with only
black and white.