Shetland Sheepdog

Shetland Sheepdog

13 July 2023

Let’s talk about… Shetland Sheepdogs: what are they?

  • Shetland Sheepdogs, also known as Shelties, are a small to medium-sized herding breed originating from the Shetland Islands in Scotland.
  • They were originally bred to work on farms and assist in herding sheep.
  • Shelties have a beautiful double coat, a long and graceful mane, and a distinctive "mane" of fur around their neck.
  • On average, males can reach a height of 33-41 cm, and females can reach a height of 33-41 cm.
  • They typically weigh between 6-12 kg.
  • The life expectancy of a Shetland Sheepdog is usually between 12-14 years.
Shetland Sheepdog  Exercise Needs 3/5 Grooming Ease 3/5 Trainability 4/5

What is the temperament of Shetland Sheepdogs like?

  • Shetland Sheepdogs are known for their intelligence, loyalty, and affectionate nature.
  • They are devoted to their families and are often referred to as "miniature Collies" due to their resemblance to Rough Collies.
  • Shelties are generally friendly and gentle with people and get along well with children and other pets when properly socialised.
  • They are alert, vocal dogs and have a tendency to bark, which makes them excellent watchdogs.
  • Shelties are highly trainable and eager to please, making them suitable for various activities such as obedience, agility, and herding trials.
Alina, the Shetland Sheepdog

How much exercise do Shetland Sheepdogs need?

  • Shetland Sheepdogs have moderate exercise needs and require approximately 1 hour of exercise per day.
  • They enjoy daily walks, interactive play sessions, and mental stimulation.
  • Engaging them in activities that tap into their herding instincts, such as fetch or obedience training, can provide them with both physical and mental exercise.
  • Shelties also excel in various dog sports and enjoy participating in activities that challenge their agility and intelligence.
  • However, it's important to avoid overexertion, especially in hot weather, as Shelties can be sensitive to heat.
  • Sheltie puppies have different exercise requirements compared to adults.
  • While they are growing, their exercise should be gentle and age-appropriate.
  • Puppies have bursts of energy and benefit from short play sessions throughout the day.
  • It's important to avoid excessive jumping or activities that may put strain on their developing bones and joints.
  • Your vet can advise on the exercise needs of your individual Sheltie.
Daisy, the Shetland Sheepdogs

Do Shetland Sheepdogs need a lot of grooming?

  • Shetland Sheepdogs have a beautiful double coat that requires regular grooming to keep it healthy and free from matting.
  • They have a dense undercoat and a longer, harsh-textured outer coat.
  • Weekly brushing is necessary to prevent tangles and remove loose hair.
  • During shedding seasons, which occur twice a year, more frequent brushing may be required to manage the increased shedding.
  • Shelties are moderate shedders overall.
  • Bathing should only be done infrequently, approximately every 2-3 months, or as advised by your vet.
  • Like any dog, regular tooth brushing with a dog-specific toothpaste twice daily is ideal. If you can’t manage that often, just do it as often as you can.
Glen, the Shetland Sheepdog

Are Shetland Sheepdogs easy to train?

  • Shetland Sheepdogs are highly intelligent and eager to please, which makes them generally easy to train.
  • They respond well to positive reinforcement training methods and thrive on praise and rewards.
  • Their herding instincts make them naturally attentive and responsive to commands.
  • Early socialisation and basic obedience training are important to ensure they develop into well-behaved and well-adjusted dogs.
  • Shelties enjoy learning new tricks and tasks, and their trainability makes them suitable for various dog sports and activities.
Poppy, the Shetland Sheepdog

What do Shetland Sheepdogs eat?

  • A balanced and nutritious diet is essential for the health and well-being of Shetland Sheepdogs.
  • High-quality dog food that is appropriate for their age, size, and activity level is recommended.
  • Most do well eating two meals a day.
  • It's important to monitor their weight and adjust their portions accordingly to prevent obesity.
  • Sheltie puppies should be fed a specially formulated puppy food to support their growth and development.
  • Puppies should be fed 3-4 times daily, until 6 months old when this is reduced to twice daily.
  • Around 12-18 months of age, they can transition slowly to adult dog food.
  • Treats should be given in moderation and as part of their daily calorie intake.
  • Your vet can advise on the dietary needs of your individual pooch.

Are Shetland Sheepdogs healthy?

Shetland Sheepdogs are generally a healthy breed, but like all dogs, they may be prone to certain health conditions. Some health concerns that can affect Shetland Sheepdogs include:

Bones and Joints

  • Hip Dysplasia - a condition where the thigh bone and pelvis do not sit together properly at the hip joint, which can lead to discomfort and arthritis
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease: a hip condition that affects the blood supply to the head of the femur bone, leading to breakdown of the bone, pain and lameness


  • Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA): A hereditary eye condition that can lead to visual impairment or blindness.
  • Distichiasis - when extra hairs grow on the inside of the eyelid and rub on the surface of the eye
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) - this is when the retina of the eye breaks down, leading to blindness


  • Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) - a congenital heart defect where there is irregular movement of blood between two of the heart’s major arteries


  • Hypothyroidism - a condition where your dog does not produce enough thyroid hormone


  • Obesity - Abnormal or excessive fat accumulation leading to secondary health concerns.


  • Dermatomyositis - a disease that affects the skin and muscles, particularly of the ears, face, and limbs, causing inflammation and lesions.

This list is by no means comprehensive, so if you have any concerns about the health of your dog, or if you want to discuss further if a Shetland Sheepdog is right for you, consult with your vet.

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Information on this page should never replace advice given by your veterinarian. Potential health issues presented are given as a guide only and are not meant to be comprehensive. If you ever have any concerns about your dog’s health, contact your local vet.

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