July 22, 2019

Breed Profile: Shetland Sheepdog

By Alisha Corsi

One of the brightest dogs in the world, Shetland Sheepdogs, or “Shelties” as they are more commonly called, are known for their keen sense of intelligence and intense loyalty (think of a smaller version of Lassie). As athletic as they are smart, Shelties excel in agility and herding competitions, but are most successful when it comes to winning the hearts of their human families with their loving personalities.

photo by: Kelsee Dupras

Physical Traits

Size & Weight: Shelties stand between 13-16 inches at the shoulder, and weigh between 11-31 pounds, with males generally being larger and heavier than females.

Coat & Color: Shelties have a double coat. Their topcoats are long, straight, and water-repellent, while the undercoat is short, furry, and very dense. Shelties usually shed their coats in clumps, making them easier to groom than other smooth-haired dogs. Their coats come in three different colors: black, blue merle, and sable, with sable being the most common.

Life Expectancy: 12-15 years


Shelties are exceptionally intelligent dogs, ranking 6th out of 123 breeds. They learn new commands quickly, obeying a command the first time more than 95% of the time. For this reason Shelties are one of the most successful obedience dogs. They are also herders, and are so adept at it that they can often be found attempting (and often succeeding) at herding people! In addition to their performance skills, Shelties are very devoted and docile dogs who make great family pets. While not as intimidating as some other dog breeds, their intense loyalty to their owners make them excellent watch dogs.

Travis, A Sarasota Dog

Something to Bark About: The original working sheepdogs of Shetland are now extinct, and have been replaced by Border Collies. In fact, the Shetland Sheepdog as it is now known has never been used as a working dog on Shetland, and ironically, these dogs are very rare there!


  • Shelties may just be the total package when it comes to dogs, possessing brains, beauty, and loyalty—need I say more?
  • Shelties are alert and have a keen sense of understanding.
  • Diverse in their talents, Shelties are great at herding, agility competitions, and simply loving on their families.
  • Great with kids if reared with them from a young age.


  • Shelties require lots of exercise and mental stimulation. Ignoring this may lead to the development of bad behaviors, such as excessive barking, nervousness, and phobias.
  • Shelties will herd anything, including cars, so owners must constantly be watchful.
  • Can sometimes be aloof with strangers, so they must be socialized at a young age.

If you’re ready to welcome a Sheltie into your family, find a list of Sheltie rescue groups near you at nationalsheltierescue.org.

Check out this amazing Sheltie we saw at a local pet event.


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