History Of The Shetland Sheepdog
The Shetland Sheepdog originated in Scotland and is related to Border Collies. Border Collies were crossed with the Icelandic Yakkin, which is now extinct. The Shetland Sheepdog was completely developed by 1700. This breed was used to guard and herd sheep flocks of the Shetlands. Today the “Sheltie” is used as a farm dog and a family pet. This modern form of Shetland Sheepdog has never been used as a working dog on Shetland and, ironically, is not common there.
The “Sheltie” looks like a miniature copy of the rough coated Collie. The nose is black at the end of a tapered muzzle. Eyes are almond shaped and dark, although blue eyes can appear in those with a blue merle coat. Ears are small and fold forward. The tail is long and feathered and hangs straight down or in a slight upward curve. Shelties have a double coat with long abundant hair all over the body. The outer coat is straight and harsh to touch. The undercoat is soft and tight. Coat colors include, blue merle, sable and black with various amounts of white and/or tan. The Shetland Sheepdog weights between 12 and 18 pounds and stands 12 to 15 inches high. They can live 12 to 15 years. Regular brushing of the coat is important. The coat should be misted lightly with water before brushing to ease the teasing of matted areas. Shelties shed in the spring and fall. They are fastidious about their cleanliness, but bathe or dry shampoo only when absolutely necessary.
Ideal companions for a Sheltie range from singles, seniors, families or active, sporty types. They require a lot of exercise and “tasks” to satisfy their curiosity. They will do well in an apartment if they receive sufficient exercise including a daily walk or run. A Sheltie is fairly active indoors and it is useful if they have a fenced year to run in. They enjoy a free place to run free, but be sure it is a secure area as they tend to like to chase cars.
A Sheltie is loyal, willing and eager to please which makes it a fantastic companion dog. They are docile and alert with a pleasant disposition. This breed needs to be around people and are social. The Shetland Sheepdog is one of the smartest breeds. Since they are so intelligent, they love to be kept busy in order to occupy their minds.
Photo: Courtesy of Jonas Löwgren via Flickr (CC by 2.0)