Photo by Donald Scott

Shetland Sheepdog - Breed Profile:

Origin: Scotland
Colors: Blue merle, sable and black with variations in white and/or tan
Size: Small
Type of Owner: Novice
Exercise: Moderate
Grooming: Regular
Trainability: Easy to train
Combativeness: Friendly with other dogs
Dominance: Low
Noise: Likes to bark

Physical characteristics

In a few words, the Shetland Sheepdog is a herding dog that looks like a miniature Collie. The body appears slightly longer than tall, with a deep chest and well-sprung ribs. The head is a long, blunt wedge tapering slightly from the ears to the black nose. The eyes are medium size with dark, almond-shaped rims. They are generally dark, except in blue merle dogs where they may be blue or a merle colour. The small and flexible ears are set high and carried three-fourths erect, with tips breaking forward. The jaws are clean and powerful with teeth meeting in a scissor bite. The tail is long. The gait is effortless and smooth.
Shelties weigh around 18 pounds. Their height is 13 to 16 inches.


A loyal dog with a wonderful temperament, gentle and sensitive. The Shetland Sheepdog is one of the smartest breeds, very willing to please and obey. Many fanciers think them to have nearly human intelligence. Lively and loving with children and the family, though suspicious of strangers. A good guard and watchdog. A proper socialization is necessary from puppyhood. This breed is very people-oriented and must be raised in a home full of human companionship. Sensitive to the tone of your voice, Shelties won't obey if they feel you do not mean what you say. Neither will they obey if you are too harsh. They need calm but firm and consistent owners. Due to their strong herding instincts, Shelties love to chase things, so make sure to stop this behaviour whenever it starts and teach your dog not to chase cars. This breed tends to bark a lot.

Coat and grooming

Unlike in the Collie, Shelties come in only one coat type - longhaired (rough). It is glorious and double with a lion-like mane and frill around the neck. The guard hair is long, harsh and straight. The udercoat is wholly. The legs and tail are feathered. The hair on the face and feet is short and smooth. Once a week thorough brushing is necessary. These dogs are seasonally heavy shedders.
Shelties come in blue merle, sable and black with different amounts of white and/or tan.
Sheltie puppy. Photo by ugglemamma.


Some lines may be prone to hypothyroidism and displacement of the patella (kneecap). As well as their larger cousins, Shelties tend to inherit malformation and disease of the eyes, so every individual should have his eyes checked by a veterinary ophthalmologist. Do not overfeed.
The lifespan of Shelties is 12 to 15 years.

Other interesting facts

The dog is also known as the Shetland Collie, Dwarf Scotch shepherd, Toonie dog, and Miniature Collie. All these names are obsolete except the latter.