Shetland Sheepdog Resource

Shetland Sheepdog

This breed used to be called the “Toonie,” a name taken from tun, the Norwegian word for “farm.” It was a farm dog whose workplace was the unfriendly terrain of the Shetland Islands that lie off the northeast coast of Scotland. To this day the Sheltie displays a strong sense of boundary, a legacy perhaps from these early working days when to overstep the line meant a fall from a rocky cliff into the cruel sea. In appearance, the early specimens were far from being the elegant “miniature Collies” of today. But after the end of the 19th century, when the breed reached the mainland, British breeders refined the type by means of various toy breed crosses. In 1906 the Sheltie made its debut at Crufts Dog Show under the name Shetland Collie. But Collie breeders objected and the name was changed to Sheepdog. The breed is a popular family pet suited to almost any size home. Its exercise needs are easily satisfied with a daily walk, and thorough brushing three times a week satisfies grooming needs. Keep in mind, though, that the dense double coat sheds heavily. The breed measures 13 to 16 inches at the shoulder; the coat may be black, blue merle or sable marked with white and/or tan. The Sheltie aims to please and excels in obedience work. Shelties can be barky, so apartment life may not be for them unless they have human company during the day. They are, however, excellent watchdogs and enjoy playing with children.

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Breed Details

Country of Origin:
Small Dog Breed
Sable (ranging from golden or reddish-brown to deep mahogany), blue merle, or black, all with varying amounts of white and tan.

Double coat with an outer coat of long, straight, harsh hair and an undercoat of dense, short, soft fur.


Brush once or twice a week. Expect a thorough shedding at least once a year or, in climate-controlled homes, more often in smaller amounts.

Life Expectancy:
12 to 15 years
AKC Group:
Herding Group
UKC Group:
13 to 16 inches
15 to 25 pounds
Use Today
Herding sheep