It is a rare thing to find a breed of day that is at once companionable, hard-working, loyal and of lap-dog size as well, but the Shetland Sheepdog is all of these things! Although resembling the Collie in miniature and originating from some of the same stock, the Sheltie was not bred down from the full-size Collie. The breed evolved from hardy ancestors which lived in the Shetland Islands off the coast of Scotland. Due to the harsh weather, hard working and living conditions and close association with the people of the Shetlands, the Sheltie evolved into a miniature herding dog, small and sturdy, a true working dog with a "special something" still evident in their personality today.
SIZE: The ideal Sheltie, according to the standard of the breed, should stand between 13 and 16 inches at the shoulder. Because the Sheltie is still a relatively young breed with many kinds of dogs in its background, size is still one of the most tenacious problems plaguing the breeder today, with both oversize and undersize Shelties appearing, sometimes in the same litter.
PERSONALITY: The Sheltie may be reserved towards strangers, but not shy; they are generally a very happy and lively dog, willing to please their owner, affectionate and loyal, and easily adaptable to the owner's moods. They excel in obedience, agility, and other dog sports, and their intelligence level ranks amount the most highly developed of all canine breeds.
MALE OR FEMALE?: Male Shelties are apt to carry more coat than females, and therefore, will require a bit more grooming. Females should be more feminine, with a closer, more fitted coat. Both sexes are much the same in both disposition and character, and both make equally good pets.
COAT: Shelties have a double coat, the outer layer consisting of long, straight, harsh hair, and the undercoat short, furry, and very dense. The mane should be abundant, and more impressive in males.
COLORS: As stated in the Standard: Black, blue merle, and sable, marked with varying amounts of white and tan. There are several variations of these three coat colors: *Sable & White - Golden to mahogany body, and white *Tricolor - Black body with small amounts of tan on the face, possibly the legs, and white *Blue Merle - Silver-gray with small amounts of tan on the fact, possibly the legs, and white *Bi-Blue Merle - Silver-gray with white, no tan *Bi-Black - Black body with white, no tan
GROOMING: How much grooming your Sheltie will need depends on the individual dog. The Sheltie is a very clean dog, and with a minimum amount of effort, can be kept beautiful and comfortable. On the average, a daily once-over, combined with a weekly vigorous brushing, is all that's required. Shelties also require periodic nail trimming, ear care, and teeth cleaning to prevent early tooth loos or gum disease. Shelties normally shed their undercoat about once a year, typically during the warm summer months.
EXERCISE: Your Sheltie will adapt himself to your way of life. If you lead a quiet life style, with no exercise, so will he, but it will not be healthy for the dog. If you have a fenced-in yard, where your Sheltie can run around, fine. If not, long walks, or throwing a ball in the park, will keep both you and your dog in shape. Shelties will do well in any environment as long as the necessity for regular exercise is understood.
SOCIALIZATION: This is the way you teach your Sheltie puppy how the world works. This is done by going on "field trips" to the park, playground, shopping center, a friend's home, or gatherings where your puppy is welcome. A puppy that is not given this frequent away-from-home experioence between 12 and 20 weeks of age may not develop the outgoing, friendly Sheltie temperament.
TRAINING: Shelties are extremely intelligent, and quick to learn. They are happiest when they are participating members of the family. Shelties are ready for beginning obedience classes at four to six months of age.
AVAILABILITY: If you decide a Shetland Sheepdog is indeed the dog for you, the best way to go about finding one is to contact an established breed club. Or, if you have a chance to visit a dog show, the Sheltie exhibitors there may have puppies for sale, or can direct you to a good source.
HEALTH ISSUES: Before buying a puppy, ask the breeder if they provide a health guarantee. There are several hereditary conditions present in most breeds of dogs. The Shetland Sheepdog is not different than other breeds, and reputable breeders will use all resources available to them to ensure the lifelong health and well being of the puppies they produce.
PRICE: Companion puppies from a reputable breeder typically range in price from $2000 and up.