The Shetland Sheepdog, or ‘Sheltie' as they are often called, generally resembles the Collie in miniature. Because of the similarity, they are often called a Miniature Collie, but the Sheltie is actually a distinctly separate breed, and was not bred down from the fullsize Collie. The breed evolved from hardy ancestors which lived on the Shetland Islands off the northeast coast of Scotland. The Sheltie developed as a hardy herding dog, alert guard dog, and an intelligent and affectionate companion. Their attentiveness and his willingness to obey were qualities desired by the crofter and the shepherd.
Shelties have an intense desire to please their owners and an enormous capacity for love and affection, although they can be a bit reserved or reticent with strangers. They are not recommended for people, or very young children, who would not appreciate their sensitive nature.
As a Sheltie matures, he often learns to respond in an almost human fashion, and becomes a real member of the family. The Sheltie is exceptionally trainable and responsive, plus being an outstanding worker in obedience, herding, and agility trials. Shelties raised as pets develop a great deal of loyalty to their owners and seem to have a natural affinity for children, being gentle and loving companions for them. Unlike some other breeds, there is little difference in temperament between male and female Shelties, although some feel that males are more affectionate and make better pets. Early socialization experiences will help a young Sheltie mature into the desired companion. Shelties are very alert and protective, and will bark to let you know something is different in their realm.
According to the standard of the breed, the ideal Sheltie should stand between 13" and 16" at the shoulder, and will generally weigh 20-25 pounds. Both oversize and undersize Shelties can appear in the same litter, and can make great pets. Another common fault is incorrect ear carriage - the top of the ears should tip forward, and a good breeder can give you advice on proper ear care through puppyhood. Although a breeder cannot predict accurately that a young puppy will have correct ears or be within proper size range when grown, they can give you an educated guess about those qualities.
Although both of these aspects are important for the show/breeding prospect, they will have no effect upon your Sheltie’s qualities as a good pet. The Sheltie comes in five acceptable colors, all set off by white markings: The most common color is Sable ranging from golden brown to mahogany, with touches of black; Tri-color with black, and tan; Blue Merle with blue grey, black, and tan; Bi-blue with blue-grey and black; and Bi-black with only black and white.
Shelties have a double coat, the outer layer consisting of long, straight, coarse hair, and the undercoat being short, furry, and very dense. Mature males have a more impressive coat than females. How much grooming your Sheltie will need depends on the individual dog. Overall, the Sheltie is a very clean dog, and on the average needs only a weekly brushing (it's helpful to spray mist with water when brushing). Be sure to check for mats behind the ears, under the elbow on each front leg, and in the pants' under the tail. Toenails and hair between the pads need to be trimmed every several weeks.Start your puppy at a young age learning to be groomed once a week including opening the mouth and checking and cleaning the teeth. Your vet will be very pleased if you accustom your dog to handling on examining. Correctly guided and encouraged, most Shelties learn to love grooming and look forward to it as a special quality' time.
A Sheltie needs a fair amount of exercise but will adapt himself to your way of life. They will do well in any environment: as long as the necessary exercise is provided. Between 12 and 20 weeks of age, a puppy should be given various socialization experiences, including trips to the park, playground, shopping center, a friend's home, or other places where your puppy is welcome. This socialization will help the puppy develop a friendly temperament and become used to strange circumstances.
With high-quality food and regular vet care, Shelties can easily live to be 14 years old. Be sure to place your puppy under veterinary supervision, and be certain that it receives its inoculations and is regularly checked for parasites. Your dog should have all its protective shots before exposing it to the general canine population. The breeder should provide you information on feeding, caring for your dog, vaccinations and a written contract covering the conditions of sale as a pet. Pet quality dogs should not be used for breeding, and most are sold with a spay/’neuter' contract. Sometimes the AKC registration is withheld until the dog is neutered, or the breeder may opt to use the AKC's Limited Registration option. It is a medical fact that spayed bitches are healthier and live longer than un-spayed bitches. After being neutered, most males will become more tolerantant of other male dogs and cannot develop testicular cancer and they will be less susceptible to prostrate cancer. The best way to find a Sheltie is to contact a Breeder Referral representative of an established Sheltie breed club. You should investigate the availability of an ASSA member club in your area to see what they offer in the way of education and Sheltie performance events that may include: herding, agility, tracking, obedience and conformation.If you have a
chance to visit a dog show, the Sheltie exhibitors there may have puppies at home for sale, or can direct you to a good source. Before buying a puppy, the ASSA recommends that you ask to see both parents, or at least the mother; and, if at all possible,evaluate the temperament and socialization of the mother and puppies. Also ask if the parents have had their eyes and hips checked, and if any genetic problems have shown-up in any of the dog's ancestors or relatives. Enjoy your Shelties with their sweet, willing- to-please nature and expression, and that special ‘something' that makes them a joy to be around and own.