Sheltie: A Guide to This Dog Breed

Portrait of a Shetland Sheepdog in a grassy field

Sheltie Introduction

Shetland Sheepdogs, also known as Shelties, are herding dogs that found their origin in the Shetland Islands of Scotland. The origin breeds that contributed to the development of the Sheltie are somewhat of a blurry picture. It’s believed that the Sheltie breed most likely descended from a Northern Spitz dog that was brought from Scandinavia to the Shetland Islands by early settlers.

The Sheltie breed may have also descended from Rough Collies, Border Collies, Pomeranians, and King Charles Spaniels. The original name for Shelties was the Shetland Collie, though this name later changed in club registrations by October 1901 due to objections that were made by Collie enthusiasts.

Documentation of the Sheltie breed dates back to 1844 when a visitor to the islands described them in their writing. The first registration for the Sheltie breed occurred in Lerwick in 1908, and then in 1909 with the Scottish Shetland Sheepdog Club. The United Kennel Club recognized both registries, and the breed itself, in March 1909.

While the Sheltie breed arrived in the United States in 1908, the American Kennel Club didn’t recognize this breed until April 1911, when they were once pure-breed dogs.


Shelties are very social dogs who love to be with their family members. They live well with other dogs and even small children. With strangers, Shelties are protective of their homes and reserved with strangers. If you socialize your Sheltie puppies from a young age, they are less likely to be standoffish with humans that they don’t know.

Shelties love to play and can spend hours on end chasing a ball or roughhousing with a family member. They can have a lot of energy, meaning that you will need to keep them busy so that they don’t become bored. Shelties are herders, so they may have some instincts that can cause them to nip. An owner can easily train and manage this.

Sheltie puppies and adults are vocal dogs, meaning that they may bark or howl throughout the day. This may trouble the Sheltie owners who live in apartments, and this breed does better in homes where they have plenty of room to run around and vocalize. Overall, Shelties are very loving and loyal dogs who are a great fit for many types of families.

Two stunning smart fluffy sable and white tricolor shetland sheepdogs sitting on the rock beach on the seaside sunny summer day


Shelties are highly intelligent dogs who love to please their owners. Because of this, training can be very easy to accomplish when done correctly. You can even teach your Sheltie puppies and adults to compete in agility courses or help with herding when joining a family as a working dog.

Given their past as sheepdogs, Sheltie puppies and adults have an aptitude for communicating and working with their human companions. They love to please their owners and are rarely stubborn. Their intelligence, in combination with their high energy level, makes them the perfect contender for advanced training.

When training Sheltie puppies and adults, it’s important to focus on praise rather than punishment. Sheltie puppies and adults respond well to treats, pets, and verbal praise when they correctly follow a command. This motivates them to want to do more, making the training process breeze by.

Be sure to avoid harsh words or actions when training Sheltie puppies and adults. With consistency and dedication, your Sheltie will impress you with how quickly and accurately they respond to the training process. Your Sheltie is smart enough to learn an abundance of new tricks, and many owners love to take advantage of that ability.

Sheltie Shedding

Shelties have beautiful coats that can come in a variety of different colors, including black, white, tan, blue merle, and sable merle. Sheltie coats are long-haired, double coats that help to keep them warm while working during cold winter months.

With these beautiful coats can come a price, such as shedding and upkeep. While Sheltie puppies and adults don’t need to be groomed daily, they need grooming at least once a week. This will help protect their coat from becoming matted and remove any brush or dirt that they may have picked up while outside.

Shelties are long-haired dogs, meaning that they shed regularly. Compared to some other long-haired breeds, Sheltie puppies and adults don’t shed regularly. You won’t have to spend hours every week cleaning up the hair around your home, but Shelties are not a good fit for homes that have someone who is allergic to dog hair.

With drooling, Sheltie puppies and adults aren’t very messy. Sheltie puppies and adults rarely drool, so you won’t need to worry much about excess slobber around your home.

Sheltie peeking up at the camera through foliage and purple flowers

Sheltie Health Introduction

When owning a dog, everyone wants as many years as they can with their beloved canine family members. Sheltie owners can look forward to many fun-filled days with their dogs. The average lifespan for a Sheltie is between 12-14 years. How long a specific dog lives can depend on a variety of factors, such as nutrition, health conditions, and more.

Psychological Health Conditions

Just like humans, Sheltie puppies and adults can be prone to various psychological health conditions. Various factors may trigger these conditions, and they may vary in severity and frequency. What triggers psychological health conditions in your dog can depend on a lot, such as personal history, age, and breed. The most common psychological conditions for a Sheltie to face include stress and anxiety.

Stress and anxiety can look different in any dog, though there are some common symptoms. Restlessness is a very common indicator of stress and anxiety. You may find your Sheltie puppies and adults who are feeling stressed pacing around their backyard or coffee table. Besides restlessness, anxious or stressed Sheltie puppies and adults, we know them to be very vocal. Whining, barking, and howling are often likely signs that your Sheltie is feeling uneasy.

Sheltie puppies and adults may become stressed for a variety of reasons. They may feel stressed due to unknown noises, new places or people, or due to boredom. One of the best ways to prevent stress in your Sheltie is to ensure that they have plenty of things to keep them busy. Games, puzzle toys, and feeder bowls are excellent ways to stimulate your Sheltie and prevent stress that is caused by boredom.

In addition to stress, Sheltie puppies and adults can be susceptible to anxiety. Sheltie puppies and adults are very affectionate dogs who form strong bonds with their owners. Because of this, Shelties can be prone to experiencing separation anxiety. When left alone, Shelties may even take part in destructive behaviors due to this separation anxiety. No dog owner wants to come home to a Sheltie that has been digging in the backyard or chewing up items they weren’t supposed to!

With separation anxiety, we know specific pheromones reduce this condition in Sheltie puppies and adults. This specific pheromone, known as dog appeasing pheromone, was produced synthetically to help treat separation anxiety in all breeds, including Shelties. We may find them as room diffusers, sprays, edible treats, and even wearable collars.

Dog appeasing pheromone can be a promising way to reduce separation anxiety in your Sheltie that doesn’t need to be ingested. Be sure to consult with your vet before beginning this separation anxiety treatment. You can typically find dog appeasing pheromone at your local pet store.

With general anxiety and stress, there are many calming dog products to choose from that can help combat these conditions. Some dog beds and treats can minimize the occurrence of canine stress and anxiety. CBD can be a very promising way to treat these conditions. CBD is a naturally occurring compound that is safe for dogs and can help them relax. You can give this compound to your dog through oils or in specially formulated treats. You can safely use CBD regularly for dogs of all ages. Be sure to consult with your vet before beginning CBD.

While stress and anxiety are not enjoyable for any dog to experience, including Sheltie puppies and adults, there are many ways to combat these conditions at home. Be sure to give various remedies a try that your vet approves of to see what works best for you and your Sheltie. With your help, your Sheltie can live a happy and healthy life despite anxiety and stress.

Sheltie puppy digging in the beach sand

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a very common health condition for Sheltie puppies and adults to face. You may put their joints to the test, given the high energy and activity level of this breed. Hip dysplasia can be a very painful and uncomfortable condition for any Sheltie to experience.

This condition occurs because of abnormal growth within the ball and socket of the hip joint. The joint becomes unstable and loose, which can lead to scar tissue development. Given the pain of hip dysplasia, Sheltie owners can, and should, try to combat this condition at home.

One of the best ways to combat hip dysplasia is through diet. Studies have shown that dogs who consumed a fish-based, nutrient-rich diet had less severe cases of hip dysplasia than those who consumed chicken-based diets. It's believed some nutrient factors of fish-based foods help slow the progression of hip dysplasia.

Supplementation can also combat hip dysplasia in Sheltie puppies and adults. Turmeric, Ashwagandha, and other anti-inflammatory agents can help reduce hip joint swelling caused by this condition. This reduction of swelling can also help treat pain, helping your Sheltie to live a happy life despite this condition.


All dog owners want their pups to look and feel as healthy as possible, which is why skin health conditions can be very concerning. Some skin health conditions range in severity and treatment. Dermatomyositis is a skin condition that mostly affects Shelties and Collies, signaling a genetic cause. This condition can cause redness, scaling, crusting, and hair loss on the eyes, ears, feet, and tail of Sheltie puppies. Dermatomyositis lesions can vary in severity and they may come and go over time. While this condition looks troubling to any dog owner, Dermatomyositis is not contagious, and your Sheltie won’t spread it to any other humans or canines.

The vet must treat dermatomyositis, though there are steps you can take at home to help combat this condition. A lack of blood flow causes dermatomyositis to affected areas, resulting in various symptoms. Improving blood flow can help minimize symptoms of dermatomyositis. Vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids are great supplements to use to increase blood flow and manage dermatomyositis at home. Always be sure to consult with your vet before beginning any new supplements.

While dermatomyositis may look troubling, with your help, and some dietary changes, your Sheltie can live a healthy and happy life despite this condition. With some trial and error, you will find the remedies that work best for your Sheltie.


All dogs can be prone to obesity, including Sheltie puppies and adults. Obesity is very dangerous as it takes a toll on a dog’s body and can lead to other serious health conditions. Because of this, it's highly advised that Sheltie owners take preventative measures and reverse this condition if it has developed.

One of the best ways to prevent or reverse obesity in your Sheltie is through appropriate daily exercise. Given how active Sheltie puppies and adults are, this should be an easy recommendation to meet each day. Finding the most enjoyable and attainable way to ensure that your Sheltie gets enough exercise is the key to preventing obesity.

In addition to daily exercise, be sure that you are not over-feeding Sheltie puppies or adults. All dogs have a specific daily food amount to follow. This can vary by height, weight, and breed. If you are worried about your Sheltie becoming obese, consider feeding them weight-management dog food to keep them in an ideal weight range.

Treats can also be a culprit of overeating and weight gain. While treats are great for training and positive reinforcement, be sure to keep them to a minimum. Also, reduce or avoid feeding table scraps and human food completely to ensure that your Sheltie maintains a healthy weight. With the right approach, your Sheltie can easily avoid obesity.

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fluffy or rotund Sheltie sitting down in the woods

Oral Health

Oral health is an extremely important component of overall health among Sheltie puppies and adults. Teeth cleaning needs to be performed regularly, both at home and by a professional. This will ensure that your Sheltie’s mouth doesn’t develop an abundance of plaque or tartar, which can lead to some very serious health conditions.

Besides teeth cleaning, the Veterinary Oral Health Council has provided a comprehensive guide to oral health products that dog owners should be using. In between deep oral cleanings, you can use some products for both oral health and other aspects of overall health. These products also benefit other areas of health, such as digestion, joint health, skin health, and more. You can choose the product that best fits your Sheltie’s individual health needs.

In addition to oral health supplements, it's highly recommended to use at-home teeth cleaning products. Anti-plaque wipes for dogs are an easy way to keep your Sheltie’s mouth clean and healthy in between cleanings. Using these wipes can also help minimize their chances of developing a serious oral health condition. If you are looking for the best canine oral health products, be sure to check out the VOHC list of approved products.

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Sheltie Exercise

As stated earlier, Sheltie puppies and adults are very active dogs who require a lot of exercise. This daily exercise can help them maintain a healthy weight and avoid various diseases and health issues. Knowing the recommended daily exercise for your Sheltie can help you ensure they are getting all the activity that they need to live their best life possible.

Shelties should take part in exercise for one to two hours per day. This exercise can look very different depending on what you and your dog enjoy doing. Going for walks and jogging together are both great ways to get the exercise that your Sheltie needs.

Shelties have a high level of prey drive, meaning that moving objects attract their attention. Because of this, playing fetch with a frisbee or ball is an engaging and effective way to ensure that your Sheltie is getting enough exercise every day. Sheltie puppies and adults may also enjoy roughhousing or playing tug-of-war, which can also help them meet their exercise goals.

No matter how you choose to exercise your Sheltie, be sure to find something that both of you love to do!

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Sheltie Nutrition

Just like exercise, nutrition is an extremely important aspect of overall health within Sheltie puppies and adults. Nutrition can vary by dog, but Sheltie adults typically need to consume just under 600 calories per day. Shelties that are very active or perform herding tasks as working dogs may require closer to 900 calories per day. These calories should contain a variety of nutrients and vitamins, such as omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. These various dietary factors can help prevent and combat common health issues, including hip dysplasia and dermatomyositis.

Sheltie puppies have much different nutritional needs than Sheltie adults. Because of this, feed them formula dog food. Puppy dog food contains extra nutrients, such as protein, that puppies need to support their rapid growth both physically and mentally. It's advised to keep Sheltie puppies on puppy formula food until they reach one year of age.

Just like Sheltie puppies, Sheltie seniors are also advised to eat special formula senior dog food. These special formulas contain specific nutrients that can support cognitive functioning and joint health as your Sheltie ages. When examining Sheltie's nutritional needs, be sure to keep your dog’s age in mind.

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Sheltie Grooming and Products

Sheltie puppies and adults have a lot of hair. With this beautiful coat comes grooming responsibilities. Without proper grooming, your Sheltie’s coat can become matted and dirty, possibly even leading to other skin and coat health issues.

It’s important to groom your Sheltie at least once per week. To do so, you can use a pin brush. Pin brushes will remove mats and tangles, buff away loose hair, and remove dirt and debris from their coat. For the outer coat, consider using a slicker brush as well. This brush will also remove debris and distribute their coat's natural oils.

Since Sheltie puppies and adults have a double coat, you must groom their under coat every four to eight weeks, possibly more often during spring and summer months when shedding is more intense. In doing so, you will help your Sheltie stay cool during those warmer months, and their outer coat will still provide them shade and protection from the sun. To groom your Sheltie's undercoat, start with a detangling comb. This will help strip their loose, fluffy undercoat and prevent it from clogging their skin.

You should groom your Shelties professionally, as well as at home. This will help to ensure that paw and ear hairs do not become overgrown and that they have a thorough cleaning and trimming of both coats when needed.

grooming a Shetland Sheepdog with a brush

Top Sheltie Products

With such a wide variety of products on the market today, finding the one that is best for your Sheltie can be difficult. Thankfully, Sheltie owners have navigated the best products to buy for their beloved pooch.

When deciding on the best food for your Sheltie, there are many types to choose from. Some owners opt for dry food, some prefer canned wet foods, and others may prefer whole food, custom-made diets. No matter what food you choose for your Sheltie, be sure that it has all the nutrients needed to support them in their specific stage of life. In addition, try to choose foods that cater to their specific needs, such as joint health or skin and coat health.

It's probable that you may crate train your Sheltie puppies and adults during their lifetime, and choosing a crate that is best for your dog is necessary. Want a crate that is easy to travel and highly portable? Consider a foldable wire crate. Need to take your Sheltie on a plane in their crate? Plastic dog crates are a great way to go.

No matter what crate you choose, be sure that it’s the right size for your Sheltie and that they can easily turn around, but they don’t have an abundance of space. For Sheltie puppies, consider a crate divider that you can change until they grow into their crate.

Dog beds that can fit inside of a crate are a great way to give your Sheltie their own safe space to relax in. If you choose not to crate train your dog, be sure to get them a bed that is big enough for them to sprawl out on and thick enough to support their joints.

Harnesses are a great way to keep your Sheltie safe and remain in control when you go for walks. Harnesses that have padding also will keep your Sheltie’s skin from becoming irritated if they pull when on a leash. Be sure to try out different Sheltie products to see the ones that you like best.


American Shetland Sheepdog Association

Sheltie Planet

Sheltie Nation

Shetland Sheepdog Club of Northern California

Colonial Shetland Sheepdog Club

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