Sparkshire Shetland Sheepdogs
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Information about Shetland Sheepdogs

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General Information

Size: 13-16 inches tall, measured from the ground to the top of the shoulder blade. 

Weight: 20 to 25 lbs.

Lifespan: 12-15 years

Physical characteristics: Although a Shetland Sheepdog resembles a small Collie, it is not a miniature collie.  The term "miniature collie" implies that the Sheltie is a bred down version of the collie, which it is not.  The early Shetland Sheepdogs came from a small herding dog, called the Toonie collie or Toonie dog.  Although much of the early history of the breed is unknown, it is believed that black and tan King Charles spaniels and Yakki dogs (from Greenland) were interbred with these Toonie dogs.  Collie crosses were introduced later, giving the Shetland Sheepdog many of the Collie physical characteristics and colors. 

Trainability: Very intelligent and easy to train.  They are also sensitive and should never be given harsh corrections.


Maintenance: This is a long coated breed that sheds annually or semi-annually.  During non-shedding periods, coat should be thoroughly brushed (to the skin) weekly.  During shedding, coats will need to be brushed thoroughly 3 or 4 times a week.  The coat comes out in clumps, and if brushing is not done frequently, the coat will get matted very quickly.  The shedding period may last a few weeks.  Special attention should be given to the soft hair behind the ears and the hair on the inside of the thighs and up under the front legs, as this is where mats frequently form.

Personality: Shelties are generally very devoted to their families and want to be close to people.  Because of this, a Sheltie should be an indoor dog.  They are not usually outgoing toward strangers like a Labrador or Golden Retriever.  Some will approach strangers, but most will either stand still or back away slightly if approached by someone they don't know, preferring to approach them on their own terms.  Unfortunately, some Shelties show extreme shyness and/or nervousness when encountering a new environment or strangers.  Some also tend to be extremely sensitive to noises.  Shyness and nervousness are undesirable traits and dogs exhibiting these should not be bred.  Shelties are known to be barkers.

2000 Susan Sparks. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced without permission.


Other Sheltie information:

  • Health Problems Found in the Shetland Sheepdog  
  • Genetic Tests That Should Be Performed Before Breeding  
  • Sheltie Coat Color Calculator
  • Sheltie Coat Colors - an interactive guide
  • Basic Color Genetics of the Shetland Sheepdog
  • United Kennel Club (UKC) Standard for the Shetland Sheepdog
  • Sheltie Books
  •  More articles coming soon!



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