Shetland Sheepdog

Breed History

Shetland Sheepdog training

Shetland Sheepdog is a small herding dog with a long rough coat. Alert, energetic, and intelligent dog that is known for herding sheep at a high level.

They come from the United Kingdom from a place called Shetlands Islands in the Northern Isles of Scotland. Their name is a combination of their homeland and their job on the island.

Smaller version of the Rough Collie that is bigger with the same appearance. Other similarities come from these dogs coming from the same general area.

How they were bred down into a smaller version is unknown. Nobody has hard facts and when they were bred down there was no documentation of the event.

Possible with a Border Collie and a Rough Collie to get the smaller size. There are some known breeds like the Border Collie and others that are not. Certain colors in the breed it is unknown where they come from.

Like other dogs that would live on Islands for decades they were in isolation for a long period of time up until the 19th century. Strong inbreeding was done during this period.

Working on farms for farmers was a popular job and the reason why they were in need of a herding dog for this sheep. There was no need for another dog because this dog could get the job done.

Import of this breed came straight from the Island to America. After three generations of Shetland Sheepdogs they got their registration with the American Kennel Club.


They were first known as a Sheltie Collie in 1909 and that was the first time, they got official recognition. They are a different dog than a Collie, so they finally broke into separate breeds in 1911. In 1911, you will notice that the name changes from Sheltie Collie to Shetland Sheepdog.

Top 25 in popularity and they continue to be one of the most popular dogs in the United States. Herding group, or Sheep Dog Group, with any of the major Kennel Clubs around the world.

Here are the major Kennel Clubs and their breed standards.


Male Height: 13-16 inches

Female Height: 13-16 inches

Male Weight: 20-25 pounds

Female Weight: 15-20 pounds

Boy dogs look more masculine than the female dogs in this breed. It is easy to tell the difference with the dogs.

Litter Size

6 puppies are the average litter size for the Shetland Sheepdog. Some litters have more, and some have less, but breeders should be prepared to raise around six puppies for eight weeks before selling. Mothers have no known health issues and can deliver the dogs without human assistance unless it is a case of emergency.


  • Black – White, Tan,
  • White – Black, Sable, Merle
  • Blue – Merle, White, Sable

Brindle colors are not allowed with this breed and anyone who has a brindle kind of this dog should be aware that the color is not appropriate and symbolizes crossbreeding.


$1,000-$2,000 is the price of the Shetland Sheepdog. Prices vary depending on location, supply, demand, bloodline, and other factors.

Dogs with papers will cost more money than it does for dogs without papers. Papers will ensure that you will get a dog that fits the physical description that is the intention of the Kennel Clubs to keep that integrity intact.

Without papers the quality of the dog will take a dip in comparison to the breed standard. You will pay a total of a few hundred bucks at best for the dog due to the lower quality. At some point this dog’s parent, or one parent, didn’t receive papers for the dog due to crossbreeding.


Exercise is one of the most important things you can do, besides stay calm, while you are grooming your dog. Giving them at least one hour before will help them relax physically and mentally.

  1. Brushing
  2. Combing
  3. Bathing
  4. Ears
  5. Nails
  6. Professional Help

Brushing the dog at least once per week will help with shedding season. Excessive hair needs removal to help speed up the process. Using the right brush, that can touch the skin, is the best method.

Combing has the same effect and can help during the shedding season. Doing this once per week with brushing will help keep the coat healthy.

Bathe the dog at least once per month or a little longer if possible. Owners should do this on a schedule or whenever the dog is dirty.

Ears are prone to infections if they get too much dirt in them. Avoiding this costly vet bill should be something you can accomplish by cleaning the ears weekly.

Trimming nails will happen during exercising every day, which is something we recommend. If you don’t exercise, which we don’t recommend, take the time to buy some clippers or get some professional help.

Professional help with this breed is a recommendation if you don’t have the time to groom properly.

Life Span

12-15 years is the average lifespan of this breed. That’s a long time and a great commitment for any dog owner to take on. Your dog will need food, water and shelter at a bare minimum. In addition, a great owner will exercise the dog daily and train them which takes a lot of time and effort on the front end.

This dog is a great candidate to bring home for an adoption due to their long lifespan.

Health Issues

Hip Dysplasia – when dogs have hips that don’t function properly their leg bone will rub up against their hips because of the socket problem. Dogs will show an inability to want to exercise or do any regular physical activity. Take the dog to the vet when problems like these persists.

Eye Exam – having a licensed professional conduct the eye exam will be beneficial because they will catch issues that someone who isn’t a specialist would miss. Getting the exam after eight weeks but no later than 24 months is something all owners should consider.

Elbow Dysplasia – Elbows will have some growth on the outside of it and you can visibly see the problem. Symptoms can include stiffness and discomfort when it comes to exercising.

Breed Group

Proud member of the Herding Group. Their name says it all, but it is important to point out that all the dogs in the herding group were herding different animals. Herding is a process of an animal moving another animal from one place to another.

Common traits include a decent size of medium to large and very active dogs that are ready to work and run to complete the daily tasks.

Here are some of the dogs in the Herding Group

Exercise Needs

Shetland Sheepdog is a very active dog that needs a job. For a dog that use to herd large amounts of animals of a daily basis you will need to replace the dog’s daily activity with something else.

That can come in the form of a run or any other basic exercise function like walking. Failure to give them a daily outlet will result in some undesirable behavior.

Something to consider if you are experiencing digging, barking, whining, and a lot of other issues that don’t appear normal you may be dealing with a bored dog.

Changing the boredom from that to daily walks or runs for at least an hour will produce different results. Once you see the bad behavior melt away you are now changing the dog’s behavior through exercise.

Here is a basic recommendation we would give a client to start

Morning: 1 hour (run, walk, or treadmill)

Evening: 30 min (run, walk, or treadmill)

Younger dogs will need the most exercise in the three groups we will discuss. Running a lot in this time of the dog’s life will cover a lot of ground quickly. Two sessions are the most likely to help a dog that is young and experiencing behavior problems. Also, the bulk of training most likely will happen during the youth of the dog.

Adult dogs need a mix of running and walking, but walking will become more and more in need as the dog gets older. Training will go into autopilot at this point and exercising the dog will be the only maintenance.

Senior dogs need nothing but walks and very rare will they show the energy to suggest a run.


  1. Exercise program
  2. Commands
  3. Socialization
  4. Corrections

Exercising the dogs will need to be the building blocks of any training program. No other activity is primal and will get rid of 99 percent of your training problems while training them multiple hours per day. When you find out the benefits in relationship to the cons there is no comparison. You must walk the dog every day without fail. When looking at any documentary you will notice that every species, including dogs, will always walk and run the entire time. Expect to spend most of your time in this area.

Commands are a smaller part of the training program in relation to the time it takes to teach them. Maintaining the commands are simply a function of continuing to keep it fresh in the dog’s mind. Before they come out the cage, go outside, eating or drinking water request commands.

Socializing should happen after a long exercise session. Take care of the energy and fights or over excitement will be kept to a minimum. Best way to introduce one dog to another dog or to another human will happen during a walk.

Correcting the dog can happen verbally, on leash or off leash with the hand. Key is to get the dogs attention and if you can’t get the dogs attention you will need to use the leash or tap the dog to get their attention and regain control over the dog. Once you establish that you demand attention the dog will give it to you and there will be no need to tap the dog in the future.

Additional Resources