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What is it about Scotland’s remote and beautiful Shetland Islands that produces such adorable animals…including the sweet, fluffy Shetland Sheepdog breed, aka the Sheltie? Learn what to love about shelties as well as what makes them the perfect pets in this article.
The Sheltie was originally a working dog, trained to work with the cute little native Shetland Sheep of the islands. Yes, more Shetland animal cuteness! Shelties performed different tasks than traditional herding dogs like the Border Collie.
They were more sheep “drivers” than herders. They also stayed with the sheep when they roamed the more remote parts of the islands during the warmer summer months. They protected the lambs from birds of prey with loud barking!
Over time, an increase in English visitors to the scenic Shetland Islands led to significant interest in these perky little working dogs. The modern history of the breed began when English breeders began to cross the dogs with Collies to give them their fluffy coats and distinctive look. Today’s Shelties are thought to have about 50% Collie blood in their makeup.
Shelties are also alert, intelligent, loyal, and affectionate. They are very closely bonded with their human family but can be somewhat shy and timid around strangers.
That gorgeous coat is actually a double coat. The outer coat has long, straight hairs, and the undercoat is short and very thick. The ruff and tail are impressively fluffy.
The coat comes in a variety of colors, often mixed with a good amount of white. They also shed quite considerably, making consistent grooming a necessary part of their upkeep. Here are some good grooming tips to help you keep them looking smart and clean.
Their liveliness and eagerness to please their owners make them great agility dogs. You’ll often see Shelties at agility trials. Their background as working sheepdogs comes in handy at herding trials, too.
They are particularly strong in the “fetch” and “gather” styles of herding. If you’re interested in participating in agility and herding trials, the Sheltie just might be the perfect breed for you!
Maybe you’re considering getting a Sheltie yourself. If so, you should know that they require regular training and exercise.
You’ll also be pleasantly surprised by the fact that this ball of fluff is quite the smart pup. They’re also very eager to learn new commands, making them good students for basic commands and other tricks.
With that being said, training is still recommended to start at the earliest age possible so that they don’t pick up any negative habits. But don’t worry too much because they love having an active job, so there’s no doubt they’ll become your best companions in time with the right training.
Like all dogs, the best way to train your Sheltie is via positive reinforcement. Examples of this method include reward-based treats or verbal praise. Doing this method will make your pup associate training with good things and thus motivate him to learn more.
Another important aspect of training is social enrichment. It’s necessary to socialize your pup with other animals and people as early as possible, both for their safety and health.
Doing proper training for your pets helps them be more confident and comfortable in different environments. Nothing beats these tips when it comes to your fur friend’s well-being.
Considering their historical background of being bred as working dogs, it’s only logical to assume that this breed would require plenty of exercise and stimulation every day. And you’d be right.
It’s recommended that these pups get at least thirty minutes of physical activity every day, although these activities need to be appropriate for their age and energy level.
For example, long walks in a park would be great for older pups who might have experienced certain senior dog behavior changes. Young ones, on the other hand, will need more active exercises like playing frisbee or tug-of-war.
While health issues are generally rare for this breed, it’s still important to be aware of some health problems seen to arise among them. Some of these complications include the following:
This condition is quite a common fear among big dog owners, which is why it can also be seen among Shetland sheepdogs. It affects the hip joint of an affected dog and causes pain and possibly lameness among them.
Depending on the severity of the condition, surgery may be required. As such, it is important to have your Sheltie to have regular physical exams with the vet as well as look out for its symptoms.
This infamous genetic disorder of the eye is one generally seen among herd dogs such as the Sheltie and the Collie breeds. It affects some inner structures of their eyes, and in severe cases, it may even cause blindness.
Remember to conduct some ophthalmic examination for your pet, preferably when they are two months old. Depending on the case, certain measures may be taken to treat it.
This breed may also be more prone to some skin conditions, such as the Sheltie skin syndrome. Thyroid disease, epilepsy, and von Willebrand’s disease have also been observed among Shetland sheepdogs.
Thankfully, many respectable breeders have successfully managed to reduce the incidence of these heritable diseases through careful examination. As an owner, it is also your responsibility to ensure that these complications are identified as early as possible.
If you wanna show more of your love to these pups, you can check out our collection of dog lover apparel. We ensure that a fourth of the proceeds are donated to no-kill animal shelters.
This dog breed is generally known for its good temperament. While some of them may be less cuddly, you can generally expect the breed to be loving in general.
Yes, they make great and loyal companions, especially when trained properly.
These pups prefer the companionship of their fur parents and shouldn't be left alone for more than eight hours.