The Shetland Sheepdog, commonly referred to as a ‘Sheltie’, hails from the Shetland Islands which lie between Scotland and Norway. The Shetland Sheepdog was used to protect protect and herd sheep on the islands, while keeping hungry birds and sheep away from the farmer’s garden. They were bred by crossing the Border Collie with other smaller dogs. They were brought to England and Scotland in the early 1800s where they were described as a Miniature Collie. However, they were officially recognized by the England’s Kennel Club as ‘Shetland Collies’ in 1909. Collie breeders weren’t happy with the breed name which led to the the AKC first recognizing them as ‘Shetland Sheepdogs’ in 1911. Today, Shelties are bred as farm and family pets.
Shetland Sheep are excellent companions and excel in dog sports. The small, energetic Sheltie are loving family dogs with a willingness to please their owners. While being very loyal to their owner, they are known to be reserved with strangers. They are also highly intelligent, ranking 6th in intelligence in a study run by animal expert, Stanley Coren, out of 142 breeds. Their smart nature, combined with their desire to please and athletic ability, makes the Shetland Sheepdog a strong sports performer. Shelties often portray their natural herding instinct, chasing around small animals such as rabbits or squirrels. A notable feature of this breed is their loud, high pitched bark, which again displays their herding nature. The Shetland Sheepdog has a double coat which you can expect to excessively shed year round, particularly in spring.
The Shetland Island farmers bred the Shetland Sheepdogs to be smaller and fluffier so they could be sold to visitors.
Explore some Embark dogs that share Shetland Sheepdog ancestry.