Shetland Sheepdogs As Family Pets
For those that love the look of the Collie but don’t want a large sized dog, a Shetland Sheepdog may be the perfect compromise. This smaller sized look alike to the Rough Coated Collie is intelligent, loyal, and can be easily trained. These dogs are great with kids, enjoy being outdoors with the family, and tend to get along well with other pets.
Developed in the Shetland Islands, Shelties are related to both the Collie and the Border Collie. They have longer, fine boned legs and a well-developed, but not heavy, body. Their coat is long, dense and double with a long, feathered tail. The head is covered with short hair, allowing a clean look to the tapering muzzle and the soft, gentle eyes. The ears are carried erect with the tips folded over.
The coat of the Sheltie can be a variety of colors including sable, blue merle, and tri-colored with black and white markings possible. Variations of darker and lighter sables and browns add details to the coat and make each dog unique. The coat does require regular grooming to stay tangle and mat free. These dogs are average shedders year round with heavy seasonal sheds in the spring and the autumn months.
Shelties have many of the same health conditions as other collie types. One important consideration for owners is that this breed can be very sensitive to some types of medication, including heartworm preventatives and deworming medications. Always ask your veterinarian about possible reactions before starting a new medication. Better safe than sorry for your pet!
Many Shelties are natural herders and often will attempt to herd kids, other pets, and even adults. They are not prone to nipping since they are a true herding breed, not a heeler. It is important to recognize this behavior so it is not mistaken for any kind of aggressive tendencies.
The Shetland Sheepdog is an outstanding companion pet that loves attention. They are good watchdogs, but are not effective guard dogs as they are naturally friendly. When socialized, they are great with other animals and livestock. Kids and Shelties are a natural match and because they are so responsive to their owners, they can be a great dog for kids to train and work with.
A Sheltie does need time outdoors on a daily basis as they are a highly energetic breed that loves to run and play. They can be trained to fetch, compete in obedience, agility and even Flyball and Frisbee types of events. While finer boned than many of the herding breeds they are still athletic and excited to be in on whatever is going on around them.
Talk to your veterinarian if a Shetland Sheepdog is the right breed for you and your family!