Description: The Shetland Sheepdog is a small dog that stands approximately 13 to 16 at the withers. It will weigh between 14 and 26 pounds, depending on the dogís sex. Also known as the Sheltie, it has a double coat consisting of long, roughish hairs over a shorter, softer undercoat. The head of the Shetland Sheepdog is wedge-shaped, tapering to the nose. The ears are what is called 3/4 erect, with the tips folded down. The most usual coat color is sable, but blue-black, tan and white, and black and white are also common. The Shetland Sheepdog usually lives for 12 to 15 years.
History: Although many people consider that the Shetland Sheepdog looks like a miniature Rough-Haired Collie, it is actually descended from the Border Collie. Taken to the island of Shetland, the Border Collie was bred with a dog called the Icelandic Yakkin, which is extinct. The Collie was also bred into the dog to produce the Sheltie, which was recognizable as a breed by the early 18th century. The flocks of sheep on the Shetland Islands needed a guard and herding dog and the Shetland Sheepdog filled this task admirably.
Temperament: The Shetland Sheepdog is a gently, docile dog that makes an excellent and loyal companion to its human family. As the Shetland Sheepdog was developed as a herding and guard dog, it still manifests these qualities for its human friends, and will prove to be a good watchdog, alerting the family with barks if a stranger comes to the house. The Sheltie is a kind dog that does very well with children. A word of caution would be that because this dog is small, it might be inadvertently injured if children were too rough with it.
Health Issues: The most frequently seen problem in the Shetland Sheepdog is the possibility of diseases or structural malformation of the eyes. Another serious problem is Von Willebrandís Disease, a type of hemophilia. Unlike other breeds, in which an affected dog can often live a normal life span, a Sheltie with this condition will generally succumb to it at an early age. Hip dysplasia is found in this breed as are problems with the kneecap.
Grooming: It would probably be considered that, given the long coat of the Shetland Sheepdog, that a great deal of time would be involved in grooming this dog. Surprisingly, the coat only needs to be brushed once a week, except during the spring and fall sheds. The Shetland Sheepdog should only be bathed when it is absolutely necessary. The toenails should be kept short, and attention should be paid to make sure the hair between the toes does not grow too long.
Living Conditions: The Shetland Sheepdog is an intelligent, loyal little dog that wants to be near its human friends. It is a dog that requires a good deal of exercise, so an active family is best. A large yard is probably best for the Sheltie, giving it ample space for play and running. This dog can live in an apartment as long as its owner gives it sufficient opportunity for exercise.
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