Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie)
A loyal companion with a calm and friendly temperament, Shetland Sheepdogs (Or Shelties) make great family pets. Shelties also happen to be one of the more intelligent dog breeds around; they are highly trainable hence being commonly used as a herding dog. In fact, they are so well predisposed to herding and guarding behavior that they have been known to chase down cars when out and about, for this reason they require strong discipline from their owner during their formative years.
|Good With Other Dogs|
Stories From Real Life Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie) Owners
What it's like to Own a Sheltie (Shetland Sheepdog)
As a young girl, I dreamed about having a dog of my very own. Of course, my parents were concerned about me being responsible enough to take care of a dog, but when I was around ten years old they decided I was ready, and started looking for a Shetland sheepdog. My parents loved the look of the breed, and the smaller size was good for living in town. We eventually learned of a farmer who had a litter of sheltie puppies and we went to visit them. Shelties come in black and white and sable colors, and the litter had four black and white shelties and one sable puppy. The sable puppy was a bit bigger and stockier than the other puppies and I immediately fell in love. Shelties have always had a special place in my heart after my first dog was a sheltie.
Shetland sheepdogs are great options for people who like the look of Border Collies or Australian shepherds, but are looking for a dog that is smaller in size. However, even though shelties are smaller than collies and Australian shepherds, they still have the history of being bred to herd sheep and other livestock, and naturally have a lot of energy. Regular walks are necessary for young shelties, and if you have a large yard or place for them to run, that would be ideal. My sheltie's herding instincts were apparent, as he loved to chase me around our house.
Training A Sheltie
Shetland sheepdogs are incredibly smart dogs and are very easy to train. I enjoyed going through a training and obedience course with my sheltie, and learned how to effective train him. He learned very quickly and was one of the best behaved dogs in the class. Shelties are eager to please people, and it took very little repetition before he knew basic commands like to sit, lay down, and come when he was called. He also was great at knowing to wait to eat a treat until he was told it was ok. The structure of the obedience course was helpful, especially for a child to learn how to train her dog. By the end of the course, he'd mastered all of the commands.
Temperament of a Shetland Sheepdog
Shelties can be rather timid in their personalities. My sheltie was never very comfortable around men other than my dad. He would crouch down and appear concerned if another man visited. He'd warm up eventually, but often had this reaction. He was also very scared of loud noises. One 4th of July we came home from watching fireworks only to find him hiding behind the couch, clearly scared of the loud noises he'd been hearing. He also wasn't a fan of meeting other dogs. He wasn't aggressive, but would usually be a bit nervous and skeptical when another dog was around. At the obedience course we took, there were a couple of days that we could try out different stations that are used in speed and agility races for dogs, like a tunnel. My Shetland sheepdog was not very enthusiastic about going through a dark tunnel, and it took a lot of coaxing before he gave it a try.
How Much Do Shetland Sheepdogs Shed?
One downside to shelties is the amount of shedding they do. They have thick coats and undercoats, which is great to keep them warm in the winter, but results in lots of shedding during the summer. I would have to brush my dog on a daily basis to try and stay on top of the shedding, and also to try and help him stay cool. It's easy for shelties to get too hot in the summer, so brushing them and helping them get rid of the extra fur is very important. A couple of summers we actually shaved him. He looked very funny without the long fur, but he seemed to be happier without being so hot.
Sheltie owners have to be mindful of their dog's weight, and that was always something we had to be careful of. In addition needing to exercise my dog to burn off his extra energy, regular walks were important to make sure he didn't gain too much weight. Shelties are prone to hip dysplasia, and that was always something we were concerned about him getting later in life. Vets all recommended that the best way to be preventative was to make sure he didn't get overweight. Thankfully we were able to monitor his weight enough, and never had to face a hip dysplasia diagnosis. He lived a long, healthy life.
Shelties Are A Great Family Dog
My sheltie was incredibly loyal and loved being around me and my family. The first time we left him at the dog boarders while we were on a vacation, he looked so sad as we drove away. When we returned and picked him up, he was absolutely thrilled. He jumped around the backseat of the car, making frantic whimpers and high pitched barks the entire drive home. It was as if he was beside himself with happiness that we had finally returned. I was heartbroken when I had to say goodbye when I left for college, but every trip home meant he'd do a little dance of excitement.
Shelties are incredible dogs, and are excellent options for anyone looking for an energetic and happy dog that's manageable in size. I'm so glad my first dog was a Shetland Sheepdog, and I'll always look on the breed with fondness.