Getting a dog is a big decision, especially if you’re a first-time dog owner. Whether you decide to buy, or even better, adopt, you need to consider the dog’s size, temperament, age, and genetics.
Never choose a dog because it’s small, puffy, or looks cute. When selecting a dog, many people opt for popular breeds such as pugs, corgis, labradors, and terriers. But there’s another mid-size dog you should consider: the Shetland sheepdog, better known as a sheltie.
If you’re thinking about getting a sheltie, a herding breed, here’s what you should consider:
Breed history and origin
The Shetland sheepdog is a small herding dog from Scotland’s Shetland Islands. Once known as “toonie dogs” or farm dogs, the source of the breed is a bit of a mystery, but the dogs were bred to be small and used to herd sheep, ponies, and poultry.
The dogs look like a small version of the rough collie.
The dogs became trendy after they were brought to England in the early 19th century. The British Kennel Club officially recognized the breed in 1909. The dogs quickly became popular in the U.S. and around the world. Ironically, few are found now on the Shetland Islands, where border collies have replaced them.
When deciding on a dog, consider your needs and space where you live. Do you want a dog that’s continuously by your side or independent? How about their energy levels? Do you prefer a pooch that’s eager to walk in the park or snuggle next to you on the sofa? All of these are important to determine as you want a dog whose temperament will match yours so be sure you understand sheltie traits before choosing one of the dogs.
The Shetland collie is energetic, loves to play fetch, and excels at agility. It looks like a collie in miniature and is intelligent and learns quickly, so make sure to make the training process fun. These cuties can also be stubborn and have a loud bark, so it’s crucial to teach them to stop barking on command.
Additionally, they are very loyal, gentle, and touchy-feely. They are known as family dogs, which makes them safe for kids.
Because they quickly bond with their owners, shelties don’t like to be left alone and can suffer from separation anxiety. It’s crucial to make sure the dogs get enough exercise. To keep a sheltie busy, you also need to challenge them mentally and can do so using slow-feeding dog bowls or interactive toys like puzzles.
Health and care
Shelties tend to be healthy overall, but they’re also prone to certain health problems, including thyroid problems and Progressive Retinal Atrophy.
Hypothyroidism or a low-functioning thyroid can cause hair loss, dry, itchy skin, ear infections, excessive weight gain, behavior issues, and seizures.
Canine hip dysplasia is caused when the ball doesn’t fit right in the socket, which causes friction, inflammation, cartilage damage, and pain. It often leads to arthritis.
Dermatomyositis is an inherited disorder that causes skin lesions. The condition typically starts on the head, ears, and front legs.
Collie eye anomaly or collie eye defect is a mutation that occurs when the blood vessels that nourish the retina are underdeveloped. This can cause other defects such as retinal detachment. The mutation typically affects both eyes, but sometimes is more severe in one eye.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy causes the cells of the retina to deteriorate, which eventually causes blindness.
Von Willebrand’s Disease is a clotting disorder similar to in hemophilia in humans, which can cause excessive bleeding.
With proper care and regular vet checkups, these conditions are treatable. Regular checkups will help sheltie owners detect these conditions early so they can create treatment plans.
The dogs typically stand 13 to 16 inches tall at their shoulders and weigh 15 to 25 pounds. They look like small collies or border collies.
The dogs have a double coat and shed a lot. The hair of the outer coat is long and straight, while the undercoat is short, curly, and dense. Although shelties only need occasional baths, they need regular brushing, at least once a week and more often during shedding season. Their coats can be black, blue merle, or sable with white markings.
It’s important to get puppies used to being handled and groomed when they’re puppies. Trim their nails regularly, and brush their teeth daily to avoid oral diseases.
A great family dog
Shelties can be wonderful pets if you learn to treat them right and be a good owner. If you are looking for a Shetland sheepdog, consult with a reputable breeder or visit shelters or rescue groups.
The dogs love and genuinely care for their families. Be sure to take care of their health, feed them quality food, and most importantly, don’t forget to love them back!
Claire Morgan is a marketing consultant and lecturer who, thanks to her integrated approach to business, stands behind many digital strategies of renowned brands. She enjoys traveling and passionately blogs about the latest marketing and lifestyle trends.