Shetland Sheepdog


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Breed Snapshot

Life Expectancy:

12 to 14 years



Maintenance Level:


Shed Level:



Eager To PleaseEnergeticAffectionate

Coat Color:

Sable And WhiteBlack White And TanBlue Merle White And TanBlue Merle And WhiteBlack And WhiteSable Merle And White
Blue Ribbon

Best For

Shetland Sheepdogs are energetic, affectionate and perfect for first-time pet parents who can provide plenty of training and socialization. These loving dogs require quite a bit of grooming, thanks to that gorgeous double coat of theirs. But once you're done brushing, you can get back to playtime!

Shetland Sheepdog Traits

Shetland Sheepdog Temperament

The Sheltie dog is an affectionate, loving friend who just wants to play and make you happy. With a low prey drive, they’re great around cats or other pets, and they can be great with kids, especially their family’s young children. (Although you might catch them occasionally trying to affectionately “herd” the littles!) Some Shelties are less tolerant of strangers’ children, but this really varies from dog to dog.

Shelties can be cautious or shy around strangers, and a Sheltie who isn’t well-socialized as a puppy might nip or even bite at strangers if they feel overwhelmed, so early training is important. Remember that each dog is an individual. Some Shelties will be very tolerant and almost never nip at anyone. They do also have a tendency to sound the bark alarm to alert their family to anything that may be amiss, whether that’s an approaching stranger to the door or a rogue truck rolling down the street.

Shelties love to play and are quite intelligent, and the more time they have to burn off their high energy levels, the better. They love to have a home with yards or large spaces of land where they can run and play, but they can be just as happy in a smaller home too, as long as you take them on a walk or two every day.

How to Care for a Shetland Sheepdog

Shetland Sheepdogs are a balance of low- and high-maintenance. On the one hand, while they require daily walks, they don’t require intense amounts of exercise every day, like Border Collies do. But on the other hand, their grooming needs can be demanding, as their double coat needs regular brushing. Training is also necessary for the Shetland Sheepdog breed, to help them curb barking tendencies and meet strangers politely.

Shetland Sheepdog Health

Shetland Sheepdogs have a life expectancy of 12-14 years. To help them reach their full lifespan, you’ll want to watch for the following health issues and talk to a veterinarian if you think anything is wrong. When getting a Sheltie, look for breeders who screen for these health issues. Ask to see the parents’ test results, along with others in the lineage, when you’re considering a specific litter. 

  • Genetic Eye Issues:Sheltie dogs can experience a variety of genetic eye issues, including Collie eye anomaly (CEA), corneal dystrophy, progressive retinal atrophy or optic nerve hypoplasia. Your veterinarian can recommend the best approach if your dog develops any of these issues. 
  • MDR1 Mutation:Like other herding breeds, Shelties can have a mutation on the MDR1 gene that makes them more likely to have a series side effect from certain classes of medications, most commonly ivermectin. A genetic screening test is available to determine if your pup has this mutation. If so, your vet will discuss if any medications should be avoided.   
  • Dermatomyositis:Dermatomyositis (sometimes called Sheltie Skin Syndrome) is a genetic autoimmune disorder that affects Shelties, Collies and other related mix types. It usually affects younger dogs and can include skin lesions and muscle inflammation. Your veterinarian will recommend approaches to help manage the condition, such as avoiding activities that damage the skin and muscles, avoiding UV exposure, or other measures, but there is no cure. 
  • Hip Dysplasia:Hip dysplasia occurs when the ball and socket joint do not fit together well causing laxity. This can lead to pain, lameness and arthritis. Treatment may include pain medications, joint supplements and, in severe cases, surgery.  
  • Congenital Deafness:This genetic deafness may appear around 3-5 years of age as a result of degeneration in the inner ear. It’s more common in Shelties with white coats or blue eyes. If you suspect your pup is having trouble hearing, please make an appointment with your vet. 
  • Hypothyroidism:Symptoms of this can include hair loss, a dry coat or skin, weight gain, personality changes or lethargy. A blood test can help screen for this issue, and treatment may be as simple as taking a pill. 
  • Lupus Erythematosus (SLE):Some Shelties can be prone to getting this immune disease where the immune system attacks a Sheltie’s own tissues. Symptoms may include fever, swollen joints or skin lesions. However, you’ll often need a fine needle aspirate (FNA) or skin biopsy to diagnose this disease because the symptoms can be so wide-ranging. Treatment may include medications (to help reduce inflammation) or immunosuppressants.  
  • Transitional Cell Carcinoma (TCC):Shelties have an elevated risk of this bladder and urinary tract cancer. In fact, Shelties are five-times more likely to develop TCC than other dogs. Increased urination or blood in the urine is often the first symptom. Treatment may include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or other medication. 
  • Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA): Some Shelties can have patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), a congenital defect where a blood vessel near the heart doesn’t close. This is serious and can lead to heart failure within a few months of birth. A heart murmur can indicate a problem, and a cardiologist can confirm the issue. Surgery has a high success rate with this issue if caught early.  
  • Von Willebrand Disease: Shelties may have von Willebrand disease, a bleeding disorder. Your veterinarian can test for this. While it doesn’t have a cure, your vet may advise that you make some lifestyle modifications or avoid certain medications that interfere with blood clotting. 
  • Epilepsy: Seizures may occur between the ages of 6 months and 5 years old in dogs prone to epilepsy. While there is no cure for epilepsy, it can often be well managed with daily medications.

Shetland Sheepdog History

The Shetland Sheepdog’s origins date back to the Shetland Islands in the United Kingdom, where the breed was used as agile herding dogs to move sheep, poultry and ponies. Shelties were bred for a smaller size so they would eat less in a food-scarce, cold environment. Their history also included serving as a companion who warned their family of intruders.

Experts debate about whether or not Shelties are actually directly related to Rough Collies. Some think the Collie is just one of many breeds blended to create the Sheltie, which may account for why some Shetland Sheepdogs in the same litter can be such different sizes, weights and heights. However, others believe that Shelties are not directly descended from Collies at all, but both share a common ancestor in the Border Collie. Some believe the dog’s lineage includes a Northern Spitz from Scandinavia, a King Charles Spaniel, an original Pomeranian, a Scotch Collie and other indigenous island dogs. However, the breed’s complete lineage is not known and still a subject of debate.

Shelties were first recognized by the Kennel Club in England as the “Shetland Collie” in 1909, and the name was later changed that same year to Shetland Sheepdog. The first Shetland Sheepdog was registered by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1911, after being imported from Shetland.

Where is the best place to find a Shetland Sheepdog puppy? You can find a list of reputable breeders on the AKC’s website. The average Shetland Sheepdog puppy price can be $850-$2,000, with some even costing $6,000 or more, depending on the breeder, pedigree papers and health screenings. You can also find a purebred to adopt with the help of Shetland Sheepdog shelters or rescue groups. Or, search Chewy’s database of adoptable dogs in your area.


Are Shelties hypoallergenic?

No, Shelties are not hypoallergenic. In fact, their thick double coat and frequent shedding mean they are more likely to cause allergy issues.

How long do Shetland Sheepdogs live?

On average, Shetland Sheepdogs have a lifespan of 12-14 years. And with the proper diet, exercise and care, you can help your pup live a long and happy life.

Do Shelties bark a lot?

Yes, Shelties were bred to be herding dogs and are known for barking a lot. They’ll not just bark at strangers, but also simply because they’re excited. Gentle, positive reinforcement training can help them bark less, but you won’t be able to teach a Sheltie to stop barking completely.

Do Shelties like water?

There’s no guarantee that your Sheltie will like water. Some Shelties take to swimming quickly and others never learn to like it. Their double-coat and small legs mean they aren’t typically great swimmers, so this can lead to many Shelties not enjoying the water as much.

What are the most popular Sheltie names?

The most popular Sheltie names are Alfie, Asha, Benji, Bambi, Bear, Bella, Coco, Daisy, Duke, Charlie, Penny, Sadie, Luna, Lexi, Toby, Bailey, Jasper, Honey, Ginger, Teddy, Winnie, Gigi, Oakley, Snickers, Fox, Jade and Neo. Get more dog names.

What are the most common Shetland Sheepdog mixes?

The most common Shetland Sheepdog mixes are:

  • Shetland Sheepdog Border Collie Mix (Border Sheepdogs or Sheltie Border)
  • Shetland Sheepdog Poodle Mix (Sheltie Poodle)
  • Shetland Sheepdog Corgi Mix (Pembroke Sheltie)
  • Shetland Sheepdog German Shepherd Mix (Sheltie Shepherd)
  • Shetland Sheepdog Husky Mix (Shepsky)

Note: These are not purebred dogs but mixed breeds.


Top Takeaways

Shetland Sheepdogs are an affectionate, playful, intelligent breed, always ready to go on an adventure with you. Very energetic and in need of plenty of exercise, they’ll love agility games, daily long walks or even just a romp in the yard. They may be shy around strangers and barking is in their nature, but a Sheltie is a lovable companion and is loyal to their family, whether of the human or furry variety.

Expert input provided by veterinarian Dr. Georgina Ushi Phillips, DVM, who writes the Not a Bully website; and dog trainer and behavior consultant Irith Bloom, CPDT-KSA, CBCC-KA, CDBC, owner of The Sophisticated Dog, LLC, in Los Angeles.

Breed characteristic ratings provided by Bloom; Dr. Sarah J. Wooten, DVM, CVJ, a veterinarian at Sheep Draw Veterinary Hospital in Greeley, Colorado; and certified animal behavior consultant Amy Shojai, CABC, in Sherman, Texas.

The health content was medically reviewed by Chewy vets.

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Top Shetland Sheepdog Names

These are the top Shetland Sheepdog names as chosen by Chewy's pet parents!

Female Names

  • Sadie
  • Bella
  • Luna
  • Daisy
  • Willow
  • Piper
  • Skye
  • Stella
  • Gracie
  • Annie

Male Names

  • Finn
  • Cooper
  • Max
  • Teddy
  • Milo
  • Ollie
  • Tucker
  • Charlie
  • Oliver
  • Cody