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The Shetland Sheepdog: Smart, Beautiful, and Loyal

Updated on May 6, 2011


Living with Shelties!

Living with Shelties (Shetland Sheepdogs) for the past 4 years has been a learning experience. People say 'we' teach dogs, however, I'm not so sure about that. Shelties pick up on your body language as well as voice tone. They like to please their people, and quickly learn that pleasing brings treats.

Shelties are docile and very alert. You might think they're napping, but make one move or the smallest noise, and they are up and on “go!” So much so, that an unsuspecting squirrel might walk across the top of my backyard fence, and like a flash of lightening, my Shelties are up and the chase is on! Not that they'll ever catch this silly squirrel, but it's an ongoing challenge.

Shelties love to chase, but chasing can be dangerous. Shelties must be taught that chasing cars is not allowed. Never let a Sheltie run free near a highway or street, because chase they will. They focus only on the object of the chase, and can be hurt or killed by chasing cars.

Owners of these magnificent breeds need to be calm, but firm. Shelties need a home with humans who are confident, consistent, pack leaders. Shetland Sheepdogs are one of the most intelligent breeds. But, with intelligence come the need to occupy their minds. Shelties love to be busy, help and supervise everything you do. Don't even think you're going to do anything without your Sheltie at your side. They love to watch, monitor and be involved with everything you do.

On average, Shelties range from 15 to 25 lbs, but can be larger. They have a lifespan of approximately 10 to 15+ years. Normally, they mature between 3-5 years of age, so don't expect your Sheltie to sport a beautiful coat before this time. Grooming is very important, not only for your dog, but because of shedding and knotting of the fur. Keep nails short, brush the coat weekly, and bathe at least every 3-4 weeks.

Barking is one of the biggest complaints about Shelties. They love to bark! However, they don't normally bark inside the home without reason. Never leave your Sheltie outdoors more than 20 minutes at a time, to cut down on the barking routine. Some people who own Shelties opt to have their dogs de-barked. Although considered cruel, by some, it in no way deters or stops barking. What it does accomplish is barking that is more muted and does not carry for long distances.

Training is imperative to have a well-mannered Sheltie, and needs to be consistent from puppy-hood to adulthood. Training does not include punishment or brutal treatment! Shelties, as well as any living being, respond and learn through patience, repetitiveness, and rewards. We all respond to praise, and Shelties are no different. Treat your Sheltie fair, kind, and be the leader in the pack, and you'll be rewarded with a good-natured, loyal, and fun companion.

I've included some pictures of my fur-babies for you to see. Enjoy!

Do we smell something cooking?

Yoo-Hoo, it's me, Kelly.


Paige (6 years old), and Kelly (9 years old)


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      Evelyn 3 years ago

      Kelly and Paige shared a special bond and it must be so difficult for you and Paige now. Two beautiful loving girls who shared your home and heart. Kelly's pic,s are so hauntingly beautiful....and she's always with you in a special place reserved for her in your heart. Paige is also gorgeous and you can see it in her face so loving and loyal and I know she must miss her best friend Kelly, I know that the stronger the love for them the greater the blessed to have them in your life.

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      ivori 3 years ago

      Dolly, you are so right, these beautiful creatures pick up on moods, illness, anger, and happiness. They miss their person and gleefully show their happiness when the owner returns. Shelties are sweet, kind, tolerant, and loving. Enjoy your Bailey - they are irreplaceable and valuable beyond comprehension. Since I wrote this article, in May 2014, I had to say good-bye to one of my angels, Kelly. She's the black and white one and I truly miss her everyday, as does Paige, the sable sheltie. They were the best of friends and did everything together, side-by-side.

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      Dolly 3 years ago

      I have had my sheltie for almost a year and I love her so much! I adopted her when she turned 6. My Bailey is so intelligent it is freaky at times. lol She seems to understand my wants and moods before I do. I wouldn't trade her for anything!

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      Barbara Eisenberg 4 years ago from Titusville

      Thank you for your comment, Wendy. Shelties are so cute, loving, caring, gentle and smart. Sometimes, too smart! Maybe you will find another to adopt and give it a forever loving home.

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      Wendy 4 years ago

      I had a Sheltie when my kids were little and he was AMAZING! He even helped my daughter learn to walk, cutest thing ever! He was a great friend, helper, comforter, protector! We miss him!

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      Rufus rambles 5 years ago from Australia

      This is such a fantastic breed review. My two Shelties are exactly as you describe. Honestly the barking is the only issue I have ever had with them and try as I might I am unable to stop this behaviour. Otherwise they are perfectly wonderful, obedient and loyal. The barking is such a nuisance though!

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      Wes 7 years ago

      They are beautiful animals. We have two. Love em wildly.