The Shetland Sheepdog originated in the 1800s and its ancestors were from Scotland, which worked as herding dogs. These early dogs were fairly small, about 20 inches in height, which further developed into the current Shetland Sheepdog. It is said that other dogs came into the mix as well. This helped produce this breed, namely the early Collie, the Iceland dog, and the King Charles Spaniel (black and tan version).
Shetland Sheepdog History of the Breed
Because they got isolated from the rest of the world, the Shetland Sheepdog was able to breed to its original form. This occurred in a fast amount of time compared to other dog breeds. This would have taken decades, or even centuries of mixed breeding to form their current AKC recognition. England became fond of these animals when the British naval fleet used to take puppies back after visiting the islands.
Their name, in the beginning, were referred to as “Toonie dogs” which made reference to their local Shetland farming area. Sometime in the early 1900s, the name was termed “Shetland Collies”. Yet, Collie enthusiasts were not very fond of his name so they changed it to the Shetland Sheepdog.
Shetland Sheepdog Suitability As A Family Pet
This dog breed is a very intelligent animal that is considered to be extremely bright, a bit on the sensitive side, and always willing to please. Shetland Sheepdogs learn quickly which makes them easily trainable. They are very obedient dogs, gentle, amiable, and make great companions to any family, especially those with small children.
Shetland Sheepdog Exercise Needs
This dog is very energetic, so it must have daily exercise to maintain its physical energy output needs. Brisk walks throughout the day on a leash, short jogs, or playful training sessions are all perfect ways to spend time with the Sheltie while getting the dog its required exercise.
Shetland Sheepdogs are best to be kept indoors with its family, as it longs for companionship and human contact at all times. Yet, this dog can sleep outdoors if necessary, so long as the climate is decent. It is just not recommended for its stable emotional happiness.
Shetland Sheepdog Known Health Issues
As a member of the herding group, the Shetland Sheepdog has a lifespan of 14 years when it maintains good health. Veterinarians suggest that dog owners have their Sheltie dogs DNA tested for vWD, hip dysplasia, eye problems, and thyroid issues. The only major health concern that is common for this dog breed is dermatomyositis. Minor issues to look out for include allergies, patellar luxation, CHD, PRA, CEA, hypothyroidism, trichiasis, Legg-Perthes, and cataract.
Shetland Sheepdog Grooming Needs
Because of their long, thick, fluffy coats, it may seem like grooming a Shetland Sheepdog would be a daunting task. While it does need some dedication and patience, it is not as difficult or time-consuming as one might think. Some owners choose to shave their Shelties to avoid having to groom, but this is not a good option. The Sheltie’s thick and lengthy coat helps protect the dog from extreme heat and extreme cold. Shaved dogs are also more susceptible to sunburn and frostbite.
Brushing your Sheltie’s coat and undercoat regularly is the single most important aspect of grooming for this breed. You should brush the undercoat first, as it has more difficulty shedding on its own and is most prone to matting. Part the fur of the topcoat and mist the area you plan to brush with water. (It is important to mist or dampen your Sheltie’s fur as you brush it due to the risk of breakage on course-coated dogs.) Using a pin brush, brush from head to rump, removing the dead hair as it collects in the brush. Do this all across your Sheltie’s body. This technique is referred to as “line brushing.”
After removing all the shed fur from the Shetland Sheepdog’s undercoat, you can move on to the area called the “skirt.” The skirt is the hair on your dog’s rump beneath its tail. This hair tends to be more coarse than the rest of the sheepdog’s coat and is harder to get a brush through. Gently and carefully using a fine-toothed metal comb can be a better, if the slower option for grooming the skirt fur. This comb can also double for similar hair near the ears and on the legs of the Sheltie. Always remember to mist the fur as well, as it will not tug on the dog and make it uncomfortable for them.
After grooming the undercoat and the skirt, you can move on to the topcoat. Continuing to mist the fur before brushing, you can work your way through the topcoat with the same brush as the undercoat (after cleaning out the excess dead fur, of course) to help regain the normal sheen of the Sheltie’s coat.
As the Shetland Sheepdog is energetic and playful they make ideal family pets. Remember you need to spend time grooming them and give them regular exercise. If you do this you will have a happy and loyal companion.