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What do you need to know before you adopt a Sheltie? We asked the experts!
The Shetland Sheepdog – Sheltie for short – comes from the harsh environment of the Shetland Islands, where they were bred as shepherds’ helpers. They are herders, which means they prefer for everyone to be in the same place at the same time. Smart, alert, beautiful (need lots of grooming), loyal, and athletic are some adjectives that describe Shelties. Because they are “always on duty,” they can be barkers. They attach closely to their humans and usually to the other dogs in the household, although some prefer to be the only dogs in the home. Some Shelties love young children; others, not so much, so careful placement is very important. Because they are smart and agile, they excel at dog activities like agility, disk dog, rally, and they love to learn tricks. They need lots of exercise and challenges for their physical and mental abilities. In rescue, we look for adopters who can understand all this about Shelties and are not drawn to them just because they’re beautiful.
Minnesota Sheltie Rescue says:
Shelties are wonderful, smart, funny and comedic little dogs, but if there was one thing we would want a new Sheltie owner to know it would be how to keep them safe. This breed is a high flight risk when startled or scared. Knowing how to keep them safe so they don't become lost is key. Among the things we would recommend are:
- Use a martingale collar vs. a regular buckle collar (Shelties have larger necks than heads which means they can pull out of a regular collar very easily when frightened.)
- Always keep your Sheltie on a leash when out and about.
- Guard home entrances and exits. Consider putting up a baby gate to prevent a Sheltie from escaping, especially when guests are coming and going.
- Make sure all gates and fence lines are free of holes or gaps.
- Take lots of pictures of your Sheltie so if they do become lost you have plenty of pictures to use for fliers.
The Sheltie is a beautiful, intelligent, friendly, loyal, affectionate, and gentle dog breed. They are family-oriented dogs, making them very loyal to their human pack. Typically standing at 13 to 16 inches tall and weighing 15 to 23 pounds, Shelties are a small to medium dog breed with a moderate need for exercise. Unlike some herding dogs, they do not need to run around all day. They are perfectly happy living in a city apartment or a country residence - as long as you are there to give them attention.
The Shetland Sheepdog is extremely bright, sensitive and willing to please. This combination makes for a dog that is very obedient, quick to learn and utterly devoted to his family. He is not only gentle, playful, good-natured and companionable, but also excellent with children, although he can nip at heels in play while “herding,” an instinctive behavior. He barks a lot. Shelties need "mental exercise" as well. These intelligent dogs cannot just sit in the backyard and do nothing. To be happy and well behaved, they require mental stimulation, too, such as obedience training, agility, herding, or challenging games you play with them, even if it's just fetching balls and finding hidden toys.
A Sheltie may be the right dog for you if you want a pet who:
· Is conveniently-sized, light on his feet, and graceful
· Has a lovely feathered coat in a variety of striking colors
· Is athletic and animated, a speedy light-footed runner and jumper
· Has a "soft" personality … sweet, gentle, sensitive
· Is peaceful with strangers and other animals
· Is bright and attentive and learns very quickly
Shelties have a beautiful striking appearance and great athleticism to match. Once you have had a Sheltie in your life, it is unlikely that you will ever want to own a different breed.