What's good about 'em
What's bad about 'em
- There are energetic Shelties, and placid Shelties
- Hard-headed Shelties, and sweet-natured Shelties
- Serious Shelties, and good-natured goofballs
- Introverted Shelties, and Shelties who love everyone
If you want a dog who…
- Can become the best "friend" you ever had
- Has a lovely coat that comes in a variety of striking colors
- Can be athletic and animated, a swift light-footed runner and jumper
- Can be very devoted, sweet, gentle, sensitive with owner
- Is bright and attentive and learns quickly
A Sheltie might be right for you.
If you don’t want to deal with…
- Providing sufficient exercise and mental stimulation to prevent boredom
- "Separation anxiety" (destructiveness and barking) when left alone
- Shyness or fearfulness when not socialized enough
- Territorial - Sometimes exhibiting strong protective traits
- Emotional sensitivity to stress and loud voices
- Chasing and nipping at things that move
- Barking - often lots of barking at mailman, squirrels, other dogs, etc.
- Lots of brushing and combing at home or visits to a groomer
A Sheltie may not be right for you.
Although they don't need miles of running exercise, Shetland Sheepdogs are
herding dogs that MUST have regular opportunities to vent their energy and do
interesting things. Otherwise they may become bored -- which they usually
express by barking and destructive chewing.
Standoffish by nature, Shetland Sheepdogs need extensive exposure to people
and to unusual sights and sounds. Otherwise their natural caution can become
shyness or suspiciousness, which can be difficult to live with.
Be honest...is there tension in your home? Are people loud or angry or
emotional? Are there arguments or fights? Shetland Sheepdogs are extremely
sensitive to stress and may behave neurotically if the people in their home are
having family problems. Shelties are peaceful dogs that need a harmonious home.
Shetland Sheepdogs are often too quick to sound the alarm at every new sight
and sound. You have to be equally quick to stop them. For the same reason,
Shelties should NEVER be left outside in your yard, unsupervised.
Most Shelties are peaceful with everyone, though reserved and can be timid or
protective against strangers. To build a confident temperament, the Shetland
Sheepdog needs more extensive socialization than many other breeds.
Exceptionally bright and attentive, they are easy to train if one has a steady
voice and a light hand on the leash, for Shelties are extremely sensitive,
sometimes overly so. They respond well to praise and food rewards and often
only need verbal correction.
Shelties can be more reactive to loud noises than some other breeds, the
Shetland Sheepdog does not do well in an environment with frequent tension or
Some can be overwhelmed by the herky-jerky mannerisms of small children.
Some may try to herd people and other pets by poking or nipping. Shelties tend to
be barkers, and some have high-pitched, piercing voices.
The Shetland Sheepdog exhibits sensitivity and responsiveness towards its owner.
Shelties are usually easy to train because of this sensitivity and responsiveness.
They like to learn and please their owners. Sensitivity does not mean that the
Sheltie is overly sensitive, fearful or cowers to sounds, people, objects etc.,
although it may appear that way if they become very confused about what is
Training can also be tricky with Shelties, however, as they usually try their hardest
to do what you want, but because of their sensitivity they can easily become
confused if you become upset or impatient. They often try to do something before
you ask (anticipate) in order to avoid your displeasure. If you are already
frustrated and impatient, this only makes matters worse. Realize that your Sheltie
wants to do what you ask... slow things down, go back to an easier task and let
your Sheltie be successful before you quit working... then praise, play and relax
with your Sheltie.
Shelties exhibit some rather unusual behaviors at times and if one is not aware of
these, they can be somewhat surprising. Many Shelties grin... like a big smile on a
person, Shelties sometimes bare their teeth in a huge grin. Don't mistake this for
an aggressive curling of the upper lip although it can look a bit like it. The
situation it occurs in should tell whether it is a grin or a snarl. When Shelties are
happy and relaxed or playing, they may grin. Some just smile, with their lips
closed. Some Shelties talk to their people in whines, grunts, groans, and even
quiet growls, especially when being petted. Again, assess the situation. If your
Sheltie is relaxed, it is most likely talking to you, not being aggressive.
Another unique trait that some Shelties have is to cross their front feet when lying
down. This can be quite an endearing behavior and females look especially
ladylike when doing so. Some use their front feet like hands to hold onto things
such as chewies or to catch frisbees.
Your Sheltie may even have a sense of humor. Watch for little practical jokes your
Sheltie may play. You probably won't believe this one until it happens to you.
It may be necessary to place your Sheltie in a crate/kennel when you go out for
the well being of everyone involved. Shelties want to be with you and are not
happy when left alone for long periods of time.
Since Shelties were originally herding dogs, many still exhibit behaviors related to
herding such as biting and barking at moving feet or brooms, mops and vacuum
cleaners, circling people or objects, and chasing moving objects such as other
animals, birds, planes and cars. Obviously, chasing cars can be fatal so don't
allow your Sheltie to do this.
In general, Shelties make great family pets. They can be very active and playful,
and they can be just as happy sleeping at your feet when you are busy with other
things. They do not require a lot of exercise... usually a daily walk or two or time to
run in a safely fenced yard will be enough.
Most Shelties are good with children but there are some that would prefer to be
left alone and will prefer to go off to a place where they will have some solitude.
Shelties can be very protective of their families.
Shelties have a high level of intelligence. According to Dr. Stanley Coren, an
expert on animal intelligence, the Shetland sheepdog is one of the brightest dogs,
ranking 6th out of 132 breeds tested. His research found that an average Sheltie
could understand a new command in less than 5 repetitions and would obey a
command the first time it was given 95% of the time or better.
Other curious Sheltie quirks include:
The Sheltie spin - jumping and spinning in circles when they're excited.
Being hand shy - even the best trained Shetland Sheepdogs can be hand shy at
times (this does not signify past abuse).
Herding adults, children and other animals - the herding instinct can be strong in
Fear of thunderstorms and fireworks - most Shelties are on high alert when there
are strange noises afoot, so keep your dog in a secure place when there is a lot
of noise outside.