Best Bully Sticks Breed Spotlight: Shetland Sheepdog

Scottish in origin, intensely loyal and loving by nature; the Sheltie is a great addition to just about any family! This “Miniature Collie” is an agile and highly energetic medium-sized dog that is a constant joy and surprise.  Read more about this dog in the Best Bully Sticks Breed Spotlight on the Shetland Sheepdog below!

History & Background: Like it’s larger counterpart the Rough Collie, the Shetland Sheepdog is a descendant of the Border Collie. However, unlike other miniature breeds, the Sheltie wasn’t developed by selectively breeding continually smaller sizes each generation. When Border Collies were brought to the Scottish isle of Shetland, they were bred with highly intelligent, long-haired, small dogs. Some of these breeds could have been King Charles Spaniels (not Cavalier), Pomeranians, and the now extinct Greenland Yakki. The first Shelties were more Spitz-type working dogs and then were bred with other Collies and taken to England.

When first developed, breeders called this dog Shetland Collies but Rough Collie breeders didn’t like the name association with their breed.  It was then this breed was given the name Shetland Sheepdog. The Sheltie was used as a herding dog, watchdog and general all-purpose farm helper. Shelties were first recognized by the AKC in the early 1900s.

Height: 13-16 inches

Weight: 16-20 pounds

Coat: A Sheltie’s coat consists of two layers, both very abundant with fur. The outer coat is long, straight and rough. The undercoat is fuzzy, downy and very dense, which gives the Sheltie have a puffy look. The outer coat is water repellent and the undercoat provides relief from temperature extremes. This breed does have a lot of frill and feathering, particularly in the form of a mane and on the fore and hind legs. Sheltie tails are thick with hair as well.  However, Shelties have smooth hair on the face, tips of ears and feet.

Color: There are typically three colors or combinations recognized for the Sheltie; black, sable and blue merle. Black coloring can be present with white or tan, ultimately making this tri-coloring. Sable coloring can range from golden to deep mahogany color, also combining with colors of white and tan. Blue Merle coloring consists of blue, white and tan in combination.

Appearance: Because of it’s background the Sheltie naturally looks like a Rough Collie. Besides the obvious difference in size, with only a few changes from the larger Collie, the Sheltie’s appearance is all it’s own. A Sheltie has a small wedge-shaped head, with a long, tapered muzzle. The eyes are medium-sized, almond-shaped and dark, or can be light with blue merle coloring. The ears of Sheltie should be small, flexible and erect, except for the tips, which fold over. The ears lend largely to the Sheltie’s alert and questioning expression.

Temperament: Shetland Sheepdogs have a natural playfulness and owner-pleasing personality. This breed is very spirited, easily trainable and very intelligent. Shelties are sometimes aloof with strangers, which is acceptable, but they should never cower or fear strangers. With their background, modern day Shelties raised as companion dogs will naturally herd other animals, like squirrels and ducks, and even people, including children. They are very fast and agile as well. Shelties are also very vocal dogs, barking when they are on alert. For this reason the Sheltie makes a great watchdog.


Health & Grooming: The Sheltie is an active and athletic breed that is generally healthy. However, there are some common health issues that this breed can be susceptible to. Malformation of the eyes, TCC—a bladder cancer, dermatomyositis—a skin ailment starting in puppies, and Von Willebrand disease—an inherited bleeding disorder are all potential health problems for Shelties. Even though this dog is small, it can sometimes have hip dysplasia. The Sheltie has a lifespan of 12-13 years.

Because the Sheltie has so much hair, if this dog isn’t consistently groomed mats can form. Usually matting starts behind the ears, behind the front elbows and in the fur on the hind legs. Shelties usually shed twice a year, and females right before birth. Even though this dog does require a good amount of grooming, the hair comes out in clumps, not individual hairs, ultimately making the Sheltie a bit easier to groom.

Product Suggestions: Bully Stick Rings are a great way for a Sheltie to enjoy a bully stick and have fun! It’s a treat and toy in one! And as always, all of our bully sticks come from all-natural, grass-fed, free-range beef! A great toy for the Sheltie is the Hyper Pet Critter Skinz Fox Dog Toy. This toy looks like a realistic fox, but is flat and stuffing-free. It’s made from high quality non-toxic fabric so your dog will have plenty of fun chew time with this toy. There’s also a squeaker inside for added fun. Not to mention, these toys are also great for cleaning your dog’s teeth!

Do you own or know a Shetland Sheepdog? Tell us your favorite Sheltie story in the comments section!


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