Shetland Sheepdogs stood guard for farmers in the Shetland Islands off the coast of Scotland, preventing hungry birds and sheep from entering the farm garden, and also served as herding dogs. Today they are excellent family companions and superstars in canine sports.
The little active Shetland Sheepdog (nicknamed Sheltie) was once a Scottish farmer's best friend: sounded the alarm when someone approached the property, barked at birds and other animals to drive them out of the garden, and later put crosses on Scottish herding dogs ... keeping a flock of sheep in line. While at first glance they look like a smaller version of the rough collie, they are completely different breeds.
Shelties are loving companions for all family members, including children, but they can be reserved or even shy about strangers. Due to their protective nature, they bark quickly if they feel that something is wrong on their territory. So that this trait does not interfere, you need to train. On the other hand, they make excellent watchdogs. You just need to teach them some discrimination.
Ask any Sheltie owner and he will probably tell you how smart his dog is. It's more than just pride in ownership, says Dr. Stanley Coren, an animal intelligence expert. In his intelligence studies of 132 different dog breeds, Sheltie ranked sixth in intelligence, being able to understand a new command after being told on average less than five times, and obeying commands the first time they were given at least 95 percent of the time.
Thanks to their intelligence, desire to please, and athletic ability, the Shelties excel in performance competitions. In their size group, the Sheltie usually dominates in the area of agility. They are also exceptionally good at competitive obedience, flyball, tracking and grazing.
In fact, the Shelties have a reputation for being too smart. This is a breed that needs a job. Without enough mental stimulation, Shelties will quickly get bored and invent entertainment that their people may or may not like.
Shelties maintain a strong herding instinct. You will find that your Sheltie will enthusiastically chase and graze squirrels, rabbits, and children by running around them, barking and biting. Sheltie owners should discard this habit, especially in children, as it can lead to stings. Never let your Sheltie herd graze unless it is in a pasture class with appropriate items such as ducks or sheep.
The huts are relatively inactive indoors and can cope with apartment life as long as they walk daily and are not recreational barking. Otherwise, they need a fenced-in yard where they can play safely and cannot search for animals, people or machines to “herd”.
Fur coats have a long, thick, fluffy coat and shed heavily. Many people do not realize how much loose wool they allow themselves, and many Shelties are given to rescue teams every year because they shed. Make sure you and your vacuum cleaner can handle this amount of hair.
Shelties can be a good choice for a working person, as they will stay at home alone, contented, provided they are given the proper attention when their people are at home. They thrive in an environment where companionship, games, training, and quiet patting await them. They will return your love tenfold.
Features of the
- Many Shelties are very vocalists and have loud, high-pitched barks. In order to maintain friendly relations with neighbors, it is important at an early age to teach the Sheltie to stop barking on command.
- Expect your sheltie to shed profusely in the spring and sometimes during other times of the year.
- The Shelties are very smart and love to work. However, they can be stubborn. Make the workout fun and give them time to decide and do what you want them to do.
- Shelties are very energetic and must be able to run. They excel in activities like agility and flyball, where they get both mental and physical exercise.
- Shelties have been a popular family dog for many years. Since there is a lot of demand for puppies, there are many poorly bred husks for sale. If you are looking for a puppy, make sure you find a reputable breeder who tests their breeding dogs to make sure they do not have genetic diseases that they can pass on to the puppies, and who breeds for a healthy temperament. To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from a puppy factory, pet store, or breeder who does not give a permit or health guarantee.
The Sheltie hails from the rugged Shetland Islands, which lie between Scotland and Norway, about 50 miles north of Scotland and just south of the Arctic Circle. These islands are also home to other small animal breeds such as Shetland ponies and Shetland sheep.
For many years Shetland Sheepdogs were called Cartoons, which comes from the Norwegian word for "farm". Farmers bred dogs by crossing border collies with small dogs to graze and protect their flocks of Shetland sheep. Some speculate that one of the Shetland Sheepdogs' missions was to keep the little sheep safe from birds. In fact, many of today's Shelties seem to adore chasing birds, and some even try to chase planes and helicopters flying over them.
In the early 1800s, the Sheltie was introduced to England and Scotland, where he was described as a miniature collie. In the Shetland Islands, farmers began to breed their little Shelties to keep them even smaller and fluffier so they could sell them to visitors to the islands. It is rumored that the Prince Charles Spaniel (a variety of the English Toy Spaniel) and some of the Pomeranian dogs left on the island by tourists were crossed with local shepherds.
There were so many crossbreeds that by the end of the 19th century, the islanders realized that the original type of dog was disappearing. However, there was a lot of controversy about what a real dog looked like and how to get back to it. Some breeders felt that they needed to cross with collies to restore their original type, some believed that they should only breed existing Shelties that were closest to the original type, while others continued indiscriminately crossing with other breeds to get small, cute pets. ...
Shelties of all three types participated in dog shows in the early 20th century, right up to the First World War. In 1909, the Kennel Club of England recognized the breed. A total of 28 Shelties have been registered as Shetland Collies (rough) this year. Four of them still figure in the pedigrees of many modern Sheltie champions: two males named Lerwick Tim and Trim and two females named Inverness Topsy and Inga. The first Sheltie to be registered with the American Kennel Club was Lord Scott in 1911.
Collie breeders in England were unhappy with the breed's name and protested to the Kennel Club. This led to the name change to Shetland Sheepdog.
The Shetland Sheepdog has been controversial in both the UK and the US over the years, with rumors of crossbreeding and long-standing controversy over how the breed should look. As a consequence, many Shetland Sheepdog clubs have been formed to support different points of view. Finally, in 1930, the Scottish and English clubs came together and agreed that the dog "should resemble a miniature collie."
American breeders imported Shelties from England until the 1950s, but by then American and British Shelties were beginning to differ greatly in type and size. Today, almost all Shetland Sheepdogs in the United States are descended from dogs that were imported from England between the First and Second World Wars.
As the breed became more famous, its numbers increased in the United States. Their popularity skyrocketed in the 1970s, and the Sheltie appeared on the American Kennel Club's ten most popular dogs for 12 of the next 15 years, peaking in the early 1990s. Today, the Sheltie is ranked 20th in popularity among the 155 breeds and varieties registered by the American Kennel Club.
How is Sheltie doing in her native Shetland Islands? Ironically, it is quite rare in its harsh homeland - the breed has been replaced by the Border Collie.
Shetland Sheepdogs are between 33 and 40 centimeters tall at the shoulders, but they are often taller or shorter. A typical Sheltie weighs about 10 kilograms, but a large one can weigh up to 15.8 or 18 kilograms.
Sheltie is very loyal, gentle and sensitive. The breed has a wide range of personalities, from outgoing and noisy to calm and sedate, shy or withdrawn.
It's okay for Sheltie to be secretive with strangers, but stay away from dogs that seem overly timid or nervous. If you choose a puppy, it's okay if he doesn't always approach a stranger, but he should be happy, curious and ready to befriend the one who sits on the floor with them.
Whatever their personalities, the Shelties prefer to always be with their people and follow them from room to room during the day.
Like all dogs, Shelties need early socialization - getting to know many different people, looks, sounds, and experiences - at a young age. Socializing helps make your Sheltie puppy a versatile dog.
Shelties are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they are prone to certain diseases. Not all Shelties will contract any or all of these diseases, but it is important to be aware of them if you are considering this breed.
If you are buying a puppy, find a good breeder who will show you the health certifications of both of your puppy's parents. Health certificates prove that the dog has been examined and cleared of a specific disease.
At Sheltis, you must expect to receive approvals from the Animal Orthopedic Foundation for hip, thyroid and von Willebrand disease, as well as the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) confirming that the eyes are normal.
Because some health problems do not appear until the dog reaches full maturity, health permits are not issued to dogs under 2 years of age. Look for a breeder who doesn't breed their dogs until they are two or three years old.
The following problems are not common in the breed, but may occur:
- Hypothyroidism occurs when the body is unable to maintain adequate levels of thyroid hormones. Signs include weight gain, thinning coat, dry skin, slow heartbeats, and sensitivity to cold. Since hypothyroidism is a progressive disease, if you notice any of these signs, see your veterinarian to check your dog. Hypothyroidism is easily treated with daily medication, which should be taken throughout the dog's life. Since this is a middle-aged condition, asking a breeder about your puppy's grandparents about the thyroid condition can help you better understand if the problem is in the breeder's lines.
- Collie eye anomaly (CEA) is an inherited condition that can lead to blindness in some dogs. This usually happens by the time the dog is 2 years old and can be diagnosed by a veterinary ophthalmologist. Both eyes are usually affected, but not necessarily equally. Dogs with minor anomalies make wonderful pets and usually do not lose their eyesight. Those with a more serious condition may lose their eyesight for several years after being diagnosed. There is no cure for CEA, but blind dogs can move very well using their other senses. It is important to remember that this condition is a genetic abnormality and the breeder must be notified if your puppy has this condition. It is also important to neuter or neuter your dog to prevent the gene from being passed on to the next generation of puppies.
- Von Willebrand disease is an inherited blood disorder caused by a deficiency of the coagulation factor VIII antigen (von Willebrand factor). The primary symptom is profuse bleeding after injury or surgery. Other signs, such as nosebleeds, bleeding from the gums, or bleeding in the stomach or intestines, may also be present. However, most dogs with von Willebrand disease lead a normal life. If you feel it is a concern, your veterinarian can do tests to determine if your dog has it or not.
- Hip dysplasia in dogs is a condition in which the femur does not fit snugly into the pelvic cavity of the hip joint. Hip dysplasia may or may not have clinical signs. Some dogs exhibit pain and lameness in one or both hind legs. As a dog ages, it can develop arthritis. Screening for hip dysplasia can be done by the Animal Orthopedic Foundation (OFA) or the University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program (PennHIP). Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be bred. Ask the breeder you are getting the puppy from for proof that the parents have been tested for hip dysplasia and found no problems. If your dog shows signs of hip dysplasia, see your veterinarian. Medication or surgery may help.
- Dermatomyositis is an inherited disorder that can cause skin lesions and, in severe cases, muscle damage. DM primarily affects Collies and Shetland Sheepdogs, although other breeds have been diagnosed. Some dogs never show any signs of the disease, but pass it on to their offspring. The signs are varied. Skin lesions can appear on the head, ears, and forelegs. There may be extensive hair loss and scarring on the face and ears, as well as on the legs and tip of the tail. The only way to diagnose diabetes is to have a skin puncture biopsy done by a dermatologist. There is no test yet for dermatomyositis, which is considered to be a single gene with variable expression, meaning a dog can carry it without showing signs of it.
Although the Shelties were bred to withstand harsh weather conditions, they love their people and must live indoors with them as part of the family.
Although they can be relatively sedentary indoors, the Sheltie were bred as farm workers and require ample exercise. They love to walk, fetch play with the kids, and run around the dinner table. Then they will help you hold the couch.
Because of their small size, Shelties can live well in an apartment if their people are keen to provide daily walks and games, as well as train them not to bark continuously.
It takes subtlety. Abuse of people can easily hurt their feelings. Instead of yelling at your Sheltie for barking, acknowledge his alertness (“Thanks for telling me about the squirrel in the yard”) and only verbally reprimand him if he continues to bark. In general, Shelties respond best to positive reinforcement such as praise, play, and food rewards.
Try to keep your dog's training fun. Sheltie gets bored easily, and they see no point in repeating the exercise several times if it was done correctly the first time.
Recommended daily intake: 3/4 to 2 glasses of high quality dog food per day, divided into two meals.
How much your adult dog eats depends on its size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are as individual as humans and not all need the same amount of food. It goes without saying that a very active dog will need more than a house dog. The quality of the dog food you buy also matters - the better the dog food, the further it will feed your dog and the less you will need to pour into the dog's bowl.
Keep your Sheltie in good shape by measuring his food and feeding him twice a day, rather than leaving the food on all the time. If you are not sure if he is overweight, check his eyesight and do a practice test. Look down at it first. You should be able to see your waist. Then place your hands on his back, thumbs along the spine, fingers spread down. You should be able to feel, but not see, his ribs without having to press hard. If you can't, he needs less food and more exercise.
For more information on feeding the Sheltie, see our Guidelines for Buying Suitable Food, Puppy Feeding and Adult Dogs.
Coat color and care
Sheltik have a double coat. The undercoat is short and dense, resulting in a longer, harder top layer that sticks out from the body. The hair on the head, ears and feet is smooth, but the mane and frill (hair around the neck and chest) is abundant. The legs and tail are also fluffy.
You will see three main colors of the breed, all with varying amounts of white and / or brown markings:
- Sable, from gold to mahogany
- The black
- Blue Merle (blue-gray with black)
A Sheltie that is more than 50 percent white or brindle is not suitable for the show ring, but its color does not affect its ability to be an excellent companion.
The beautiful coat of the Shetland Sheepdog requires at least a thorough weekly pin brushing. Be sure to touch your skin and never brush dry hair. Use a spray bottle to spray in the direction of travel to avoid damaging your hair.
Pay special attention to fine hairs behind the ears, which tend to tangle. If you find a rug in this area early, it can usually be scrubbed with a small polishing brush.
Your sheltie will need extra brushing during moulting season. Males and neutered females usually molt once a year, while unpaid females molt twice a year, a couple of months after each estrus period.
The right Sheltie coat - a tough top coat and a soft undercoat - sheds dirt and repels water, so Shelties only need a bath when they are really dirty, which varies from dog to dog.
Trim your nails once or twice a month. If you hear them clicking on the floor, they are too long. Short, neatly trimmed nails keep your feet in good condition and protect your shins from scratches as the Sheltie enthusiastically bounces to greet you.
Dental hygiene is also important. Brush Sheltie's teeth at least two to three times a week to keep breath fresh and prevent tartar and periodontal disease. Better yet, brushing your teeth daily.
Start grooming the Sheltie when he becomes a puppy so that he gets used to it. Grab his paws often - dogs are sensitive to their paws - and look inside his mouth and ears. Make self-care a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you'll lay the foundation for light veterinary checkups and other procedures as he grows up.
Children and other pets
Shelties are great family companions, especially when brought up with children who are good at treating dogs with respect.
As with any dog, always teach your children to approach and touch dogs. Observe all interactions between dogs and young children to avoid biting or pulling out the ears from the other side. Never leave dogs and small children alone.
When it comes to other dogs, Shelties have a definite preference for their own kind, even if they don't live with other Shelties. On first meeting, they seem to recognize other Shelties as soul mates and usually become immediately friendly and ready to play. However, they tend to be reticent about new dogs of other breeds. They can get along with cats as soon as the cat puts Sheltie in place for trying to graze him.
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