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Celebrating the Sheltie

June 1 2021

Today, June 1st, is International Sheltie Day! These adorable dogs originated from the Shetland Isles, which are also known for being the home of the also adorable Shetland pony. Fido definitely deserves some time in the Spot light. A local veterinarian discusses the Sheltie in this article.


The Sheltie is a part of the AKC’s Herding Group. Like the other pups in this group, Fido is a very intelligent and obedient pup, and a very Good Boy. Playful and active, the Sheltie is a lot of dog in a pretty small package. Shelties rarely get more than about 16 inches high, and usually weigh under 25 pounds. That small size is not a coincidence. Food was often scarce on the isolated Shetland Islands, so it made sense to breed animals that ate less than their larger counterparts. (This is likely also why Shetland ponies are so small.) A descendant of the Rough Collie, the Sheltie was originally bred to help farmers herd livestock. Their excellence at this earned them the nickname ‘Toonie Dogs.’ (The word ‘Toon’ is an old Shetland term for ‘farm’.) These pooches are fairly long-lived, and can get to be about 12-14 years old. 


While we know that Shelties come from the Shetland Islands, the rest of their history is somewhat more obscure. No one knows exactly when Fido’s ancestor, the Collie, first set paws on the Shetland Isles, as his arrival either predates or was left out of written records. We do know that the Sheltie was first welcomed into the AKC in 1909, under the name Shetland Collie. Collie breeders objected to that moniker, so a name change was agreed to. Fido soon became known as the Shetland Sheepdog.


Shelties are very playful and active pups. These guys definitely need lots of exercise. That said, they can do fine in smaller homes, as long as they get plenty of walks. While most Shelties today are pets, rather than working dogs, they do excel at doggy sports, such as herding and tracking, and also make great therapy dogs. 


This is one area where the Sheltie really shines. They are very friendly and obedient, and are extremely loyal to their humans. In fact, they were often referred to as shadows, because they stuck so close to their owners. Fido is also very clever. Proper training is a must!

Do you have questions or concerns about Shelties? Contact us, your animal clinic, today!

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