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Celebrating the Sheltie

June 1, 2021

Today, June 1st, is International Sheltie Day! These cute pups can definitely melt heart! Shelties are descended from the Rough Collie. They originated in the Shetland Isles, which are also he home of the adorable Shetland pony. Fido definitely deserves some time in the Spot light. A local vet discusses the Sheltie below.


The Sheltie is a part of the AKC’s Herding group. Like other herding dogs, the Sheltie is very intelligent and obedient, and is usually a very Good Boy. Playful and active, Fido is a lot of dog in a pretty small package. Shelties are rarely more than 16 inches high, and they usually weigh less than 25 pounds. That small size is no coincidence. Food could be scarce on the isolated Shetland Islands, so it was logical for people to breed animals that would eat less than their larger counterparts. This also explains why Shetland ponies are so small. Shelties were originally bred to help farmers herd their livestock. Their excellence at this earned them the nickname ‘Toonie Dogs.’ (‘Toon’ is an old Shetland word for ‘farm’.) These lovable pups are fairly long-lived, and can get to be about 12-14 years old.


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


While we know that Shelties come from the Shetland Islands, but the rest of their history is a bit more obscure. No one can say for sure exactly when Fido’s ancestor, the Collie, first set paw on the Shetland Isles, as his arrival predates–or was perhaps just left out of–written records. The Sheltie was first welcomed into the AKC way back in 1909, under the name Shetland Collie. Collie breeders objected to that moniker, so there was a bit of a kerfluffle. Fido soon became known as the Shetland Sheepdog.


Shelties are very frisky and active pups, and need lots of playtime and exercise. That said, they can do fine in apartments: they just need plenty of walks and trips to the park. While most Shelties today are pets, rather than farm dogs, they do excel at doggy sports like herding and tracking, and also make great therapy pups. They’re also absolutely adorable!

Our Tips for Celebrating the Sheltie in 2024

What is International Sheltie Day and when is it celebrated?

International Sheltie Day, celebrated on June 1st, honors the Shetland Sheepdog, a breed known for its intelligence, loyalty, and playful nature. It’s a time for Sheltie owners and enthusiasts to celebrate and share their love for this unique and adorable breed.

What are the origins of the Sheltie breed?

The Sheltie, or Shetland Sheepdog, originated from the Shetland Islands, Scotland. It’s descended from the Rough Collie and was bred to be smaller, reflecting the islands’ harsh conditions and limited resources. Initially, shelters helped herd livestock, adapting well to the rugged terrain.

What are the typical physical characteristics of Shelties?

Shelties are small, agile dogs, typically under 16 inches tall and weighing less than 25 pounds. They boast a long, lush double coat, often in sable, black, and blue merle colors. Notable features include a wedge-shaped head, almond-shaped eyes, and a bushy tail. Their appearance reflects elegance and alertness, characteristic of herding breeds.

What was the original purpose of breeding Shelties?

Originally, Shelties were bred on the Shetland Islands for herding small sheep and livestock. Their smaller size was ideal for the limited resources of the islands. Known for their intelligence and agility, Shelties excelled in managing livestock and were adept at navigating the rugged terrain.

What roles do modern Shelties often play beyond being pets?

Beyond being beloved pets, modern Shelties often excel in various roles due to their intelligence and agility. They are popular in dog sports like agility, herding, and obedience competitions. Shelties are also effective as therapy dogs, providing comfort and support in therapeutic settings. Their versatility and trainability make them suitable for these diverse roles.

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

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