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Celebrating the Sheltie

June 1, 2021

Did you know that today, June 1st, is International Sheltie Day? These cute pups originated in the Shetland Isles, which are also known for being the home of the adorably tiny Shetland pony. Fido definitely deserves some time in the Spot light. A local vet discusses the Sheltie in this article.


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


This is one area where the Sheltie really shines. Fido is extremely loyal to his humans. In fact, Shelties were often referred to as shadows, because they stuck so close to their masters. They are also very clever. Proper training is a must! While most Shelties today are pets, rather than farm dogs, they do excel at doggy sports, like herding and tracking. They can also make great therapy dogs. 


Although we know that Shelties come from the Shetland Islands, the rest of their history is a bit more obscure. No one knows for sure exactly when Fido’s ancestor, the Collie, first set his cute paws on the Shetland Isles, as his arrival predates and/or was left out of written records. The Sheltie happily bounded into the ranks of officially-recognized AKC breeds back in 1909, under the name Shetland Collie. However, Collie breeders objected to that moniker, and Fido soon became known as the Shetland Sheepdog … aka, the Sheltie.


Shelties are very playful and active, so they do need a lot of exercise. That said, they can do just fine in apartments, as long as they get plenty of walks. Good grooming and proper nutrition are also important. Ask your vet for care tips.

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

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