The above description is taken from the
Kennel Club breed standard and describes the general appearance of the Shetland
Sheepdog, the ideal height at withers being 14 inches (35.5 cms) for a
bitch and 14˝ inches (37 cms) for a dog. However, as those who have
bred this delightful little dog will testify, the ideal is difficult to achieve
and a great variation in size and type can be seen.
One thing is certain, regardless of their
'general appearance', these affectionate, lively, intelligent dogs, with their
lovely temperament, make excellent family pets. They are very
good with children and extremely loyal to their owners, thoroughly enjoying
human company. You will more than likely find that wherever you are, your
Sheltie is very close behind. Their gentle nature means that they live quite happily
together, with new owners often choosing to get a second dog. Words
cannot describe the sheer joy of watching two Shelties running across fields
and playing together.
They love going for walks and
as soon as my Shelties hear the rattle of the lead, regardless of where they may
be, they appear at my feet. However, if for any reason walks have to
be restricted, then they are quite happy running around the house or garden.
Being very intelligent, they are easy to train and are the ideal choice
for those interested in obedience and agility. Another popular activity which Shelties seem to love is fly-ball competition.
Being quite vocal, they make excellent burglar alarms and will instantly warn
you should anyone venture anywhere near their territory. One New Year's Eve, I was woken at 4.00 a.m. by my dogs barking
furiously. I got up to quieten them and heard a car driving away but
presumed it was some late night partygoers. The following day my neighbour visited to let me know she had been
woken by the sound of my dogs barking and discovered someone was attempting to
break into her home. On hearing my dogs they made a quick getaway having
caused damage to her window. This lady lives alone and was very grateful
that my dogs had barked that night!!!
One of the Sheltie's many attributes is
his attractive coat. This consists of a soft, short undercoat and
harsh-textured outer coat which gives protection from the elements and repels
moisture. A comment often made to me is that I must spend hours grooming
my dogs. I thoroughly brush my Shelties' coats through once a week, paying
particular attention to the soft hair behind the ears which can easily become
matted. At the same time I trim their nails and remove any excess hair
from their feet. The exception would be if we have been out in wet weather
and the dogs return home wet and muddy. Then I rinse off any excess mud
and allow their coats to dry before brushing them through, which removes any
remaining grit and dirt . During moulting more regular grooming is
necessary in order to remove any loose and dead hair. I find the act of
grooming very therapeutic for me and my Shelties and my oldest will immediately
lay on her back, waiting to be pampered, when she sees me with the grooming bag
in my hand.
Shelties come in several colours, Sable
(from pale gold to deep mahogany), Tricolour, Blue Merle, Black and White and
Black and Tan.
If you are thinking of getting a Sheltie
for a pet, you will be rewarded with a small, lively, intelligent dog with a
gentle temperament, easy to train and willing to please, whose only desire is to
be loved and be with his family.
Just one word of warning, PLEASE do
not buy from a puppy farmer, contact a reputable breeder. Details of
reputable breeders can be obtained from the Kennel Club or the Secretaries of any of the Shetland
Sheepdog Clubs listed on the links page.
If you would like to know more
about the sheer joy of owning these delightful little dogs, please take a look
at 'Sheltie Inspirations' or Living
With The Shetland Sheepdog and read the short stories send to me by visitors
to my site.