Shetland Sheepdog Breed Information

Shetland Sheepdogs, or ‘Shelties’ as they’re more affectionately known, are very gentle, playful, obedient dogs. They are intelligent and respond well to training. Training, along with socialisation, is very important at a young age in order for Shelties to grow up into confident, sociable dogs. For more information on socialisation and training using reward-based techniques, take a look at our dog behaviour page.

Shelties often fit well into family life and get along happily with children. They need daily grooming to keep their thick coat in tip-top condition.

Breed-related health problems:

Owners are, understandably, upset when their dog develops a health problem linked to its breed. Often they wish they’d known what problems the breed was prone to have. The potential health problems that Shetland Sheepdogs are prone to include:

  • Collie eye anomaly – abnormality in the back of the eye
  • Progressive retinal atrophy – gradual deterioration of the retina of the eye. Symptoms can start with night blindness and progress to total blindness.
  • Hip dysplasia – hip joint laxity as a result of poor development, which will eventually lead to arthritis.
  • Legg-Perthes disease (Legg-Calvé-Perthes) – blood supply to the femoral head is depleted, causing destruction of the femoral head.
  • Luxating patellas – the kneecaps slipping temporarily out of place.
  • Von Willebrand's disease – deficiency in blood platelet function resulting in excessive bleeding.
  • Distichiasis – a condition in which small eyelashes grow on the inner surface or the very edge of the eye, which can then rub on the surface of the eye, causing irritation.
  • Hypothyroidism – a condition in which there’s a decrease in thyroid hormone production.

For some conditions, there are screening programmes available through the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and the Kennel Club. The Canine Health Schemes allow breeders to screen for a range of inherited diseases, so it’s a good idea to check the parents of any puppy you’re looking to rehome have been screened under these schemes. We’d also recommend discussing the medical history of your potential puppy’s parents and grandparents, and think very carefully before taking on a dog with any of the health conditions listed above evident in the family line.

You can find out more about the Canine Health Schemes on the BVA's website.

Exercise requirements:

Shelties need around an hour of exercise daily and will enjoy playing games.

Estimated lifetime cost:

The likely lifetime costs for a Shetland Sheepdog are based on estimates calculated using current market prices and include:

The list above does not include veterinary costs if your pet becomes sick or injured, so these average lifetime costs could be even higher.

Insure your Shetland Sheepdog with PDSA:

1 in 3 pets need vet treatment each year and vet bills can come to hundreds of pounds. PDSA Pet Insurance can give you peace of mind when your pet is poorly, especially for breeds like Shetland Sheepdogs that are prone to certain conditions. PDSA Pet Insurance offers:

  • 5 Star Pet Insurance* - from the vet experts
  • 4 levels of cover to suit you
  • Monthly payment at no extra cost

*Defaqto 5 Star rating applies to our Plus and Premier policies only. Defaqto’s Star Ratings provide an independent assessment of the quality of financial products.

By insuring your Shetland Sheepdog with PDSA you’ll also be helping to provide vet care to some of the UK’s neediest pets.

Energy levels
 
Overall grooming needs
 
Compatibility with other pets
 
Easy to train
 
How much exercise
 
Suitability for children/families
 
Tendency to bark
 
Average lifespan 12-14 years
Size Medium
Coat length Medium
Possible health problems Collie eye anomaly, Progressive retinal atrophy, Hip dysplasia, Legg-Perthes, Luxating patellas (the kneecaps slipping temporarily out of place)
Average price Around £800
Estimated cost over lifetime £23,300-£27,000
Average weight Around 9kg
Breed group Pastoral
Minimum garden size Medium

Not sure if the Shetland Sheepdog is the right pet for you?