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7 Facts About Shelties You Probably Didn’t Know

Written by: Arlene Divina
Arlene Divina, one of the content writers at IHD, loves going on adventures with her adorable fur baby. She now creates informative content for pet parents. Read more
| Published on May 18, 2023

The Shetland Sheepdog, or Sheltie as they’re affectionately known, is often mistaken for a small Rough Collie. While there’s more than meets the eye with these intelligent, energetic dogs, many of their intriguing aspects go unnoticed. Here are seven lesser-known facts about Shelties that might surprise even seasoned dog enthusiasts.

  1. Rooted in the Shetland Isles

Much like the Shetland pony and Shetland sheep, the Sheltie hails from the Shetland Isles of Scotland. The harsh and often sparse landscape led to the development of smaller, more resource-efficient animals. Originally bred to herd and protect livestock, these dogs were recognized for their intelligence and agility.

  1. An amalgam of Breeds

Though they resemble Rough Collies, Shelties are not just miniaturized versions of them. Their lineage includes small, spitz-type dogs that worked on the Shetland Isles, Rough Collies, and possibly the extinct Greenland Yakki. These breeds collectively contributed to Sheltie’s size, appearance, and work ethic.

  1. A ‘Shadow’ Breed

Shelties are renowned for their close bond with their owners. So much so, they’re often referred to as ‘shadow’ dogs. It’s common for Shelties to follow their owners from room to room, displaying undying loyalty and companionship.

  1. Strong Herding Instinct

Given their origins, it’s not surprising that Shelties possess a robust herding instinct. This behavior, however, extends beyond farm animals. It’s not uncommon for Shelties to try to herd children, birds, or even bugs! This behavior is part of their nature and can be quite entertaining, if occasionally a little overzealous.

  1. Vocal Dogs

Shelties are known to be quite vocal. This trait harks back to their days as farm dogs, where they used their bark to control livestock and alert owners to any strange occurrences. While this makes them excellent watchdogs, potential owners should be prepared for a dog that enjoys expressing itself audibly.

  1. Outstanding in Dog Sports

Thanks to their high intelligence, agility, and willingness to please, Shelties excel in various dog sports. From obedience and agility to flyball and tracking, these dogs are a common sight at competitive events. Their ability to learn and execute complex commands is truly impressive.

  1. The ‘Mane’ Attraction

Unlike many breeds, the Sheltie’s mane, or the thick hair around their neck, is more pronounced in males. This lion-like ruff is one of their defining characteristics and gives males a regal appearance. It’s not just for show, either – it originally helped protect their neck from the elements and any aggressive livestock.

In conclusion, the Shetland Sheepdog breed, well-loved for its intelligence, agility, and companionship, possesses a rich history and many unique traits. From their origins in the Shetland Isles and their ‘shadow’ nature to their herding instincts, vocal tendencies, sporting prowess, and males’ notable manes, these intriguing facts reveal the complexities of the Sheltie. Whether you’re a proud Sheltie owner or just an enthusiast of dog breeds, these unexpected facts underscore the distinctive appeal and versatility of these beautiful dogs.

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