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10 Dog Breeds Similar to Shelties

Written by: Ejay C.
| Published on February 20, 2024

Shetland Sheepdogs, affectionately known as Shelties, are renowned for their intelligence, agility, and stunning appearance. Originating from the Shetland Islands in Scotland, these small to medium-sized dogs were bred for herding sheep and ponies. Shelties are characterized by their long, luxurious coat, expressive eyes, and keenness to please, making them not only excellent working dogs but also loyal and affectionate family pets. Their resemblance to the Rough Collie, albeit in a smaller package, along with their bright, attentive nature, has won them admirers worldwide. For those enchanted by the Sheltie’s charm but curious about exploring similar breeds—whether it’s for their herding ability, intelligence, or companionable nature—several breeds share these commendable qualities. This article explores 10 dog breeds similar to Shelties, focusing on their physical attributes, temperament, and suitability as both working dogs and companions.

1. Rough Collie

Rough Collies are perhaps the most visually similar to Shelties, sharing the same elegant appearance and lush coat. Known for their role as the fictional hero “Lassie,” Rough Collies are larger than Shelties but share their intelligence, loyalty, and herding capabilities. They are excellent family pets, known for their gentle demeanor and protective nature. Collies are adaptable, thriving in both country and suburban settings, and are particularly good with children, making them a perfect choice for families seeking a larger version of the Sheltie.

2. Border Collie

Border Collies are the epitome of canine intelligence and agility, sharing the Sheltie’s herding heritage and work ethic. Known for their intense gaze, or “eye,” with which they control sheep, Border Collies are highly energetic and require a lot of mental and physical stimulation. They excel in dog sports, obedience, and, of course, herding, making them suitable for active families or individuals who can meet their exercise and training needs.

3. Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherds, despite their name, were developed in the United States. Like Shelties, they are highly intelligent, versatile herding dogs with a strong desire to please. Australian Shepherds are larger and more robust, with a beautiful coat that comes in a variety of colors. They are known for their agility, trainability, and loyalty, making them excellent companions for active families or individuals involved in dog sports.

4. Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Pembroke Welsh Corgis, with their distinctive short stature and alert expression, share many traits with Shelties, including intelligence and herding ability. Corgis are known for their strong will and outgoing personality, making them excellent watchdogs and family pets. Despite their small legs, they are surprisingly agile and energetic, requiring regular exercise to stay healthy and happy.

5. Miniature American Shepherd

Miniature American Shepherds are a smaller version of the Australian Shepherd, sharing the Sheltie’s size and many of their traits, including intelligence, agility, and a strong herding instinct. They are adaptable and thrive in various environments, from apartments to farms, as long as they receive enough mental and physical stimulation. Miniature American Shepherds are loyal and affectionate, making them great companions for families and individuals alike.

6. Finnish Lapphund

Finnish Lapphunds are known for their friendly disposition and thick, double coat, designed to withstand cold climates. While larger than Shelties, they share a similar herding background and are equally versatile as working dogs or family pets. Finnish Lapphunds are intelligent, trainable, and possess a calm yet playful temperament, making them well-suited for families looking for a hardy and affectionate dog.

7. Bearded Collie

Bearded Collies, with their long, flowing coats and bouncy nature, share the Sheltie’s herding instincts and exuberance. They are larger and have a more robust build but are known for their intelligence, joyfulness, and agility. Bearded Collies require regular grooming to maintain their distinctive appearance and thrive in active households that can provide them with the exercise and engagement they need.

8. Icelandic Sheepdog

Icelandic Sheepdogs, Iceland’s only native dog breed, are sturdy and agile, with a cheerful disposition similar to Shelties. They were bred for herding sheep in the rugged terrain of Iceland and possess a thick coat, friendly nature, and keen intelligence. Icelandic Sheepdogs are adaptable and get along well with children and other pets, making them excellent family companions.

9. Old English Sheepdog

Old English Sheepdogs are larger and more laid-back than Shelties, but they share a similar herding background and friendly, affectionate nature. Known for their shaggy coat and distinctive “bear-like” gait, Old English Sheepdogs are gentle, intelligent, and have a clownish streak that endears them to families. They require regular grooming and enjoy being part of family activities, making them great companions for those with more space.

10. Belgian Tervuren

Belgian Tervurens are known for their elegant appearance, intelligence, and versatility as working dogs. Similar to Shelties in their alertness and agility, Tervurens are larger and have a distinctive long, fawn-colored coat with a black overlay. They are highly trainable and excel in various canine sports, as well as being loyal and protective family members.

While Shelties holds a special place in the hearts of those who love them for their beauty, intelligence, and versatility, several breeds offer similar qualities that make them appealing to enthusiasts of these spirited dogs. From the elegant Rough Collie to the energetic Border Collie, each breed provides an alternative for those seeking intelligent, agile, and affectionate companions. Whether you’re looking for a family pet, a working dog, or a competitive agility partner, there’s likely a breed among these ten that will capture your heart and fit seamlessly into your lifestyle, embodying the spirit and qualities that make Shelties so beloved.


What Are Shelties Like? How Are They Different Than Other Breeds?


Shetland Sheepdogs, commonly known as Shelties, are one of the most versatile, intelligent, and affectionate breeds in the canine world. Originating from the Shetland Islands in Scotland, these small but sturdy dogs were initially bred for herding sheep and ponies. Over time, they have become cherished companions in homes around the globe, thanks to their beautiful appearance, keen intelligence, and gentle disposition. This article explores the unique characteristics of shelters, highlighting what sets them apart from other dog breeds.

Understanding Shelties

Shelties are often recognized for their striking resemblance to their larger cousin, the Rough Collie. They feature a long, double coat, a full mane around the neck, and a bushy tail that curls over their back. Typically standing 13 to 16 inches at the shoulder, Shelties are compact dogs that come in a variety of colors, including sable, black and white, and blue merle. Their expressive, almond-shaped eyes and alert ears give them an appearance of keen intelligence and curiosity.

Temperament and Behavior

Shelties are known for their bright, lively temperament and boundless energy. They are incredibly affectionate with their families, often forming strong bonds with their owners. Despite their small size, they possess a strong herding instinct, which can manifest in their desire to chase moving objects or herd children and other pets. Shelties are also known for their vocal nature, using their bark to communicate and alert their owners to anything they deem unusual.

Physical Characteristics

The Sheltie’s coat is one of its most distinctive features, requiring regular grooming to maintain its condition and appearance. They shed moderately year-round, with heavier shedding during the spring and fall. Shelties are agile and graceful, with a light, smooth gait that belies their herding heritage. Their size makes them adaptable to various living situations, from apartments to farms, as long as they receive adequate exercise.

How Are They Different Than Other Breeds?

Shelties distinguish themselves from other breeds in several ways. Their intelligence ranks them among the top breeds for obedience and trainability. This, combined with their agility and enthusiasm, makes them excellent competitors in dog sports such as agility, obedience, and herding trials. Unlike some smaller breeds, Shelties are neither overly timid nor aggressive but possess a balanced temperament that is both alert and friendly.

Health and Care

Shelties are generally healthy, with a lifespan of 12 to 14 years, but they can be prone to certain genetic conditions, such as hip dysplasia, thyroid disease, and Collie eye anomaly. Their double coat requires regular grooming to prevent matting and to manage shedding. While they adapt well to various environments, Shelties thrive on companionship and activity, needing daily exercise and mental stimulation to keep them happy and healthy.

Shelties in Society

Shelters have a long-standing reputation as excellent family pets and working dogs. Their sensitivity and intelligence make them well-suited for roles such as therapy and assistance dogs, where they can form meaningful connections with humans. In addition to their work ethic, Shelties are cherished for their loyalty and capacity for affection, making them beloved companions in households around the world.

Shelties stand out as a breed that encapsulates the ideal balance of beauty, intelligence, and versatility. Their eagerness to please, combined with their herding instinct and alertness, makes them adaptable to a wide range of activities and roles. While they share similarities with other herding breeds, Shelties are unique in their combination of size, temperament, and coat characteristics. For those seeking an intelligent, affectionate, and active companion, the Sheltie offers an unmatched blend of qualities that endear them to dog lovers everywhere.