Skip to main content

Pet Insurance policies are underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company.

Shetland Sheepdogs: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Shelties are playful and affectionate dogs known for their fierce intelligence, luxurious coats, and vocal personalities. These are popular pups with many similarities to Collies, but is the Shetland Sheepdog a smart pick for you?

Shetland Sheepdog A woman giving her sheltie some neck scratches


The Shetland Sheepdog origin is deeply rooted in the Shetland Islands of Scotland. Initially bred for herding and guarding livestock, this breed shares a close lineage with the Rough Collie.

The breed was originally called the Shetland Collie, though this changed after it upset Rough Collie breeders.

Known for their agility and intelligence, Shetland Sheepdogs have a rich history as versatile working dogs, excelling in various tasks from herding to obedience competitions. These days, they also make great therapy animals.


The Shetland Sheepdog boasts a long, straight, water-resistant double coat that is designed to withstand harsh climates. Their expressive eyes and a distinctive "mane" around the neck give them a striking, almost regal appearance. Their coats come in various colors, including sable, black, and blue merle.

Similar breeds

The Shetland Sheepdog shares a close resemblance and heritage with the Rough Collie. Both breeds are known for their intelligence and striking appearance.

If you're looking for an agile and intelligent herding breed, consider the Australian Shepherd. Like the Shetland Sheepdog, the Australian Shepherd is an excellent option for active families.

The Border Collie is another breed that matches the Shetland Sheepdog's intelligence and herding abilities. They share so many characteristics that Shelties are often described as miniature Collies.


The Shetland Sheepdog is best known for their remarkable intelligence and trainability, loyalty, and strong work ethic. Due to their affectionate personalities, a well-trained Sheltie can be excellent with young children and other pets, making them the perfect fit for growing families of all types. Their alert, responsive tendencies make them great watchdogs, always at the ready to protect their loved ones.

Shelties are their happiest (and most behaved) when properly exercised, mentally and physically. And on that note, they don’t do well after long periods without socialization, so make sure they’re getting plenty of attention and plan to keep your dog busy when you’re away.

Are Shetland Sheepdogs hypoallergenic?

The Shetland Sheepdog is not considered a hypoallergenic breed. Their double coat sheds, especially during seasonal changes. This may concern those with allergies, though regular grooming can help manage shedding.

Looking for an allergy-friendly dog? We've got you covered with our guide to hypoallergenic breeds.

Illness/health concerns

Shetland Sheepdogs are known to have some common health issues that potential dog moms and dads should be aware of.

One common concern is hip dysplasia, a joint issue that can lead to arthritis as they age.

Eye issues, including the genetic disorder Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA), are prevalent in the breed, requiring regular veterinary check-ups to monitor their eye health.

Thyroid problems and von Willebrand disease are also found in some Shetland Sheepdogs, making regular vet visits essential for monitoring their overall health.

How big do Shetland Sheepdogs get?

The Shetland Sheepdog is a medium-sized breed, standing up to 16 inches tall and weighing as much as 25 pounds. The Sheltie’s size makes them great companions for everyone, from those living in apartments to homes with yards.

These figures can vary, of course. Male dogs are often bigger than female dogs. Other factors like age, activity levels, and diet can also affect these measurements. You'll likely notice other deviations if they’re a mixed breed.

Life expectancy

You can expect a Shetland Sheepdog to spend anywhere from 12 to 14 years at your side. Proper care, a healthy diet, and regular veterinary check-ups can contribute to a long and happy life.

Expected lifetime cost

Owning a Shetland Sheepdog can cost approximately $16,000 over its lifetime. Including food, grooming, training, and other common care needs, this averages about $1,200 each year.

Estimated cost to insure

Are you interested in insuring your Sheltie? Pet insurance is a great way to prepare for your Sheltie's unexpected costs from accidents to illness. For a Shetland Sheepdog, pet insurance can range from $30 to $50 per month. This rate varies based on age, health, and where you live.

The good, the bad, the ugly

Want a Sheltie? While most dogs have common health issues and are soulful sidekicks in their own special ways, it’s good to know what makes this breed unique in the real world.

  1. Shedding:

     The Sheltie’s luxurious double coat will require regular grooming to manage their shedding, but it’s well worth the effort.

  2. Barking:

     Shetland sheepdogs are known to be rather vocal, especially to alert the household of strangers or perceived threats.

  3. Health issues:

     This breed is susceptible to a few common health problems, including hip dysplasia, Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA), Thyroid problems, and von Willebrand disease.

  4. High energy:

     Can you keep up? The Sheltie’s intelligence and work ethic require regular exercise and mental stimulation. Otherwise, you may be in for a bored pup and destructive behaviors.

  5. Herding instinct:

     Shetland Sheepdogs have strong instincts that may lead them to herd people and smaller animals. They may mean well, but this can be concerning, especially for young children. Proper training can help manage their urge to herd.

So you want a Shetland Sheepdog...

There’s a lot to love about the Shetland Sheepdog — from their high intelligence and loyal nature to their beautiful, Collie-like appearance — that makes this breed stand out from the rest. Is this your perfect pup? If you’re ready to embrace this remarkable breed's glamorous and less glamorous aspects, that answer just might be a resounding yes.

Pattern Blue

by you

Design your pet’s plan in less than 60 seconds!

medium sized cat illustration
medium sized cat illustration
Cat illustration
Cat illustration
Cat illustration
Your Pet's Type
Chat with an Expert