Written by: Diana DiCostanzo
Growing up with around a dozen dogs over the course of my childhood, there has always been one breed in particular that is close to my heart: the Shetland Sheepdog, aka shelties. This breed has inexplicably stood out in my mind as one of the best breeds to have as pets, especially as a kid. Maybe it’s because my mother was slightly obsessed and we always had at least two shelties in the house at all times, or maybe it’s because they’re so darn cute and fluffy. Whatever the reason, shelties have many wonderful traits that make them the amazing superdogs they are!
Shelties hail from the Shetland Islands, and like the ponies that also come from there, they’re known for their petite size. Shelties are often thought of as “miniature collies”, which anyone who has owned a sheltie knows because people often shout “Look, Lassie!” when they see your pet, even though they’re clearly a few feet shorter. But like Lassie (and other Long-haired Collies), shelties have a similar coat that is full with long silky fur. The colors shelties often are seen in are: sable (tan & white) and tri-color (black, brown, & white), though colorations of bi-black (black & white), and variations of blue merle coloring (blue, tan & white) are not uncommon as well. Their look is also characterized by their ears, which are tipped at the very top, giving them an alert, yet gentle look.
As I learned from experience when my sister and I as young kids would be running around the backyard and our tiny sheltie Cassie (not Lassie, see? It’s different!) would incessantly chase us, shelties are herding dogs. Historically in the Shetland Islands they would be used to herd sheep and other livestock. Now, especially in the US, their quickness and agility is often put to work in different dog sports and competitions (and wrangling children for those stay-at-home shelties). So, if you’re looking for a good addition to your flyball team, want a dog that will be great in agility, or have a bunch of roaming sheep you can’t seem to keep track of, shelties are the way to go!
But on top of all their great working traits, it’s their personality that often makes shelties one of the most loved breeds. They are gentle, lively, extremely intelligent and trainable, playful, and overwhelmingly loving and loyal. This is definitely a dog who can be out chasing a squirrel in the yard with great finesse, then is able to come inside and also be the best lap dog ever. Some slightly negative traits or habits of shelties (though I’d never admit there were negatives) are that the breed can be somewhat vocal, and that their fur is the type to shed (I used to never leave home without a lint roller). But, when you see a face like this, how can you think of anything else but how amazing they are?
Trust me, it’s completely worth it.
So friends of High Tail, lend us your shelties! With plenty of space to run and play and plenty of friends, both human and dogs, to be made, could you imagine any place more perfect for them? At the very least they’d be completely spoiled by our resident sheltie fanatic! We hope to see your Lassie (or Cassie) soon!