Smart and sweet, the Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie to its friends) is both willing and able to please. This breed is among the most devoted of all dogs.
The Sheltie's ancestors were small herding dogs on Scotland's Shetland Islands that were crossed with spitz-like Icelandic Dogs in the early 1800s. Because island conditions favored smaller livestock, smaller herding dogs were favored. Some crosses to Rough Collies were made when Shelties were brought to the mainland in the early 1900s.
When Collies rocketed up in popularity in the early and middle 1900s, Shelties rode their coattails for awhile. As people began to realizes they were more than miniaturized Collies, Shelties eventually passed Collies in popularity. Shelties are one of the most talented breeds in obedience competitions. They bring their obedient nature home and make incredibly responsive family companions---as long their people understand their sensitive nature.
These are gentle dogs that enjoy fast-paced games and mental challenges. They do tend to bark a lot when excited, so toys are great because they keep their mouth full!
To grow your Sheltie's coat to its full potential, feed a nutritious food with vitamin supplements. You must keep the coat free of parasites and dirt.
Coat care requires a little attention a lot of the time. Use a pin brush to remove tangles every other day or as needed. Brush the coat in layers so you get all the way to the skin. Spritzing these areas with a mixture of water and conditioner will prevent static electricity and hair breakage as your brush. If you find a mat, carefully work it apart after spritzing it.
During shedding season, use a shedding tool to remove the thick undercoat. Brushing right after bathing, when the hair is still slightly damp, will usually remove the most coat.
For the best looking results, use a shampoo that builds body. You may also wish to use color-enhancing shampoos, or if your dog has itchy skin, avocado oil or oatmeal based shampoos. Blow-drying the coat will make it especially plush.
Most Shelties have healthy ears, but you should still check them for signs of redness, itching or debris weekly. Any time they get goopy, clean with an ear-cleanser. If the goop comes back, see your veterinarian.
Brush the teeth daily.
Clip the nails every two weeks or so using a medium-duty dog nail clipper.
Shelties are young at heart well into old age, but sometimes age-related physical changes, such as arthritis, make it tough to keep going at full intensity. Besides any intervention recommended by your veterinarian, a soft cushion to lie on and glucosamine chondroitin supplements added to the diet can help soothe aching joints, and keep him as young in body as he is in spirit.