Shetland Sheepdog Black and White: Profile, Facts, Care

shetland sheepdog black and white

The Shetland Sheepdog, with its rich history as a working dog in the challenging conditions of the Shetland Islands, embodies qualities of intelligence, agility, and loyalty. Their distinctive appearance and versatile nature have endeared them to dog enthusiasts worldwide, whether as beloved companions or accomplished competitors in dog sports. Understanding their origins and characteristics provides insight into why they continue to be cherished members of many households, valued for their companionship and dedication to their families. In this article, I am going to talk about Shetland sheepdog black and white.

Shetland Sheepdog Black and White: Profile, Facts, Care

The Shetland Sheepdog, affectionately known as the Sheltie, traces its roots to the rugged and windswept Shetland Islands off the northern coast of Scotland. These islands, known for their harsh weather and tough terrain, bred dogs that were resilient and hardworking. The Sheltie’s ancestors were likely small working collies brought to the islands by Scottish farmers in the 19th century. These dogs were bred with local small and agile breeds, resulting in the development of the Shetland Sheepdog we recognize today.

The breed’s main role historically was herding and protecting livestock in the challenging conditions of the Shetland Islands. Their smaller size and agility were advantageous for maneuvering the rocky and uneven landscapes, making them adept at corralling sheep and cattle. Over time, their intelligence and responsiveness made them popular not only as working dogs but also as companions for the islanders. Their keen intelligence and loyalty endeared them to their human counterparts, who appreciated their versatility and ability to adapt to various tasks.


Early Controversy and Title Change: Originally known as the Shetland Collie, the breed faced controversy among Tough Collie breeders, prompting a formal change in its name.

Characteristics and Temperament: The Shetland Sheepdog, often referred to as the Sheltie is a small yet robust herding dog known for its intelligence, vocal nature, excitability, and strong desire to please. They are deeply loyal to their owners, often earning the nickname “shadows” due to their close attachment to family members.

Recognition by Kennel Club: The breed was officially recognized by The Kennel Club (UK) in 1909, solidifying its place in the world of purebred dogs.

Development and Purpose

Hardy Origins on the Shetland Islands: Similar to other Shetland breeds like the pony, cattle, and sheep, the Shetland Sheepdog was developed to thrive in the harsh and sparse conditions of its native islands.

Herding Legacy: Originally bred for herding, the Sheltie retains its instincts but has adapted to also serve as a farm dog and beloved family pet.

Mixed Ancestry: The exact origins of the Sheltie are somewhat obscure. It is not a direct descendant of the Tough Collie despite its resemblance. Rather, it descends from smaller Scottish Collies and possibly King Charles Spaniels. Early specimens were small, measuring only 20 to 30 centimeters (8 to 12 inches) in height at the shoulder.

Breeding Development: In the early 20th century, James Loggie played a significant role by introducing a small Tough Collie into the breeding program. This action helped establish and refine the breed into the modern Shetland Sheepdog we know today.

Physical Traits

Shetland Sheepdogs are known for their striking appearance, characterized by a luxurious double coat that protects them from the elements. Their coat comes in various colors and patterns, with the classic black-and-white combination being particularly eye-catching. The outer coat is long and straight, while the undercoat is soft and dense, offering insulation against cold weather. Their expressive eyes, typically almond-shaped and dark, convey intelligence and sensitivity. The breed’s alert expression and graceful gait reflect their heritage as attentive and agile herding dogs.

In terms of size, Shelties are considered a small to medium-sized breed, with males typically standing between 13 to 16 inches at the shoulder and females slightly smaller. Their compact build and sturdy frame contribute to their endurance and agility, essential traits for their historical role as working dogs. Despite their size, Shetland Sheepdogs are known for their robust health and longevity when properly cared for, often living well into their teens.


Historical Lineage: The Shetland Sheepdog, or Sheltie, shares its ancestry with the Rough Collie, both descending from Border Collies originating in Scotland. These dogs were later crossed with the now-extinct Icelandic Yakkin, a small island dog, to develop the Shetland Sheepdog breed.

Development as a Breed: By the 1700s, the Shetland Sheepdog had evolved into its own distinct breed. Initially bred for herding and guarding sheep flocks on the rugged Shetland Islands, it became known for its gentle yet efficient working abilities with miniature livestock.

Physical Appearance: Formally recognized in England in 1909, the Shetland Sheepdog bears a striking resemblance to the Rough Collie. It has a head with a blunt wedge shape, a slightly tapering muzzle, and a gentle stop. The teeth typically meet in a scissors or level bite, and the nose is uniformly black.

Distinctive Features: The Sheltie is characterized by almond-shaped eyes, usually dark but occasionally blue in dogs with a blue merle coat. Its small ears are three-quarters erect, with tips folding forward. The muscular neck is elegantly arched, leading to a long tail that is feathered and carried straight down or with a slight upward curve, reaching the hock.

Coat: The Shetland Sheepdog’s coat is a defining feature, long and abundant all over the body but shorter on the head and legs. It forms a mane around the neck and chest. The outer coat is straight and harsh, providing protection, while the undercoat is soft and dense, offering insulation.

Temperament and Role: Known for agility, intelligence, and a strong herding instinct, the Sheltie excels as both a capable worker and a beloved companion. Its striking appearance and loyal demeanor make it a popular breed valued for its versatility and affectionate nature.

Temperament and Behavior

Renowned for their intelligence and obedience, Shetland Sheepdogs are not only skilled herders but also excel in various canine activities such as obedience trials and agility courses. They are eager to please their owners and respond well to positive reinforcement training methods. Their affectionate nature and gentle demeanor make them excellent family pets, particularly suitable for households with children. Shelties are known for forming strong bonds with their human families and are often protective without being aggressive.

While they are naturally alert and may bark to alert their owners of perceived threats, they are not typically aggressive dogs. Early socialization and consistent training are essential to channel their intelligence and energy positively. Shelters thrive on mental stimulation and enjoy activities that engage their problem-solving abilities, such as interactive toys and games. Their adaptability makes them well-suited for various living environments, whether in a suburban home with a yard or an apartment with regular exercise and mental enrichment opportunities.


Size: The Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie) is classified as a small breed, typically measuring between 35 to 40.6 centimeters (13.8 to 16 inches) in height for males and 33 to 38 centimeters (13 to 15 inches) for females.

Sheltie Color

Coat Colors: Shelties come in various colors including blue merle, sable, and black, often with white and/or tan markings.

Coat Size

Coat Length: Shetland Sheepdogs have long coats that are abundant all over the body, shorter on the head and legs, with a distinct mane around the neck and chest.

Weight/Height Range

Weight and Height: A groomed Sheltie typically weighs between 8 to 12.3 kilograms (18 to 27 pounds) for males and 6.4 to 10.3 kilograms (14 to 23 pounds) for females.


Health Concerns: Similar to Rough Collies, Shelties are prone to inherited eye disorders and malformations. They may also be susceptible to conditions like hypothyroidism and patellar luxation (displacement of the kneecap), which can be inherited.

Feeding & Ownership

Dietary Needs: Shetland Sheepdogs are generally not picky eaters but have a modest appetite. They require a high-quality, easily digestible diet to maintain health and avoid becoming overweight due to overfeeding or lack of exercise.

Cost of Food

Food Expenses: Feeding a Shetland Sheepdog typically costs between $5 to $10 per day, depending on the quality and quantity of food provided.

Intelligence and Trainability

Renowned for their intelligence, Shetland Sheepdogs excel in obedience and are quick learners. They thrive on mental stimulation and enjoy being challenged, making them adept at activities like tracking, herding, agility, and competitive obedience. Their intelligence also extends to performing tricks, showcasing their versatile capabilities.

Herding Instinct

Embedded deeply within their nature is a strong herding instinct. Shelties are natural herders, capable of effectively managing and directing large cattle and sheep. This instinct often manifests in their tendency to chase and corral, reflecting their historical role as herding dogs in the Shetland Islands.

Energy Level

Shetland Sheepdogs are energetic dogs that require regular physical activity to maintain their well-being. Their high energy levels make them well-suited for activities that engage their minds and bodies, such as long walks, interactive play sessions, and agility exercises.

Suitability for Children

While Shelties are generally good with children, their herding instincts may lead them to attempt to herd small children by nipping at their heels. Proper socialization and training can help mitigate this behavior, making them suitable companions for families with older children who understand how to interact respectfully with dogs.

Tendency to Bark

Shelties are known for their vocal nature and tendency to bark. They use barking as a means of communication and alerting their owners to perceived threats or changes in their environment. Early training can help manage excessive barking behavior and channel it appropriately.

Shetland Sheepdog Black and White: Profile, Facts, Care

Total Exercise Requirement

The lively and sleek Shetland Sheepdog requires plenty of exercise, including daily walks or jogs. They also enjoy opportunities to run freely in a safe, enclosed area where they can expend their energy.

Suitability as a Guard Dog

Low: While alert and attentive, Shelties are generally not aggressive or territorial, making them less suitable as guard dogs. They are more inclined to be friendly towards strangers rather than exhibiting protective behaviors.

Ease of Transportation

Medium: Shetland Sheepdogs are of moderate size and can be transported relatively easily. They adapt well to car rides but may require acclimatization to longer journeys or flights.

Degree of Aggression

Medium: Shelties typically have a moderate level of aggression. While they are not known for being overly aggressive, they may exhibit assertiveness or protective behaviors in certain situations, especially if they feel threatened or their territory is encroached upon.

Compatibility with Other Animals

High: Shetland Sheepdogs generally get along well with other animals, including dogs and cats, especially if they are socialized from a young age. Their herding instinct may lead them to try to corral smaller pets, but proper introduction and supervision can help mitigate any potential issues.

Shetland Sheepdog Black and White Care

Nutrition: Shelties thrive on high-quality pet food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared under veterinary supervision. The diet should be appropriate to their age (puppy, adult, or senior) and monitored to prevent obesity, which some Shelties may be prone to.

Weight Management: Monitor your Sheltie’s calorie intake and weight to prevent obesity. Treats should be given sparingly to avoid excessive weight gain, which can impact their health and mobility.

Safe Foods: Learn about human foods that are safe for dogs and avoid those that are harmful. Consult your vet if you have concerns about your Sheltie’s weight or diet.

Hydration: Ensure your Sheltie has access to clean, fresh water at all times to maintain proper hydration, especially after exercise or during warm weather.

Grooming Needs

The Shetland Sheepdog, particularly those with the distinctive black and white coat pattern, boasts a dense double coat that requires diligent grooming. This breed sheds consistently, with the outer coat consisting of long, straight, and coarse hair that protects from the elements, while the undercoat is dense and soft. Owners must commit to weekly brushing sessions, increasing frequency during shedding seasons to manage the copious amount of loose hair and prevent it from spreading throughout the home.

Regular attention is crucial to prevent matting, especially behind the ears, under the elbows, and in the “pants” area beneath the tail. Mats can be uncomfortable and may require gentle detangling to maintain the coat’s health and appearance. Contrary to popular belief, shaving a Shetland Sheepdog is discouraged because the double coat serves as insulation against both cold and heat, as well as protection from sunburn.

Bathing should be infrequent to preserve the natural oils in the coat, which contribute to its water-resistant and insulating properties. Routine nail trimming is essential to prevent discomfort and maintain proper foot structure.

Exercise Requirements

Shetland Sheepdogs are inherently active and athletic dogs, thriving on a moderate amount of daily exercise tailored to their family’s lifestyle. They adapt well to urban environments provided they receive sufficient physical and mental stimulation. Owners can engage them in various activities such as brisk walks, jogging, or interactive play sessions that challenge their agility and intelligence.

These dogs particularly enjoy outings with their human companions, which not only fulfill their exercise needs but also strengthen the bond between dog and owner. Shelties excel in canine sports such as obedience trials, agility courses, herding trials, and tracking exercises, where their keen intellect and eagerness to please shine through. Additionally, they are known for their aptitude as therapy dogs, bringing comfort and joy to people in hospitals, nursing homes, and other therapeutic settings. Dog accessories on Amazon

Understanding and meeting the exercise requirements of a Shetland Sheepdog ensures they remain physically fit, mentally stimulated, and well-balanced companions. Their versatility in various activities underscores their adaptability to different lifestyles, making them cherished members of active households and valued participants in the canine sports community.


Early Socialization and Obedience Training: Early socialization and obedience training are crucial for Shetland Sheepdogs. They are highly intelligent, trainable, and eager to please, making them excellent candidates for basic obedience and advanced canine sports like agility.

Managing Vocalization: Shelties can be vocal and expressive, particularly in their happiness or alertness, which may manifest in barking. Owners should be prepared to train them to control their barking behavior as needed.

Herding Instinct: Like many herding breeds, Shelties have a natural inclination to chase moving objects, including cars. They require a well-fenced yard and should be walked on a leash to prevent them from engaging in potentially dangerous chasing behaviors.

Shetland Sheepdog Black and White Health

The Shetland Sheepdog, particularly those with black and white coats, generally enjoys good health. Responsible breeders prioritize screening their breeding stock for various health conditions to maintain the breed’s overall health and vitality. Common health issues include:

Screened Health Conditions:

  • Hip Dysplasia: A condition where the hip joint doesn’t fit properly into the socket, leading to lameness and arthritis.
  • Thyroid Disease: Disorders affecting the thyroid gland, which can impact metabolism and overall health.
  • Eye Diseases: Such as progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and collie eye anomaly (CEA), can lead to vision impairment or blindness.
  • Dermatomyositis (Sheltie Skin Syndrome): An autoimmune skin disease that can cause skin lesions and discomfort.
  • Von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD): A blood clotting disorder that can lead to excessive bleeding. Fitness – Meditation – Diet – Weight Loss – Healthy Living – Yoga
  • Gallbladder Mucoceles: Formation of mucous-filled cysts in the gallbladder, potentially requiring surgical intervention.
  • Epilepsy: A neurological disorder causing seizures.

Recommended Health Checks

Hip Evaluation: Screening for hip dysplasia helps ensure breeding dogs have healthy hips, reducing the risk of passing on this condition to offspring.

Ophthalmologist Evaluation: Regular eye exams are essential to detect and manage eye diseases that may affect Shelties, preserving their vision and overall eye health.

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