The Shetland Sheepdog, also known as the Sheltie, is a small to medium-sized herding dog breed that originated in Scotland's Shetland Islands. The breed has often been compared to the Collie due to their similar appearance, but are they the same breed? This article will explore whether the Shetland Sheepdog is a Collie or not. Is Shetland Sheepdog a Collie?

At first glance, it's easy to mistake a Shetland Sheepdog for a Collie. Both breeds have long, flowing coats and a similar overall appearance. However, there are distinct differences between the two breeds that set them apart. While both breeds were originally bred for herding, the Shetland Sheepdog was primarily used to herd sheep and ponies on the rugged terrain of the Shetland Islands, while the Collie was bred to herd sheep on the gentler terrain of the Scottish Highlands. These differences in breeding have resulted in differences in temperament and physical characteristics between the two breeds.

Shetland Sheepdog a Collie?

Shetland Sheepdog Origins

The Shetland Sheepdog, also known as the Sheltie, is a breed of herding dog that originated in the Shetland Islands of Scotland. This breed was developed from various small herding dogs, including the Icelandic Sheepdog, Border Collie, and Rough Collie.

Relation to the Collie

The Shetland Sheepdog bears a striking resemblance to the Rough Collie, leading many to believe that it is a smaller version of the breed. However, the Shetland Sheepdog is a distinct breed with its unique characteristics. While the Rough Collie was originally bred for herding large flocks of sheep, the Shetland Sheepdog was developed to work with smaller flocks and to be a companion dog.

History and Development

The Shetland Sheepdog was first developed in the 1800s when local farmers in the Shetland Islands began breeding small herding dogs to work with their floc-flocks of sheep. These dogs were bred for their intelligence, agility, and loyalty, and were highly valued by their owners. Over time, the breed was refined and developed into the Shetland Sheepdog that we know today.

In the early 1900s, the breed was introduced to the United States, where it quickly gained popularity as a companion dog. Today, the Shetland Sheepdog is a beloved breed around the world, known for its intelligence, loyalty, and affectionate nature.

fi smart dog collar

Breed Characteristics

Physical Attributes

Shetland Sheepdogs, also known as Shelties, are a small to medium-sized breed that closely resembles the Rough Collie. They have a double coat that is thick and fluffy, consisting of a soft undercoat and a longer, coarser outer coat. The coat color can vary but is typically sable, black, or blue merle with white markings. They have a wedge-shaped head, with a pointed muzzle and dark, almond-shaped eyes. The ears are erect and triangular, adding to their alert and intelligent expression. Shelties stand at around 13 to 16 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh between 15 to 25 pounds.


Shetland Sheepdogs are known for their loyalty, intelligence, and affectionate nature. They are highly trainable and excel in obedience and agility competitions. They are also great family dogs, as they are gentle and patient with children. However, they can be reserved with strangers and may tend to bark excessively if not properly socialized. Shelties are also known for their herding instincts and may try to herd other animals or children in the household.

Health and Lifespan

Shetland Sheepdogs are generally a healthy breed, with a lifespan of around 12 to 14 years. However, like all breeds, they are prone to certain health issues such as hip dysplasia, eye problems, and von Willebrand's disease. It is important to purchase a Sheltie from a reputable breeder who performs health screenings on their breeding dogs. Regular exercise and a healthy diet can help maintain their overall health and well-being.

Shetland Sheepdog vs. Collie

Shetland Sheepdog vs. Collie

Size Comparison

Shetland Sheepdogs are smaller in size compared to Collies. Shelties typically stand at a height of 13-16 inches at the shoulder and weigh around 15-25 pounds. On the other hand, Collies are larger and can grow up to 24-26 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh around 50-75 pounds.

Coat and Color Differences

Shetland Sheepdogs and Collies both have a double coat, but their coat types and colors differ. Shelties have long, thick, and straight coats with a mane and frill around their necks. They come in various colors such as sable, black, and blue merle. On the other hand, Collies have a longer and coarser outer coat with a soft undercoat. They come in sable and white, tricolor, blue merle, and white.

Behavioral Distinctions

Shetland Sheepdogs and Collies have different temperaments and behaviors. Shelties are known for being energetic and playful, but they can also be reserved with strangers. They are loyal to their families and make excellent watchdogs. On the other hand, Collies are gentle, intelligent, and affectionate. They are known for their herding instincts and make great family pets.

In conclusion, while Shetland Sheepdogs and Collies may share some similarities, they are two distinct breeds with their unique characteristics. Understanding the differences between the two can help prospective owners make an informed decision about which breed is best suited for their lifestyle and needs.

Training and Care

Exercise Requirements

Shetland Sheepdogs, also known as Shelties, are active dogs that require regular exercise to keep them healthy and happy. They are known for their agility and love to run, jump, and play. A daily walk or run is necessary to keep them physically fit and mentally stimulated. Shelties also enjoy playing games like fetch, frisbee, and agility courses.

Grooming Needs

Shelties have a thick double coat that requires regular grooming to prevent matting and tangling. They shed heavily twice a year, and during this time, they require more frequent brushing to keep their coat healthy. Regular grooming also helps to prevent skin irritations and infections. Shelters also need their nails trimmed regularly to prevent them from getting too long and causing discomfort.

Training Tips

Shelties are intelligent dogs that are eager to please their owners. They respond well to positive reinforcement training methods, such as treats and praise. Consistency and patience are key when training a Sheltie. They can be sensitive to harsh training methods, so it's important to use a gentle approach. Shelties also benefit from early socialization to help them become well-adjusted and confident dogs.

Uses and Roles

Uses and Roles

Herding Abilities

Shetland Sheepdogs, also known as Shelties, were originally bred as herding dogs in the Shetland Islands of Scotland. They were used to herd sheep, cattle, and ponies. Shelties are known for their agility, speed, and intelligence, which makes them excellent herding dogs. They have a strong instinct to herd and can easily learn to follow commands. Shelties are also known for their ability to work independently, which makes them ideal for herding in rough terrain.

Companion Animal

Shetland Sheepdogs are also popular as companion animals. They are known for their loyalty, affection, and intelligence. Shelties are great with children and make wonderful family pets. They are also good with other animals, including cats and other dogs. Shelters are very active and require regular exercise, which makes them a good choice for active families.

Dog Sports and Competitions

Shetland Sheepdogs are also popular in dog sports and competitions. They excel in agility, obedience, and rally competitions. Shelties are also used in flyball and herding trials. They are known for their speed, agility, and intelligence, which makes them excellent competitors. Shelties are also used in therapy work, where they provide comfort and companionship to people in hospitals, nursing homes, and other settings.

In summary, Shetland Sheepdogs are versatile dogs that excel in a variety of roles. They are great herding dogs, loyal companions, and excellent competitors in dog sports and competitions. With their intelligence, agility, and affectionate nature, Shelties make wonderful additions to any family or working environment.

Breed Recognition and Standards

Dog Sports and Competitions

Kennel Club Classifications

The Shetland Sheepdog, also known as the Sheltie, is a breed of herding dog that originated in the Shetland Islands of Scotland. Although often mistaken for a small Collie, the Sheltie is a distinct breed recognized by various kennel clubs around the world.

In the United States, the American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes the Shetland Sheepdog as a member of the herding group. The United Kennel Club (UKC) also recognizes the breed in their herding dog group. The Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) classifies the Sheltie as a member of the pastoral group.

Breed Standards

The Shetland Sheepdog has a distinct appearance and temperament that is outlined in breed standards set by various kennel clubs. These standards provide a guideline for breeders and judges to evaluate the physical and behavioral characteristics of the breed.

According to the AKC breed standard, the Sheltie should have a small, alert, and agile body with a long, wedge-shaped head and a thick, double coat. The breed should be friendly, intelligent, and eager to please. The CKC standard describes the breed as "intelligent, energetic, and affectionate," with a "keen but gentle expression."

Overall, the Shetland Sheepdog is a recognized breed with its distinct characteristics and standards. While it may share some similarities with the Collie, it is important to recognize and appreciate the unique qualities of each breed.

Adoption and Buying Information

Adoption and Buying Information

Finding a Breeder

When looking to buy a Shetland Sheepdog or a Collie, it is important to find a reputable breeder. A reputable breeder will be knowledgeable about the breed and will take good care of their dogs. They will also be able to provide you with information about the dog's parents and any health issues that may be present in the line.

One way to find a reputable breeder is to contact the American Kennel Club (AKC) or the Collie Club of America. They can provide you with a list of breeders in your area who are members of their organization. You can also attend dog shows and talk to breeders there.

When you find a breeder, ask to see the puppies and their parents. Make sure the puppies are healthy and well-socialized. Ask the breeder about any health issues that may be present in the line and what steps they take to prevent them.

Adoption Options

If you are interested in adopting a Shetland Sheepdog or a Collie, there are several options available. You can check with local animal shelters or rescue organizations to see if they have any dogs available for adoption. You can also search online for breed-specific rescue organizations.

Adopting a dog can be a great way to give a dog a second chance at a happy life. Many rescue dogs are already house-trained and have some basic obedience training. However, it is important to be prepared for any potential behavioral issues that may arise.

When adopting a dog, it is important to ask the rescue organization or shelter about the dog's history and any health issues they may have. Make sure you are prepared to give the dog the time and attention they need to adjust to their new home.

Overall, whether you choose to adopt or buy a Shetland Sheepdog or a Collie, it is important to do your research and find a reputable breeder or rescue organization. By taking the time to find the right dog for your family, you can ensure a happy and healthy life for both you and your furry friend.

fi smart dog collar


In conclusion, it is essential to clarify that the Shetland Sheepdog, commonly known as the Sheltie, is not a Collie. While both breeds have similar physical features and share a Scottish heritage, they are distinct breeds with their unique characteristics and traits. Is Shetland Sheepdog a Collie?

The Shetland Sheepdog is smaller and more agile than the Collie, with differences in temperament and historical purpose. Originating from the Shetland Islands, the Sheltie was bred to herd and protect livestock, known for its intelligence, loyalty, and affectionate nature. It excels not only as a working dog but also as a beloved family companion.

In contrast, the Collie, with its larger size and gentle disposition, has a separate history as a herding dog in the Scottish Highlands, prized for its loyalty and devotion.

While confusion between the two breeds is understandable due to their similarities, it is important to recognize their individuality. Thus, while the Shetland Sheepdog may resemble a Collie in some aspects, it remains a distinct and cherished breed in its own right.