History and Origin of Shetland Sheepdogs


Shetland Sheepdogs, also known as Shelties, are a small to medium-sized breed of herding dogs that originated in the Shetland Islands of Scotland. These intelligent and energetic dogs have captured the hearts of many dog lovers around the world with their loyal and affectionate nature. In this article, we will explore the history and origin of Shetland Sheepdogs, including their early beginnings and how they became the beloved breed we know today.

Early Beginnings

The Shetland Sheepdog is believed to have descended from a variety of breeds, including the Border Collie, the Icelandic Sheepdog, and the Yakki dog. These dogs were bred by the farmers and crofters of the Shetland Islands to help them with their sheep herding duties. The harsh and rugged terrain of the islands required a dog that was agile, hardy, and able to work long hours in challenging conditions.

The first Shetland Sheepdogs were known as “Toonie” dogs, a term used to describe the small dogs that were kept in the towns and villages of the Shetland Islands. These dogs were often used to help with household chores, such as herding poultry and other small animals. Over time, the breed became more refined and was developed into the Shetland Sheepdog we know today.

Breed Development

The Shetland Sheepdog was first recognized as a breed in the early 20th century, with the formation of the Shetland Sheepdog Club of Scotland in 1908. The breed was originally known as the Shetland Collie, but this name was changed to Shetland Sheepdog in 1914 to avoid confusion with the Rough Collie.

The breed was first introduced to the United States in the early 1900s, and the American Kennel Club officially recognized the breed in 1911. The first Shetland Sheepdog to win Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was Ch. Laund Loyalty of Bellhaven in 1929, and the breed has since become a popular choice for dog lovers around the world.


Shetland Sheepdogs are a small to medium-sized breed, with males typically weighing between 14-27 pounds and females weighing between 12-22 pounds. They have a distinctive appearance, with a long, narrow muzzle and pointed ears that stand erect. Their coat is thick and double-layered, with a soft undercoat and a longer, coarser outer coat that comes in a variety of colors, including sable, black, and blue merle.

Shetland Sheepdogs are known for their graceful and agile movements, which make them well-suited for herding and agility competitions. They are also known for their intelligence and trainability, which make them excellent companions for families and individuals alike.


Shetland Sheepdogs are known for their friendly and affectionate nature, and they make excellent family pets. They are loyal and devoted to their owners and are often protective of their families. They are also known for their intelligence and trainability, which make them easy to train and eager to please.

Despite their small size, Shetland Sheepdogs are active and energetic dogs that require daily exercise and mental stimulation. They enjoy playing games and going for walks, and they thrive on having a job to do. They are also known for their love of children and make excellent playmates for kids.


Like all breeds of dogs, Shetland Sheepdogs are prone to certain health conditions, including hip dysplasia, eye problems, and allergies. It is important to choose a reputable breeder and to have your Shetland Sheepdog regularly checked by a veterinarian to ensure that they are healthy and happy.

Final Thoughts

The history and origin of Shetland Sheepdogs is a fascinating story that spans centuries. From their early beginnings as working dogs in the Shetland Islands to their status as beloved pets around the world, Shetland Sheepdogs have captured the hearts of many with their loyal and affectionate nature.

Whether you are looking for a loyal companion or a talented herding dog, the Shetland Sheepdog is a breed that is sure to steal your heart. So, if you are considering adding a new furry friend to your family, consider a Shetland Sheepdog. With their intelligence, trainability, and friendly nature, they are sure to make a wonderful addition to any home.