The Shetland Sheepdog is an outstanding companion dog and is intensely loyal, with a pleasant temperament. It is lively, intelligent, trainable, and willing to please and obey. Shelties are relatively sensitive, and do not need a hard hand when training.
Shelties are loving, loyal, and affectionate with their family, but are naturally aloof with strangers and might not appreciate being petted by someone they do not know; for this reason Shelties must be socialized extensively. There is a much wider range in temperament in modern Shelties than there used to be, and personalities will range from quiet, stay-at-home dogs, to active extroverts.
Unfortunately, due to their popularity, more shelties are being bred in puppy mills and by inexperienced, unknowledgeable breeders. These dogs often have very poor temperaments, with characteristics such as fear-biting, excessive shyness, nervousness, or extreme hyperness. Most Shelties, if encouraged, will warm up to strangers if given time. Some can be quite reserved and some have varying degrees of shyness.
Although they are excellent family pets, Shelties do especially well with children if they are raised with them from an early age; however, their small size makes it easy for a child to accidentally injure them, so supervision is necessary.
Unlike some dog breeds, males and females make equally good pets. The main difference is that males tend to have more impressive coats, and unspayed females will ‘blow’ coat after every heat cycle. Males should appear masculine, females, feminine.
The herding instinct is still strong in many Shelties. They love to chase things, including squirrels, ducks and children. Shelties almost always love to play & run in wide-open areas; just make sure the space is safe and they can’t get too far away.
Shelties usually do best with a sensitive, yet firm, owner. The Sheltie is, above all, an intelligent herder and likes to be kept busy, although their activity level often coincides with their owner’s level.
Thanks to wck for the super sweet photo of Kate & Declan. (She’s feeding him some green beans she picked from the garden. He LOVES green beans!)