If you hear the terms ”Miniature Sheltie” “Toy Sheltie” or “Teacup Sheltie” used by a breeder, you should be running the other way!
There is NO such thing as a miniature, toy, or teacup Sheltie. These terms were made up by unethical breeders trying to sell small Shelties. If you would like a small Sheltie, you are better off just looking for one from a good breeder. There is often a range of different size Shelties produced within a litter.
According to the American Kennel Club, there is only one Shetland Sheepdog breed standard, and it is 13 to 16 inches tall and weighs 15 to 23 pounds.
Someone who is claiming to have “Miniature Shelties” or “Miniature Collies” either does not truly know anything about what a Sheltie or Collie is, or is purposely deceiving you. Regardless, this is not a breeder from which you should be buying a puppy.
There are also unethical people who cross Shelties with other, smaller breeds to create a Sheltie mix, which they then call “miniature Shelties”. There are other backyard breeders who breed runts to get smaller and smaller Shelties. Neither is a healthy practice and these small Shelties often have more medical problems than the normal sized Shelties.
The biggest cause of this teacup dog fad is the desire to create designer dogs- dogs created for their novelty value and profit. Both kinds of breeding often take place in puppy mills (which create pet store puppies) and through backyard breeders. Both are very much profit driven operations. This is bad for Shelties because:
- They’re lowering the overall quality of the Shetland Sheepdog breed, as these so-called miniature Shelties fall short of AKC standards.
- This type of breeding produces many health problems. Most Shelties they have created will die young after expensive vet bills and owner heartbreak.
- They charge inflated prices that can begin at $1,200.00 and go up! Did you know this the price you’d expect to pay for a high quality dog from a breeder that meets the AKC standard? So you might as well go direct to a respected breeder!
One particular organization, called the Toy Sheltie Club of America, supports the miniaturization of Shetland Sheepdogs. They state on their website that a typical Sheltie should stand 8-12 inches tall to meet the breed standard. This goes against the 100 year old established American Kennel Club standard, which is 13-16 inches tall.
As much as we all think miniaturized dogs are extra cute, the AKC standard was decided for a reason. If you have your heart set on a small dog, please choose breed from the AKC recognized Toy Group.
If you come across someone who is claiming to be part of a Toy Sheltie Club and/or have “Toy Shelties” , all they are doing is breeding under-sized Shelties. Often these people will claim that these dogs are rare and worth more money…do not believe it! These dogs are worth no more than any other pet-quality Sheltie. (That size Sheltie was never the standard and would have been far too small to effectivley herd the Shetland Sheep and cattle on the islands. It was necessary for early Shelties to earn their keep, as the Shetlanders could ill afford to keep any dog simply as a pet.)
For the sake of your future dog’s health and not supporting the unethical (and illegal) practices of back yard breeders and puppy mills, exercise extreme caution when you hear the terms, “miniature”, “toy” and ”teacup” used in the same sentence as the word “Sheltie”. These breeders are uneducated and unethical. Run far, far away!