All About Shelties

A Shetland Sheepdog from 1915.
Image from W. E. Mason - Dogs of all Nations

A Brief Sheltie History

When seen out on the street, Shetland Sheepdogs (also known as Shelties) are commonly referred to as Rough Collies, miniature Lassie dogs or we’ve even had our own Shelties called foxes (!) Surprisingly Rough Collies are not the main original breeding stock in the development of the Shetland Sheepdog. 

Dogs of the Shetland Isles

The original Shetland herding dogs were small mixed breeds, generally considered to be Spitz-type dogs similar to the modern Icelandic Sheepdog. They were adept at herding and protecting livestock, small, intelligent and agile enough to deal with the rugged landscape and had thick double coats to help them survive the harsh winters.

These dogs were crossed extensively with working collies from mainland Britain and later crossed with other breeds such as the Rough Collie, Border Collie, Greenland Yakki (now extinct), King Charles Spaniel and Pomeranian. During this time they were often known as Toonies or Toonie dogs and were an important part of the economy during the 19th century being sold to tourists who loved their small size and cute and fluffy look.

However, this led to the Islanders realising the original breed was vanishing so extensive Collie crosses were made to help recover the original type which started to become known as Shetland Collies. This did not go down well with breeders of Rough Collies so a few months after the first Kennel Club registration of the Shetland Collie, the name was formally changed to Shetland Sheepdog.

The Modern Shetland Sheepdog

Just before the name change, the first Sheltie to be registered with the Kennel Club (UK) was “Badenock Rose” in 1909 and was 1 of 28 registered that year. The first Sheltie to be registered by the American Kennel Club was “Lord Scott” in 1911. The breed name was changed and dogs began to be registered officially as the Shetland Sheepdog breed in 1914.

Further crosses were made up to the 1930s and possibly even 40s to help retain the more desirable characteristics of the Rough Collie breed. It was a challenging time due to the onset of World War I during which time shows and breeding were halted and dogs born during the war were barred from being shown. As the Shetland Sheepdog breed was still relatively new and didn’t have large numbers, some of the initial prominent breeding lines were lost during this time. However during this time, some breeding continued and these were so influential that they can still be traced back in the pedigree lines of many modern Shelties.


Long Double Coat

Coat Colours: sable, mahogany sable,
shaded sable, tri-coloured,
bi-black, bi-blue, blue merle,
bi-blue merle, sable merle,
colour headed white, double merle,
black and tan

Average Lifespan: 12-14 years

Average Litter: 2-4 puppies

Average Height

Dogs 33–41 cm (13–16 in)
Bitches 33–41 cm (13–16 in)

Average Weight

Dogs 5.0–10.9 kg (11–24 lb)
Bitches 5.0–10.9 kg (11–24 lb)

Find A Sheltie

So you’ve fallen in love with the Shetland Sheepdog and decided you simply have to have one… or if you already have one, you know that you can never simply have just one and are looking for another pup for your pack! We’ve compiled a list of starting points to help you on your search below. This list is being updated and growing all the time so keep checking back for the latest information.

If you can’t find any information about finding Shelties in your area or you have details for finding available puppies in your country, do get in touch and let us know so we can update this page.


The Kennel Club has a searchable map that you can use to find breeders with litters. Please note this list isn’t fully comprehensive so you may have more luck contacting your local representative on the breed club websites (see below).

Most of the club sites have pages with contact details for puppy or rescue registers that can put you in touch with pups in your area.

Eastern Counties Shetland Sheepdog Club

English Shetland Sheepdog Club (ESSC)

Mid Western Shetland Sheepdog Club

Northern Counties Shetland Sheepdog Club

Scottish Shetland Sheepdog Club

Shetland Sheepdog Club Of North Wales

Shetland Sheepdog Club Of Northern Ireland

Shetland Sheepdog Club Of Wales

Yorkshire Shetland Sheepdog Club

Shetland Sheepdog Breed Council

Champdogs has quite a comprehensive list of breeders in the UK and overseas that is searchable. The puppy register itself isn’t often updated so it’s recommended that you search for breeders in your local area on the site and contact them individually. More often than not they can point you in the direction of a suitable litter of pups if they don’t have any currently available themselves.

Become a Sheltie Ambassador

We’re launching our first campaign in 2023 to raise awareness for Shetland Sheepdogs and are looking for ambassadors to help us share the love of the Shetland Sheepdog! If you’re a big-time sheltie lover and would love to get involved in our campaign to spread the word, please email us to register your interest. A registration form will be available soon.