Every dog is unique and individual, and at the same time, anyone who’s owned different dog breeds knows that breed can make a huge difference in the temperament of your new family member. Some breeds like to lay around the house, others would be happiest in a several-acre yard. Some live for tricks and training and others struggle to master a sit.
When it comes to Shetland sheepdogs, a huge part of what you can expect from their behavior is already a giveaway with their name: sheepdog. These are animals that were bred for specific, important work on a farm. Owners quickly recognize how intelligent these pets are — and what that intelligence requires in order to be happy.
Here are just a few things that Shetland sheepdog owners know by heart.
1. Shetland sheepdogs require constant stimulation
Looking for a lazy house dog? You won’t find it in a Shetland sheepdog. These dogs are fiercely smart and love mental stimulation — and they’re likely to take it out on your furniture if they don’t get it.
2. Shetland sheepdogs are great for training
Sensitive and focused, owners love training Shelties because they pay careful attention to verbal cues and respond super well to positive reinforcement. There’s a reason they’re ranked as one of the smartest dog breeds by the AKC.
3. Shetland sheepdog fur is incredibly soft
We’re pretty sure petting any dog is calming, but Shetland sheepdogs have incredibly soft fur that makes cuddle sessions even better. Plus, their coat is beautifully feathered with different colors.
4. Shetland sheepdogs are always primed for a chase
Bred as herding dogs, Shetland sheepdogs can’t help but want to chase after things that move. Owners have to carefully train their dogs to only chase things when appropriate, and make sure to get them lots of exercise so they don’t get jittery.
5. You’ll never stop vacuuming
The downside of having a beautiful, soft coat is that Shetland sheepdogs shed like mad. Hair on the floor, hair on the couch, hair in the soup you left uncovered for five seconds… better get used to it, ‘cause that’s just life now.
6. Shetland sheepdogs get mistaken for other breeds all the time
You’re going to get a lot of Lassie jokes, even though Lassie was a collie — and collies are about twice the size of a Sheltie, which only grow to be about 25 pounds.
7. If you’re not into agility training, you will be
Because Shetlands need so much mental and physical stimulation, agility training is a no-brainer. Not to mention these dogs are incredibly graceful, so they look like pros in no time.
8. Shetland sheepdogs are going to bark
Again, as sheepdogs, there are certain traits that just seem to be innate. A Shetland’s tendency to bark, whine and growl can be good as a house alarm, but owners often work to train them to only bark when appropriate — or they can end up with very little peace and quiet. (Have a Sheltie and need some advice on barking? We have some tips on barking cessation for you.)
9. Shetland sheepdogs are gentle creatures
This makes them great for families with small children, but less great for any kind of chaotic or emotionally turbulent home. Shetlands need to feel safe and loved, or their discomfort can express itself as neurotic behavior so if you can’t be around to give them all the attention they deserve you can find your dog an amazing dog sitter who offers dog boarding and lots of snuggles on Rover.com.