The Shetland Sheepdog originates from the Shetland Islands situated in Scotland. Commonly referred to as the Sheltie, this dog is an excellent herding breed. This dog has a double coat, small stature, with high energy levels typical of a working dog. Aside from the sturdiness and agility of this dog breed, which originally enables them to survive the tough conditions of the Shetland Island, it commonly has blue or dark-colored eyes. Recently, the Sheltie has been increasingly adopted as a family dog.
The Sheltie is a loyal dog with a keen disposition to please its owners. It is fun-loving with high intelligence levels, which enables it to learn tricks and techniques quickly. This dog is very athletic and relatively timid around new people. Overall, the Sheltie has a tender temperament and rolls well with other pets and dogs.
The Sheltie is an exciting dog breed to have. Nonetheless, you would be rightly curious about its overall personality. You will like to know what it is like to own this dog breed. You would also like to know its temperament for training, and if it is generally a good fit for your type of person. How about we learn all that?
Shetland Sheepdog Temperament
The Sheltie is a loving family dog with incredible loyalty to its owner. Given its strong herding instincts, the Sheltie is not very friendly towards strangers. It is relatively protective of the people it loves and is quite suspicious of strangers.
The Sheltie has a high-pitch barking tone and is quick to bark when it notices something strange happening. This is common when it perceives a stranger to be invasive.
Such aptness to bark makes the Sheltie quite unsuitable for dwelling in shared residences like an apartment.
Undoubtedly, this shrieking barking can be quite discomfiting. However, with proper training and early socialization, you can significantly control the tendency of your Sheltie to bark.
This is a breed that loves human company. It is not appropriate to leave the Sheltie on its own for too long as it can succumb to canine separation anxiety and start indulging in negative habits.
Despite its seeming exuberance and aptitude for play, the Sheltie still has its reserved side. This timidity can be clearly seen when your Sheltie is yet to bond with you or when it is around strangers.
You also have to note that the Sheltie is relatively prone to following its discretion. Therefore, you may notice some intermittent stubbornness from this dog breed.
This dog breed is a spectacular working dog with acute herding instincts. Given this, you may see that your Sheltie has a propensity for nipping at moving objects. Of course, it wouldn’t be unsurprising for your Sheltie to nip at the heels of your kids if they run from it.
The good news is this nipping tendency can be suppressed. Once you regularly reprimand it when it nips, the message will consolidate in its consciousness that you don’t want it nipping at objects.
Nonetheless, the Sheltie is not an aggressive or territorial dog breed. It gets along fine with other dogs and pets, even cats.
What It is Like Owning a Shetland Sheepdog
Owning a Sheltie is an exciting experience. Of course, it is not thoroughly rosy given that your Sheltie can display a strong head at times.
Nevertheless, you should generally expect a sweet dog when you own a Sheltie. The Sheltie is easygoing, far from a troublemaker, and usually polite with everyone.
You will notice that your Sheltie withdraws to itself shyly when a new person comes to your home. This is not a dog that is disposed to rolling with people it is acquainted with. Remember, it has an innate suspicion for strangers.
You can deliberately up the confidence of your Sheltie (especially around new people) by taking it out to socialize at a young age. Make sure it interacts extensively with other dog breeds as well.
You must have an active lifestyle to manage your Sheltie appropriately. This is considering its massive appetite for exercise – both physically and mentally.
If you own a Sheltie, you need to give it a perpetual company. If you stay away from it for long periods, it rapidly gets sad, deteriorating into neurotic disorders like chewing and spoiling your stuff, digging, and severe barking.
Owning a Sheltie means being ready to shield it from loud, disruptive sounds. Being a herding dog, it has sharp reflexes. They may go into overdrive when they hear a thud or loud voices. So you see that this dog will struggle in high-tempo, busy surroundings.
Are Shetland Sheepdogs a Good Fit for You?
To accurately determine that the Sheltie is suitable for you, you must love its good side and be able to put up with the challenges of owning a Sheltie.
Therefore, to be a good fit for a Sheltie, you must be in love with its sweet and gentle personality. You must be a fan of its attentiveness, and also admire its agility and high activity level.
Moving over, to be a good fit for a Sheltie, you must be able to put up with its propensity to get bored too quickly. This means you must be ready to exercise your Sheltie regularly.
You must be more of a stay-at-home individual so you don’t live it for too long. To be a good fit for a Sheltie, you should be willing to cope with its sensitivity and restless reactivity to stress and loud noise.
Also, you must cope with its high-pitch barking and herding behavior (seen in its readiness to chase moving things). Lastly, you must be prepared for the heavy shedding and grooming that comes with owning a Sheltie.
Temperament for Training
Without a doubt, the Sheltie is a smart dog for an aptness for learning. This dog excels at obedience training. So long you apply positive training methods, expect your Sheltie to catch them quickly.
You don’t need to scream at your Sheltie when training it. Don’t forget that this is a very sensitive dog who loud noises unsettle. Therefore, you must train your Sheltie with a gentle voice and gently with a leash.
Most times, soft verbal corrections would do when training your Sheltie. Harshly jerking them around could get them defensive or wilting. Praise them when they get it right. Ah, don’t forget to give them some lovely treats as well to consolidate their positive behaviors.
It is best to start the training of your Sheltie at home. Many owners make a mistake of waiting until the 5th-6th month before they start training their Sheltie.
Start at a very young and enhance this with early socialization. Indeed, you would be amazed by how quickly a Sheltie as young as two months can learn tricks.
Getting Along With Other Pets and Children
As we said, the Sheltie generally has a sweet personality. It is not keen about its territories; neither is it unnecessarily aggressive.
Your Sheltie will get along readily with other dogs, pets, and even your cat. Shelties are also quick to bond with kids and seniors in your home. But there is a problem here.
It is not very advisable to leave a Sheltie with very kids. This is because you know kids are playful and can get running around your Sheltie or make other quick movements around it. Your kids can also make loud noises around your Sheltie.
This can overwhelm your Sheltie, getting it chasing at your kid and even nipping at your kid. No doubt, this can harm your kids.
Personality Traits to Be Cautious About
While the Sheltie is a graceful dog, as we have pointed out, this breed retains some personality traits you should be wary of. Let us explore some of these.
The temperament of the Sheltie is relatively unstable
When unsettled with high-pitch sounds or a crowd of strangers, your Sheltie can get hyperactive. Other than this, your Sheltie can display neurotic behaviors like frightfulness and needless barking.
The Sheltie is very emotionally sensitive
While this dog is very active, it has a high sensitivity to stress and an unsettled environment. When there is crisis or tension in your home (as typical in family problems), you would be shocked how quickly and devastatingly it would get to your Sheltie.
This dog is peaceful and calm. But it doesn’t end there; the Sheltie equally loves positive and serene homes to thrive.
The Sheltie barks a lot
If you are not a fan of high-pitch barking, you may want to think twice before getting the Sheltie. As characteristic of herding dogs, the Sheltie will promptly raise an alarm if it perceives anything strange or out of place.
This can be unsettling for you. But you can choose to control this tendency to bark surgically “de-barking” your dog if you see it fit.
How to Manage Shetland Sheepdog Temperament
We mentioned the relative instability of the Sheltie, it doesn’t mean the Sheltie is a NO-NO. Of course, you can manage this temperament, particularly the negative elements in it.
To steer clear of some of the negative behaviors of the Shetland, you may have to choose an adult from a rescue group or possibly an animal shelter.
The good thing about most of the adult dogs is that they have been specially groomed or trained to suppress their negative traits. Nonetheless, we will admit there comes this keen bonding when you get a pup and watch it grow with you over time.
You can still go for a pup. But be keen on the type of breeder you are going with. Buying a pup from a prestigious breeder saves you a lot of the headaches of having a bad-mannered dog.
Change in Behavior Could Signal Health Problems
Shelties are sensitive dogs, as we have pointed out. Some abrupt deviation from their demeanor of habits could signal health issues.
For example, if your Sheltie is suffering from acute pain or discomfort (typical of conditions like dental issues, arthritis, or allergies), your otherwise sweet Sheltie can get a bit aggressive or withdrawn.