Shetland Sheepdog

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At a recent show (September 2006) word was going round that the sheltie has become so popular that it is almost impossible to find one in a rescue centre.  If you go to any agility shows you're almost sure to see quite a few of these little dogs going hell for leather in the ring.

The sheltie always looks dainty and petite.  Their height is approximately 14 - 14.5 ins (35.5 - 37cm) and their weight is 14 - 16lb (6-7kg).  This puts them in the medium category although a small sheltie may compete in the small classes if it is 13.75 ins (35cm) or less at the withers.

The breed is very intelligent and responsive to their owners.  They may take a while to get to know strangers but they should never be nervous. 

Shelties have a profuse coat and if you enjoy grooming you'll love to get the brushes out for one of these dogs.  A well groomed sheltie is a joy to behold.

The shelties I've watched in competition are quick and keen and they seem very eager to please.  It's interesting to note that in the Agility World Championships 2005 there were five shelties in the top nine dogs in the medium team event.  In the small individual class shelties came first and third, and in the medium individual class a sheltie was also third. 

One of the respondents to the survey trains a sheltie Jack Russell cross and found that this little dog was easy to train and was doing well at agility.

The two shelties that I've known well have been quiet dogs that have been easy to train.  However, if you're thinking of getting a sheltie, whether for agility or for a pet or for any other dog activity you should read Gina's comments below as she has had a very different experience of the breed.  As with all breed dogs, get advice from the breeders as to whether you and the dog are ideally suited.

Top photo by Diane Ehrhart at morguefile

I've included a few sheltie books and other collectable bits and pieces especially for people who love shetland sheepdgs.  There are also some useful comments on the breed further down the page.  More dog products can be found in the Agility Bits Doggie Shop

I have a sheltie from show lines and he is an amazing little athlete, but he didnít start out that way. He was shy and hated people, I took him everywhere with me and had people hold him and give him treats. He is now fine with people, but not great with small children. He can be very sensitive and if I am frustrated with something he will shut down. But I am used to his soft nature, and thanks to clicker training we compete very successfully in obedience, rally, agility, flyball and we are playing at herding. You definitely have to be willing to put a lot of time into this breed to get a working dog out of them, but once they are turned on they will work for a lifetime for you. Shelties are the breed for me!

I have got 3 shelties, one won't under any circumstances do agility, one does it quite well at times, but quite often switches right off and just runs out of the ring.  The third is still learning and seems to be quite keen!  I think they are quite sensitive little dogs, no doubt they have the ability but they need sympathetic handling.  They won't tolerate being scolded either!

Gina says:
Sheltie's aren't always easy, in fact I have found mine a nightmare to train.  They seem to come in quiet and reserved or totally mental and gobby.  Mine is the latter!  She is very difficult and really tests you all the time, asking why she needs to do something.  Can be very stubborn at times.  I wouldn't recommend them as a first time agility dog.  Mine is small and flies round like a rocket but we probably go clear once a year, still she enjoys it!  She's been known to fly off the top of the dog walk and fly off the see-saw in competition despite doing her contacts perfectly in training.

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