The Shetland Sheepdog is so beloved that not only does the breed sport a cute nickname (with devotees dubbing the dogs Shelties), they also have their very own pet holiday: International Sheltie Day!
When is International Sheltie Day?
International Sheltie Day takes place each year on June 1st.
What’s In a Name?
The name of this herding dog is an homage to the land of the breed’s birth, the Shetland Islands of Scotland.
The breed has been known by a number of names over the years, starting with the Shetland Collie, a moniker that was nixed by devotees of the Rough Collie.
Shelties were also once called the Dwarf Scotch Shepherd, as well as Toonie Dog, which is a now obsolete Scottish colloquialism for the word “farm.”
Related post: Sheltie Names from the Shetland Islands!
In celebration of National Sheltie Day, we’ve fetched a few fun facts about the breed:
A Shetland Sheepdog’s DNA includes the Scottish Collie, the King Charles Spaniel, the Pomeranian, the Greenland Yakki (a breed which has since been lost to the world) and the Rough Collie, which was introduced at the dawn of the 20th century.
Long live the Sheltie! The average life span for members of the breed ranges from 12 – 14 years.
A breed with both beauty and brains, the Shetland Sheepdog was ranked the sixth most intelligent dog breed in the world, according to a 2023 Reader’s Digest report.
A breed that holds the number one spot in the heart of anyone who is fortunate enough to welcome a Sheltie into their life, the Shetland Sheepdog also ranks high on the American Kennel Club’s annual list of the most popular dog breeds, landing at number 28 in 2021.
Often confused with the Rough Collie, the Shetland Sheepdog can be distinguished from that breed by their much smaller frame. (The Rough Collie stands at approximately 21 – 16 inches, while the Sheltie is no taller than 16 inches.)
According to the American Shetland Sheepdog Association, the Sheltie coat can come in black, blue merle, and sable, and can be accented with white markings.
Did you know that a Sheltie named Calamity Jane once strolled through the halls of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? Calvin Coolidge’s Shetland Sheepdog was given the name by First Lady Grace Coolidge due to the dog’s propensity to get dirty. According to The Presidential Pet Museum, the 30th President even had a dog bath tub installed in The White House just to keep his barking buddy clean. (Learn more about the dogs who have called the White House home.)
Since 2017 Miley Cyrus has sported a tattoo of her Sheltie on her inner forearm! Adopted by the “Flowers” singer in 2014, Emu (who also answers to the sweet sobriquet “MuMu“) even makes a cameo in the music video for Miley’s hit “Malibu.”
Although the Shetland Sheepdog has yet to win the coveted Best in Show title at the Westminster Dog Show, in 2022 a Sheltie named Bee ran through the course of the Westminster Dog Show Agility Championship at 29.81 seconds, and buzzed to the top step of the podium!
Disney devotees who watched The Wonderful World of Disney in the 1970s may remember the TV movie The Little Shepherd Dog of Catalina, which featured a Shetland Sheepdog in the main role.
Adopting a Shetland Sheepdog
If you are thinking of becoming a pet parent to a Shetland Sheepdog, there are many breed specific rescue organizations across the United States that are dedicated to finding forever homes for Shelties. To find a Shetland Sheepdog rescue or other rescue organization in your area, visit: