The Shetland Sheepdog looks like a miniature Collie with his beautiful, thick coat, distinctive head and agile body. The head of the Sheltie is long and wedge-shaped and muzzle is narrow and well-rounded. The nose is black and the teeth should meet in a scissors bite. The eyes are dark, almond-shaped, alert, yet gentle. Blue or merle eyes are permissible in blue merle dogs only. The ears are small, set high on the head and carried mostly erect. The Sheltie's long tail should reach the hock. The body should be muscular, but not heavy. Male dogs should appear masculine and female dogs should appear distinctly feminine. The coat, with its lion-like mane and frill comes in blue merle, sable, and black with varying amounts of white and tan markings.
Size and Weight
The ideal height of a mature Shetland Sheepdog, regardless of gender is between 13 and 16 inches at the shoulder. Heights out of this range are considered disqualifications from the show ring. The average weight for a properly sized Sheltie is 18 pounds.
Coat and Color
Shelties wear a thick double coat that is made up of a harsh topcoat and a short, thick undercoat that pushes the topcoat away from the body. There is smooth hair adorning the head, ears and feet, but there is extra-thick, abundant hair at the mane and frill. The tail and legs are also well covered in long, thick hair.
Shetland Sheepdogs may be sable (ranging in shade from mahogany to gold), black, or blue merle. There are some brindle Shelties and some dogs may be more than 50% white – disqualifications from the show ring, but these “faults” do not affect the dog's ability to be a champion family dog.
The Shetland Sheepdog's coat requires brushing at least once per week with a pin brush to remove loose hair, undo tangles and prevent mats from forming. When brushing, it is important to get the whole way down to the skin and always use a spray bottle to wet the hair before brushing. Working with a dry coat will damage the hair. The hair behind the ears and under the “armpit” need special care, as mats are prone to form there. During shedding season, the coat will need to be brushed daily. Males blow coat once a year and intact females blow coat twice per year.
The Sheltie's coat is naturally dirt and water resistant, so they only require baths as needed. This varies greatly depending upon the individual.
Check the ears on a weekly basis for signs of infection, irritation, or wax build up. Cleanse regularly with a veterinarian-approved cleanser and cotton ball. Brush the teeth at least once per week to prevent tartar buildup and fight gum disease. Additionally, nails should be trimmed once per month if the dog does not wear the toenails down naturally.