The Shetland Sheepdog: Bright, Playful, Energetic

Shetland Sheepdogs, or “Shelties,” are lively, intelligent herding dogs. Although the origin of the breed is unclear, it is understood to be related to the Collie, which it resembles in miniature. (At one point, it was called the “Miniature Collie,” or “Shetland Collie” by some. It is, however, a distinct breed.)

From the rugged, windswept Shetland Islands in the North Atlantic, these dogs reflect the environment from which they came: they are rugged, low to the ground, and double-coated to withstand the cold weather. Used for herding and guarding property, these dogs became popular with visitors to the islands in the late 19th century, who were taken with the breed's coat and size.

Shelties are easily trained and excel at events like agility, obedience and herding. Loving with their humans, they can be wary with people they don’t know, as their herding and protective instincts can kick in. With their long, dramatic coat, they are stunning – especially when in motion – and are among the most photogenic of breeds.

Here are some of our favorite submissions from the AKC Family Dog Photo Contest, showcasing the Shetland Sheepdog's timeless beauty and energy.

Sheltie on a boat - Christina Raskay

Christina Raskay/AKC Photo Contest

Sheltie portrait - Stephanie King

Stephanie King/AKC Photo Contest

Sheltie puppies - Mike Johnson

Mike Johnson/AKC Photo Contest

Sheltie running - Laura Harmyk

Laura Harmyk/AKC Photo Contest

Walter Piroth

Walter Piroth/AKC Photo Contest

Sheltie splashing - ChiaraCurcillo

Chiara Curcillo/AKC Photo Contest

Sheltie shaking - Dana Epps

Dana Epps/AKC Photo Contest

Sheltie snowy nose - Katherine McGough

Katherine McGough/AKC Photo Contest

Sheltie - Minori Inoue

Minori Inoue/AKC Photo Contest

Sheltie profile - Carla Holland

Carla Holland/AKC Photo Contest

Sheltie in grass - Susannah Rohbock

Susannah Rohbock/AKC Photo Contest

For tips on utilizing your dog's intelligence and energy, check out our advice here

Do you have a photogenic Sheltie? Send us a picture, we’d love to see it.

Get your dog ready for his closeup!

Selecting a Puppy

How do you know what breed is right for your family? How do you find a reputable breeder? What questions should you ask a breeder? Download this e-book for guidance on these questions and other important factors to consider when looking for a puppy.

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