The 10 Most Rare Characteristics and Habits of Shetland Sheepdog Breeds

Shetland Sheepdogs, often affectionately called Shelties, are a beloved breed known for their intelligence, agility, and striking beauty. Originating from the Shetland Islands of Scotland, these dogs have a rich history as working herders. Beyond their well-known traits, Shelties possess some rare and unique characteristics and habits that set them apart from other breeds. Here, we delve into the ten most uncommon features and behaviors that make the Shetland Sheepdog truly special.

Exceptional Intuition

Shelties are known for their almost uncanny intuition. This goes beyond their herding instincts; they often seem to understand human emotions and anticipate their owners’ needs. This characteristic makes them excellent companions and therapy dogs, as they can sense when someone is feeling down or stressed and provide comfort.

Remarkable Memory

One of the rarest traits of Shetland Sheepdogs is their extraordinary memory. They can remember commands, names, and routines with minimal repetition. This trait is particularly beneficial for training and agility competitions, where they excel due to their ability to recall complex sequences of actions.

Vocal Communication

While many dogs bark, Shelties take vocal communication to another level. They have a wide range of sounds they use to express different emotions and needs. This can include barking, whining, and even unique vocalizations that seem almost like talking. Their vocal nature can sometimes be surprising to new owners.

Strong Herding Instincts

Even if they are not used for herding, Shelties retain a strong instinct to herd. They might try to herd children, other pets, or even their owners. This behavior can be both charming and challenging, requiring proper training to manage in a household setting.

Sensitive to Changes in Environment

Shelties are particularly sensitive to changes in their environment. They are highly attuned to their surroundings and can become anxious if there are significant changes, such as moving to a new home or having new people around. This sensitivity makes them very observant and aware.

Unique Play Behaviors

Shetland Sheepdogs exhibit unique play behaviors that differ from many other breeds. They often engage in herding-like games, circling and corralling other dogs or people. Their play style is energetic and can include a mix of running, jumping, and herding actions.

Exceptional Problem-Solving Skills

Another rare characteristic of Shelties is their problem-solving ability. They are quick to figure out puzzles, open doors, or find ways around barriers. This intelligence requires owners to provide ample mental stimulation to keep them engaged and prevent boredom.

Bonding and Loyalty

Shelties form exceptionally strong bonds with their families. Their loyalty is unparalleled, and they tend to follow their owners around the house, always wanting to be close. This deep bond also means they can suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for extended periods.

Aloofness with Strangers

While they are affectionate with their family, Shelties can be aloof or reserved with strangers. This trait harks back to their working dog origins, where wariness of unknown people was advantageous. Proper socialization is crucial to help them feel more comfortable around new people.

Grooming Habits

Shelties are meticulous groomers. They spend a significant amount of time cleaning themselves, almost like cats. This self-grooming behavior helps maintain their beautiful double coat, which requires regular brushing to prevent matting and tangles.


Shetland Sheepdogs are a fascinating breed with a blend of intelligence, sensitivity, and unique habits that endear them to dog lovers worldwide. Their rare characteristics, from their intuitive nature to their problem-solving skills, make them not only excellent pets but also loyal companions with an extraordinary connection to their human families. Understanding and appreciating these traits can lead to a more fulfilling relationship with these wonderful dogs.


Are Shetland Sheepdogs easy to train?

Yes, Shelties are highly intelligent and have an excellent memory, making them relatively easy to train.

Do Shelties require a lot of exercise?

Yes, Shelties are active dogs that need regular physical and mental exercise to stay healthy and happy.

How do Shelties handle being left alone?

Shelties can suffer from separation anxiety due to their strong bond with their owners and do not do well when left alone for long periods.

Are Shelties good with children?

Yes, Shelties are generally good with children, but their herding instincts might lead them to try to herd kids, which should be managed with training.

How often should Shelties be groomed?

Shelties require regular grooming, ideally a thorough brushing several times a week to maintain their coat and prevent matting.

Leave a Comment