Dogs of the Shetland Sheepdog breed stood guard for farmers on the Shetland Islands off the coast of Scotland, keeping hungry birds and sheep out of the farmer's garden, and they also served as sheepdogs. Today, they are excellent family companions and superstars in dog sports.
The Sheltie originated in the rugged Shetland Islands, which lie between Scotland and Norway, about 80 kilometers north of Scotland and just south of the Arctic Circle. These islands are also home to other small animal breeds, such as Shetland ponies and Shetland sheep.
For many years, the Shetland Sheepdog was called Toonie, derived from the Norwegian word for farm. Farmers bred the dogs, crossing the Border Collie with smaller dogs, to herd and protect their herds of shetland sheep. Some speculate that one of the tasks of Shetland Sheepdogs was to protect the small sheep from birds. Indeed, many of today's Shelties seem to have a passion for chasing birds, and some even try to chase planes and helicopters flying overhead.
The Sheltie is intensely loyal, gentle and sensitive. The breed has a wide range of personalities, from extroverted and rambunctious to calm and sedate to shy or withdrawn.