Are Shelties High Maintenance Dogs?

At first glance, Shelties can appear high maintenance dogs requiring a team of groomers, a therapist, and a personal assistant.

In reality, a Sheltie isn't exactly like hosting an A-list celebrity, but there may be occasions when you might question your life choices, given the amount of work that goes into grooming, exercising, and training your Shetland Sheepdog. Let’s examine real life with a Sheltie and see what aspects stack up to high maintenance.

The Sheltie is a high maintenance dog in some areas

The Sheltie is a high maintenance dog in some areas

Sheltie Grooming: High Maintenance

Shelties have a double coat that’s surely the envy of every short-haired dog. But this does create a lot of work when it comes to grooming day. Regular brushing is essential unless you want your couches and carpets fur-lined. Moreover, it's really important to your Sheltie's health because an ungroomed dog is a tangled, matted, sore dog.

A stray ungroomed Collie rescued by Trio Animal Foundation

A stray ungroomed Collie rescued by Trio Animal Foundation

According to the American Shetland Sheepdog Association (ASSA), you should brush your Sheltie at least twice a week to prevent matting and tangles. I do a light groom behind the ears at this frequency but otherwise leave it a week to do a deep groom which takes about an hour per dog.

Shelties are often compared to high maintenance dog breeds like the Poodle and the Afghan Hound. And while Poodles might have more elaborate grooming requirements with their unique coats, Shelties hold their own with their dense double coats and energetic nature. Meanwhile, the Afghan Hound with its flowing hair requires daily grooming similar to the Sheltie, but tends to be more aloof and less interactive.

So let's be real: grooming is a huge time-sink: a commitment of 600-800 hours over the lifespan of your Sheltie, and that doesn't count monthly bathing. Fortunately, with the right tools, knowledge, and commitment, you’ll become a pro at taming the fluff. You may even start to enjoy it. And if you ever wanted to host a Dog Hair Art Exhibit, a Sheltie is your ticket in.


Sheltie Exercise: Standard Maintenance

If Shelties wrote their own Tinder profiles, they’d list among their hobbies: long walks on the beach, vigorous games of chase-the-thing-but-never-actually-retrieve-it, and herding anything that moves. Arguably, they don't have the bottomless gas tank of a Border Collie or similar working farm dogs, but Shelties do have a lot of quick energy that demands daily exercise to keep them happy, as is true of many dog breeds.

The Sheltie dog Tinder profile

A survey by the American Kennel Club found that Shelties need at least an hour of exercise daily, which is more than some other popular breeds like the Bulldog or Pug. Splitting this hour into two half-hour sessions is just as good. But be prepared to keep up with their enthusiasm. Of course, elderly Shelties (10+ years) slow down significantly, so expect shorter, more leisurely walks as they age.

Sheltie Training: Low Maintenance

Shelties are known for their super intelligence in the dog world, which means they learn new commands quickly. Sometimes in as little as six repetitions. This makes them an ideal breed for first-time dog owners and a joy to work with during obedience training and agility.

While training a Sheltie is easy, relatively speaking, some are quite stubborn little toads and may choose not to follow-through when there are certain distractions around. These extra smart dogs can also learn how to manipulate you into giving them extra liver treats and table scraps, and sharing your nice warm bed.

Sheltie Socialization: Standard Maintenance

Some Shelties are social butterflies; others are Nervous Nellies. It really depends on the individual personality, which is a product of genetics and their early developmental environment. To make a sweeping statement about the breed, however, Shelties are generally curious and friendly creates. This is compared to the aloofness of, say, the Chow Chow or the Basenji.

Shelties can be social butterflies

Shelties can be social butterflies or Nervous Nellies

Early socialization is key to ensuring your Sheltie is outgoing and well-behaved around other dogs and humans. Failure to do so can result in a nervous Sheltie who doesn't want to be patted, walked, held, or even looked at with a side-eye from across the park.


Sheltie Health: Standard Maintenance

Did you know that purebred dogs are more susceptible to 10 genetic diseases than mixed breeds? This is a result of historic inbreeding in purebred populations, allowing disease genes to meet in both parents and be passed on, double time, to offspring. Shetland Sheepdogs are more prone to five of genetic diseases. I should emphasize that these aren't all common problems in Shelties, but they are more likely to be found in Shelties compared to mixed-breed dogs.

It's all too easy to create an overweight Sheltie as he ages, especially a food-centric one like Howard Woofington Moon. Yet you can't always tell when they're getting fat because it hides under the fur. Sadly, obesity is a major health problem in Shelties; even being moderately overweight is associated with serious long term diseases. This makes one more thing you need to closely monitor as a Sheltie owner.

Final Thoughts

So, are Shelties high maintenance? They certainly know how to keep you on your toes. From their fabulous fur to their zappy energy, owning a Sheltie is like living with a tiny fluffy whirlwind. A whirlwind that needs annual vaccinations, quarterly worming, fortnightly grooming, and daily exercise.

If you’re up for the challenge of owning a Sheltie, you’ll find that they're also incredibly loyal, loving, and downright entertaining. Just remember to keep your sense of humor intact—and maybe invest in a good lint roller. Whether you’re laughing at their antics or admiring their beauty, life with a Sheltie is never dull.