Shetland sheepdogs are commonly called miniature collies. Also known as shelties, these purebred dogs are descendants of the border collies of Scotland. They were transported to the Shetland Islands and cross-bred there with other small, purebred dogs until the breeders achieved the dog's desired miniature proportion. Shetland sheepdogs originally worked as farm herding dogs.
Shetland sheepdogs are loyal, intelligent and highly trainable dogs. As befits a working dog, they have a lot of energy, and they need plenty of exercise if they are to be kept as house dogs. They make excellent family pets, though the American Kennel Club warns that they are generally wary of strangers.
Common Shetland sheepdog colors include sable, black and white and tan. They typically grow to a height between 13 and 16 inches. Some dogs of this breed have merle patterns on their coats. Many have patches of black and white, or red and white around their bodies, faces, heads and tails.
Some Shetland sheepdogs carry the MDR1 gene. This gene means that toxins from certain medications do not leave the dog's brain after dosage. The build up of these toxins can cause neurotoxic reactions that may lead to death. Shetland sheepdog owners must request an MDR1 gene test from their veterinarians.