If you’re considering a Shetland Sheepdog or Sheltie for short and as they are affectionately known, then you’ll want to know how big they are expected to get. At what size will you need to prepare for and accommodate? Here is what you can expect based upon the data of the breed.
So, how big do Shelties get? Shelties typically stand between 13-16 inches in height, weighing between 20-25 pounds on average. Although it has been reported that the larger dogs of this breed have weighed in at between 35-40 pounds. Either way, there is little variance in size between the males and females of the breed.
Shelties are generally considered to be a small breed, at least according to organizations such as the AKC (American Kernel Club).
But you might not expect that by looking at them.
At least, I hadn’t realized that they are actually quite small, especially at first glance.
It must be down to their long and dense double coat, which gives them the appearance that they are larger than they are.
Let us now take a closer look at their size, along with when you can expect them to grow into their adult frame and weight expectations throughout puppyhood and early adolescence.
We will also be looking at a condition known as Lance Canine (a dental abnormality) and some interesting research on how it can impact a Sheltie’s final size.
Lastly, we will look at keeping this dog at a healthy weight because they have been known to put on a few pounds more than they need, despite being herding dogs.
So, if you are serious about getting one of these beautiful dogs, its worth sticking around!
How Big Do Shelties Grow?
The average Sheltie will stand at between 13-16 inches in height, and weigh in the range of 20-25 pounds.
Although, that is just an average.
And it gets more interesting.
This is not a breed that always stays so close to the breed expectation.
It is not uncommon for a Sheltie to be over or undersize. Something that is largely due to genetics and the lineage of the parental dogs.
Either way, they are generally known for being a small and compact dog; at least in comparison to other breeds.
For instance, they are certainly the smallest of the herding dogs. And when we look at the table below, we start to see this more clearly:
|Herding Dog Breed
|Average Height Range (Inches)
|Average Weight Range (Pounds)
|Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie)
And because of their much smaller size, Shelties are more appropriate for owners with limited space.
They can even live in an apartment if they are provided with sufficient exercise and play.
And it wouldn’t hurt if they were well trained too. At least to prevent any excessive barking!
At What Age Is A Sheltie Full Grown?
Your average Sheltie will generally reach their full adult size at around 12 months of age. Although, it has been known for some Shelties to develop slowly, whereas for others it can happen more quickly.
It does therefore depend on the line of dog and those in the lineage; this is mostly a genetical trait.
At around 10 months you should expect your Sheltie pup to reach their expected height, and in the months that follow for them to fill out and gain some additional weight.
Interestingly, compared to many other dog breeds, there is not much variance between the sexes in terms of their weight.
As such, the following growth chart applies to both male and female Shetland Sheepdogs.
Growth Of A Sheltie
- The weight of a Sheltie at 3 months should be between 6 and 11 lbs (pounds).
- At 6 months, they will likely weigh between 11 and 20 lbs (pounds).
- At 1 year, a Sheltie should weigh between 14 and 26 lbs (pounds).
|Weight – Low Average
|Weight – High Average
It is likely that you will take in your puppy at around 8 weeks (2 months of age), so the table above will give you reference for the first month of recording.
Consider that outside of size, height and weight; a Sheltie will also be developing emotionally and mentally throughout this time.
Let us quickly now take a look at this development below:
- Ranking Period – (3-6 Months) – During this phase, your Sheltie puppy will be very playful – interested in almost everything and full of energy. As the name suggests, the name of this stage is in reference to the social and dominance hierarchy that is common in all dogs and descends back to wolves. This is when puppies learn how to behave around others, learning the crucial aspects of hierarchy, and finding their place (their rank) in the group.
- Adolescence – 6-18 Months – During this stage, your Sheltie puppy will fully get to grips with their position in the home. This is an ideal time to expand on any early training you may have given your pup; helping them to become a better behaved and well-rounded dog. You should expect your Sheltie to still be quite energetic during this time, although neutering (which typically happens around the age of 1 years old), will impact this if you do decide to go ahead with this procedure.
A Note On Lance Canines And Its Impact On Size
Lance Canines are a dental (orthodontic) abnormality, where the upper teeth are pointed more forward that usual.
It can occur on both the upper teeth, or in just one.
This condition is most commonly seen in Shelties, although it has been observed in other breed and in cats, too.
But what does all this have to do with the topic at hand?
Well, it actually has quite far-reaching impact on the final size of a Sheltie.
What we discovered is that dogs with lance canine are, on average, one inch shorter and six pounds lighter than unaffected Shetland SheepdogsLeigh Anne Clark – Clemson University Research
These researchers actually found that lance canine had a genetic basis, and this is related to the dog’s body size!
This is an important finding, if you are considering owning a Sheltie, for several reasons.
Especially as the research suggests its an inherited trait and still within the gene pool of Shelties sold and kept as pets.
Firstly, it can help you to understand why your dog may be smaller than the breed average. And that, it may not be a reflection on you as the owner that they do not reach their expected size.
And secondly, it will require treatment at some point.
If left untreated, lance canine can result in ulcerations on the lip, prevent a dog from being able to close its mouth altogether, and it can also lead to periodontal disease.
So, this is definitely something to consider and be aware of. It’s not common in every Sheltie and is in fact quite rare, but an important finding nonetheless.
How To Keep A Sheltie At A Healthy Weight
Shelties are a herding dog by nature, so it may seen strange to include reference to their weight and ensuring they remain at a healthy one.
However, just because this is typically an active breed, they still can (and do) get overweight.
Shelties are keen eaters, and enjoy food as much as they do running around and playing. Especially with age; an adult Sheltie is much more vulnerable to weight gain than an inquisitive puppy burning through a lot of energy.
Therefore, overtreating or overfeeding a Sheltie can prove quite problematic; especially as obesity is known to result in adverse health affects.
So, as a Sheltie owner, it’s important that you monitor your dog’s weight and ensure they are hovering around the breed expectations, for their age, at all times.
Let us now take a closer look at the exercise and food requirements of the breed to ensure they remain in the healthy range.
The exercise requirements of a Sheltie will differ with age. Puppies for instance, who are still growing and developing, have a different need for that of an adult. should not be over-exercised.
In puppies, bones, muscles, and joints need to grow and develop – and they are much more vulnerable due to potential damage of growth platelets from over-strenuous activity or overexertion.
So, its typically recommended that your walk a Sheltie puppy for around 5 minutes for every month of their age.
For instance, a 3 month old puppy should get 15 minutes. A 5 Month, 25 minutes. Slowly increase and monitor how they respond.
This should be enough structured exercise to keep them growing and at a healthy weight as they grow.
Remember, puppies do need to put on the weight to grow into their full adult size. It should not be excessive but weight gain is of course, expected somewhat.
A Sheltie over the age of a year however, should be getting at least an hour of structured exercise a day. That is, two walks of 30 minutes (if possible), or 1 hour of walking per day.
Outside of this, they should routinely be encouraged to play, taken outdoors, and kept busy from both a physical and mental perspective.
Any activity and exercise less than this and you are likely to encounter problems. Both behaviorally, and with their weight if their diet is not in check.
When it comes to feeding your Sheltie, it is always advised to follow the recommendations on the packaging of the food manufacturer.
This will be a serving that is in accordance with their size. You’ll likely need to purchase age specific food.
For your average Sheltie and food brand, it will work out at around 3/4 of a cup – 2 cups per day.
You will need to consider the activity of your dog though, the more they do the more they will likely need to eat (within reason).
It also comes advised to feed your Sheltie 2x per day – once in the morning and again in the evening. Splitting the food in half will therefore be required, and scales can work well.
Signs Your Sheltie Is Overweight
Assuming you follow the exercise and diet recommendations above, regularly weigh and consult your vet, your Sheltie should not get overweight.
But it can easily happen, especially if treats are involved.
The following are signs that your Sheltie has gained too much additional weight:
- Body Shape – Shelties are known for their defined bodies and frames; where their chest and rib cage is compact. This area should not feel too pudgy and the separation between rib and waist should be observable.
- Cannot Self-Groom – A Sheltie that cannot self-groom and reach their back leg could very well be overweight (so long as other injuries are ruled out). The larger a dog is the less mobile and agile they are, and the less they will be able to reach those more challenging areas.
- Out Of Breath – A Sheltie that struggles to keep up and pants excessively could be struggling due to their weight. Of course, we need to rule out age and temperature here, but if they are panting heavily in relaxed contexts (when lying down in comfortable conditions) it could be time to consider your dog’s diet and exercise regime.
In these instances, you will need to consider putting your dog on a diet and exercise regime, suitable and appropriate for them.
Liaising with a vet comes strongly advised at this stage along with close monitoring of the diet, and ensuring they are meeting their exercise needs.
Always start slowly with any changes made, and remain vigilant to your dog and how they are responding.
Shelties do not get very big, despite the illusion they my give due to their thick double coat.
In reality, these are quite small and nimble dogs; keen to remain busy and put their herding instincts to work.
Despite being small and compact, they are quite high energy – and love to run and engage in playful activity.
So, although from a size perspective they will suit any household, having access to outdoor space where they can partake in flyball, fetch, or other games, is fundamentally important.
Any owner will need to take their exercise needs into account. And at the very least be willing or able to take them outside regularly.
Nevertheless, these dogs are intelligent and have a desire to please their owners.
Thankfully they take to training well, are affectionate and even somewhat protective of those that they love.
A sensitive dog by nature, they will need companionship and are not the dog to be left alone – especially without little to do.
But, if you are looking for a relatively small dog, who does not take up a lot of space, can easily be transported, yet is good fun, and likes to get out in the open, the Sheltie could very well be for you.
Is A Sheltie A Small Or A Medium Dog?
Shelties are considered to be small dogs, smaller than almost every other herding dog. While there is some variance in size in dogs of the breed, even the largest are still typically classified as small. Generally, a Sheltie in the healthy weight range is compact, lean, and athletic in build.
Interested in learning more about the Sheltie breed? My guides below are for you:
- How Much Does A Sheltie Puppy Cost? [Average Price Guide]
- Are Shelties Aggressive? [Temperament Guide For Owners]
- Do Shelties Like To Cuddle? [Is This Breed Affectionate?]
- Do Shelties Bark A Lot? [Causes And What Owners Can Do]
- Can Shelties Swim? [Are They Naturally Confident Swimmers]
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.