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Sheltie vs. Collie: What’s the Difference? (with Pictures)

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove


There are so many dog breeds, and the list keeps growing. It can be hard to remember or recognize what sets some of them apart. At first glance, Shelties and Collies may look nearly alike—so how do you tell who’s who?

When it comes to two remarkably similar breeds, there are notable differences we can discuss. We assure you there’s more than meets the eye. These two dogs are closely related, but who came first? What are the details of each breed? Let’s find out together.

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Visual Differences

Image Credit: Left – Sheltie (JackieLou DL, Pixabay); Right – Collie (mariuszopole, Pixabay)

At a Glance

Sheltie Breed
  • Average height (adult): 13-16 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 16-20 pounds
  • Lifespan: 12-13 years
  • Exercise: 1 hour a day
  • Grooming needs: Moderate
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Yes
  • Trainability: Intelligent, lively, receptive
Collie Breed
  • Average height (adult): 20-24 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 45-75 pounds
  • Lifespan: 10-16 years
  • Exercise: 1 hour a day
  • Grooming needs: Moderate
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Often
  • Trainability: Sometimes stubborn, gentle guidance

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Sheltie Overview

Merle Shetland Sheepdog
Image Credit: JackieLou DL, Pixabay

The Shetland Sheepdog, otherwise known as the Sheltie, is a herding dog from Scotland. Originally, it was called the Shetland Collie but was later changed. These dogs are built for rugged terrain and long days at work. They have transitioned beautifully from workers to companions, just like their Collie ancestors.

Shelties came into being from crossing the Rough Collie with other island dogs at the time, including Spaniels. So, they tend to be smaller in stature and slightly more hyper than their Collie parent.


Shelties are lively dogs that are full of character, sure to keep you on your toes. They make terrific playmates and enjoy very active lifestyles. Because of their amiable nature, they make excellent travel companions and dog park candidates, too.

These dogs generally get along very well with other pets, especially when they grow up together. Their gentle nature makes them suitable in a home with small kids—but supervision is always paramount for child/dog interactions.


Shelties don’t handle boredom well and absolutely require daily exercise. This breed, in particular, needs constant mental and physical stimulation. Since they are worker bees, it is deeply instilled in them to have a task to do.

It is essential to take your Sheltie out for daily walks and other games that last at least 45 minutes every day. However, upwards of 60 minutes is much better—if you can spare it.


Shelties are loyal and eager to please. Training a Sheltie shouldn’t be that difficult, as they are brilliant dogs. However, if you have one on the more stubborn end of the spectrum, it might prove to be a little more challenging.

These dogs do very well with positive reinforcement training tactics, so make sure to keep things upbeat. Reward or praise good behavior for optimal results. Heavy discipline might cause nervousness and worsening behavior in Shelties, so be careful.

If you need help, these dogs would be great obedience training candidates.

Shetland Sheepdog playing with ball
Image Credit: JackieLou DL, Pixabay

Health & Care

Shelties are generally healthy dogs. However, they can be prone to certain health conditions found in the breed. The best preventive measure is routine veterinary care.

Shelties can develop:
  • Allergies
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Legg-Perthes
  • Canine hip dysplasia
  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Collie eye anomaly


As you might have guessed, daily brushing is essential for this breed. They have very long hair that can get tangled and matted quite quickly. you’re going to need a firm brush that will penetrate their thick fur to get a smooth finish.

Because of their fur length, they benefit greatly from professional grooming every 6 weeks or so.

Suitable for:

Shelties are compatible with country and city living, permitting that they have the proper outlets for exercise. They usually get along with other pets and children.

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Collie Overview

rough collie standing on grass
Image Credit: Johannes Jäger, Pixabay

The Rough Collie is a long-coated herding breed from Scotland. Originally, they were workers but eventually landed in pet homes all over. This breed played Lassie from the adorable show in the 1950s—and has gained traction in the USA ever since.

This breed is a beloved family pet that has transitioned from herding to companionship. These dogs have sweet, kind expressions and loving personalities. They also have favorable life spans and excellent dispositions.


Collies are very gentle dogs. They have outgoing personalities and work well in most living situations. Because Collies are so social and kind, they make extremely excellent additions to growing families. Also, with the proper training, these dogs can make exceptional pets for older adults.

Despite the calm nature of Collies, they are pretty protective of their hearth and home. While they aren’t inherently aggressive dogs, they are very watchful, lending great judgment.


These dogs do require quite a bit of activity per day, but not as much as their Border Collie cousins. As long as you make sure they get at least 45 minutes to 60 minutes of exercise per day, you will have a happy, healthy dog.

Collies are quick, agile dogs that make great fetchers and chasers. Since they are very modest dogs, they play well with smaller children for exercise, too.


Because Collies can be a bit stubborn, they might be a little bit difficult to train. However, if you have a solid rapport with your dog, they will aim to please you.

Since Collies are so intelligent, they pick up on basic commands very easily. It shouldn’t take too many repetitions before your colleague gets the hang of things.

However, if you think that you have a particularly rambunctious Collie, you can always opt for behavioral training to help things along.

Rough Collie
Photo Credit: No-longer-here, Pixabay

Health & Care

Collies are usually very hardy dogs that stay healthy for the duration of their lifetime. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t run into specific genetic health issues.

One way to eliminate health issues is to buy from a reputable breeder with no known issues in the bloodline. Follow up with routine vet care to get ahead of anything that might transpire over time.

Collies are prone to:
  • Bacterial infections
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Allergies
  • Epilepsy
  • Grey Collie syndrome


Your Collie is going to benefit significantly from daily brushing, and so is the rest of your house. Collies tend to shed quite a lot, as you can imagine, due to their coat texture and length.

On top of daily brushing, you will need to make sure you give them a bath every 4-6  weeks to remove debris, dirt, and dead hair follicles altogether. Long-haired dogs tend to trap more of these particles, so coat maintenance is essential.

You can follow up bath time with teeth brushing, nail trimming, and here cleaning when necessary.

Suitable for:

Since Collies are large with higher energy levels, it can make it challenging for apartment living. However, once the dogs mature, they can work quite well in smaller settings. But most Collies prefer having space to roam.

Just make sure that they get their daily exercise, and they’ll make fantastic playmates and companions for just about any lifestyle.

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Which Breed is Right For You?

When it comes to choosing between the Sheltie and Collie, it can be pretty tricky considering how similar they are. However, just remember Shelties are a bit peppier while Collies are relaxed. Each still requires a good amount of exercise.

If you do live in a smaller space, having a smaller dog might work better for you. However, Collies have slightly lower energy levels—so keep that in mind. Use your best judgment and select the type of dog that suits you best.

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