If you’ve ever wanted your own pocket-sized herder, then the miniature Sheltie is the pet for you! But what exactly is a miniature Sheltie?
Well, a mini Sheltie, or toy Sheltie, is what you get when you take all of the qualities of a Shetland Sheepdog — intelligent, loyal, affectionate, athletic — and put all of that into a smaller body.
Don’t skip out on this guide if you want to know more about this popular toy breed.
Here, we will be covering all of the basics about the miniature Shetland Sheepdog — from appearance, health, temperament, puppy costs, and more!
What Is a Mini Sheltie?
Mini Shelties, or toy Shelties, is what you’d get if you take a Shetland Sheepdog and shrink it by half. These dogs are loved for their agility, brains, loyalty, and overall sweet disposition. Despite sharing many traits with regular Shetland Sheepdogs, mini Shelties are not AKC-recognized.
The purpose of creating the mini Sheltie is to make a smaller pooch that looks the same as the standard Sheltie but is easier to care for and less expensive in terms of food and other expenses.
This dog is perfect for people who want a smaller Sheltie without sacrificing any of the breed’s characteristics.
Currently, the miniature Shetland Sheepdog is not recognized by any major American dog registry. Thus, it cannot join in conformation shows and agility competitions.
Other Names of the Miniature Sheltie
The miniature Sheltie has a couple of other names. This includes “toy Sheltie,” “teacup Sheltie,” and “Toonie.”
Toy Sheltie is a name commonly used for miniature Shelties. This is because its size falls in line with the American Kennel Club (AKC) standards of the toy breed group, albeit not being a recognized breed.
Teacup Sheltie is a less commonly used name as it refers to an even smaller variation of the Shetland Sheepdog. Though the AKC does not recognize teacups as a real breed size, these small dogs do exist.
Teacup Shelties are the smallest Shelties, being as small as around 8 to 10 inches.
Toonie is another name for the miniature Sheltie. You’ll see fancier groups like The Toy Sheltie Club of America (TSCA) and the Carolina Toonie Association using this name.
These organizations claim that the original Toonie was the foundational dog for the miniature Sheltie. Modern Toonies are miniature Shelties bred from Australian Shepherd and Shetland Sheepdog mixes.
Mini Sheltie Size and Weight
According to TSCA, a mini Sheltie stands between 10 and 12 inches at the shoulder and weighs between 8 and 12 pounds when fully grown. Mini Shelties stop growing at around 10 to 12 months.
Teacup Shelties average around 8 and 10 inches as adults and can weigh around 10 pounds or lighter in adulthood.
By comparison, the standard Shetland Sheepdog stands at 13 to 16 inches and weighs 15 to 26 pounds when fully grown.
Check out this video to see an adorable mini Sheltie in action:
Mini Sheltie Appearance
Despite being almost half the size of the standard Shetland Sheepdog, the miniature Sheltie still shares the same classic Sheltie appearance.
A mini Sheltie’s head is long and refined, with no exaggerated features. They have small erect or semi-erect ears. Meanwhile, their fluffy neck is arched and muscular, adding to the mini Sheltie’s elegance.
They have an alert and sweet expression to the eyes, which are slightly oblique and almond-shaped. With the exception of merle mini Shelties, their eyes are always dark brown.
They sport a long and slender body with a deep chest reaching elbows. They also have short, straight legs. Their fluffy tail is low and tapered, arching slightly but shouldn’t curl up behind the back.
The mini Sheltie has a stunning double coat that comes in a few AKC standard colors. These coat colors are black, blue merle, and sable, alongside varying amounts of white or tan.
How Do Breeders Produce Miniature Shelties?
You might expect the miniature Sheltie to be just the runt of the litter, as it is commonly done with toy and teacup breeds.
While this may be partly true, there are a couple of other ways to make a mini Sheltie. And each way has its own downsides.
In this section, we are going over how breeders produce miniature Shelties.
Breeding Runts of the Litter
One of the ways that a mini Sheltie is produced is through breeding the runt of the litter. The runt is the smallest among its siblings. Choosing runts to breed with other runts produces smaller versions of the parent breeds.
Though this is the surest way to produce a tiny puppy, it is also considered the most unethical.
In addition to having the lowest birth weight of the litter, the runt is also the weakest.
Breeding runts repeatedly produce sick puppies that inherit their parents’ health problems. This makes the practice widely frowned upon in dog-fancier communities.
Using the Dwarfism Gene
Another way of producing a mini Sheltie is through further utilizing the dwarfism gene in dogs.
Canine dwarfism is a growth hormone abnormality that affects the bones and cartilage of dogs, stunting their growth. This is seen in dogs whose limbs are shorter than their bodies, like the Sheltie.
Amongst the popular dogs that carry the dwarfism gene are the Corgi, Basset Hound, and Dachshund breeds. Meanwhile, Shetland Sheepdogs are bred with other dwarf breeds to result in a smaller, shorter Sheltie.
But alongside this mini-maker gene comes some hereditary health problems. The Sheltie itself can be prone to lance canines, in which canine teeth are misaligned and can worsen with exaggerated canine dwarfism.
There are also spinal problems like canine intervertebral disc disease, commonly found in dwarf breeds.
Breeding Shetland Sheepdogs With Other Small Breeds
Another way of producing a miniature Sheltie is by mixing the standard Shetland Sheepdog with smaller dog breeds.
The Chihuahua, the Pomeranian, and the Toy Poodle are just a few popular small breeds crossed with a Sheltie to make a toy version.
This is arguably the healthiest and most ethical way of producing a miniature Sheltie. There are still a couple of drawbacks to this method, however.
The appearance of the litter may not be as predictable. This might produce a dog that looks less like a Sheltie and more like the other parent breed.
The genetic health problems from the other non-Sheltie parent breed may also be carried in the resulting puppies.
Do Kennel Clubs Recognize Miniature Shelties?
The miniature Sheltie, or toy Sheltie, is not recognized as a separate breed by the American Kennel Club (AKC). Moreover, it does not fit in the Shetland Sheepdog’s breed standards because of its small size.
Although not recognized as a standard breed, the mini Sheltie’s adorable size and lovable personality have quickly made it a popular choice among dog enthusiasts.
There is a group of toy Sheltie fanciers who are leading the way in promoting this tiny herding dog. The Toy Sheltie Club of America (TSCA) is an organization working for the toy Sheltie to be recognized by the AKC as a legitimate breed on its own.
Mini Sheltie Lifespan and Health Issues
The mini Sheltie can live a long life of around 12 and 14 years. These tough little herders often get to live out their full life expectancy, especially when properly cared for.
Despite this long lifespan, the mini Sheltie is still prone to some health issues. Here are some of the common health problems of the miniature Sheltie:
- Von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD): This is a common blood disorder wherein the dog’s blood does not clot properly. Von Willebrand’s Disease Type 3 is commonly found in Shetland Sheepdogs. Watch out for symptoms like excessive bleeding, especially from the gums, nose, urine, or stool.
- Multidrug Sensitivity in Dogs (MDR1): MDR1 is a genetic mutation that mini Shelties are prone to. This mutation causes higher adverse reactions to certain medications such as antiparasitic medication, antidiarrheals, and chemotherapy drugs.
- Merle Ocular Dysgenesis (MOD): MOD is a hereditary condition that causes ocular abnormalities in dogs with the merle gene, like the merle mini Sheltie. This gene can cause minor ocular effects such as blue eyes, but it can be as severe as complete blindness.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): PRA is an optical defect caused by retinal pigment degradation, which is the abnormal growth of blood vessels in the retina. This is a progressive condition that can lead to blindness in dogs.
Being familiar with these health problems and catching them early on is crucial to being a responsible mini Sheltie owner.
This can save you hundreds on unwanted medical expenses. That’s also why regular vet visits are essential in keeping your pet in its best shape.
Mini Sheltie Temperament and Personality
Much like their regular-sized counterparts, the mini Sheltie has a peaceful temperament. They are also polite towards other people and animals they meet. This also makes them perfect therapy dogs for the sick and elderly.
However, problems may arise if your mini Sheltie is not well-adjusted to its environment.
Without proper socialization and exposure to different environments, your mini Sheltie could become fearful in its own home, develop separation problems, or display unwanted herding behavior towards children.
Nevertheless, active families will love this tiny work dog. And although mini Shelties work best on a farm with smaller livestock, this dog can adapt to any home so long as it gets enough exercise.
How to Take Care of Your Miniature Shetland Sheepdog
Don’t let their size fool you — the mini Sheltie is an amazing working dog. Though smaller than regular Shelties, the toy version is just as hardy.
However, since they love to work, they need a proper diet and regular exercise to remain active. They also require careful maintenance so they can be at their best.
This part of the guide will show you what you need to do to keep your mini Sheltie a happy and healthy pooch.
Food and Diet
The typical mini Sheltie diet consists of a good serving of protein and fat twice or thrice a day in small servings.
Chicken, turkey, beef, and lamb are common meats that can give the mini Sheltie its nutritional needs.
Add this with some good-quality dog food, and you’re set! You can also fully DIY some dog food recipes for a varied diet as long as it’s vet-approved.
As for treats, using them as a reward is great for your mini Sheltie’s mental exercise. Just keep in mind to use it in moderation. It may be tempting to give your adorable pooch some extras, but this can lead to a few problems.
Overfeeding can bring on health problems like obesity and hip dysplasia. This is especially true for small breeds since overfeeding is a common problem.
Cleaning and Grooming
Like any other double-coated dog, the mini Sheltie just needs a good thorough brushing once or twice a week. Brushing shouldn’t be rough because the hairs can break.
Extra maintenance is required for heavy shedding during the spring and fall. Luckily, they don’t shed as much as their bigger counterparts.
While bathing your mini Sheltie, make sure to avoid the eyes and use a washcloth with warm water to clean this area. Ear cleaning and nail trimming should be done every two weeks.
While a full and healthy coat is a must for your dog, you shouldn’t neglect its oral health. Brushing them at least three times a week will keep your mini Sheltie’s teeth in good shape.
Training and Exercise
Mini Shelties are still working dogs at heart, so it’s best to give them a “job” to do. This job can be herding small livestock or finding hidden toys and treats. Mental games are also a great way to keep your mini Sheltie stimulated.
These eager pooches do exceptionally well with obedience training, herding, and agility courses. Using positive reinforcement during training will keep your pooch motivated.
Early socialization with children and other animals is also important. This helps keep them even-tempered and well-behaved in any environment.
For a mini Sheltie’s exercise, a daily walk with a minimum of 30 to 60 minutes per day will rev up its tiny engine.
How Much Does a Miniature Sheltie Cost? Puppy Prices & Expenses
If you are considering getting a mini Sheltie, be prepared to spend between $1,750 and $2,500 on a puppy. However, depending on the breeder, toy Shelties can even cost up to $4,000.
Since it is a relatively new and uncommon breed, the cost of a mini Sheltie puppy isn’t cheap. However, adopting a dog from a rescue is also an excellent option for your budget.
Apart from the puppy’s initial price, other expenses must be considered. These are the essentials for a pup, like its crate, bed, collar and leash, toys, and other things.
Here’s a list of all the other expenses for a miniature Sheltie puppy:
|Type of Expense||Cost|
|Food and Treats||$30 – $80|
|Bowls||$10 – $30|
|Toys||$20 – $30|
|Beds||$30 – $200|
|Collars and Leashes||$15 – $50|
|Crates and Carriers||$30 – $200|
|Grooming Essentials||$50 – $150|
|Initial Vet Visits||$100 – $500|
|Initial Vaccine Shots||$50 – $300|
|Deworming, Flea, and Tick Medications||$40 – $300|
|Neutering or Spaying||$50 – $500|
|Microchipping||$40 – $60|
|Dog License||$10 – $20|
|Other Essentials||$20 – $50|
|Total Initial Cost||$495 – $2,470|
Keep in mind that these are estimated numbers, and exact numbers may vary depending on the needs of your pooch.
Your expenditure may go beyond these estimates if you add on dog sitters, dog walkers, and pet daycare services.
Places to Find Miniature Sheltie Puppies for Sale and Adoption
The mini Sheltie’s charming personality may make you want to rush out and buy one immediately.
However, unlike the standard Shetland Sheepdog, there is not an abundance of breeders or rescues that specialize in this tiny breed.
Fortunately, in this guide, you will find reputable breeders as well as rescues for miniature Shelties.
Here are some breeders where you can find mini Sheltie puppies for sale:
- Fox Point Farm – Fox Point Farm prides itself on its ethical breeding of mini Shelties. Their breeding program ensures that their pups are only from the lineage of AKC standard Shetland Sheepdogs. They even raise and test their pups on farms and provide puppy pickups and delivery services.
- K-Li’s Kritters – This West Virginia-based breeder breeds mini Sheltie pups in a home environment. They specialize in white-factored and color-headed white coats. All their dogs go through genetic testing and are cleared for diseases before being available.
- Holdbrook Homestead – Based in South Carolina, this breeder specializes in agility-trained toy Shelties! Their toy Shelties are all health tested and raised on a 4-acre farm while trained in herding and obedience early on.
To help you out more in searching, here are some places where you can find mini Shelties for adoption:
- Coastal Sheltie Rescue+ – This foster-based organization is dedicated to rescuing herding dogs in Virginia and its surrounding states. Here you can find Sheltie mixes and miniature Shelties for adoption. 100% of donations go into caring for the rescued dogs in their shelter.
- Nebraska Sheltie Rescue – This rescue’s mission is to match their rescued Shelties to potential forever homes. They typically take in abandoned Shelties, those that come from poor conditions, or those that have been surrendered by their owners.
- Mid Florida Sheltie Rescue – This group of rescues has been fostering and rehabilitating abandoned, abused, or neglected Shelties for nearly 20 years. This Florida-based rescue is dedicated to finding their rescued Shelties a forever home.
If the above sources don’t pique your interest, you can also check social media groups for Sheltie rescuers and organizations.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Miniature Shelties Shed?
Because their long coat is dense, the miniature Sheltie does tend to shed. However, because they are smaller than their standard-sized counterparts, they have less of an undercoat. As a result, they shed less than regular Shelties.
They shed the most during spring and fall and shed moderately throughout the rest of the year. Regular grooming, about 4 to 8 times a week, will take care of most fur-related problems.
Just keep a couple of tools like a brush or vacuum around the house when shedding season comes creeping in.
Are Miniature Shelties Hypoallergenic?
Mini Shelties are just like their bigger versions, and that includes being heavy shedders. Though they shed less than the standard Sheltie, they’re still not considered hypoallergenic.
Sadly, the mini Sheltie is not suitable for people with severe allergies.
Do Mini Shelties Bark a Lot?
Due to their herding heritage, the mini Sheltie can be quite the talker. They bark to alert, guard, and herd.
If you notice excessive barking, then they may be anxious or bored. You can apply behavioral training to correct this behavior.
Still, the best way to avoid this is to balance your mini Sheltie’s energy levels through daily walks and socialization.
It’s easy to see why toy Shelties are becoming more and more popular these days. However, if you have severe dog fur or dander allergies, this pooch may not be ideal.
This is also not a dog for couch potatoes since the mini Shetland Sheepdog needs mental and physical stimulation.
Overall, the mini Sheltie’s portable size and personality make for a great pet for any home. With early training and proper nutrition, a mini Sheltie can prove to be an excellent companion.
What do you think about this miniature pooch? Are you getting this fluffy dog breed soon? Leave your thoughts and comments about the mini Sheltie in the comments below!