Your Purebred Puppy, Honest Advice About Dogs and Dog Breeds

Sensible advice for raising your Shetland Sheepdog puppy so he lives a long healthy life and seldom needs to visit the vet. Learn about the most common health problems and issues in Shetland Sheepdogs, the best dog food diet for feeding Sheltie puppies and adult dogs, the truth about vaccinations, spaying and neutering, and natural health care.


11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, my best-selling dog health book

Shetland Sheepdog dog breed

Shetland Sheepdog Health Problems and Raising a Sheltie Puppy to be Healthy

By Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2014

Quiz – How Long Will Your Dog Live?
How To Raise a Healthy Dog
Feeding the Best Dog Food
Feeding the 2nd Best Dog Food
Vaccinations: Needed or Not?
Are You Sure Your Vet Is Good?

The most common health problems in Shetland Sheepdogs:

Eye diseases in Shelties include collie eye anomaly, cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), coloboma, eyelash abnormalities, and a particularly severe and painful form of corneal dystrophy.

Epilepsy is a serious concern in Shelties, and heart disease (patent ductus arteriosus) is a concern, as well.

The severest form of von Willebrand's blood-clotting disease occurs in Shelties. Fortunately, a simple DNA test is available so you can find out at any time whether your Shetland Sheepdog has von Willebrand's disease, carries it, or is completely clear of it.

The most worrisome orthopedic disease in Shetland Sheepdogs is Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, but other orthopedic diseases are more common, including luxating patella (loose knees, very common), hip dysplasia, and elbow dysplasia. The Orthopedic Foundation of America evaluated the hip X-rays of 14,500 Shelties and found 5% dysplastic. Elbow dysplasia was evaluated at 3%.

Hormonal/endocrine system diseases include diabetes and hypothyroidism. According to the Michigan State University Thyroid Database, up to 19% of Shetland Sheepdogs have low thyroid levels.

Skin problems are common in Shetland Sheepdogs, especially allergies, which cause itchy skin and often lead to bacterial skin infections (pyoderma).

Other skin conditions in Shelties stem from autoimmune diseases, where the immune system is defective and attacks its own skin. Autoimmune diseases that attack the skin include pemphigus and lupus. Also dermatomyositis, in which the skin (derma) and muscle (myo) become inflamed (itis). This rare disease affects Collie and Sheltie puppies at 3-6 months old. Crusty skin lesions come and go until eventually the puppy outgrows the condition, though there may be permanent scars. In more severe cases, the puppy may experience muscle wasting – growing slowly with spindly legs, though this occurs more often in Collies than in Shelties. Skin lesions become worse when exposed to ultraviolet light, so keep affected dogs indoors as much as possible. A milder form of this disease, with skin lesions confined to smaller areas, can occur in middle-aged and older Shelties.

Cancer of the bladder (transitional cell carcinoma) occurs more often in Shetland Sheepdogs than in most other breeds. Inherited deafness can occur in Sheltie puppies with a lot of white on their head.

Shetland Sheepdogs and other collie-type breeds often react adversely to certain drugs such as ivermectin (in heartworm prevention products such as Heartguard), Imodium A-D, flagyl, and certain anesthetics. If your dog has a mutant gene called mdr1, he cannot pump these drugs out of his brain, which results in neurological toxicity. Don't give any of these drugs to your Sheltie unless he has been tested for this mutant gene. It's a simple DNA test offered by the Washington State University Veterinary School.

Shelties are prone to losing pigment on their nose and muzzle – this can be caused by nasal solar dermatitis or lupus, but most commonly it's a harmless condition called "snow nose" where the nose only loses pigment in the winter.


Can you prevent health problems from happening to YOUR Shetland Sheepdog?

Yes, often you can.

  1. Some health problems are genetic, which means inherited from parents. Genetic health issues are common in Shetland Sheepdogs today because of unwise breeding practices. My book, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, shows you how to find a Shetland Sheepdog puppy who is genetically healthy.
  2. Other health problems are environmental – caused by the way you raise your dog. My best-selling dog health book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy shows you how to prevent environmental health problems by raising your Shetland Sheepdog puppy (or adult dog) in all the right ways.

Here are my dog health tips for raising a healthy Shetland Sheepdog puppy or adult dog:

Dog lifespan quiz How Long Will Your Dog Live? – Take This Quiz!
Based on your dog's breed and how you're raising him, this personalized quiz will help you understand how long your dog might live – and most importantly, how you can increase his life expectancy.


Obedience instructor and author Michele Welton Dog Health Care – The Sensible Way
Read my advice on daily health care so your Sheltie lives a long, healthy life and seldom needs to see the vet.


Real homemade dog food The Best Dog Food For Feeding Your Shetland Sheepdog
The best diet for feeding your Sheltie is real food. Real chicken, turkey, beef, bison, venison, fish....This is not "people food" and I'll tell you why.


Natural dog foods for your Shetland Sheepdog. The Second-Best Dog Food For Your Shetland Sheepdog
If you can't feed homemade dog food, here are your next-best choices.


Information on booster shots for your Shetland Sheepdog. Vaccinations and Booster Shots: Needed or Not?
How many vaccinations does your Shetland Sheepdog puppy really need? Does your adult Sheltie need yearly booster shots? The vaccination guidelines have changed. Find out what many vets aren't telling you.


Information on choosing the best vet for your Shetland Sheepdog. The Type of Veterinarian I Recommend
Is your veterinarian really the best choice for your dog? Learn about the differences between vets who practice conventional, holistic, and alternative veterinary medicine.


Information on spaying your Shetland Sheepdog. Spaying Your Female Dog: Pros and Cons
Advantages and disadvantages of spaying your female Sheltie.


Information on neutering your male dog. Neutering Your Male Dog: Pros and Cons
Advantages and disadvantages of neutering your male dog.