Most common health problems in Shetland Sheepdogs, aka Shelties, plus health care and feeding.


My Complete Health Care Program for your Shetland Sheepdog

If you want to AVOID health problems in your Sheltie, you'll find my health care program very valuable.

It's called "11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy."

Raise your dog the RIGHT way, feed him the RIGHT food, give him the RIGHT vaccinations, avoid unnecessary veterinary expenses, and help him live a longer, happier, and more comfortable life.

If your Sheltie already HAS a health problem, I'm sorry to hear that. You should immediately begin my health care program, and you may be able to restore his good health – or at least make him much more comfortable. Let me help!

My best-selling dog health book


Shetland Sheepdog dog breed

Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie) Health Care & Feeding

By Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2017


Quick list of Shetland Sheepdog health problems

Many Shelties are blind or vision-impaired, from hereditary eye diseases. Epilepsy and heart disease are serious concerns in Shelties. Also a severe blood-clotting disease.

Both hip dysplasia and a degenerative hip disease called Legg-Calve-Perthes occur in Shelties. Elbow dysplasia and loose knee joints (luxating patella) occur, as well. All of these orthopedic disorders cause lameness and pain.

Chronic allergies cause itchy skin and scratching, which leads to bacterial infections (hot spots). Other skin conditions in Shelties stem from autoimmune diseases, where the immune system is defective and attacks its own skin.

Bladder cancer occurs more often in Shetland Sheepdogs than in most other breeds. Up to 19% of Shelties have low thyroid levels.

All Shetland Sheepdogs should have a simple DNA test to determine whether they have inherited a gene mutation known as MDR1. If a dog has this gene, certain medications can be deadly to him.

(See more health problems below.)


Preventing health problems

Some health problems are inherited. For example, if both parents of your Shetland Sheepdog have certificates proving they were tested and cleared of hereditary eye diseases, hip dysplasia, blood-clotting disease, and thyroid disease, your Sheltie has less risk of developing those conditions.

Other health problems can be prevented, or partially prevented, by the ways you raise your dog. If you're serious about doing everything you can for your Shetland Sheepdog, my best-selling book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to raise your Shetland Sheepdog puppy (or adult dog) in all the right ways. It will help you be your dog's health care champion!


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

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 Sheltie
Food is the #1 foundation for good health. The best diet for feeding your dog is real food. Real chicken, turkey, beef, fish....these are not just "people foods" and I'll tell you why.


Natural dog foods for your Shetland Sheepdog. The Second-Best Dog Food For Your Sheltie
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 some vets aren't telling you.


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


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


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.


Assisi Loop Assisi Loop Review: How I Helped Treat Inflammation and Pain
Does your dog suffer from arthritis, hip dysplasia, disk disease, colitis, a skin wound? My honest review of a veterinary device you can use at home to help reduce inflammation and pain.


Complete list of Shetland Sheepdog health problems

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 a degenerative hip disease, Legg-Calve-Perthes. Other orthopedic diseases are more common, including luxating patella (loose knees), hip dysplasia, and elbow dysplasia. The Orthopedic Foundation of America evaluated the hip X-rays of 22,000 Shelties and found 5% dysplastic. Elbow dysplasia and luxating patella were each 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 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.


To help you train and care for your dog

book cover To learn more about training your dog to be calm and well-behaved, my dog training book is Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your dog to listen to you and do whatever you ask.

book cover My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy dog.

book cover My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to help your dog live a longer life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.