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Shetland Sheepdog Health Care & Feeding

By Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Breed Selection Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

Shetland Sheepdog

Start your Shetland Sheepdog off on the right foot by feeding the right food, giving the right vaccinations, finding the right vet, and if you're going to spay or neuter, don't do it too early.


Jump down to this list of
Sheltie Health Problems


Or check out my advice 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... [read more]

numeral 33 Best Ways To Feed Your Dog Healthy Food
You can dramatically increase your dog's chances of living a long, healthy life by feeding the right food. Cutting right to the chase, the best foods for your Shetland Sheepdog are... [read more]

Real homemade dog food A Quick Way To Make Homemade Dog Food
Your Sheltie will love real chicken, turkey, beef, fish, eggs, yogurt, broccoli.... this is not just "people food" and I'll tell you why... [read more]

Dry kibble and canned dog food 5 Best Kibble and Canned Dog Foods
Some are better than others, but I must be honest – I'm not a huge fan of dry or canned dog food. Here are my concerns... [read more]

NomNomNow homemade dog food service Feed Homemade Dog Food Without Needing To Make It
Would you like to feed your dog homemade, but don't have the time to make it? I have a solution for you... [read more]

Pet insurance Should You Buy Pet Insurance? An Honest Review
My advice on the pros and cons of pet health insurance. The best pet insurance company I've found is... [read more]

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

Information on spaying Spaying Your Female Dog: Pros and Cons
Should your female Shetland Sheepdog be spayed? Current research says, "The AGE at which you spay can be vitally important to your dog's future health." So what's the best age? [read more]

Information on neutering your male dog. Neutering Your Male Dog: Pros and Cons
Have you been told that you must neuter your male Sheltie? Current research shows that the issue is not so simple. Pet owners are not being told about some risks associated with neutering male dogs, especially neutering too early... [read more]

Information on choosing the best vet Make Sure Your Vet is the Best!
Is your current veterinarian really the best choice for your dog? Here's how to tell... [read more]

Assisi Loop Assisi Loop Review
Does your Sheltie suffer from arthritis, hip dysplasia, disk disease, colitis? My honest review of a veterinary device you can use at home to reduce inflammation and pain. [read more]

Shetland Sheepdog

Complete list of Shetland Sheepdog health problems

Many Shelties are blind or vision-impaired, from hereditary eye diseases like 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 also a concern.

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.

Cancer of the bladder (transitional cell carcinoma) occurs more often in Shetland Sheepdogs than in most other breeds.

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.

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 in Shelties 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, 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.

Inherited deafness can occur in Shelties, especially those with a lot of white on their head.

The most worrisome orthopedic disease in Shetland Sheepdogs is a degenerative hip disease called Legg-Calve-Perthes.

But 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: not terrible. Elbow dysplasia and luxating patella rates are between 2 and 3%. Nice.

A severe neurological disease, degenerative myelopathy, can occur in Shelties. It begins with weakness in the hind legs and can progress to total paralysis.

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.

Preventing health problems

Some health problems are inherited. For example, if your dog inherits from his parents the genes for an eye disease called PRA, he will go blind and there's nothing anyone can do about it.

Dog feeding and health book by Michele Welton But most health problems can be prevented by the ways you raise your dog.

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 in all the right ways that help prevent health problems. Become your dog's health care champion!

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

To help you train and care for your dog

dog training videos Dog training videos. Sometimes it's easier to train your puppy (or adult dog) when you can see the correct training techniques in action.

The problem is that most dog training videos on the internet are worthless, because they use the wrong training method. I recommend these dog training videos that are based on respect and leadership.

book coverRespect Training For Puppies: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved puppy. For puppies 2 to 18 months old. Your puppy will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
If your dog is over 18 months, you'll want book coverRespect Training For Adult Dogs: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved dog. Again your dog will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
book coverTeach Your Dog 100 English Words is a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your adult dog to listen to you and do what you say.
book cover11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy helps your dog live a longer, healthier life.
book coverDog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams will help you find a good-tempered, healthy family companion.