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So You Want To Own A Sheltie

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 So You Want To Own A Sheltie

If you think you want a miniature Collie, you don’t – you want a SHELTIE.  While the Sheltie is the image of a small Collie, it is an error to refer to them as a miniature.  The Shetland Sheepdog and the Collie have a common ancestor in the Scotch Border Collie,

But they are two completely separate breeds. 

If you have decided you want a Sheltie, you may have made one of the most rewarding decisions of your life… but be sure.  Know the facts! 

The Sheltie is one of the most beautiful breeds on earth, possessing an exquisite expression.  They have the highest intelligence possible and hearts overflowing with love.  They are steadfastly loyal to “their people,” young and old.  They ask only to please you and are eager to learn.  The Sheltie has the endearing quality of sensing your needs and adapting to your moods.  (Keep in mind, that because the Sheltie is a sensitive breed, they will not respond to harsh treatment.)  The Sheltie was bred to live with people! 

The Sheltie was also bred to bark.  Some bark very little. But most bark a lot.  The Sheltie of today inherited his barking from the Sheltie of the Shetland Isles, who not only herded sheep, but also warned their owners of intruders and frightened stray animals away from the garden.  Barking is a natural instinct that can usually be controlled with one or two Shelties in residence.  However, with more than that, it can develop into a major problem.  


The Sheltie does require some maintenance grooming.  Being a longhaired breed, the Sheltie will shed its coat.  The male will shed once a year, usually in the summer A female not only sheds in summer, but after every heat cycle.  Spaying a female will eliminate a great deal of shedding. A female will also lose most of her hair on her body after a litter of puppies.  Even though a summer shed thins out the dense coat of a Sheltie, long –haired breeds are more susceptible to heat stroke!  A Sheltie must be protected from the hot sun! 

Weekly brushing will help maintain the coat’s natural luster.  Misting the coat first with water will help reduce shedding.  Particular attention must be paid to the hair behind the ears as it mats easily, making the ear uncomfortable and providing a hiding place for fleas. I use baby power here to keep the hair from matting. 

Toenails must be kept short by cutting or sanding.  Long toenails arch the toes away from the ground, causing the foot to splay apart.  This will lead to breakdown in the foot and leg, which encourages arthritis.  After trimming the nails, the hair between the pads should be trimmed flush with the bottom of the pads.  This will keep the feet cleaner, which will keep your house cleaner. 

Teeth must be cleaned to prevent rotting, gum disease, and other complications such as gastric upsets.  You or your veterinarian can do this.  It’s safer and less expensive if you do it yourself.  (The vet will anesthetize your dog, and that involves some risk.)  Your dog can be trained to allow you to clean his teeth with a dental scaler.  While not exactly a pleasant job, it’s efficient and relatively easy. 

Only bathe your Sheltie when he or she needs it.  Frequent bathing can be harmful to the coat and skin by removing too much natural oil, causing dryness, flaking and itching.  Use shampoo specifically designed for dogs.   Detergents and human hair products can actually be dangerous in certain instances.  Please put cotton in your dog’s ears to keep water out of the ear canal.  To dry your Sheltie – blot the coat with a towel (rubbing loosens the undercoat), then blow-dry the coat, parting the hair as you go with your hand or a pin brush. 

This basic grooming is necessary for Shelties.  More extensive grooming is required to show a Sheltie and takes considerable time to learn. 

Flea Control 

Flea collars may help puppies but have little success with adults.  Flea shampoos last a very short time.  Flea sprays can be effective (and messy), Advantage or Frontline works well for most shelties and is safe to use. Check with your vet or breeder. WARNING-DO NOT USE ANY TWO FLEA METHODS TOGETHER. ALSO DO NOT USE THE 6 MONTH SHOT FOR FLEAS.  IT HAS CAUSED DEATHS. The combination of insecticides could be dangerous, if not fatal, to your dog!  Flea bombs are great for the house.  We have found that applying a heavy dose of lime in the spring on our yard helps to keep the outdoor fleas under control.  Be sure to check with your vet to learn if your choices are safe in conjunction with what you use on your dog.

We have been using 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder, 5 brewers dried yeast chewables, and a teaspoon of vinegar split between two meals daily to help control fleas. It seems to help keep the fleas at bay.  If we have a dog that scratches, we give him/her 12mg of nitenpyram, the active ingredient in Capstar, to kill any flea that bites again. The nitenpyram only works for 24 hours. You need to monitor your dogs to ensure they are scratching from fleas, not from a skin allergy. We also spray our house with a natural product consisting of peppermint oil and clove extract to control and kill fleas, flea eggs, and ticks. Our dogs are kept in a fenced in yard and typically don't have access to locations with deer ticks, but I am sure they have been exposed to fleas at some of the show sites we visit.

Health Care 

In addition to the rabies shot, your Sheltie will require DHLP shots. Never give Corona to your sheltie because it has been know to cause skin problems. There is a NEW VACCINATION PROTOCOL. A series of vaccinations is given starting at 8 weeks and given 3-4 weeks apart up to 16 weeks of age.  Another vaccination is given at 1year and 4 months and will provide LIFETIME IMMUNITY. 

You will also need a heartworm test every year and be put on a preventive. We recommend Interceptor (heartworm preventative), given monthly. It has been proven safe for shelties. Heartworm is the result of the bite of an infected mosquito.  Undetected, heartworms can kill the dog.  Interceptor also controls hookworms, roundworms and whipworms. THE 6 MONTH SHOT FOR HEARTWORM PREVENTION HAS CAUSED DEATHS IN SHELTIES, AND HEARTGARD HAS BEEN KNOW TO CAUSE SEIZURES IN SHELTIES. PLEASE DO NOT USE THEM. 

We have talked to our vet and asked about TRIFEXIS and we were told it has the same ingredients as Interceptor so it is safe for shelties. Also we were told that Revolution and Advantage Multi is safe for shelties.


A premium grade commercial dry dog food is recommended.  They are well balanced and easily attainable.  Dry dog food also helps satisfy the dog’s natural tendency to chew, and aids in reducing tartar build-up on teeth. Soft dog food contributes to more rapid tartar formation.


Modern times have created life-threatening situation for pets.  Shelties are no exception.  Out of a fenced area and not on a leash, your Sheltie will eventually be crushed to death by a car or truck!  If he escapes that, it will only be because he was poisoned or stolen first!  There is no such thing as guaranteed yard training and /or voice command.  An animal’s primitive instincts take over when a rabbit, squirrel, cat, child, female in heat, etc., and they’re off like a shot!  You may stop them once, or twice, but someday- they won’t stop……. That is guaranteed. 

Save your Sheltie’s life.  Give him the protection of your fenced yard.  If you want to take your Sheltie for a walk – fine but do it on a leash!  Yes even in your own front yard!  Being on a farm or in a secluded area is no exception.   A greater distance from a road simply means it will take a little longer to get to it. 


Protect your dog!  Tattooing your dog’s AKC or CKC number is the ideal way to provide permanent identification and proof of ownership.  Research laboratories are required to report tattooed dogs.  Lost dog’s chances of recovery are greatly improved by the presence of a tattoo.  Dog theft rings are growing rapidly.  Posting warning sings that say your dogs are tattooed tells a thief that stealing your dog is very risky and difficult or impossible to unload.  Tattooing a dog take five minutes and is completely painless.  It is done on the inside of the right hind leg.  (Do not use any procedure requiring anesthesia)  Local dog clubs have tattoo clinic every year. 

Selecting a Veterinarian 

When deciding on a veterinarian, it is very important to select one you can communicate with.  It goes without saying that your vet should be a skilled doctor, who keeps up-to-date on medical improvements.  He or she, must be a person you can have a working relationship with.  Besides wanting fair and reasonable prices for routine office visits, you need a vet who cares.  One you can call with a 3:00 A.M. emergency and trusts you not to call unless it is an emergency.  If your vet says or does things that don’t seem right, or is impatient when you ask questions, find another vet.  A vet’s advice may be accurate; but if you want a second opinion, don’t hesitate to get it.  There can be no room for doubts; you need to have confidence in the person entrusted with your pet’s life.  A vet who understands and respects your love and concern for your pet is worth their weight in gold. 

Veterinarians treat every breed imaginable and usually learn to recognize a good quality dog.  A few vets even show their own dogs.  However, most vets know little or nothing about what makes a dog show quality.  Look to your vet for health care, but seek a breeder’s advice for showing, breeding, training, etc.  A vet can also be a good reference.  They know, better than anyone, who really takes good care of their dogs.  

Crate Training 

Used properly, the crate is a godsend.  The use of a crate as a cage is an injustice.  The fact is a crate is the single most effective training aid you can have.  

A puppy has a very real need for a place of his own.  A crate provides a puppy a “safe place” to go.  When he is tired, it’s his bed.  Dogs are den animals.  Without a crate, you will find them “nesting” under tables, beds, chairs, in corners, even in cabinets.  A crate offers security from house traffic, noise, and kids. other dogs, company, thunderstorms, etc. At the same time, it offers a full view of anything and everything going on around them.  This way, they get use to being in the midst of activity without any threats of danger.  The crate is portable.  It can be in the middle of the room or in a corner.  Keeping a Sheltie puppy in a box, a bathroom, or similar closed-in environment, prohibits normal socialization and conditioning.  A Sheltie kept in such unacceptable isolation produces a shy and fearful adult. 

To knowledgeable breeders, crate training is essential.  Used correctly, a crate encourages a puppy’s good behavior and builds independence and confidence.  The puppy raised with the benefit of a crate accepts it as his bed, and does not want to “mess” in it.  He will try to get out to relieve himself.  Young puppies can’t wait very long at first and shouldn’t be forced to.  The crate is a passive teacher in control.  A puppy quickly learns the real reason for going out side.  If you have ever stood outside with a puppy for an hour, only to bring him in and promptly squat, you can appreciate the value of this lesson.  The important thing to remember is a puppy is not intentionally destructive.  He isn’t born knowing not to wet the carpet or electrocute himself by chewing on electrical cords.  

Leaving a puppy loose and unattended is foolish and dangerous.  Having a crate to ‘baby-sit” your little treasure when you’re gone means he’ll be safe, and he can’t get into any trouble.  Preventing foreseeable problems leads to a much happier relationship between your Sheltie and you.  Crates practically eliminate aggravation. (CAUTION, not all crates are suitable for small puppies.  Cheaply made crates have too much space between bars or mesh and make it possible for a puppy to force his head through and become stuck.)   Remember that a puppy needs to go out frequently.  Use the crate for short periods of time, you must plan to give the puppy plenty of supervised free time and playing! 

As a Sheltie matures, he will use his crate less often, but it will always be “his room” and  home away from home.  When traveling, your Sheltie’s crate provides the same needed protection as a child’s carseat.  It prevents accidental escape from a stopped car.  Visiting friends with your Sheltie’s portable bedroom makes you a more welcome guest. 

There are NO drawbacks to crates, unless they’re used as punishment, or confinement is overdone.  A puppy should sleep in his crate and be fed in it.  After every meal and every nap, he should be immediately taken outside to relieve himself.  Praise should be abundant when he performs as desired.  If you’re too busy to supervise, and inclement weather restricts outdoor activity, put him up for a short nap.  But don’t forget a puppy needs a lot of exercise, love and opportunity to explore.  If you meet his needs, the rewards will be one hundredfold.