Shetland Sheepdog

Lifestyle Needs

Shetland Sheepdog

The Shetland Sheepdog or ‘Sheltie’ is small sized dog with plenty of energy.  He is typically highly intelligent and easy to train in obedience and agility.  The Sheltie needs a house with a garden and plenty of exercise every day.  He can be somewhat reserved with strangers and would benefit from plenty of socialising.  He has a double coat – a soft undercoat and harsher outer coat – which means he is happier in cool or even cold weather.  Apparently air gets trapped between the layers which helps with cooling in the summer.  His coat will need grooming thoroughly every day.

Inbreeding Coefficient - COI
(Should be as low as possible)

The UK Kennel Club breed average COI is 6.7% - see 'A Beginners Guide to COI'

Effective Population Size - EPS


EPS is a measure of how many individuals are contributing genetically to a breed population. It is a measure of the size of the gene pool in a breed. Lower than 100 is considered critical by conservationists and below 50 brings a breed close to extinction. For more information see the Kennel Club article.

Health and Welfare Problems due to Conformation
(Body shape and physical characteristics)

The Sheltie’s very thick coat means that he will need to be kept cool in hot weather, although the air between the two coat layers does help with cooling to a certain extent.

BVA/KC Health Schemes:

  • Hip dysplasia (abnormality of the hip joints causing pain and disability):  breed mean score 12.7 (parents should be lower)
  • Eye disease: Collie eye anomaly (CEA) ( a lesion appearing as a pale patch on the eye) (litter screening); Retinal pigment epithelial dystrohy (RPED) (causes visual impairment) (annual testing)

Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) are now available for Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia:

DNA Tests Available

  • Collie Eye Anomaly/Choroidal Hypoplasia (CEA/CH)
  • Multi-drug resistence (MDR1)
  • Von Willebrands disease type 3 (vWB)
  • Merle gene
  • Degenerative myelopathy (DM)
  • Gallbladder Mucocele Formation
  • Leukoencephalomyelopathy

Unofficial (Breed Club) Schemes

None known

Ask the breeder to show you the certificates for the above tests/screening for both parents. If any of the above tests have not been considered necessary by the breeder (and there may be good reasons), ask her to explain why.

Other Diseases Reported
(For which there are currently no genetic or screening tests for sire or dam)

  • Ivermectin and milbemycin drug reactions
  • Gall bladder disease
  • Microblepharon (small eyelids, causing eye problems)
  • Dermatomyositis (serious inflammatory disease of the skin causing lesions and hair loss – can also affect muscles and throat)
  • Uveodermatological syndrome (auto immune disease) (tissues are progressively destroyed leading to blindness and death)
  • Heart disease: Patent ductus arteriosus (duct between aorta and pulmonary artery fails to close at birth causing a murmur)
  • Distichiasis (double row of eyelashes turned against the eyeball)
  • Hypothyroidism (under activity of thyroid gland)
  • Haemophilia B
  • Cancer: basal cell tumors; urinary bladder (urothelial carcinoma); nasal carcinoma
  • Corneal dystrophy (eye disease)
  • Congenital deafness
  • Pemphigus foliaceus (skin lesions) (autoimmune disease)
  • Cutaneous lupus erythematos (skin lesions) (autoimmune disease)

Ask the breeder about the medical history of the parents, grandparents and great grandparents.  Consider carefully whether to purchase a puppy if some of these or other diseases are in the family line.

Ask about the breeder’s policy in cases of serious genetic diseases occurring to your puppy in later life. Good breeders will request to be informed of such events in order to improve future breeding decisions. Some breeders will also agree to contribute towards medical costs or refund purchase price.

You are strongly advised to buy from a breeder who uses (or is prepared to use) the RSPCA / BVA AWF Puppy Contract and Puppy Information Pack (PIP):

You are also advised to buy from a breeder who follows the Dog Breeding Reform Group’s (DBRG) Standard for Dog Breeding:

Or the Kennel Club’s Assured Breeders Scheme Standard and Guidance:
Standard PDF | Guidance PDF

List of Dog Breeds