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:  breed mean score 12.7 (parents should be lower)
  • Elbow dysplasia: score should be as low as possible
  • Eye disease: Collie eye anomaly (CEA) (litter screening); Retinal pigment epithelial dystrohy (RPED) (annual testing)

Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) : No EBVs are currently available for this breed

DNA Tests Available
DogWellNet and IPFD Harmonisation of Genetic Testing for Dogs (HGTD)

  • Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA/CH)
  • Multi-drug resistence (MDR1)
  • Von Willebrands disease type 3 (vWB)
  • Degenerative myelopathy (DM)
  • Gallbladder Mucoceles
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (CNGA1)
  • Dermatomyositis (DMS)
  • Leukoencephalomyelopathy

Availability of a DNA test does not mean that it is always necessary or even desirable for breeders to use this test. Good breeders will have followed the recommendations of the appropriate breed clubs, Kennel Club and/or other qualified experts.

Other Breed-Specific Health Screening 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)

  • Multiple drug sensitivity
  • Microblepharon
  • Heart disease: Patent ductus ateriosus
  • Distichiasis
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Portosystemic shunt
  • von Willebrands Disease
  • Cancer: urothelial carcinoma; oral; prostate; lymphoma
  • Corneal dystrophy
  • Congenital deafness
  • Cutaneous lupus erythematos
  • Epilepsy

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

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