The Shetland Sheepdog

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Overview of the Shetland Sheepdog

The Shetland Sheepdog, which goes by the nickname Sheltie most commonly, is a small working dog that started in the Shetland Islands in Scotland. The breed actually was called the Shetland Collie originally, and it is easy to see why when you look at this breed because it looks very similar to the Collie. However, breeders at the time were not happy with the distinction, and so the name of the breed was changed to Shetland Sheepdog. They have been around for a long time, but they were officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1909.

As mentioned, it is quite easy to recognize the Sheltie. The Sheltie resembles a Miniature Collie. They have a double coat and are a small working dog that is extremely loyal and friendly. They are people pleasers, intelligent and hard-working. They come in three different colors including blue merle, sable, and tricolor. Shelties have also been movie stars, with the dog in the Lethal Weapon movie series owned by Martin Riggs being of this breed.

Sheltie Food and Health

Shelties are between 13 and 16 inches tall and generally weigh anywhere from 11 to 24 pounds. They are extremely bright and energetic and they will need plenty of exercise. That also means that they will need plenty of calories in order to make up for the energy that they expand. These are working dogs, so they are used to being active for the majority of the day. This makes their caloric requirements a little higher than some of the other breeds out there. Your dog should be getting at least an hour of exercise a day from you, but some people actually get Shetland Sheepdogs in order to work them on a farm, ranch or in other capacities. If that is the case, then they are going to need more calories than what is recommended for nonworking dogs.

You also want to keep in mind that growing young adults and puppies need more calories than their adult counterparts. They use a lot of energy. But no matter what age your Sheltie is, they are going to need a diet that consists primarily of protein. You want your dog to be getting good quality protein that makes up somewhere between 20 percent and 25 percent of their diet. You also want to follow the recommended calories listed by the Council of the National Academies. They recommend a daily caloric intake of 660 calories for Shelties weighing 15 to 20 pounds. This may be more or less depending on your dog’s activity level.

You also want to make sure that these dogs are getting all of the nutrients that they need. If you buy premium dog food, then you should have no trouble getting your dog all of the nutrients that they require because it will already be included in the dog food. There are so many vitamins and minerals out there that dogs need, it can be difficult to calculate them yourself anyway. If your dog is eight years old or older, then you may want to make sure that your dog food has glucosamine and chondroitin because it can be really good for the immune system and joints in older dogs.

There are health problems that you want to be aware of when it comes to Shelties. First of all, this breed can suffer from eye problems. They can suffer from two particular eye conditions which include collie eye anomaly or CEA and progressive retinal atrophy or PRA. They also have a genetic mutation which makes them susceptible to certain drugs. Some of those drugs are found in the heartworm medications that you may opt to use. That’s why if you are planning on giving your dog any medication at all you want to consult with your veterinarian first. Some of the other common health problems include epilepsy, skin allergies, hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism and bladder cancer.

Many pet owners choose to go with pet health insurance for this reason. There are many different conditions that your Sheltie can suffer from, and having pet insurance is one of the best defenses against these particular conditions. The nice thing about pet insurance is that you are able to choose exactly what you want to protect your pet from. For example, you can go with comprehensive insurance that covers every conceivable health problem your Sheltie can have, or you can choose to get insurance to protect them against the most common health issues or against accidents in general. Whatever you choose, having pet insurance is terrific peace of mind.

Leashes and Collars for your Shetland Sheepdog

When it comes to what type of collar to get for your Sheltie, the good news is that these dogs respond very easily to tugs on the leash. That means that you do not have to resort to strenuous collars that can cause an injury. You definitely want to collar train them, but you want to do it very gently because pulling too hard at the larynx or throat area can cause the very injuries that you want to prevent.

Many people go with nylon collars for their Sheltie, but you can go with just about any material out there. There leather collars, nylon collars, chain collars and lots of other materials that you have to choose from. With Shelties, you can even go with very thin collars and leashes that are just as thin. That’s because Shelties are extremely easy to teach leash etiquette to and you will have no problem training them to respond to a tug of the leash. They are not going to try to break free or pull against the leash so you do not have to worry about durability.

As for the length of your dog leash, you can go with a two-foot leash, four-foot lease, six-foot leash or eight-foot leash. These are the standard sizes and the ones that are best suited for your Sheltie. If your dog tends to get distracted a lot, then you may want to go with a shorter leash. If your dog responds well to vocal commands, then a longer lease may be preferable because you can give them more freedom.

Best Crates, Beds, and Doghouses for Shetland Sheepdogs

You definitely want to have a dog crate for your Sheltie. The recommended size is a 30 inch dog crate. A dog crate such as foldable dog crate has a number of advantages for your dog including the fact that they will be able to take a nap and it whenever they want and go there when they feel fearful. If you train your dog correctly on the crate from a puppy, then they will see their crate is a place of safety and comfort and they will go there whenever they want a little privacy or simply have a nap out-of-the-way.

As for dog beds, Shelties want to curl up in their dog bed such as the dog’s bed which is why it is a good idea to go with a circular or egg shaped bed that has fairly high walls. Your Sheltie will enter the bed in turn around until they feel comfortable and then curl up inside. They should be able to spread out slightly so that they are pressed up against the sides of the bed. This will give them a sense of warmth and comfort.

You also may want to consider getting a dog house for your Sheltie. Although Shetland Sheepdog’s are usually kept inside in the United States, you still want them to have a place that is shady or protected from the wind in the warmer or colder months.

Sheltie Toys

There are a lot of choices out there when it comes to toys that you can get for your Sheltie. However, the first thing that you need to keep in mind is that every dog is different. There are no hard and fast rules as to which toys you should select for your dog. Some dogs are going to be more partial to certain toys while others will hate that particular toy. This seems like it makes it impossible to choose the right toy for your Sheltie, but it just means that you need to do a little trial and error with your dog. Luckily, there are some particular types of toys that seem to consistently work well with this breed. Let’s take a look at some of the popular toys for Shelties.

Toys are cheap, so you should have a variety of them to see what your dog likes the most. Some of the standards out there include tennis balls with bells inside of them, squeaky tennis balls, plush toys that squeak or make some other type of noise, small ropes and many others. Shelties tend to love to play fetch, so you may want to get an automatic ball launcher for inside your house. Although the most powerful automatic ball launchers are appropriate for outside only and tend to cater to larger breeds, you can get lightweight versions of the same device that launch balls across the house for your dog to chase down.

Shelties are pretty smart, so getting them interactive puzzle toys such as puzzle dog  ball may also be appropriate. For example, you can get toys that your dog can play with or shake until a treat comes out. Many people prefer to freeze their treats before and so that they last even longer. If your dog picks up a frozen treat and has to gnaw on it for a while to eat it then he or she is going to be even happier. This is also a great product to use for puppies when they are teething because it relieves the pain and pressure that they are feeling from having new teeth come in.

Grooming Insights for Shetland Sheepdog owners

As for grooming, there are certain guidelines that you want to follow. Shelties resemble miniature collies, but they are separate breed. However, the way that you groom these dogs is not dissimilar. They have a thick double coat with a soft and fluffy undercoat and a longer harsher coat on the outside. The good news is, these dogs need very little trimming even if you’re planning on showing them. However, there are a few guidelines that you can follow that will help them be more comfortable and make them look their best for a show.

First, you should be giving your Sheltie a bath about every eight weeks. Remember, they have to coats and one coat is protected by a thick oil that will keep the shampoo like oatmeal dog shampoo out. That’s why you need to shampoo them twice. The first shampoo will remove that oil so that you can get the second shampoo actually into their coat. You also want to brush them regularly so that you can see if there any problem areas.

You also want to trim the fur on the underside of each of your dog’s feet, cut the long hair on the top side of the foot so it has a rounded shape and use thinning shears to reduce the amount of fur on the back legs all the way up to the tail starting from the hock. Many people prefer to have a groomer do this work because they are experienced at it and know exactly where to cut. Hiring a groomer is not that expensive and it may be well worth it for you.

Shetland Sheepdog Accessories

You also want to think about accessories for your dog. Many pet owners opt to go with invisible fences or an electronic dog door so that their dog can go outdoors to use the bathroom whenever they like. Today’s electronic dog doors use microchips and RFID tags to make sure that your dog is the only one coming and going out of their pet door. As far as invisible fences go, you will have to train your dog to stay away from the borders of the fence with vibration or shock therapy, but once they learn where the borders are they will have a great deal of freedom within your backyard. There are other accessories as well you might want to consider like Sheltie mugs, T-shirts, hoodies and other apparel items.