Shetland Sheepdogs, or Shelties, are a dog breed as gorgeous as they are smart and intelligent. Commonly tasked as guard dogs, shelties were first bred to be herding dogs.
They have an appearance similar to Collies, with long fluffy hair in the colors of black, rust, brown, and white.
But like all dog breeds, shelties are prone to a list of health problems and diseases. Some are avoidable by turning to a reputable breeder for your new puppy, while other genetic predispositions are difficult to avoid.
In any case, there are tools and resources for all sheltie owners to care for their pets. The following conditions are all common sheltie health issues that shelties may encounter at some point in their lives.
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Though all dogs (and humans) can indeed become obese, it can be harder to notice the excess weight on a sheltie due to their thick coats.
If left untreated, this common health issue can lead to arthritis, heart disease, and diabetes.
Though their dense fur can be challenging to feel through, try to gently pinch over their ribs.
A sheltie at a healthy weight won’t leave you with much to grab, but with an overweight sheltie, you’ll be able to easily pinch excess skin and fat.
- Patellar Luxation
Like humans, shelties have leg bones designed to allow smooth gliding of their kneecaps. This allows them to stand, walk, and move without pain or issue.
If the kneecap slides out of this groove, as is common in smaller breeds, your sheltie will experience pain and difficulty when straightening their leg.
This painful condition can range from mild to severe pain and lameness, often occurring when shelties are mid-aged.
If the slippage is mild, a veterinarian can often massage it back in place. But because of the reoccurring nature of this condition, the kneecap will likely slip out of place again. Keep note of your sheltie’s gait to monitor the situation.
Hip dysplasia in shelties occurs as a result of genetic malformation of the ball and socket hip joint.
In shelties with this condition, the joint will be deformed and either partially dislocated or fully dislocated. Shelties with this condition will definitely display signs of a problem.
like limping and awkward hopping. Your normally playful pet will hesitate when it comes to walking or exercising.
The treatment options for this condition are either surgery or a devotion to manage the condition and the pain it causes.
To check your Sheltie‘s health status or their DNA, please visit the Embark vet website for all the help you may need.
Dermatomyositis is an inflammatory disease commonly known as Collie Nose. The disease affects a sheltie’s skin, muscles, and blood.
If affected, your sheltie may show signs of redness and irritation up the bridge of their snout. You may also notice hair loss around their eyes and tail, particularly when they are younger.
- Collie Eye Anomaly
As the name suggests, collie eye anomaly generally plagues Collies. However, because of the shared genetics shelties have with Collies, they have a genetic predisposition for the condition.
Shelties with this condition may experience blindness and retinal detachment. The physical characteristics of collie eye anomaly are normally detectable as splotches in the eye, cloudiness, or eyes that are unusually small.
Dog allergies show themselves a little differently than they do in humans. We’re used to getting itchy eyes, sniffles, and coughing.
Dogs experience symptoms in their skin. Their skin becomes itchy and red, which may be hard to notice in fluffy breeds like shelties. Look for signs of itchiness instead, like excessive scratching and licking.
What diseases are shelties prone to? The answer to that question is unfortunately expansive.
It’s important to keep in mind, however, that every dog breed comes with its own unique genetic codes and breed characteristics.
Knowing what symptoms to look for as you enjoy time with your sheltie can help catch and reverse many of these diseases.
- Heart Disease
As a smaller breed, shelties are more prone to valvular diseases. While keeping your pup at a healthy weight and prioritizing exercise are great preventative measures, it can be difficult to fully avoid heart diseases.
- Von Willebrand’s Disease
Von Willebrand’s Disease, or VWD, has the potential to be very severe. This disease affects platelet binding in the blood.
An affected sheltie won’t be able to clot blood as quickly or as efficiently as it should, leading to excessive bleeding and even hemorrhages.
VWD is a genetic disease, inherited from one or both parents. If your sheltie inherits the disease from just one parent, their symptoms will likely be mild and treatable with extra care and caution.
If both parents contribute tainted genes, their offspring has a much higher chance of inheriting a severe case of VWD.
Shelties with this condition may show bleeding from their nose as a symptom, blood in their feces and urine, bleeding gums, and heavy bleeding during menstruation.
Diabetes may come about as a symptom of long-lasting obesity. Keep your sheltie at a healthy weight to mitigate the risk of this disease, ensuring that you are only feeding as much as is recommended for your dog’s weight class and breed.
Hyperthyroidism is an autoimmune disease that shelties can be prone to experience. This disease lowers the number of thyroid hormones in the body, taking them down to dangerous levels.
Symptoms of this disease include weight gain, aggression, and dry skin and coat. Hyperthyroidism is treated with pills containing the missing hormones.
Idiopathic epilepsy often plagues shelties. This category of epilepsy states that there is no obvious cause or reason for the seizures, pointing to a hereditary trigger instead.
Seizures and epilepsy in dogs are generally caused by toxins or traumatic injury. In cases with your sheltie, neither common cause is usually found.
Regardless, keep an eye out for signs of injury and toxin ingestion to keep your pet feeling well and safe.
If you’re noticing seizures with no apparent cause, your vet will likely diagnose epilepsy as idiopathic.
They will prescribe medications for your sheltie, which they will likely need to take for the rest of their life. Once treated, shelties and other breeds tend to return to their happy selves.