Sheltie Health & Diseases
As with any breed, shelties have their share of concerns that breeders and
buyers must be aware of. Many health problems can be screened for and some
have genetic tests. A responsible breeder will screen for various health
issues. For those concerns that cannot be screened for right now, if it shows
up, the breeding program will be altered.
Do not hesitate to ask a breeder what screenings have been done and for
documentation of. If a breeder cannot be bothered with testing or insists
the dogs are healthy but cannot show documentation of screening for at least
hips and eyes, go elsewhere. Do not blindly accept someone's word. Insist
on seeing proof of testing.
Brucellosis is often considered a sexually transmitted disease in dogs, however,
there are. It is devastating to breeders. Brucellosis can cause abortion
of fetuses. It lives in the vaginal tract of a female dog or the seminal
tract and testicles of a male and can be transmitted through secretions,
urine, breeding and contact with infected fluids. Brucellosis can be transmitted
to humans through contact with aborted fetuses or infected fluids such as
urine. Breeding dogs (male and female) must be tested regularly for this.
There is no reliable cure for this bacteria though it can be detected through
a blood test. Breeding dogs should be tested regularly, males and females.
Infected dogs should never be bred.
Dermatomyositis - (Sheltie Skin Syndrome)
Dermatomyositis is found in many breeds. Skin and muscle may be involved.
The dogs develop skin lesions that are red, scaly, crusty but often not itchy.
The lesions may be mistaken for other dermatological issues that can cause
skin lesions. DM is diagnosed by skin biopsy. It is genetic and affected
dogs must not be bred. Some dogs may have it but never break out. As of now,
there is no genetic test for the disease and the mode of transmission is
not yet known. It is NOT contagious but there is no cure.
Hip Dysplasia was once considered a large dog issue. In actuality, any breed
or cross can be affected. There is also thought to be an environmental factor
to HD, nutritional, etc. But HD is genetic. Before breeding, dogs should
pass either OFA (Orthopedic
Foundation for Animals) or PennHip
of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program) screening. Breeding clear dogs
does not eliminate the chance of affected offspring, but it reduces the chance.
As of now, there is no genetic test for HD, only screenings.
***MDR1 Gene Mutation
This is a genetic mutation found in many herding breeds but also showing
up in some of the mastiff family of dogs as well as mixed breeds not appearing
to have any herding breed in them The mutation is recessive and caused multiple
drug sensitivities to varying degrees. Ivermectin and Immodium are two
medications that affected dogs react to, dosage of the medications also plays
a role. (Washington
State University information page). There is a genetic test for this
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
PRA is a progressive eye issue and may not be detected in younger dogs. Annual
screenings of breeding dogs, even after the are no longer being bred should
be done. Dogs should be CERF
(Canine Eye Registry
Seizures are primarily Epilepsy but also caused by something such as disease,
thyroid or liver issues, poisoning or injury. Due to different causes of
seizures, part of treating will be to find the cause. Epilepsy is found in
Shelties however work is being done by the
Network to learn more about the inheritance mode of it.
Unlike PRA, Sheltie Eye is visible in young dogs. If a dog screens clear,
the dog does not have it.
Thyroid issues are not uncommon in dogs. Hypothyroidism is a cause of impaired
production of hormone from the thyroid gland. It is more often diagnosed
in middle aged to older dogs. Symptoms include lethargy, shedding, flaky
skin, weight gain (note, most obesity is owner-caused), intolerance to cold.
***von Willebrand's Disease (vWD)
vWD is a genetic bleeding disorder, however it is not canine specific, it
can happen in any animal, including humans, but is not contagious. There
are (3) types of vWD and Shelties appear to be more affected by the more
severe form, vWD Type III.
There are two kinds of tests for vWD. Buccal Mucosal Screening Time and
Genetic One. with Genetic One, led by
VetGen, is far
more accurate, however Buccal Mucosal Screening Time may be use for initial
screening, it is not as accurate and other factors such as medications, can
result in unreliable or inaccurate results.
The Importance of Good Breeding Practices
Breeding is serious and must not be attempted by anyone without Breed
Specific education! "Backyard breeders'' that buy a pure-bred pet with
the intention of making money, or well intentioned pet owners that wish expand
their pet numbers, should be aware of the potential problems that may result
from improper breeding. Only properly trained/educated, breeders with a network
that includes other qualified breeders, should ever attempt to breed any
Before attempting to breed and sell a purebred dog or other pet, please
the current pet population problem, resources, nbeee expenses for veterinarian
expenses, appropriate facilities, upkeep, time, care and attention, potential
problems with genetics, health, temperament, and even basic training in order
to find interested buyers, and as you watch your baby leave, ask yourself.."is
it worth it?"
Please see our Ethical
Guidelines page for additional information on this topic.
For more information on Sheltie Health, please visit the:
American Shetland Sheepdog