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"Dogs are for keeps, not just
for Christmas."

(Quote, American Kennel Club)

Adding a puppy or dog to your life
is a long-term commitment.

Our furry friends also need love!
Please encourage responsible
pet ownership.

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For pictures and descriptions of the range of Sheltie colors, patterns
and shading, please click here.

Blue Merle

Tri Color - (Photo Courtesy of Lyn Krivanek)

Blue Merle

Sable

Tri Color

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Before Getting a Sheltie (or any Puppy/Dog)

Every year, millions of puppies are bought by well-intentioned people. Within the first year or two, many will end up in trouble. The lucky ones will go to rescue or shelters. With more luck, those in shelters will be adopted. The unlucky ones end up often ignored and neglected - mentally and/or physically.

There are many things the potential puppy/dog owner needs to consider before beginning your search for a Sheltie or any puppy or dog breed. The information provided below primarily references Shelties or Shetland Sheepdogs, however it is relevant to all breeds or mixes. By taking the time to learn the background, temperament, personality of the individual puppy/dog and possible special needs/care of some breeds, you may avoid a bad experience for both you and your companion. The extra time is well worth the commitment of any kind of pet ownership.

About The Shetland Sheepdog  

The Shetland Sheepdog, commonly called a Sheltie, is a medium-smaller dog from the Shetland Isles off the north coast of Scotland. Their history may have included herding or all around farm work, Today, Shelties are more often found competing in Agility, Obedience, Rally and Conformation. Shelties are not Collies in miniature, but are a different breed entirely. They are dynamic and can make wonderful companions.

The Sheltie Standard calls for heights between 13" - 16" at the shoulder with some dogs being smaller or larger than ideal. They have a double coat that consists of a soft undercoat and a harsher, weather resistant outer coat that requires regular grooming to manage shedding. Shelties come in several colors: Sable (brown), Tri Color (black, white and tan), Blue Merle (merle, white and tan), Bi-Black (black and white), and Bi-Blue (merle and white).

Shelties love to be with people and need human interaction. They are devoted to their families but often reserved toward strangers. Shelties can be vocal if not taught to curb their natural instinct to bark. Proper exercise and socialization will keep your Sheltie busy and out of trouble. Carefully chosen, the Sheltie can fit into any lifestyle or family situation, but this is not a breed for people who want a dog they can leave in the back yard without supervision. Once a Sheltie trusts you, you have a friend for life.

Are You Ready for a Sheltie?  

Before rushing out and grabbing the first cute Sheltie you see, please take the time to consider whether or not you are prepared to commit to the next 12 - 16 years to another life. Here are some things to ponder while you make this big decision. The life you bring into your home could depend on it!

TIME COMMITMENT - Not only does this mean for the long term life of the Sheltie, but also the day to day time commitment. Shelties love to be with their people. Puppies require lots of attention. Housebreaking and socializing properly cannot be done when you work long days. If you work full time and must have a puppy, you need to employ either sitters or day care to assist you. But they do not adequately replace having someone home to guide and teach. If you work a long day, reconsider getting a dog. And if you must, be responsible and hire someone to help with the dog when you are not home. Granted, you may only work 9 - 5 but then there is commuting time. This can easily turn and eight hour work day into ten or even twelve! Shelties are high energy. A few minutes ball playing is not enough exercise. Many Shelties need a couple hours exercise each day. Walk, playing fetch, training time, classes, practicing a sport - a bored Sheltie with too much energy is not good! Dogs just shoved in the back yard does not constitute proper exercise.

AFFORDING A SHELTIE - Whether you go to a breeder or a rescue, the price of the Sheltie is the cheap part! Many people forget that it is the day-to-day expenses that add up in the long run. There are food, medical care (and do not forget that emergencies can crop up), training classes, food, grooming supplies, toys, treats and other things that add up to far more than you paid for your Sheltie. Yes, the initial cost for a Sheltie is there, but can you afford the dog long-term?

THE FUTURE - Life brings changes to us all. Have you considered how you will handle them and keep your dog in mind? Each year thousands of dogs are given up due to a new baby, move, marriage, divorce, death, etc.

GOOD & BAD- People have this Hollywood image of pet ownership. Often this is a skewed view. Puppies and dogs are work. Even the bright little Sheltie is not born trained. Are you prepared to handle housebreaking, teaching manners, socializing, etc.? Are you set for adolescence when that cute pup is now testing limits? It is amazing how many adolescent dogs are in shelters because owners cannot handle or will not handle the natural testing of limit. What if you dog develops a health condition? Even if the breeder tests and screen, things can still crop up. And then there is aging. Can you handle giving your dog a happy golden time? Sadly, some dogs are given up when they get old and can no longer keep up with an active family.

PURPOSE OF GETTING A PUPPY OR DOG - Are you looking for a friend and companion to share your days with? Do you want a working partner or a dog to compete in sports with? Are you getting the dog to stop your kids from hassling you?

FULL AGREEMENT OF FAMILY OR HOUSEHOLD - Another thing causing dogs to be discarded is the whole family not being in agreement of the dog. A spouse brings home a pet without discussing it with the other one. A few months later, dog is gone or ends up neglected. There is also agreement on the breed. You may want a Sheltie but your spouse or partner does not.t.

Getting an Adult Dog  

YOU CAN TEACH AN OLD DOG NEW TRICKS - There are many myths and misconceptions regarding bringing home an adult dog. Adult dogs have much to offer and should always be a consideration for your home. Bringing in an adult dog has many advantages over a puppy. Let's look at some of the myths and misconceptions:

I CAN'T GET AN ADULT DOG, THEY CAN'T LEARN - All too often it is said that you cannot teach and old dog new tricks. Well this is far from true! Yes, old dogs may have some habits that can take some work to train out, but this does not mean they cannot learn. As with all training, you have to combine fun with sometimes firm but always fair, consistent training and do many short practice sessions a day. Once you have their trust and respect, they train quite fast if your methods are such that they enjoy working with you! Working with an adult dog can often be easier than working with a pup or adolescent dog.

PUPPIES ARE SO CUTE AND LEARN FAST - Puppies are only that small, cute stage for a short time, and then they hit adolescence! Puppies have shorter attention spans and puppy behaviors like nipping and jumping that they have to be taught are not acceptable ideally before they hit adolescence. The "teenage" period (between 8 and 24 months of age) is often the time when many dogs are given up for adoption. The antics and testing of adolescence dogs are just more than some owners are willing to handle.

ADULT DOGS ARE GIVEN UP FOR BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS - So many adult dogs are out there for adoption and will never find homes. Puppies find homes at a great speed simply because they are puppies. People look over the sweet adult dog and often think that adult dogs are given up due to behavior problems. This is often far from true.

Many dogs are given up due to a move, divorce, new baby, lack of time, etc. I have even heard "I redecorated and the dog does not match my house anymore." Many dogs are the victims of irresponsible owners. Just because an adult dog is in a rescue situation does not mean he was given up due to serious behavior issues. With some time, love and effort on the human part, the dog can be a wonderful companion. Plus, an adult has that longer attention span and greater bladder control!

ADVANTAGES OF AN ADULT DOG - What you see is what you get. You know how big the dog is, how long the coat is, etc. All you have to do is take the time to get to know the dog and make sure he is a good match for your home.

An adult dog in good health is ready to compete in various sports once he has a grasp on basic training. There is no waiting for a pup to mature physically. It can be a long two years waiting for some breeds to mature enough to handle some sports.

Even senior dogs can make wonderful pets. They can still learn and many senior dogs want to work or do some activity. I have seen adopted senior dogs in good health competing in Veteran's Obedience classes, Agility, doing Therapy work, etc.

Source: West Wind Dog Training

Where to Find Your Sheltie  

PET STORES: Pet stores are convenient and but there is no quality control. Pet stores will tell you exactly what you want to hear and not what you should hear. Their stock comes mainly from puppy mills or from "Back Yard Breeders". Mills mass-produce puppies with little consideration for the health or temperament. Parents are not tested for hereditary problems - it is not cost effective for the miller. BYBs often are unaware or do not think they need to test their dogs. Many assume if a vet says the dog is fine, there are no hereditary issues to worry about. Unless a problem is tested for, it can go undetected and be passed on. Life in a cage for the early, formative weeks is not proper socialization. Stores are profit driven. It is far easier to sell an $800 puppy than to sell $800 in pet supplies. Stores cater to the impulse buy and will always tell the buyer what he/she wants to hear to make that sale.

NEWSPAPERS: Many back yard breeders just breed purebred dogs - many just breed dogs, crosses or not. AKC or UKC registration is NOT a Good Housekeeping seal of approval for dogs. What quality the dogs being bred are is up to the integrity of the breeder. DO NOT be blinded by Champions in the background. There is far more to breeding than getting Champion dogs to mate. Back yard breeders may not breed the best quality dogs. It is questionable whether they will test the dogs before breeding for genetic issues.

  • Okay, I've learned NOT where to look for a Sheltie, where SHOULD I look?

GOOD BREEDERS: A better breeder not only breeds dogs with consideration for how they fit the standard in form, function and temperament, but will also test all breeding Shelties for at least hip dysplasia, eye issues, von Willebrand's and thyroid. A good breeder will also prove the dogs they are trying to produce are good representatives by competing in various events. A better breeder will be able to show you proof of health testing and awards won by their dogs. Never take "my word" for it, ask for proof. Not all puppies in a litter will be show potential and these are placed in pet homes.

WHY RESCUE IS IMPORTANT: It is wrong to believe that dogs in rescues are given up for behavioral issues. Many dogs are given up for reasons such as: family is moving, new baby, not enough time, dog grew up and got old. Many "behavior issues" are merely bad manners that the former owners never worked with. It is very possible to find a loving, sweet pet through a rescue. Shelties are very popular and this popularity leads to an abundance of them in rescue! Rescuing a dog give a second chance not only to the dog you adopt but also to another dog that may be unwanted. Adopting a dog opens up space for another rescue to come in and hopefully find a home.

Compiled courtesy of: West Wind Dog Training, Will O'Wisp Shelties, No Puppy Mills

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