The Shetland Sheepdog Puppy
Bringing home a new Shetland Sheepdog puppy is an exciting time. But are you prepared for it? Discover the basics of caring for a Sheltie puppy.
All puppies are adorable. That's a scientific fact.
But the Shetland Sheepdog puppy - with his big floppy ears, beautiful almond eyes, and silky soft fur - knows how to be deliberately cute on demand...
Types of Shetland Sheepdog Puppies
According to the American Kennel Club standard, a fully grown Shetland Sheepdog should stand 13-16 inches tall and weigh 15-23 pounds.
The most common coat color is sable. This is a mix of tan and white markings, ranging from golden to mahogany. Both our boys, Howard and Piper, were sable Sheltie puppies.
Interestingly, sable Sheltie puppies usually have lighter fur when they're young, which deepens and intensifies as they age. In fact, it can take up to two years for the full adult double coat to grow, which is what gives this breed their distinctive look.
Other Sheltie colors include tri-color, blue merle and color headed white (CHW).
Where to Find Shetland Sheepdog Puppies
Like all dog breeds, Sheltie puppies shouldn't be separated from their mom until they're at least 7-8 weeks old. Any earlier and the puppy may be very nervous and have problems settling into its new home. Having said that, puppies should be with their new owners by 12 weeks, when they start forming strong attachments. So 8-12 weeks is the best window of opportunity.
Shelties are very popular dogs in the US (ranked 18 out of 154 AKC registered breeds) and there are many Sheltie breeders who sell puppies. Shelties have litters of 4 to 6 puppies so if you have your heart set on one, put your name down with your local breeder in advance.
I also recommend checking out your local Sheltie rescue. They often have slightly older puppies and adult dogs that need re-homing. Dogs end up at rescue shelters for all kinds of tragic reasons. They may have been abandoned, lost, or even unwanted Christmas presents. In fact, the New Year is when animal rescue shelters are most overwhelmed.
Crucially, don't buy a Sheltie from a pet store. They often come from careless backyard breeding or puppy mills do don't buy into this cruel trade. Professional breeders never sell their litters to pet stores.
Caring for Your New Sheltie Puppy
The day you bring a new puppy home, your life will change. You will spend hours bonding with your new friend and at times the constant supervision may feel overwhelming. So get the whole family involved and take turns to look after him.
Everything is new to your Sheltie puppy and he will inevitably try to chew on electric cables, choke on tiny objects (puppies try to eat everything), get trapped in small spaces, make a mess on the carpet, and cause plenty more untold havoc. Those first few weeks and months of your puppy's life will be the most demanding on you. Be prepared!
If this is your first dog, you'll need to go to the pet store or shop online for supplies in advance. Once you've brought your new Sheltie home, you won't want to go out and leave him alone. So stock up on:
- Quality puppy food - cheap kibble is mostly grain-based and bad for your dog’s health, so choose a premium kibble made from real meat for good nutrition.
- Slow feed dog bowl - if you have more than one pet, there will be competition for food. Shelties can go crazy inhaling their kibble so these bowls slow them down and help them actually engage in the first stage of digestion - chewing!
- Water bowl - choose a heavy bowl which is less likely to get tipped over and spill.
- Puppy training pads - these are highly absorbent and help show your puppy where to pee and poo indoors before you move them on to an outdoor spot.
- Carpet stain remover - soak up the liquid first, then scrub that pee out fast.
- Small dog bed - give him a special spot to call his own, even if you plan to let him sleep on your bed, he’ll use this during the day too.
- Medium wire crate - for when you’re leaving your puppy alone in the house during the first few months, lest they chew all your computer cables.
- Chew toys - a great distraction from chewing said computer cables.
- Dental chews - helps keep their teeth clean and prevent decay.
- Slicker brush - an essential grooming tool, for undercoat and outercoat.
- Flea comb - not just for fleas, an essential grooming tool for undercoat and knots.
- Thinning shears - for reducing rump fuzz and cutting out knots.
- Dog shampoo - if and when you need to bathe your Sheltie.
- Nail clippers - another essential, for monthly trimmings.
- Small dog collar - under all that fur, Shelties have very little necks.
- Short dog leash - puppies need a short leash so you can teach them the rules. Only move onto extendable leashes when they are fully grown and well behaved.
- ID tag - so you can be quickly reunited if your dog ever wanders (it happens).
- De-worming tablets - Shelties should take a de-worming pill every 3 months for life (puppies need them even more often) to prevent many illnesses.
- Flea treatment - the best preventative and treatment measure for fleas.
For more tips on Sheltie care and maintenance, check out my article on Grooming Shelties. This becomes more important from around six months when their adult coat gets into full flourish.
Caring For Your Puppy's Health
Register your puppy with your vet and they will schedule you in for any remaining vaccinations.
It's also important to discuss whether to neuter / spay your Sheltie puppy, which should be done between 6-12 months. (There is evidence to show that fixing Shelties at less than five months can seriously affect their growth.)
Finally, only wash your Sheltie puppy when he really needs it. The coarse hair of Shetland Sheepdogs repels mud and dirt, and Shelties lick themselves to keep clean, so it's really unnecessary to wash them too often. Once a month is plenty, and in fact we rarely bath them nowadays and they're still all good.
Don't worry, he soon dried off...
Fortunately, you can accustom your Sheltie to water so these events aren't such an ordeal.
How To Photograph Your Dog
One of the reasons I made Sheltie Planet is because I have an abundance of Sheltie photos I wanted to share. I love taking pictures of Howard and Piper and being able to capture them in a way that frames that moment forever. Today I'd like to share some general pet photography tips based on what I've learnt using my digital point-and-shoot camera. I hope this helps you get the most out of your pet photography and creates some great images that you will treasure forever.
The Top 10 Most Intelligent Dog Breeds
Dogs can be smart in different ways: a breed with an acute and wellhoned ability to work will be quick to learn how to do its job. Other breeds may be so eager to please their people that they're attentive and highly trainable. But intelligence alone doesn't make a good pet. Owners need to be willing to put in the work to channel a dog's inherent intelligence - and a good owner will understand a dog's natural traits to bring out his natural smarts.