Sheltie Puppy to Adult Dog in Pictures
Amazingly, Sheltie puppies have only been developing in the womb for 9 weeks—and yet look at them! Pretty well developed, no?
Actually there are a few things that still need sorting out. Their eyes are closed at birth and they can't hear anything either. In fact, their eyes and ear canals are tightly closed and it will be several days before they open.
So for now, the world is a dark, silent place with only physical sensations to guide them. Helen Keller knows what I mean.
These little tiddlers are so pathetic (in a cute way) that they even need help from their mother to pee and poop. She does this by licking them clean after the birth which also conveniently stimulates those first bowel and bladder movements. Delish. Pretty much their first experience in life is being licked clean by their mother's tongue.
Their bodies have only a fine layer of fur for now, so newborn Shelties huddle up to their mother and their litter mates to keep warm. It's vital that dog breeders keep the puppy enclosure warm and free of drafts.
What's more, newborn Sheltie puppies don't really cry like human babies, so they can simply lose body heat and die of hypothermia. If they do cry or whine then they're in pain and they need a vet's attention ASAP.
Neonatal Shelties: 0 to 2 Weeks Old
In the first week of life, Sheltie puppies sleep and feed LOTS, causing them to double their weight. However, they're still too weak to support their own weight and have to slither and wiggle across the ground by kicking their legs.
The ear canals open up around 5-8 days, allowing the puppies to start making sense of sounds. The eyes open later, around 8-14 days old, and while the world will be blurry at first, it'll soon come into focus as the brain learns to coordinate and interpret. Just like humans, all puppies are born with deep blue eyes although this changes as they age.
At least neonatal Shelties have a good sense of smell and touch, which is immensely helpful in seeking out mother and feeding at the nipple. Young puppies exclusively feed on breast milk and don't need any other kind of food nor water.
Transitional Shelties: 2 to 4 Weeks Old
By 2 weeks old, Sheltie puppies are receiving lots of exciting stimulus from this crazy new world. They start to try out communicating through loud, bellowing barks (I mean, adorable yelps and yaps) when interacting with their litter mates.
Shelties start to stand up around two weeks and can usually walk by 3 weeks old. Tell that to a human baby. They usually take a full year to start walking. Bah!
Meanwhile, Sheltie puppies now play with their litter mates and become independent from their mom. By independent I don't mean they're ready for college. But they can initiate their own poops and do so away from their sleeping area. Win!
Socializing Shelties: 4 to 10 Weeks Old
During the 4-10 week window, puppies learn how to interact with their litter mates and with their symbiotic species, human beings.
It's vital they stay with mom until 8 weeks of age, so she can teach them discipline. They must understand how to behave appropriately and get along with other dogs in life, and this all comes through trial and error with their litter mates.
A key life lesson is bite inhibition. This means knowing it's not ok to roughly bite others, and is learned through play biting. A play bite that crosses the line into painful territory is met with yelps and withdrawal from their litter mates, so they don't do it again.
In the evolution of animals, learning appropriate behavior is vital to survival in a community, whether you're a human or a dog.
What a Sheltie puppy learns during this 4-10 week window will also set the rules of attachment for life.
Their fear threshold is very high, meaning they throw themselves into new situations with little regard for their safety. Among other things, this gives them lots of opportunities to grow attached to humans, who might otherwise represent a threat.
You can spot a poorly socialized Sheltie when they shy away from unfamiliar human contact. Such shy dogs doubtless had insufficient exposure to different types of humans during the critical 4-10 week window. Now as older puppies or adults, their fear threshold has naturally decreased and their ability to build a trusting bond with humans is severely diminished.
Weaning Shelties: 8 to 12 Weeks Old
Weaning is usually done by 8 weeks old, so that puppies are no longer dependent on mom's milk and can chew solid food with their puppy teeth. They still look pretty tiny and vulnerable at this stage, as they begin to experience fear.
This is also the ideal window for re-homing puppies so they can attach to their new human family with maximum confidence. Professional breeders aim to rehome at 8 weeks.
However, this transitional stage is also when puppies develop fears and they need extra help to gain confidence and form secure attachments. Howard was obviously a little scared and unsure when he moved in with us at 8 weeks old but after 3 days he found his confidence.
Puppy training and housetraining can also take place from 8 weeks. Read How to House Train a Puppy for my best tips.
The Ranking Stage: 3 to 6 Months Old
These playful puppies are like little kids now—curious and bursting with energy. The ranking stage is named for the dominance hierarchy common to all dogs and wolves. Puppies learn the rules of submission and dominance and find their place (their rank) in the pack.
Sheltie Adolescence: 6 to 18 Months Old
In this final stage of puppy development, Shelties cement their place in the human and dog pack. They are heavily influenced by their pack, so this is an ideal time to expand on basic training commands established as a puppy.
They're still very energetic and males have the highest amounts of testosterone at this age, although this can be reduced by neutering before 1 year old. I urge new puppy owners to read The Pros and Cons of Neutering (males) or The Pros and Cons of Spaying (females).
Thanks for checking out our Sheltie puppy development in pictures. Please share it with your dog-loving friends!