The Shetland Sheepdog Puppy Guide

Meet the Shetland Sheepdog puppy and learn about the Sheltie coat colors, where to find an ethical breeder, and essential health advice for puppies.

All puppies are adorable. 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.

Shetland Sheepdog Puppy being cute

Howard, my first Shetland Sheepdog puppy

The Shetland Sheepdog Colors

There are a few coat colors in Shelties. The most common is Sable; a mix of white and tan markings, ranging from golden to mahogany. The white is focused on the neck, chest, legs, and toes in what's called an Irish pattern.

Golden Sable Sheltie puppy

Howard was a golden Sable puppy.

Sable Sheltie puppies usually have lighter fur when they're young, which deepens and intensifies as they mature. In fact, it can take up to two years for the full adult coat to grow in.

You can also find Tri Color Shetland Sheepdogs, which have a mix of black, white, and tan. The white appears in an Irish pattern, while the tan fur comes in around the cheeks, throat, ears, eyes, and legs.

Tri Color Shetland Sheepdog Puppies have a mixture of black, white, and tan

A Tri Color Shetland Sheepdog Puppy.

Then there are Blue Merle Shelties, which are actually diluted Tri Colors. Here, the black pigment is reduced to various shades of gray-blue which creates a merle pattern.

A Blue Merle Sheltie Puppy

A Blue Merle Sheltie Puppy.

The color and quality of the coat is what gives this breed its distinctive look. Check out the full range of Shetland Sheepdog coat types in The Sheltie Colors.

Where to Find Sheltie Puppies

If you've fallen in love with this breed, your first move should be to find a Sheltie rescue in your region. There are millions of unwanted dogs in the US alone, including many Sheltie rescues. Your new best friend could be waiting for you right now.

If you have your heart set on a puppy, see our professional Sheltie breeder listings. It's essential you visit the kennels when you collect your puppy to make sure you're not fuelling the cruel puppy mill trade. Pet stores and online listings that don't offer kennel details are almost always the point of sale for puppy farms.

Only buy a Shetland Sheepdog puppy through an ethical breeder

Only buy a Shetland Sheepdog puppy through an ethical breeder.

Like all dog breeds, Sheltie puppies shouldn't be separated from their mother until they're at least 8 weeks old. Earlier than this, puppies can be nervous and poorly socialized, leading to lifelong behavioral problems.

The ideal window of opportunity to bond with your puppy is 8-12 weeks, when they form strong attachments with their carers.

20 Things You Need for a New Puppy

The day you bring a new puppy home, your life will change in a big way. Those first few weeks and months of your puppy's life will be the most demanding on you. You'll 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 in the house is new to your Shetland Sheepdog puppy. He'll try to chew on everything, explore every crevice, and make all kinds of mess on the carpet. It pays to stock up on puppy gear before you bring him home, so you're prepared for the mischief and mishaps that lie ahead!

Here are 20 dog products to buy before you bring your new puppy home.

1. A Water Bowl

Dogs need access to clean water day and night. Choose a basic but heavy bowl like this Stainless Steel Water Bowl so it doesn't skid or tip over when your puppy drinks. You can temporarily use an old ice cream container but your puppy will soon chew this to pieces. A permanent bowl is durable, easy to clean so it stays mold-free, and will last the life of your Shetland Sheepdog.

2. A Food Bowl

I recommend the Outward Hound Fun Feeder to prevent your dog snarfing down his food too quickly, which results in hiccups, bloating, and indigestion. If you have more than one dog in the house, the slower eating also helps them focus on their own food and prevents resource guarding and fights.

3. Quality Puppy Kibble

Try to stick with the same brand of food your Shetland Sheepdog puppy has been fed by his breeder. This minimizes stomach upsets, which are common when switching brands because puppies have relatively weak gut biomes. If you can't source the same brand, choose a high quality kibble like Hill's Science Diet for Puppies that's low in grain and high in meat content.

4. Puppy Training Pads

You should start housetraining your Shetland Sheepdog puppy from day one. Choose an area of the house that's easy to clean and put down some puppy training pads such as AmazonBasics Pet Training Puppy Pads. These absorbent pads will protect your floors better than newspaper and help define where your puppy is supposed to pee and poop indoors.

You only need to use puppy training pads until he's around four months old. Then, his bowels and bladder are strong enough that he can hold it in until you let him outside. Of course, there will be accidents. Your carpets are right to be looking nervous when a new puppy enters the home...

5. Carpet Stain Remover

You will inevitably need a good carpet stain remover. Rocco and Roxie Stain and Odor Eliminator is enzyme activated, with good bacteria that feed on the ammonia crystals in dog urine until it's completely eliminated. This will be valuable throughout your dog's life, as there will always be sporadic pee, poop, and vomit stains to handle.

6. A Dog Bed

Your puppy needs his own safe place to which he can retreat for warmth, security, and comfort. For a greater sense of protection, choose an enclosed bed like Pet Tent-Soft Bed. Or for extra warmth, go for a snuggle-fest like the Shag Vegan Fur Donut Cuddler.

Make sure the bed you choose will be big enough when he's fully grown. And put it in the bedroom with your! I always urge dog owners to let their pooches sleep in the same room for companionship and security.

7. A Secure Pen or Crate

When you leave the house, your puppy will need to be contained in a safe space. If you have a puppy-proof room this works just fine. Some people prefer to use a mobile crate, such as the MidWest Homes for Pets Dog Crate (a 36-inch unit will suit up to a fully grown Sheltie). These are suitable for indoor and outdoor use, and fold up compactly for travel.

When you leave your puppy alone, be very aware of the time. The rule of thumb is 1 hour alone for every 1 month of age, up to a maximum of 8 hours. Remember that long periods alone will be detrimental to her social and mental wellbeing, especially at such a young and formative age.

8. A Collar and ID Tag

Your puppy needs a collar and dog tag from day one. Even if you have a fenced yard and aren't taking her out on walks until she's fully vaccinated, there may still be unforeseen opportunities for her to escape.

Get a small collar like this Blueberry Dog Collar as Shetland Sheepdog puppies have the tiniest necks! While most collars are adjustable, you'll need bigger ones over her lifetime as she grows.

An ID tag is essential because most young puppies aren't microchipped. Microchip injectors are big, so it's better to get the insertion done under the general anaesthesia of de-sexing at 6-12 months. (The ideal timing of de-sexing your Sheltie depends on whether you're spaying a female or neutering a male.) Without a microchip, an ID tag is the most likely way you'll be reunited with your puppy if or when she escapes.

Add a personalized engraving to a Stainless Steel Pet ID Tag to attached to her collar. Include your dog's name, as well as your phone number and street address.

9. A Dog Leash

Start taking your puppy for daily walks after her final vaccinations, given at 14-16 weeks. Expect to do some leash training, as being led around on a cord doesn't come naturally.

Standard leashes like this nylon Blueberry Pet Leash simply hook onto the collar. A 5-foot leash is long enough for your Shetland Sheepdog.

If you have a particularly feisty Sheltie, choose a halter leash like this Blueberry Pet Harness. It goes around your dog's arms and back to prevent him from pulling and straining at the neck.

10. Chew Toys

Shetland Sheepdog puppies love to chew. And it's far better they chew on a hardy dog toy than your TV remote, designer eyeglasses, or smartphone... which they will do happily!

Like babies, puppies go through teething stages where they're compelled to chew to encourage the puppy teeth to fall out and the adult teeth to emerge. You'll find this behavior lessens significantly in adulthood, when its main purpose is to provide mental stimulation and relieve boredom.

Our first Sheltie puppy loved to chew on this Rubber Chew Kingwhich you can also stuff with treats for extra stimulation. As her grew older, he preferred soft plush toys like these Skinny Pelts. Give him a few options that are all his own to keep his jaws off your valuables.

11. Dental Chews

Take care of your puppy's oral health, just as you do your own. Brushing his teeth is optimal, as well as offering daily dental chews like Virbac Oral Hygiene Chews with enzymes for antiseptic action and an abrasive texture to loosen tartar.

12. Plaque Remover

Also consider adding TropiClean Fresh Breath Plaque Remover to your Sheltie's water bowl. It's a natural mouthwash that's safe to drink, and stays in the saliva to remove plaque and tartar. Taking extra measures like this helps to reduce the likelihood of painful cavities and tooth extractions down the line.

13. A Detangling Comb

Being a long-haired, double-coated dog breed, Shelties need weekly grooming from about 5-6 months old. The main tool you'll need is a detangling comb like this 2-in-1 Detangling Comb. It's extremely effective at loosening the undercoat with minimum fuss. This strips out the fluff which otherwise suffocates your Sheltie's skin and leads to painful mats over time.

For a step-by-step grooming guide see How to Groom a Shetland Sheepdog.

14. A Fine Toothed Comb

This Pet Comb by Poodle Pet is excellent for detangling tight knots in small spaces. I use it to precision comb all the nooks and crannies (behind the ears, under the collar, and under the armpits) which are inaccessible with larger combs and brushes.

15. Pet Scissors

Buy a pair of Pet Grooming Scissors for trimming out the inevitable knots that form on long haired breeds. These also also good for trimming excessive fur growth between the paw pads and the lower back legs. You can use regular scissors too, of course—the main difference is pet scissors have rounded ends to prevent sudden jabs if your dog gets twitchy.

16. A Slicker Brush

The final part of the grooming process requires a pin brush like this Self Cleaning Slicker Brush. It removes tangles and debris from the outercoat, distributes the coat's natural oils, and gently stimulates the skin for improved blood circulation.

17. Dog Nail Clippers

Dog nail clippers are very different from human nail clippers. They open much wider to cut the thick, curved tube-shaped claws with a guillotine style blade. About once a month, trim your dog's claws with Dog Nail Clippers that feature a safety guard to prevent you accidentally over-clipping and hurting your dog.

18. Dog Shampoo

The most you need to bathe your Sheltie is once a month. Shetland Sheepdogs lick themselves clean, and tend to avoid rolling in animal poop which are the main culprits of bad smells.

Choose a shampoo formulated for Shelties like TropiClean's PerfectFur Dog Shampoo. It's designed for dogs with double coats, exfoliating the skin and loosening the undercoat to reduce excess shedding.

19. De-Worming Tablets

De-worming your Shetland Sheepdog puppy is essential. A single pill prevents parasitic worms setting up home in his intestines and even his heart. I recommend SafeGuard 8 in 1 Canine Dewormer. Coat it in peanut butter and put it in the back of your puppy's mouth and he'll gobble it up.

Check with your breeder for his puppy de-worming schedule and what specific worms are prevalent in your part of the world (typically roundworm, tapeworm, hookworm, and heartworm). Puppies need to be de-wormed monthly, while adult dogs should be treated every three months. Don't forget!

20. Flea Treatment

Fleas jump from dog to dog, and are rotten once they're inside your house because they lay eggs which can remain dormant in the carpet.

Prevent and treat fleas with a routine dose of a topical application like Frontline Plus for Small Dogs. Drop the liquid directly onto your puppy's skin behind the neck. Frontline has a long-lasting effect, breaking the cycle of embryo to larva to pupa to adult, effectively preventing re-infestation.

Vaccinations and De-Sexing

Ethical breeders ensure their puppies have the first vaccinations at 6-8 weeks. Your job is to continue taking your Shetland Sheepdog puppy to the vet on schedule so she doesn't become vulnerable to common infectious diseases.

Here's the current schedule per the AKC:

Age Essential Vaccines Optional Vaccines
6-8 weeks Distemper, Parvovirus Bordetella
10-12 weeks DHPP (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus) Influenza, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme Disease
16-18 weeks DHPP, Rabies Influenza, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme Disease
12-16 months DHPP, Rabies Coronavirus, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme Disease
Every 1-2 years DHPP, Rabies Coronavirus, Influenza, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme Disease

Source: AKC Guide to Puppy Vaccinations

When you take your puppy to the vet at 10-12 weeks, discuss with them the best time to neuter or spay your Sheltie. De-sexing plays a major role in reducing the problem of dog overpopulation, as well as having numerous health benefits like preventing certain cancers of the reproductive organs.

However, there are risks of de-sexing puppies too young because sex hormones play key roles in growth and development. The current evidence suggests females are most safely spayed around 6 months old before the first heat cycle. Male should be neutered at 12 months old when he's reached his adult size.

It's normal to feel weird about de-sexing your pet. Read The Pros and Cons of Neutering or The Pros and Cons of Spaying for a detailed picture of the benefits and risks. Please don't simply ignore the issue without understanding the ramifications.

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Rebecca Casale Bio: Creator of Sheltie Planet

Rebecca Casale is the founder of the websites Sheltie Planet and Science Me. Meet her furballs Howard and Piper and download her ebook Shelties: The Complete Pet Owner's Guide.