A Guide to Sheltie Puppies
So you're getting a Sheltie puppy and are crazy excited? Been there! Here's how to set up your home for your new puppy and handle basic issues like housetraining and grooming.
All puppies are adorable. That's a 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.
This article explains:
- The Sheltie Puppy Colors
- Where to Buy Sheltie Puppies
- What to Buy Before Bringing Your Sheltie Puppy Home
- Vaccinations and De-Sexing Your Puppy
Sheltie Puppy Colors
The most common Sheltie color is sable. A mix of tan and white markings, it ranges from golden to mahogany. Sable Sheltie puppies usually have lighter fur when they're young, which deepens and intensifies as they age. It can take up to two years for the full adult double coat to grow, regardless of the coat color, and the color and quality of the coat is what gives this breed its distinctive look.
See the full range of colors available in The 8 Sheltie Coat Colors.
Where to Buy Sheltie Puppies
Shelties are popular dogs in the US, ranked 24 out of 190 AKC breeds.
The only trustworthy place to buy a Sheltie puppy is through a professional Sheltie breeder who performs genetic testing and breeds for health, appearance and temperament. Check their premises and ask to meet the puppy's parents to ensure good breeding practices.
Like all dog breeds, Sheltie puppies shouldn't be separated from their mom until they're at least 8 weeks old. Any earlier and the puppy will typically become 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're forming strong attachments. So 8-12 weeks is the best window of opportunity to take home a new Sheltie puppy.
Also consider adopting an older puppy or adult dog, where the best place to look is at your nearest Sheltie rescue. These are charities which care for and rehome older dogs who have been abandoned, abused, or both. Some puppies are even unwanted Christmas presents, when the novelty wears off and the responsibility of dog ownership kicks in. In fact, the New Year is when animal rescue shelters are most overwhelmed. Besides potentially saving a dog's life, rescue dogs are much cheaper than breeder dogs.
Most importantly, don't buy a Sheltie puppy from a pet store or general online listing. Responsible breeders never sell their puppies to pet stores or anonymously because they can't vet the future owners. What's more, pet stores are merely the customer-facing part of the cruel puppy mill industry. While it may seem like you're saving that one pet store puppy, you're increasing the demand for the next puppy to be bred in terrible conditions and become his replacement. Just don't go there.
10 Things to Buy Before Bringing Your Sheltie Puppy Home
The day you bring a new puppy home, your life will change in a big way.
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 Sheltie puppy and he'll very likely chew on the TV remote, risk choking on tiny objects (puppies try to eat everything), get trapped in small spaces, make all kinds of messes on the carpet, and cause plenty more untold havoc. Like a newborn baby, those first few weeks and months of your puppy's life will be the most demanding on you.
Here's a rundown of what you'll need to keep your puppy safe, fed, happy and housetrained.
1. Dog Food and Water Bowls
Choose heavy food and water bowls or ones that suction onto the ground so they don't go skidding and tipping when your puppy feeds and drinks. As a temporary measure you can use an old ice cream container but your puppy will chew this to pieces within a few days. A permanent bowl is durable, easy to clean, and will last for years.
Slow feed dog bowls are ideal if you have more than one dog in the house. These smartly designed bowls prevent puppies and dogs from gobbling down their food like paranoid prison inmates. They prevent excessive bloating and indigestion, and encourage proper chewing.
2. A Good Quality Puppy Food
Try to stick with the same brand of food your puppy has been fed by his breeder. This will minimize stomach upsets which are common when switching brands because puppies have such sensitive stomachs.
If for some reason you can't stick with the same brand, choose a high quality kibble like Taste of The Wild Puppy Food that's low in grain and high in meat content. See What is The Best Dog Food? or check out our recommendations below.
3. Training Pads and Carpet Stain Remover
You can start housetraining your Sheltie puppy from day one. Choose an area of the house that's easy to clean and put down puppy training pads. These are highly absorbent and help show your puppy where to pee and poo indoors. You only need to use pads for a few weeks until you move your puppy to an outdoor spot.
Of course, there will be accidents, and your carpets and rugs are right to be looking nervous when a new puppy enters the home. Have a good carpet stain remover on hand to deal with the inevitable mishaps. This will be useful throughout your dog's life, as there will always be sporadic pee, poop and vomit stains when he's sick.
4. A Good Dog Bed
Your puppy needs her own dedicated place she can go to for warmth, security and comfort. This is her dog bed. Make sure the bed you choose will still fit her when she's fully grown, and put it in a bedroom so she can sleep with the family for companionship.
5. A Secure Pen or Crate
When you leave the house, your puppy will need to be contained in a safe space. Some people prefer using a mobile puppy pen or wire cage for indoor or outdoor use,while others can adapt their bathroom or utility room with access to fresh water.
If you do shut her in a room, make sure it's completely puppy proof as she'll explore and play with everything while you're gone. Toilet rolls, towels, shampoo bottles and medicines should be securely locked away. And don't leave her alone for too long. The rule of thumb is if she's 1 month old, you can leave her for 1 hour. If 2 months old, she's good for 2 hours. And so on, up to a maximum of 8 hours. Remember though, long periods alone will be detrimental to her social and mental wellbeing, especially at such a young age.
Alternatively, a safe puppy pen is a good investment for the early months of your dog's life. She can play in there whether you're at home or out running errands, so you don't have to watch her 24/7. It's seriously surprising how much mischief puppies can create when your back is turned, so have a secure place in mind before you bring her home from day one.
6. A Collar, Leash and ID Tag
Put a dog collar and personalized ID tag on your puppy from day one. Even if you have a fenced yard, there may be unknown gaps through which he can escape. Most puppies aren't microchipped as owners prefer to wait until the general anaesthesia of de-sexing (microship injectors are big). So an ID tag is the most likely way he'll find his way back if he ever slips out.
Once you start taking your puppy for daily walks, you'll need to start leash training too. Most leashes hook onto the collar, with durable nylon and leather leashvarieties. Some are all-in-one halter leashes which have no collar connection and prevent your dog straining at the neck. To choose a leash that meets your needs, see What Is The Best Dog Leash? or check out our recommendations below.
7. Chew Toys and Dental Chews
Puppies love to chew - and rather they chew on a rubber dog toy than your TV remote, eyeglasses, shoes, and smartphone. So get your puppy a bunch of durable chew toys to sink his teeth into from day one. They will provide him with mental stimulation, encourage his puppy teeth to fall out and the new adult teeth to grow in, and create a distraction from eating your expensive gadgets. Meanwhile, remember to place all valuable objects well out of reach of your nibbling pup and don't underestimate his problem-solving skills to reach them!
Dental chews serve the same purpose as chew toys with further added benefits. They're medicated to help clean teeth and prevent tooth decay. They do break down faster than chew toys of course, so it's best to have both options around to keep your playful puppy busy. Dental chews are also extremely beneficial if you're not cleaning your dog's teeth with a toothbrush. We also add a plaque remover to our dogs' water bowl - it's like a mouthwash that's safe to drink and helps remove plaque and tartar which build up over time. This can prevent your dog from having painful cavities as he ages and later require multiple tooth extractions.
8. Basic Grooming Tools
Shelties are long-haired, double-coated dog breeds and need weekly or fortnightly grooming from about 5-6 months old. This is a lengthy topic so for step-by-step details read my guide on How to Groom a Shetland Sheepdog. You'll need a deshedding tool like the Furminator, a fine toothed comb, a slicker brush, grooming scissors, and dog nail clippers.
9. Dog Shampoo
You don't need to bathe Shelties very often. Like many dogs they lick themselves clean. Shelties in particular tend to avoid swimming and rolling in animal poop which are the main culprits of bad smells.
So look to shampoo your Sheltie once every few months, if you think he needs it. Otherwise, let his natural oils do the cleaning for you.
When you do come to wash your Sheltie, use a shampoo made for dogs like Pro Pet Works Natural Oatmeal Dog Shampoo and Conditioner. Human shampoos have different pH levels which can damage your Sheltie's skin. Take extra care to wash the shampoo out thoroughly and you're done.
10. Worm and Flea Treatments
Deworming is always a preventative measure in dogs. If you wait until symptoms that your dog has worms, it's too late - his health is already suffering and his heart or intestinal tract will be overrun. Check with your breeder for his puppy deworming schedule, and what specific worms are prevalent in your part of the world (typically roundworm, tapeworm, hookworm and heartworm). Coat the de-worming tablets in peanut butter and he'll gobble them up.
Flea treatment can be a preventative measure or a retrospective treatment. To prevent fleas, a topical application like Frontline involves dripping the medicine onto your puppy's skin behind the neck. This has a long-lasting effect and breaks the flea cycle of embryo, larva, pupa and adult, which prevents continuous reinfestation. Products like Capstar are tablets which kills fleas fast - within 6 hours. We found Frontline and Capstar in combination the ideal treatment. If your puppy (and house) is suffering an infestation, check out my more detailed article on How To Get Rid of Fleas and Ticks on Your Dog.
Vaccinations and De-Sexing Your Sheltie Puppy
Your new puppy will need the remainder of her vaccinations over the coming weeks, so check with your breeder for the dates. Register your puppy with your vet in the first week and they'll schedule you in.
When you visit your vet, it's important to discuss with them the best time to neuter (for boys) or spay (for girls). De-sexing plays a major role in reducing dog overpopulation, and also has many health benefits for your dog as they grow older. Generally, the evidence suggests a girl should be spayed around 5-8 months old, before her first heat cycle. A boy should be spayed around 12 months old, when he's finished growing.
If you have reservations about de-sexing your dog, this is totally normal. Read The Pros and Cons of Neutering (boys) or The Pros and Cons of Spaying (girls) to get an all-round picture of benefits and risks.Thanks for checking out my guide to Shetland Sheepdog puppies. Ready for more? Take a look at these 101 Cute Sheltie Puppy Pictures sent in by our readers.