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
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
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
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
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
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
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:
Wind Dog Training,