Below are the contact details of professional Sheltie breeders in the UK. While we have taken care to list only ethical breeders, we can't vouch for all of them personally. Please educate yourself on the difference between ethical breeders vs puppy mills and proceed with care.
How to Find an Ethical Sheltie Breeder
Aside from Sheltie rescues, professional Sheltie breeders are the only trustworthy place to buy Sheltie puppies. Never support backyard breeding or puppy mills as you're only investing in their cruel profit-driven trade and increasing the demand for more suffering.
How do you know if a breeder is ethical? You have to put your detective hat on. Here are my top tips:
Visit their website - Ethical breeders specialize in knowing everything there is to know about one or two dog breeds maximum. Their website will clearly show this. They'll also show off their champion dogs, who have won awards in conformation shows and make up their breeding stock. These are very good signs of dedicated, ethical breeding.
WARNING SIGNS: Puppy mill breeders offer many different breeds of puppies for sale, including designer dogs and miniature Shelties. Hybrids Sheltie mixes like the Sheltie-Poo (Sheltie x Poodle), Poshie (Pomeranian x Sheltie) and Sheltie-Pom (Sheltie x Pomeranian) are bred purely for the pet trade to deliver profit.
Ask about breeding practices - Ethical breeders always perform genetic testing on their mating pairs to avoid passing on hereditary diseases. They also select dogs for breeding based on their overall health, appearance and temperament. They will talk expertly about these subjects with details in the official Shetland Sheepdog Breed Standard last overhauled in 1953.
WARNING SIGNS: Puppy mill breeders may claim they perform genetic testing but they almost certainly don't. It's an expense they spare themselves and happily lie about. Dig into this lie. Ask what diseases they're looking for when they test (see Common Health Problems in Shelties). Similarly, ask what specific features they look for in appearance. Puppy mill breeders will blag a vague or incorrect response that's not specific to Shelties.
Visit the kennels - Ethical breeders will invite you to their kennels to pick up your puppy. There, you can tour the facilities, meet some of their champion dogs, and check that the living conditions are humane. They will have a professional setup with healthy, happy dogs who approach you with confidence.
WARNING SIGNS: Puppy mill breeders often operate online with no in-person contact and no visits to kennels. They may ship puppies long distances and use this as an excuse for the non-contact. If they do allow you to visit their kennels, take a tour. Watch out for multiple dogs sharing cages and dirty living conditions like faeces in the cages, which suggests they haven't been let out for a long time. Their dogs will look subdued, unhealthy, and poorly groomed.
Now you know what to look for in an ethical breeder, here's our directory of Shetland Sheepdog breeders in the UK.
Like all dog breeds, Sheltie puppies shouldn't be separated from their mother until they're at least 8 weeks old. Any earlier than this and the puppy becomes nervous and has problems settling into his new home.
However, puppies should be re-homed by 12 weeks, when they start forming strong lifelong attachments with their family. So 8-12 weeks is the window of opportunity to take your puppy home.
For more information on raising a Sheltie puppy, including their vaccination schedule, how to de-worm and de-flea a puppy, and the ethics of de-sexing, see my Pet Owner's Guide to Shelties.
Are you so in love with Shelties that you might become a professional Sheltie breeder? There are a few things you need to consider as you explore this exciting lifestyle.
Breeding is a big commitment. Besides the massive amount of breed research you'll need to undertake, you'll also need the time, money and facilities to accommodate many dogs in your house and/or kennels. You'll need whelping boxes, large penned exercise areas, and a suitable vehicle for taking multiple puppies to the vets. You'll also need to afford lots of dog food, pay ongoing vet bills, and have a good tolerance for barking. Grooming Shelties will become a necessary part of your daily routine.
You'll need knowledge of genetics. To some extent, breeding animals means Playing God. Breeders undertake artificial selection (as opposed to natural selection) to match mating pairs for the ideal Shetland Sheepdog appearance, temperament and health. You especially need to understand how the parent genes interact to create physical characteristics in the puppies. Fortunately, the science is already done, so you just need to read up lots and talk to fellow dog breeders for advice.
Raising puppies is hard work. Remember your first puppy? It certainly came as a shock to me just how much attention Howard needed - and he was just one puppy. Now multiply that by six (the number of puppies per litter) and imagine doing it over and over, year after year. Once weaned, you'll be doing all the work to keep them clean, fed and happy, round the clock. Like babies, puppies have tiny stomachs and tiny bladders, demanding high frequency attention.
The dogs need many health checks. You'll need to take your mating pairs to the vets for pre-breeding genetic screening to ensure they're not passing on any genetic diseases. What's more, all your dogs and puppies will need routine vet care, vaccinations, quality nutrition, dental care and parasitic treatments. The vet bills alone will make it difficult to profit from ethical dog breeding as a business; it's more of a lifestyle than a career.
A canine pregnancy lasts 63 days. That's just 2 months versus our human pregnancies of 9 months. You can verify when a female is pregnancy after the first 30 days, when the fetus is halfway through gestation, with ultrasound performed by a vet. Mom will need extra food, and some say extra protein, during this time, along with extra care and supervision.
You'll be the midwife. You're in charge of overseeing the birth at home. The mother needs a familiar, quiet and warm space to whelp her puppies. It's crucial to match the number of placentas delivered to the number of puppies born. (Retained placentas can cause infection in the mother.) You'll also need to free the puppy from his amniotic sac and cut the placenta if the mother has trouble doing it. Among other things, you'll also need to stimulate the puppy's breathing and aid suckling immediately after the birth.
You have to give up your puppies. Breeders only keep the puppies they think could make champion dogs in conformation or agility. And while you may form attachments with the puppies, keeping them all is likely unrealistic. Ultimately, you'll need to re-home some or all of your puppies with new families when they turn 8 weeks old. That could be too much to bear if you fall in love with all your puppies.
I'm sure many Sheltie fanatics have fantasized about breeding their favorite dog breed. I know I have! But this is a major lifestyle choice so please make sure you have the time, money and commitment to put into Sheltie breeding before you dive in. My best of luck to you if you do!