The Shetland Sheepdog Puppy Guide
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.
|Shetland Sheepdog Puppy Colors|
|Where to Buy Shetland Sheepdog Puppies|
|20 Essential Puppy Products|
|Vaccinations and De-sexing|
Shetland Sheepdog Puppy Colors
The most common Sheltie color is sable. This is a mix of tan and white markings and 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. Less common coat types are seen as tri color and blue merle Sheltie puppies.
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 8 Sheltie Coat Colors.
Where to Buy Shetland Sheepdog Puppies
Shelties are popular dogs in the US, ranking at number 24 out of 190 American Kennel Club breeds.
The only trustworthy place to buy a purebred Sheltie puppy is through a professional Sheltie breeder who performs genetic testing and breeds their dogs for health, appearance and temperament. Be sure to visit their premises when you collect your puppy and ask to meet the puppy's parents to ensure ethical breeding practices.
Like all dog breeds, Sheltie puppies shouldn't be separated from their mother 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.
Most importantly, never buy a puppy from a pet store or online-only listing. Responsible breeders never sell their puppies to pet stores because they can't vet the future owners.
Pet stores are also often the customer-facing part of the cruel puppy mill industry. In puppy mills, dogs are bred purely for money, and spend their entire lives in tiny cages. While it may seem like you're "saving" a pet store puppy, you're actually supporting the trade by increasing demand. Rescue groups or breeders are the safest way to go.
20 Essential Puppy Products
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 our 20 essential 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 heavy water bowl or one that suctions onto the ground so they can't skid or tip 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 and will last the life of your Shetland Sheepdog.
2. A Food Bowl
If you have more than one animal in the house, I recommend getting each an Outward Hound Fun Feeder to keep them focused on their own bowl and prevent fights. These smartly designed bowls also prevent dogs from gobbling down their food too fast, relieving them of hiccups, bloating and indigestion.
3. Quality Puppy Kibble
Try to stick with the same brand of food your Shetland Sheepdog puppy has been fed by his breeder. This will minimize stomach upsets, which are common when switching brands because puppies are more sensitive until they develop a stronger gut biome.
If you can't stick with the same brand, choose a high quality kibble like Blue Buffalo Wilderness Natural Puppy Food that's low in grain and high in meat content.
Learn more about the dog food industry and what to look for in the ingredients list in my article What is The Best Dog Food?
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 highly absorbent pads will protect your floors much better than newspaper and will your puppy learn where he's supposed to to pee and poop 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...
5. Carpet Stain Remover
You will inevitably need a good carpet stain remover. Rocco and Roxie Professional Strength Stain and Odor Eliminator is enzyme activated, with helpful 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 Sheltie puppy will like to have her very own dedicated place to which she can retreat for warmth, security and comfort. Choose an enclosed bed like Pet Tent-Soft Bed for a greater sense of protection or a snuggle-fest like the Shag Vegan Fur Donut Cuddler for extra warmth.
Make sure the bed you choose will still suit your puppy when she's fully grown. We urge dog owners to let their pooches sleep in the same room as them for companionship. Don't be a meanie and banish her to the lonely laundry room!
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 from day one. Even if you have a fully fenced yard and aren't taking your puppy out on walks until she's fully vaccinated, there may be unknown gaps through which she can escape. It's also too easy for her to make a run for it out the front door when your back is turned.
Amazon's top choice is the Blueberry Pet Soft and Comfy Dog Collar. You'll need a small one for a young Shetland Sheepdog puppy as their necks are tiny! Although they are adjustable, you will end up buying a few collars over his lifetime as he gets bigger.
Check out GoTags Stainless Steel Pet ID Tags to go on his collar. You can personalize the engraving to include your dog's name, address and phone number.
Most puppies aren't microchipped at a young age. Microchip injectors are BIG so most dog owners wait for it to be done under the general anaesthesia of de-sexing (around 6 months for females and 12 months for males). For this reason, an ID tag is the most likely way you'll be reunited with your puppy if she ever escapes.
For reference, Howard has escaped or wandered off on our walks many times over the course of his life. Piper has rarely done so - and even then he soon brings himself back! It all depends on your dog's personality. But I never let them go without their collars and ID tags except for when I'm grooming them.
9. A Dog Leash
You can start taking your puppy for daily walks after their final vaccinations, usually given at 14-16 week. Expect to do some leash training, as being led around on a cord doesn't exactly come naturally to anyone.
Most leashes hook onto the collar. We like this durable nylon Blueberry Pet Leash which comes in 20+ colors. A standard 5-foot leash is long enough for your Shetland Sheepdog.
If you have a particularly feisty and energetic Sheltie, you might want to choose a halter leash like this Blueberry Pet Harness which goes around your dog's arms and back. This takes a few more seconds to put on but does prevent your dog from pulling and straining on the leash at the neck.
10. Chew Toys
Shetland Sheepdog puppies love to chew. And it's far better than they chew on a hardy chew toy than your TV remote, designer eyeglasses, or smartphone!
Invest in a couple of durable chew toys such as this Nylabone Puppy Chew Toy. Just like babies, puppies go through teething stages where they're compelled to chew to encourage the new teeth to emerge. You'll probably find your Sheltie chews much less once they reach adulthood.
Allowing your puppy to chew also provides him with mental stimulation and relieves boredom if you have to leave him alone. Just remember to place all valuable objects well out of reach of your rambunctious, nibbling pup.
11. Dental Chews
As your Sheltie puppy ages, you'll need to take care of his oral health, just as you do your own. Brushing your dog's teeth is the ideal solution, as well as offering dental chews like Virbac CET Enzymatic Oral Hygiene Chews. These medicated chews will help clean your dog's teeth and prevent tooth decay.
12. Plaque Remover
We also add TropiClean Fresh Breath Plaque Remover to our Shelties' shared water bowl. This is a bit like a mouthwash that's safe to drink. It stays in your dog's saliva and helps remove plaque and tartar which has built up over time.
Taking care of your dog's oral hygiene is so important. It can significantly reduce the likelihood of him suffering from painful cavities and requiring multiple tooth extractions down the line.
13. An Undercoat Rake
Shelties are long-haired, double-coated dog breeds which need weekly grooming from about 5-6 months old. For a step-by-step guide read my article How to Groom a Shetland Sheepdog.
The main tool you'll need for such a fluffy breed is a detangling comb like this 2-in-1 Detangling Comb by Poodle Pet. It doesn't look like much but it's extremely effective at loosening the undercoat with minimum fuss.
14. A Fine Toothed Comb
We find it very useful to have this Safari Dog Flea Comb on hand for precision combing of sensitive areas behind the ears and under the arm pits. It's also useful for checking for fleas, flea eggs and detecting dry skin which requires a specialized shampoo.
15. Pet Scissors
You'll also need 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.
16. A Slicker Brush
Next, groom your Sheltie's outer coat with a pin brush like the Hertzko Self Cleaning Slicker Brush. This removes tangles and debris, while gently stimulating 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. Once a month you'll need to trim your dog's claws. These BOSHEL Dog Nail Clippers 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. Like many dog breeds, Shetland Sheepdogs lick themselves clean. Shelties in particular tend to avoid swimming and rolling in animal poop which are the main culprits of bad smells.
So consider shampooing your Sheltie once every 1-2 months when you sense he needs it. Otherwise, let his natural oils do the cleaning for you.
Choose a shampoo formulated for dogs 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 to his health. A single pill prevents parasitic worms setting up home in your dog's 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 more often, while adult dogs require de-worming every three months for their whole lives.
20. Flea Treatment
You can prevent fleas from ever being able to survive on your dog by giving him a frequent dose of a topical application like Frontline Plus for Small Dogs. This means dropping the liquid medicine directly onto your puppy's skin behind the neck. It has a long-lasting effect and both prevents and cures fleas and ticks. It effectively breaks the cycle of embryo, larva, pupa and adult, which prevents continuous re-infestation.
If you find yourself suffering from a flea infestation, check out my more detailed article on How To Get Rid of Fleas and Ticks on Your Dog.
Vaccinations and De-Sexing
Your Shetland Sheepdog puppy will have had some of her vaccinations provided by her breeder. The remainder of her vaccinations will be due over the coming weeks, so check with your breeder for her vaccination schedule. Register your puppy with your vet in the first week and they'll be able to book you in.
When you take your puppy to the vet, it's important to discuss with them the best time to neuter (for males) or spay (for females). 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 female Sheltie should be spayed around 6 months old, before her first heat cycle. A male Sheltie should be neutered around 12 months old, when he's finished growing.
It's normal to feel weird about de-sexing your dog. Read The Pros and Cons of Neutering (males) or The Pros and Cons of Spaying (females) to get an all-round picture of the benefits and risks. Please don't simply ignore the issue without checking into the ramifications.