SO YOU WANT TO BUY A SHELTIE
QUESTIONS AND TIPS FOR THE SHELTIE BUYER
HOW MUCH WILL THE PUPPY COST?
- A lot of factors go into the price a breeder charges a buyer for a puppy.
Such factors may be:
- Breeding Expenses (costs & investments in parents, stud fees – usually
$600 & up, health checks/testing for genetic diseases in parents),
- Kennel expenses (cost of housing dogs, vet expenses, feeding expenses,
showing expenses of parents & other dogs, dog equipment / supplies).
- Puppy expenses (whelping costs, raising a litter, vet expenses, shots,
worming, health checks, eye checks, registration fees), etc.
- Most breeders charge $600 - $800 and up for a companion quality puppy.
Show quality usually starts @ $800 and up.
2. WHAT HEALTH CHECKS AND
GUARANTEES SHOULD BE EXPECTED WHEN PURCHASING A PUPPY?
- As with all breeds, the sheltie does have a few genetic problems that are
present in the breed. Concerned & dedicated breeders know about the problems
that are present & work to avoid reproducing them. The most serious &
prevalent conditions that have appeared in the breed are:
- Hip Dysplasia
- Sheltie Eye Syndrome
- Von Willebrand Disease (a clotting defect)
- Testing is available for these genetic diseases. Certifications/test
result papers from canine medical labs and health organizations (OFA) are
given to breeders who do testing.
- Reputable Breeders will do testing for genetic defects in the parents
- Hip / OFA x-rays, eye checks by licensed opthamologists or specially
trained vets, blood workups for thyroid, DNA tests for Von Willebrand as
well as some testing in the puppies – eye checks.
- Breeders must be diligent in striving to breed the healthiest & happiest
dog’s possible. If breeders do not do the testing, ask "Why Not?"
- Genetic diseases in the Sheltie will not go away & be eliminated until all
breeders test their breeding stock and puppies.
- Ask the breeder to show proof of testing done and have the test results
explained. Health Guarantees are pointless guaranteeing against genetic
diseases unless the breeder tests all of their breeding stock in the first
- Health Guarantees vary with many breeders. All guarantees should allow the
buyer enough time (at least 48 – 72 hours) to have their own vet go over the
dog for any health problems.
- Some breeders guarantee their stock for that amount of time; some breeders
guarantee their stock for the dog’s lifetime against hereditary diseases.
- Be certain to closely read any health guarantees on return policies. If
you are unclear on a point, ask first before you take that puppy home.
- Many breeders have a return policy but will not return the purchase price,
only offer a replacement.
- Some breeders may return a purchase price on a returned healthy pup only
when and if they can resell it. Whatever the breeder gives, before a puppy is
sold, a vet should have health checked the litter at least once.
- Testing for genetic problems are very expensive, that is one reason a
puppy from a knowledgeable breeder may cost more than a "backyard breeder" or
- Remember that breeder’s reputation is on the line every time a puppy is
sold into a new home.
- Just as a puppy buyer does not want to purchase a potentially sick or
defective puppy, a reputable breeder doesn’t want the heartbreak of selling a
sick or defective puppy into a loving home.
3. WHERE CAN I BUY THE
BEST PUPPY FOR MY MONEY?
- Remember the old adage, buyer beware! Check out the credentials of the
seller. Ask questionsl
- Do they maintain a kennel?
- Is it a hobby or a business?
- Do they show dogs in AKC events (Dog Shows, Obedience Trials, Herding
Trials, Agility Events)?
- Do they test for genetic problems?
- Do they belong to any Dog Clubs?
- Do they guarantee health, temperament, & quality?
- What do they require of buyers (fenced in yard? Neutering/Spaying
agreements? AKC Limited Registration – Non breeding registration papers? Etc)?
- A reputable breeder deeply cares where his babies go and how they are
loved and cared for.
- Beware of "backyard breeders" and "puppy mills." These people are either
not aware of breed related problems, or do not care. Remember the puppy you
buy, should expect a life span of at least 10 years or more.
4. OKAY, I FOUND A BREEDER, NOW
- Arrange an appointment to visit their home, kennel and/or dogs. Never go
unannounced as dog people are always busy and they are no different from you.
- Ask to see their dogs, especially the sire and dam of the litter.
- Sometimes, it is not always possible to view the sire as many breeders use
top producing /winning studs that may be located somewhere across the country.
Most breeders will have pictures of the studs they have shipped their females
- Examine the dam, the puppies and the other dogs to give you an idea of the
temperament and appearance of the dogs.
- Stay away form overly nervous, fearful or aggressive Shelties. Shelties,
according to the AKC Breed Standard, may be reserved and wary of strangers but
not fearful or aggressive. Temperament problems are highly hereditary in
- To be properly socialized Sheltie babies should be raised as newborns in
close proximity to activity and people, never stuck away in a separate kennel
or building away from people. Shelties bond closely with people and need
social interaction from day one.
- Ask to see the puppy’s AKC pedigree, papers and health records. The names
in many pedigrees many not be familiar to you, but AKC and other registry
titles in a pedigree may signify that the breeder cares enough to breed
quality dogs. The more titled dogs in the first three generations, the better.
However to breed to a champion or even if both parents are champions, does not
guarantee the quality of the puppy or whole litter. Remember that AKC papers
are not "automatic" indicator of quality.
- The breeder must know what genetic background they are working with and
hopefully, with luck and hard work, the outcome will be a healthy happy breed
- Before that trip to the breeders home write down all the questions, you
will want to ask the breeder.
- Many times, when buyer spots a warm, soft, cuddly, puppy from a litter,
all reason leaves the head and the heart rules.
- Don’t be driving home wondering if you did the right thing in buying that
- GET EVERYTHING IN WRITING, FOR YOUR SAKE AS WELL AS THE BREEDER’S.
- Sales contracts should include all the information possible (price, return
policy, health guarantees, shout and worming records, feeding instructions,
- Both the buyer and seller should be in agreement on everything.
5. WHAT SHOULD I DO
BEFORE I BRING HOME THAT SPECIAL PUPPY?
- Read, read, and read some more. Buy the best puppy-rearing book, or borrow
a stack from the library. (Sheltie Talk by Betty Jo McKinney is highly
- Set up an appointment with a vet within the specified time period your
pup’s health guarantee allows.
- Prepare a warm, comfy confined area in your home. Often a dog crate/cage
set up within a kitchen or utility room, where your new arrival will stay.
- Keep in close contact with the breeder. Dedicated breeders are willing,
able and eager to help you with any problems you might run into. Most of all
have fun with your new friend and build a bond that will last a lifetime.
No heart is truer than the heart of a dog.
Their love is unconditional!
WHY REPUTABLE BREEDERS TEST FOR GENETIC DISEASES!
It is difficult to explain to those new to the world of breeding good dogs,
why an ethical breeder has so many health tests and checks performed before
breeding a litter. The uninitiated may think we’re fanatics.
- They ask why their Sheltie needs an eye check before she’s bred, by a
board-certified ophthalmologist no less; when she can see perfectly well. They
don’t understand that only a specialist can determine whether a dog that can
"see perfectly well" has a disease that will eventually rob it of its vision.
- The same people ask why we have a male’s hips x-rayed before he is used at
stud, when he runs and plays perfectly well. They don’t understand that hip
Dysplasia can’t always be detected by watching a dog move.
- Then they ask, A DNA test for Von Willebrand disease? Come on, get
- And a thyroid check? Where does it end? Are you just going to keep
checking until you find something wrong?
The answer is, we aren’t trying to find something wrong, but we are trying to
be sure things are right.
Sires and dams that appear normal but carry the gene for the defect can pass
on some of the diseases we test for.
- Until we can identify unaffected carriers, all we can do is avoid using
Shelties we know are affected, as well as those that may be affected because
of the presence of genetic defects in their parents, offspring and
- Our goal is to produce healthy dogs and avoid heartache for us and for the
people who buy our puppies.
Ten years and four generations down the road, when a problem arises with one
of the diseases we are monitoring, breeders will check back in their pedigrees
to see where it might have originated. They will not look for someone to blame.
- They will try to learn how to avoid having a life-threatening defect
appear in their litters.
- If breeders of today have been conscientious and obtained all the
veterinary clearances possible, owners of tomorrow will know where it did not
come from, which may be extremely helpful.
It especially behooves breeders who are standing dogs at public stud to be
sure there are not problems.
- A popular dog carrying a crippling or fatal defect can affect a sizeable
percentage of the next generation.
The American Shetland Sheepdog Association Guidelines for Ethical Behavior
suggests strongly that we not breed a Sheltie until its health clearances are
- We can’t legislate morality, but the ethical guidelines are there for us,
in black and white.
- If a breeder really loves the breed, they know why health checks are
necessary. Let their conscience be your guide
These diseases should be tested for in both parents before breeding:
Von Willebrand Disease
Sheltie Eye Syndrome
This condition should be tested in each puppy before sale
COMMONLY ASKED SHELTIE QUESTIONS
HOW BIG ARE SHELTIES?
The standard for shelties states that they should measure between 13" and 16"
at the shoulder.
- Most fall into the upper half of this range. Shelties were once crossed
with the larger collie to improve the breed and large shelties will still be
found today as a result.
- It is not unknown for a sheltie to approach a small collie in size. Small
shelties are more rare, but will show up in a litter as well.
WHAT TYPE OF TEMPERAMENT DO SHELTIES HAVE?
The temperament of the sheltie is what has endeared him to so many owners.
- They are usually loyal and affectionate with their owners. Shelties are
known to be easy to train, and this is often due to their desire and
willingness to please. Shelties almost seem to train themselves at times.
- They are ever willing to do your every wish and ecstatic at the praise
- Shelties are relatively sensitive and do not need a hard hand when
training. They are not soft, though, and will stand up to criticism.
- A sheltie with the classic temperament is a bit standoffish with
strangers, but not unfriendly. There is a much wider range in temperament in
modern shelties than there used to be and personalities will range from quiet,
stay at home dogs, to active extroverts.
- Unfortunately, due to their popularity, more shelties are being bred in
puppy mills and by inexperienced ,unknowledgeable breeders. These dogs often
have very poor temperaments, with characteristics such as fear biting,
excessive shyness, nervousness, or extreme hyperness.
- Do your sheltie a favor and have him or her altered.
WHAT ARE SOME PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH HAVING A SHELTIE?
This is a good question to ask yourself if you are interested in getting a
sheltie. No breed is right for everyone, and all breeds have strong and weak
- First, the sheltie is a long coated breed. While his coat does require
less care than some, you should expect to spend a minimum of 1 – 2 times a
week brushing him which may take ˝ hour to an hour depending on how full a
coat he has.
- During shedding seasons, you may want to brush him every day to keep the
hair level on the carpets down.
- Second, the sheltie is a barker. The amount of barking varies with the
individual dog and often with the number of dogs.
- Barking is often learned from other dogs and a house with a number of
shelties is invariably a noisy one.
- If you are persistent though, you can often teach your dog to be quiet
once they have done their job and sounded the alarm.
- And if all else fails, you can get your dog de-barked.
WHERE CAN I GET SHELTIE TALK?
Talk to just about any sheltie breeder and they will tell you to get this
book. An award-winning breed book, it contains tons of pictures, info on sheltie
characteristics, genetics, breeding, grooming, health care, training and much
- To purchase this book, contact Alpine Publications @303/667-2017 or
1/800/777-7257. This book can also be purchased from Care a Lot @
- Alpine Publications also publishes a good book on grooming the sheltie
call The Illustrated Guide to Sheltie Grooming
MY SHELTIE’S EARS DON’T TIP! WHAT CAN I DO?
About 1/3 of a sheltie’s ear should tip forward. Many shelties have prick
ears, that is, ears that stand straight up. Once a dog is 6 or 7 months old,
there is not much you can do to correct this.
- If your sheltie is still a puppy, you can help train the ears to tip
correctly. The book Sheltie Talk (discussed above) has a whole chapter on
training ears to tip correctly.
- One thought is to weight them with antiphlogistine. This is an item, which
usually has to be special ordered from a pharmacy. (it’s used as a poultice in
people) but is not very expensive.
- You just take a little of it and stick it to the ear, until you get the
right amount of tip, then powder it, so the part that faces out doesn’t stick
- The color is almost unnoticeable on most shelties and the dogs don’t seem
to be bothered by it much.
WHAT COAT COLORS ARE THEIR IN SHELTIES?
There are many references out there that cover color inheritance in great
detail. Shelties have two basic colors: sable and black. All colors seen in
shelties are variations on these two colors.
- Most shelties have some white on them; sables in particular often have a
large white collar as well as white feet and a white tip on the tail. The
sable and white is sometimes referred to different names according to the
amount of black color in the coat, or the shade of it. Thus you will hear
terms like "mahogany sable" and "red sable". They are genetically sables
- The blacks come in black, tan and white, called a tri color, or a black
and white, called a bicolor.
- Another variation on black is a blue merle, in which the black color is
diluted out unevenly across the dog, causing the coat to have a Bluish-Grey
color. Blues also have the white and tan (called a blue merle) or just white
Finally you should expect to spend some time exercising your sheltie. This is
a working breed and while they will adjust to living in apartments, etc., better
than larger breeds, they do need to spend time running off that excess sheltie
energy every day. This may mean taking a walk, or maybe just throwing a tennis
ball in the house. Consider doing obedience, agility or other dog sports with
your sheltie. A sheltie enjoys nothing more than getting to work or spend time
with you. You will have a much closer relationship with your dog.
WHY SHOULDN’T I BREED MY SHELTIE?
People want to breed dogs for a lot of reason. Some of the more common ones
among inexperienced people:
- "My dog is so special, I want another one just like him";
- I want my kids/family/me to experience "the miracle of birth"; I want to
make some money selling the puppies;
- S/he has this long, fancy pedigree so s/he must be a champion-quality dog
and "should" be bred.
First, all shelties are special! There are lots of other people already
breeding dogs that are every bit as special as yours. Your parents are probably
very different from you. Dogs are individuals too and breeding a dog is not
likely to produce a bunch of little clones of your "special dog." As far as the
miracle of birth, buy a guppy! They are much cheaper, cleaner and if something
serious goes wrong, the emotional distress is not as severe.
Second, there are better ways of experiencing nature at work than bringing
more dogs into the world. Far too many are experiencing the "tragedy of death"
in shelters everyday. Breeding is a dirty, messy job at times, especially as the
puppies get older. Many people get tired of these little "bundles of joy" that
make constant noise, pee and poop all over the place, etc. and try to get rid of
them as soon as possible. Temperament problems are often the result.
Third, we have the money-desiring people. Any reputable breeder will tell you
that you cannot make money, breeding dogs if you are doing it right. Skimp on
the vet care of the mother and puppies, feed low-quality food, skip the genetic
screening, save on stud fees by breeding to a local dog and maybe then you will
make a little money. This is assuming the puppies don’t have to be put down for
some disease or health problem. Breeding dogs is a BIG responsibility and you
need to ask yourself if you are willing to put in the time and money to do it
right and especially in the event that something goes wrong.
Fourth, as far as a pedigree, all that means is that the parent of your dog
and their parent’s etc. were shelties. No more, no less. Even a dog from a
champion bred to a champion can have all kinds of faults that mean s/he should
not be bred. Think twice before you breed your dog. There is no shortage of
shelties out there; Unless you truly feel you are improving the breed, let other
people do the breeding and have your dog spayed or neutered.
THEY’RE FOR ME! WHERE DO I GO FROM HERE?
OK! I AM SOLD!
WHERE DO I GET MY VERY OWN SHELTIE?
DO NOT, DO NOT, DO NOT get a sheltie (or any dog for that matter) from a pet
An experienced breeder who checks their stock for genetic disorders, and
gives the puppies’ all the necessary medical attention and socialization they
need should breed shelties in a clean home.
Shelties being bred should be screened for eye problems, hip dysplasia, vWD
and thyroid function. Beware of breeders that tell you things like, "Oh that
doesn’t run in my dogs" or "That test isn’t accurate." That is a good sign that
they have some problem in their dogs.
There are a few ways to locate a breeder.
www.infodog.com for show information.)
A good way to find a breeder is to contact
the American Shetland Sheepdog Association and get a list of breeders in your
American Shetland Sheepdog Association (
Sheltie Rescues: These shelties are for some
reason or another,are not
able to stay with their owner and need a new home. Contact: Central Ohio
Another excellent source of information is the American Kennel Club. They
can be reached @
- Visit COSSA’s monthly meetings on the third Tuesday of each month (barring
Holidays). The usual time for meetings is 7:30pm. Please always check before
with the Club Secretary as the actual location, date and time. (Times and
places may change due to a special event.) Guests and dogs are always welcome
as long as dogs are current on their vaccinations and are on a leash. We
encourage our members to bring their dogs to socialize and greet the public
(they have as much fun as us.)
- You can check your local newspaper, but you won’t always know if the
people selling puppies there know what they are doing or not.
- You can go to dog shows in your area and talk to the sheltie people there.
Hopefully, this information will provide Sheltie lovers assistance in
choosing the right puppy.
If you wish to obtain a COSSA Service Directory, click on the link below.
COSSA Service Directory
You are also welcome to be a guest at a COSSA meeting and pick up an
Understand that the COSSA does not endorse or recommend any of
the services provided by the list. COSSA will not be responsible for any issues
that arise from private business transactions. They are members in good standing
of the Central Ohio Shetland Sheepdog Association. Always remember, "Let the
Good Luck in your search for your Sheltie
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