Buying A Sheltie

Shelties are intelligent dogs and loyal companions, very willing to please. This makes them easy to housebreak and obedience train. A Sheltie is also great with children and other pets and the perfect couch-potato, thrilled to spend the evening watching TV with you! In addition, their compact size makes them excellent house dogs, no matter how small your apartment may be as they don’t need acres of land for exercise, walking on a leash will make your Sheltie happy! that said, you need to be aware they may still not be suitable for everyone.

Because they are very alert and protective (a legacy from their time as herders) some can become problem barkers. They can be trained to bark less and they can be bark-softened, but these are not always the easiest or best solutions. Also, because they are herding dogs they may try to round-up humans by barking, jumping, and sometimes (though rarely) nipping. Be sure to train your puppy away from these behaviors right from the start to avoid muddy paw-prints on your nice clothes right when you are ready to leave for work.

Shelties’ glorious coats are not maintenance-free. Weekly brushings are necessary to avoid excessive house shedding and mats that are more difficult to brush-out later (pay particular attention to behind the ears and the belly). If your dog spends time outside during wet weather he may need to be washed and dried as needed.

Once you've decided that a Sheltie is the breed for you, it's time to get educated. First learn about choosing a breeder.  Then you can learn what to look for in a puppy.

Choosing a good breeder

The Listings on Everything Sheltie is a good place to start your search for a reputable Sheltie breeder. Do your homework and learn all you can about the breed. These are some important considerations when choosing a breeder:

  • Membership in ASSA (American Shetland Sheepdog Association) and/or active participation in a local club is a good thing to look for. This shows a professional interest and attitude toward the breed.

  • Expect the breeder to be as selective of you as you are of them. Good breeders are very interested in their puppies future and do their best to place them with informed, loving owners.

  • Cleanliness and proper conditions are important. Be distrustful of breeders who prefer to meet someplace other than their kennel to show you puppies.

  • While kennel size may not be relevant, it stands to reason that the smaller the breeder, the more attention each dog gets. Look for puppies that are raised in the house rather than in a separate building. Puppies need constant human contact for proper socialization.

  • Meet the puppy’s dam and sire, if possible. The sire may not be owned by the breeder, but if is, evaluate both their temperaments and appearance as your puppy will inherit both. 

  • The breeder should have the registration ready to be transferred. A health record should also be available.

  • Be sure the parents hips have been certified “Good” or “Excellent” and “Normal” or “Clear” for other genetic diseases. What are the health guarantees? What are the arrangements for satisfaction should your puppy develop a genetic disease?

  • The breeder should feed a premium food. If your choice of food is different, they should offer you some to take with you to ease the transition.

  • Does the breeder offer resources for learning more about the dog's development and training?

Regarding price, don’t look for the cheapest Sheltie you can find.  Breeding a quality puppy is not cheap. A healthy, well bred Sheltie will be a good investment for you, as you will not go through the heartbreak and high vet bills that poorly bred puppies bring.

Choosing the right puppy

Once you have found a breeder you feel comfortable with visit her/him or talk on the phone if you are going to have your puppy shipped. These are some important considerations when looking for a companion or pet Sheltie:

  • Be sure the puppy is at least 8 weeks old. This ensures that the puppy is completely weaned and socialized.

  • Do not be overly concerned about gender. While some owners report differences in temperament, just as many say none exists. Perhaps the difference lies more in the individual than the sex. Keep in mind that males may have longer coats and although nicer to look at, they will require more maintenance.

  • Look for a puppy that is responsive. The Sheltie standard calls for it to be “reserved” with strangers and it may take a few days to adapt completely to its new home, but the puppy should be active, confident and playful. A video may be a good substitute if you can't visit the breeder's home.

  • Check for good posture, nice bone structure and a clean, healthy looking coat. Watch for discharges from the eyes, ears, or nose. A distended belly is also a cautionary sign. Ask for photos that show the puppy standing, if you are having your puppy shipped.

  • The puppy should have been wormed, have at least one set of vaccinations and have been examined by a veterinarian or have a health guarantee for a few days until your vet can see the puppy and confirm it's healthy.

If you are looking for a show or performance prospect your research needs to be more thorough. You will want to see titles on the parents to prove the value they will pass to their progeny. Researching their pedigrees is important, as your puppy’s future is based as much on its ancestors as on your ability to bring out their winning traits. Pedigree Lines is an excellent resource to learn more about your puppy’s pedigree.

A good breeder will show interest in your dog's future. Keep your puppy's breeder updated on your dog's development as it's very valuable to their breeding program. 
And consider participating with your Sheltie in a breed-appropriate activity, like Agility or Obedience, as it will be very satisfying both for you and your dog!