The standards of care that you maintain with your Sheltie play a huge role in how healthy, happy and long his or her life will be. Most people don't realize how important simple things like what you feed your dog, or how regularly you groom them, are. This page is intended to help give some insight into what good standards of care should be with your furry loved one. And this isn't just something just pet owners should be concerned about. You should never consider a breeder who doesn't give their dogs the same level of care, in every area, that you plan to give your new addition.
It is important to feed your new puppy a high quality food. Dog foods that are of a lower quality, and are generally lower priced, have a higher fat content per nutritional content. So, a food of lower quality may require your dog to only eat a half a cup of food to satisfy itís daily intake of fat, but the dog would have to eat four times that much food in order to get the nutrition it needs to be healthy. The problem with this obviously lies in the fact that either your dog gets fat, and doesnít have all the vitamins it needs to live a long life, or it stays thin and doesnít eat enough food to fill itís tummy and eventually becomes malnutritioned.
Higher quality foods are a little higher priced, but in the long run are well worth it. They help maintain your dogs health and provide a balanced diet. You wouldnít allow your children, or yourself to live on only french fries, so why would you think that your dog should live on a diet that is not well balanced? We feed our dogs Canidae Dog Food. Please take some time to check out the companies website as well : www.canidae.com . Since we switched to a premium food early last year I have spent some more time researching foods and all things having to do with them. The biggest misconception about dog food is that every food is similar and itís just the price that is different. Something the more "commercial/popular" brands donít advertise is that while their food is priced lower, you actually have to feed close to DOUBLE in order to give your dog what it needs. Lower grade foods are full of ďfillersĒ, which have no nutritional value to the dog and are really just waste products that go right through them and cause more stools. Premium foods, like Canidae, have their nutrition concentrated and skip the fillers so that your dog actually has to eat less in order to get everything it needs. Everything in their food serves a purpose and nothing is there just to make sure you have to buy more food than you need (as in lower grade food). So you can actually pay twice as much for a really great food, feed half as much, and come out spending the same thing. Never just look at the price tag on a bag of food. Itís totally deceiving. You need to really examine the ingredients as well. The 1st ingredient should always be either meat, or meat meal. For instance, if it says Chicken - it's usually parts of the chicken we would eat. Chicken meal would include things like the gizzards, hearts, marrow, etc... Stay away from Chicken By-Products - this is parts of the chicken we normally donít view as edible like the beaks, claws, etc... Corn is digestible for dogs - it isnít really good for much else other than a Carbohydrate source (which dogs do need) - but it should never be the #1 ingredient in their food. In essence, corn is used as a way to "water down" the nutritional content in dog food.
Something I also like to point out - while it is very important that your sheltie is happy with their food, it is never a good idea to feed a lower quality food ďjust because he likes it moreĒ. Again, low quality foods are like the equivalent of french fries. If you offered your child french fries or a balanced pot roast dinner, hands down they would choose the french fries. The lower quality foods are made to be more palatable and are sprayed with special fats to make them that way. Dogs will not starve themselves. Donít baby a picky eater by bribing them with people food over their food. If you want to add something to your dogs meal there are skin and coat supplements (our choice is one called Optima 365) that are very palatable and great for your dog (ours LOVE their Optima 365). You can also add things like Non Fat Plain yogurt (which are GREAT for your dogs digestive system and make their coat shiny), or scrambled eggs (high in protein). I can also give you some other ideas of people foods that make great ďsupplementsĒ. They arenít just treats - they are good for your dog. On this note as well - people tend to want to force their dog to eat more than they need to.
Especially when dealing with a Premium food, you will be shocked by how little they really need (if your dog is spayed/neutered they will definitely require less food or a maintenance formula as altered dogs need less calories to maintain their ideal weight). Don't force your dog to eat more food unless they look and FEEL like they need it. It's easy for a pet owner to know if their dog is overweight. A healthy Sheltie has a slightly lean feel to them and an athletic build. You should be able to feel the rib cage BUT not feel every rib clearly. You should be able to make out the backbone BUT not be able to grab/pinch each vertebrae. You should be able to feel hip and breast bones, BUT they shouldn't be prominent. You shouldn't be able to grab "meat" when you feel over the ribs or hips. When bathing your Sheltie and they are wet, they should have an hourglass shape when looking at them from above, and from the side they should have an obvious rise in the loin area. If your dog looks "straight" or bows out, they are overweight.
Too many Sheltie owners don't realize how much damage being several pounds overweight can do to their pet. Especially in a young, developing dog (6-18 months) it is dangerous for them to carry more than 1-2 pounds too many as this puts stress on their developing joints. I have had so many Sheltie owners tell me that they don't like watching their dog's weight because the feel mean monitoring their food, or they think their dog is still hungry, or they don't want them to feel skinny. 1 pound overweight on a medium sized Sheltie is like 10 lbs on a human - this is more for a small Sheltie. We know how much damage 50 extra pounds is for us - it's the same concept with your Sheltie. They can't watch their weight. That is YOUR job as their parent. You'll have a MUCH healthier and happier dog if their weight is maintained. If you're afraid your Sheltie is still hungry on it's "diet", add raw carrots, apples or green beans to their meal to help fill them up a little. My dogs LOVE carrots and apples.
"Diet" or "Light" food is NOT the way to go. If you look at the ingredients in most Light diets for dogs, they are largely corn. Corn is a carb source. It would be like a human going on an all Pasta diet to loose weight. It's a silly concept. Keep your dog on a high quality food, and cut their portion back and add veggies. It's a MUCH better concept.
I haven't seen a
Sheltie, outside of my own or those owned by other breeders I like,
that isn't obscenely overweight in the last 6 months. It's scary for
me when I see a Sheltie that is as wide as it is tall because I fear
for that dog and the health issues they are going to have to deal
with as they mature (diabetes, joint problems, health problems,
arthritis). If you love your Sheltie, work hard at insuring their
weight is kept at their ideal weight or close.
Foods we recommend : *Canidae, *Eagle Pack, Wellness, Innova, Natural Balance, Merricks & Life's Abundance
*We have only fed Canidae and Eagle Pack, which is why they are our first choices. However, we have heard good things about the other foods and they are in the same quality bracket.
Food Information Links!!!
Good grooming is essential to having a healthy, happy Sheltie. Brushing & bathing are obvious - especially with a long coated breed. This is very important and should never be overlooked. We recommend a good brushing once to twice a week with a good quality "pin brush" (without the "buttons" on the end of the pins) and a spray bottle of cold water. This keeps shedding under control and also insures that the coat doesn't get matted. Shelties with correct coat should be relatively easy to maintain and if you spay/neuter things should get even easier as altered dogs shed less. Bathing should never be overdone, but due to the fact that shampoos on the market today are made to be more mild you can bathe your dog more frequently, safely. We recommend a shampoo with Oatmeal and/or aloe - especially if you live in a dry, low humidity climate.
Other aspects of grooming that are often overlooked are dental care and nail care. Both play a huge part in the health if your dog.
Some people literally will look at you and say "You brush your dog's teeth? What?". But it is something that really shouldn't be neglected. Tarter and plaque build up are dangerous for your dog's heath because should that nasty bacteria get into their blood stream it can actually cause heart, kidney, & liver problems. Brushing at least once a week in conjunction with a good food, chew bones, and dental treats with keep your Sheltie's teeth clean and healthy. Another plus - clean teeth means no "doggy breath"!
To brush teeth, you need a toothbrush (canine, or a child's toothbrush) and canine toothpaste (dog's can't digest people toothpaste). In essence, you brush their teeth just as you do your own. Teeth should be brushed a minimum of 1 time a week. 2-3 times is usually the recommended amount.
Why is nail care important? Because not only do long nails risk getting snagged on things and tearing, they also risk scratching you while you and your dog play. However, the biggest risk taken with not trimming nails regularly is that it is proven that dogs who consistently have overly long nails are more prone to arthritis in their "ankles" and knuckles due to the pressure put on those joints. A lot of people are weary about trimming nails themselves and leave this job for the vet or the groomer. Here's a couple of tricks.
1.) The more often you handle your dog's feet and trim their nails the more comfortable they will be with you doing this. It is monumentally easier to trim nails when your dog is sitting still and not pitching a fit.
2.) The more often you trim, the further back the quick recedes. This makes it a lot easier to avoid causing nails to bleed. It also allows you to trim the nail shorter - which means less scratching.
Finally, there is ear care. Shelties are not a breed prone to ear infections, but if their ears are allowed to get dirty and stay that way they can easily get them as well as ear mites. Cleaning ears is simple and painless. All it requires is ear cleaner and a cotton ball. It takes seconds to do.
Overall, regular grooming saves you so much hassle and heartache. We groom each of our Shelties weekly and the average session takes us about 15 minutes from start to finish. This is largely because they are all used to being groomed. They see the kit come out and they know it's their job to sit nicely and let us do our thing (though they also know they get a cookie when we're done...). Things are also made easier because we do groom weekly. If you only groom once every 2 weeks expect to at least double the time it will take to groom the dog. Three weeks, triple it - maybe longer. Half the battle is getting the dog to sit still and behave.
Exercise and Activity
Shelties make great family, indoor, dogs - in fact, I personally don't feel they do well as outdoor dogs or especially kennel dogs. It's one of the reasons that all of our Shelties live and sleep alongside us in our homes. But with that said, they are a herding breed that was created to work alongside their people. This means that not only do they need exercise and mental stimulation in order to be happy, but they also need you to do it with them in an ideal situation. Being a medium breed they don't require HOURS or exercise, but they do need to regularly be walked, or played frisbee with in order to maintain their weight and keep them in shape. More importantly, because they are intelligent as a breed, they need some kind of games to keep them happy. This can be as simple as playing fetch every afternoon for 10 minutes. They want to play and learn, and they want to do it with you. It is also important that they are well socialized. While we lay a great foundation for you to start with it is important that active socialization is continued throughout the first year and ideally through their lifetime. This is one reason I always recommend Obedience Class for new Sheltie owners - not so much for the training aspect of things, as Shelties are very eager to please and learn quickly with consistency, patience, and praise - but for the socialization. It's important that early on they are taught how to properly interact with other people and dogs and that you challenge them and don't let them settle into the reservation that the breed tends to have. Ideally, you would be able to take your puppy to the park for a walk with the neighbor and their dog on a regular basis so that they can exercise, play, and socialize all at once.
There is nothing more important than good, timely veterinary care. Recently, we have run into too many people who don't understand the importance of vaccinating their Sheltie in a timely manner - especially when they are puppies. With so much literature out there telling people that vaccinations are not necessary I think too many people are overlooking why we vaccinate at all, and aren't really doing all their homework. Puppy vaccinations are a must and really should be completed no later than 4 months of age (16-17 weeks). Until your puppy is vaccinated they have no protection against some very scary diseases - and it doesn't matter how often he/she ventures out of your home. It takes one chipmunk to wander into your yard, and that's it. If, as adulthood approaches, you want to consider not vaccinating your dog please have a conversation with your vet regarding this. It is possible to discontinue vaccinating at an older age BUT titer levels need to be considered and truthfully these are more expensive to test than the actual vaccine itself. You don't really want to put your dog through contracting Parvo as it is costly to treat, and doesn't always have a good outcome. Considering you can prevent it by making sure your dog's vaccinations are current I think we've been given an easy alternative to risking suffering for our loved one.
is also important throughout most of the country. Heartworm is
tricky to detect and often times symptoms are not seen until the dog
is almost too far along to treat. The treatment is tricky and
because it literally almost has to kill the dog to kill the
heartworm it is really not something I feel should be gambled with.
We choose Interceptor (www.ah.ca.novartis.com/product/inter.html)
These are not things we take lightly - nor do we ask you to do them and not follow our own advice. We never recommend to our families that they do something we can't and don't do ourselves - from the level of care we ask you to provide, to the fact that we expect the adoption of one of our puppies to be a lifetime commitment, just like we make with each one of our Shelties. It's important, even if you don't use us as your breeder, that you expect your breeder to hold the same level of standards of care with their dogs that you will hold with your new addition - or higher. As a breeder, dogs should be our lives and we should know better than to neglect their well being.
If you have questions regarding anything here, please feel free to e-mail me and we can discuss it further. It took us many years to learn what we know and we are always willing to share with you so that you don't have to struggle as we did with our first Sheltie many years ago.