Frequently Asked Questions

There are many thoughts on this, but the most popular consensus is this...

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Having decided to own a Shetland Sheepdog, you should try to find the best available specimen of the breed. Many sources offer purebred puppies and dogs for sale, but locating the best source requires time and research. Local pet stores will often carry several popular breeds. These dogs often come from backyard breeders or puppy mills, and are not in the best state of health, nor are they from the best possible breeding lines. Your local newspaper will also run advertisements for purebred puppies. Careful research may prove a few of these to be well bred, healthy animals which will make good pets. The majority, however, are likely the result of backyard breeding by neighbors looking to make a small profit.

Hobby Breeders
Hobby breeders are usually the best source of good, purebred dogs, but they are also the most difficult to locate. Hobby breeders do not often advertise to find homes for their puppies, because they usually make such arrangements before the actual breeding occurs. Nor will the hobby breeders puppies be found in pet stores, because such breeders often personally screen each potential buyer to ensure that the puppies end up in the best possible homes.

Breeder Referrals
Here are some tips on how to locate responsible breeders and what to expect when you contact them to purchase one of their animals:
1. Ask an acquaintance who owns an admirable dog of the breed you wish to own where they obtained their dog. If they purchased their dog from a breeder, ask about their experiences with that breeder.
2. Also, ask if there were any unexpected health or temperament problems with the dog they received.
3. Finally, ask their candid opinion of whether or not they recommend you visit this breeder as the source for your new pet.
If you do not know anyone who owns your desired dog breed, consult your veterinarian achat viagra generique. Ask your vet's opinion of the general health and temperament of the breed you have chosen. If you are still confident about your breed preference, ask your vet to recommend local breeders and, more importantly, to identify which breeders to avoid. If your vet is not aware of any local breeders, ask to speak with one or more of his or her clients who own a dog of that breed. From there, proceed as discussed above.
Local dog clubs are another good source of information. Check the local telephone directory for breed-specific, all-breed, or obedience training clubs. They should be happy to put you in contact with a responsible member breeder.

Contacting Breeders
Now it is time to contact the breeders to whom you have been referred. Some breeders prefer to communicate primarily over the phone, internet, or in person (some breeders do not even use email!). Do not expect to get a puppy or dog right away. A responsible breeder will want to meet you and your family. They will also want to ask questions about your lifestyle and living arrangements. The responsible breeder will want to know about your past experiences with dogs and other pets. Most importantly, the breeder will want to know why you have chosen this particular breed. They should ask if you have been informed of any inherited health or temperament problems known to this breed. They will also want to know if you are aware of the commitment of time and care required to keep this breed in good health. You should be prepared to answer all of these questions and more, and you should have a list of your own questions to ask the breeder (see another FAQ).

What To Ask Your Potential Breeder . . .

Your questions should be offered to determine whether this is the best person from whom to purchase your new pet. Here are several questions that we recommend:
Ask to see the breeders grounds. A responsible breeder takes extremely good care of his or her animals and grounds, and should not hesitate to show both to a visitor. The grounds should appear clean and the animals should look active and healthy. Ask to see the parents of the puppy. Sometimes the sire is not owned by the same person as the bitch, so the sire may not be on the premises when you come to visit. However, you should always see at least the mother. Ask to see other offspring from the same parents, if any are on the premises. Seeing the dogs of previous litters will give you a good picture of what your puppy will become.

Things To Get From Your Chosen Breeder . . .

After meeting with as many breeders as possible, decide which one will provide you with the best possible puppy. If that breeder does not currently have any puppies available, ask to be placed on the breeder's waiting list for the next available puppy. When the time comes to get your new puppy, you should request as many of the following items as possible:
Signed receipt
Signed pedigree
A diet sheet saying amt., when, & what the pup eats
A health record
Hints on grooming for this breed
Other notes on the specific care of this breed
A Kennel Club registration card
A signed health agreement that guarantees The agreement should require the breeder to give a refund or replace the puppy if any serious problems arise. It should also require the breeder to take back the original puppy or to find it a new home. *To make your puppy feel more secure away from its mother and littermates, you may also wish to ask to take with you some article such as a piece of cloth or a toy that has been in the nesting box with your puppy.

The breeder will probably request a contract be signed, stating that the puppy will be spayed or neutered when it reaches the appropriate age. REMEMBER, the responsible breeder only wants the best possible specimens of the breed to contribute to future generations, so you should be willing to accept this agreement if it applies to your puppy. Spaying or neutering your dog also decreases the risk of some future health problems.

Contracts also often cover health conditions that may arise in the puppy over time, or "First Right of Refusal" where the breeder is able to get the puppy back should the owner no longer be able to care for (or want) it.

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It goes without saying that every dog needs exercise on a daily basis. Not only does exercise improve overall health and vitality, it can be a very bonding experience for both human and canine.


To say the sheltie needs an inordinate amount of exercise would not necessarily be true, but a Sheltie does need a good, daily dose of some form of exercise. A long, brisk walk, morning and evening, is often enough. A good game of fetch in the back-yard is also a great form of exercise.


There are classes that teach ‘working out’ with one’s dog. Many performance sports can also be wonderful forms of exercise.


It doesn’t matter what‘s chosen, it only matters that something is chosen. A Sheltie without a physical outlet can, and often will, engage in activities that are undesirable. Allowing that energy to find a healthy outlet is very important for a happy puppy/dog, and daily exercise is quite helpful to that end.


We have a lovely park in our area where we can run our dogs hard. We also have a back-yard of sufficient size to play fetch, Frisbee, and other chase games. These games, played on a daily basis, allow the excess energy to be released, and make for quiet, happy house dogs. 

Speaking from personal experience, it is do-able.  They do need a fair amount of exercise, so a LONG walk or a good run session in a park is recommended daily.  Without the output for their energy, destructive behaviors (barking, chewing, etc) may occur.  If the owner is willing to put the time into walks and runs, a Sheltie can make a nice apartment pet.

It depends.  They are typically known to be a barky breed.  They can, however, be easily trained to bark on command or learn a "quiet" command.  Sympa Shelties is very proud of our dogs temperaments of being mostly calm and quiet.

Yes, if they are both socialized to each other early on. Any time a dog is around a child, they should be supervised, of course. Shelties can sometimes attempt to "herd" children, for instance. But, overall, they make wonderful family pets.

Yes!  There are several statements about Shelties being "Better In Bunches" or "Like Potato Chips - You Can't Have Just One".  Each Sheltie, of course, has their own attitudes and personalities, but the majority of them do well with other Shelties, or other breeds.  Many say, though, it is best to have both genders and not just males (or just females).  We, however, have been very lucky with very very few "tiffs" and never any serious aggression, despite owning both genders in the same household.

Yes!  We camp with the Sympa Shelties several times a year.  The dogs are good in a trailer or a tent.  In fact, ours have their very own "doggy tent" (it is really a large screen tent) when we go camping with them.  Camping is a great way to socialize Shelties to different environments, people, and sounds  :)

Some Shelties do enjoy trips into a lake or pond. Not all Shelties, however, enjoy water. Some do not like "bodies of water" but playing in the sprinkler is fun in the summer time. Our Tigger, though, loves to dive right in to rivers and lakes - he really enjoys cooling off like this.

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Sheltie expression is greatly enhanced by ear training. The proper Sheltie ear is 2/3 erect, with the top 1/3 tipping forward. This look can be achieved with the use of ear tape, moleskin, leather adhesive, and several other products, available locally, or on the internet.


Each puppy will leave our care with ears properly braced. We are happy to re-do ears for any of our puppy buyers, at any time, free of charge. We are also happy to instruct our buyers in the process we use to secure ear braces, so re-bracing can be done at home, if desired.


Typically, bracing is only necessary through the teething process. Once the adult teeth are fully in place, provided the ears are not unruly in their resistance to bracing, the ears should be reasonably set. Other things said to negatively affect ear tips are cold weather and bitches in season. We generally brace our show dogs’ ears up through a year, if necessary, but ear bracing is not necessary for companion puppies. If a buyer wishes to brace ears, we are here to help, with whatever method the buyer pleases...


Moleskin is usually used for “heavy” or “hound” ears that flop too low.


Ear glue (often human hair glue, or fabric glue) can be used to pull the ears together and create the tip down appearance.

Step 1: pull the ears back to back at the top of the head.

Step 2: place a small dab of glue at the frontal base of both ears – in the fur - and pinch together briefly.

Step 3: Now that both ears are near touching on the top of the head, place a small dab of glue on the inner tip (FUR) of

each ear and fold the ear tip downward to attach to the fur in front of the ear, creating a folding tip.

*a short video of this is placed on my YouTube account for you to watch.


Japanese Ear Tape is done in a method similar to the glue.

To remove the products, we typically recommend Zo-Eze and will include a small amount when you leave with your puppy. Another remover is Uni-Solve, in wipes format, available through human pharmacies/medical supply stores.

We strongly recommend crate training... For more information, you can (hopefully) see the PDF displayed below. If it does not display, follow this link.

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A LOT!!!!!! 

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Depending on the breed of dog you have, a groomer may be very useful in keeping the hair coat neat and tidy. Ask your veterinarian, family, and friends for names of groomers that they recommend.

Questions to ask when choosing a groomer...

What breeds do they own? Are their pets' hair coats kept neat and clean?

Did the groomer go to school to learn grooming or did they learn it 'on the job?' How long have they been grooming dogs? What breeds are they proficient at grooming? Do they provide different styles of cuts for different breeds? Will they give a 'show cut' versus a 'puppy cut?'

Is a hand-held or cage drier used?

What are the hours? How are dogs admitted and how do you know when to pick them up? How long does it take to get an appointment?

What is the range of fees for your breed of dog? What does that fee include? When is payment due?

What methods of payment are accepted? Are credit cards accepted?

What type of shampoos and conditioners are used? If your veterinarian recommends a certain shampoo do you need to supply it? Is the ear hair plucked from those breeds with hair in the ear canals?

Do they accept dogs that need to be sedated for grooming? Who sedates and monitors your dog?

Will the groomer trim nails between regular grooming appointments?

Is the area kept clean, neat, and orderly? Are there unpleasant odors? Where are the dogs kept? How are clippers, scissors, etc., cleaned between use?

It is very important to select one you can communicate with. It goes without saying that your vet should be a skilled doctor, who keeps up-to-date on medical improvements. He, or she, must the person you can have a working relationship with. Aside from wanting fair prices on routine office visits, you need a vet who cares. One you can call in a 3am emergency- and he trusts you not to call, unless it is an emergency. If your vet says, or does things, that don’t seem quite right, or he’s impatient when you ask questions, find another vet. A vets advice may be accurate; but if you want a second opinion, don’t hesitate to get it. There can be no room for doubts; you need to have confidence in the person entrusted with your pet’s life. A vet that understands and respects your love and concern for your pet is worth his weight in gold. Vets treat every breed imaginable and usually learn to recognize a really good quality dog. This in turn, also brings about the question of variations. Shelties can be peculiar in some of their medical problems, make sure you and your vet realize this. A few vets even show their dogs. However, most vets know little (or nothing) about what makes a dog conformation quality. Look to your vet for health care, but seek a breeders advice for showing, breeding, training, etc. A vet can be a good reference. He knows, better than anyone, who really takes good care of his or her dogs.

This is a pretty "touchy" subject with some people with so many choices available - kibble, canned, raw, BARF, home cooked, etc....  This is what I give to my puppy buyers so they can be educated and make the right choice for their own dog.  That choice might vary owner to owner, dog to dog.  There is no one true right food for every dog...  


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There are "base" colors and then variations on top of the base.

The base colors are sable and black, each with varying amounts of white.

The modifier is merling...

So you can have: Sable/White, Sable Merle/White, Black/Tan/White ("tri"), Black/Tan/White Merled ("blue merle"), Black/White ("bi black"), Blue/White ("bi blue").

For more detailed information, visit the following websites:


We recommend searching for a pet sitter or boarding facility well in advance of when you need it.  Here at Sympa Shelties we do pet sitting in our home and we always prefer to leave our dogs with a home setting rather than a kennel.  If you can not find a pet sitter or a kennel is your only option, here are some tips...... 


"We're going to leave Sport in a kennel while we travel this summer."

A common statement, but one not so easily accomplished in many cases.

What makes a good boarding kennel? Depends on what you are looking for. Sure, the good ones are clean and well-ventilated, offer protection from the weather, provide adequate space for the size of the dog, and guarantee medical care if the dog gets sick in their care. Most of the good ones offer 24-hour coverage with someone living on the kennel property.

However, after these basics,"good" is often in the eye of the beholder.

Some dog owners like frills. They prefer a kennel with "suites" instead of kennel runs, plush beds instead of blankets, and daily walks or romps as well as roomy accommodations. Others don't mind the austere vacation spot for Misty as long as the basics are provided and the staff is kind and gentle.

For example, are you looking for a bare-bones kennel that provides a run, daily feeding and exercise, and a watchful eye for illness? Or do you want a "doggy resort" where the dogs are walked and played with daily, provided fancy bedding and toys, have music piped into their kennels, and can attend a brush-up obedience course?

Boarding kennels run the gamut from filthy to austere to luxurious. If you've never left Sassy in a kennel before, you should decide what you expect of a kennel before setting any appointments. If Sassy is a pampered pet and you cannot forgive yourself if you send her to live in a cage for a week or two, either hire a house sitter or bring her along. Don't expect a boarding kennel or a visiting pet sitter to give her the same care that you do. It just won't happen. If Sassy knows she's a dog, not a furry child, your choices are much broader. A visiting pet sitter, someone who comes to the house two or three times a day to walk the dog, play with her a bit, and make sure she has food and water, may be your answer. The pet sitter can also bring in the mail, water the plants, and provide security checks.

If you choose a pet sitter, ask for the names of other clients as references.

Types of kennels

Boarding kennels can be roughly divided into two categories, those that provide basic care and those that offer some fancy frills

.A basic care kennel usually

  • Has indoor-outdoor runs or indoor runs and an exercise plan.
  • Hoses the runs every day (dogs are outside when inside runs are cleaned, and inside when outside runs are cleaned).
  • Cleans with disinfectant
  • Provides good ventilation.
  • Makes provisions for a variety of diets.
  • Feeds the pet on its own schedule with its own diet.
  • Provides some sort of bedding to keep the dog off the concrete floor.
  • Keeps bedding clean,
  • Gives necessary medications,
  • Contacts the pet's own veterinarian if necessary and give a bit of extra attention to old dogs.
  • Checks the dogs several times daily to make sure they are well.
  • Requires that pets are current on all vaccinations, including Bordatella vaccination for kennel cough for dogs.
  • May require that the pet be flea-free or be dipped for fleas before they can stay in the kennel.
  • Usually charges a bit extra for giving medication and for the bath given before the pet goes home.

A fancy frill kennel may include any or all of the following:

  • Grooming or bath before the dog returns home
  • Pick-up and delivery service
  • Daily walks
  • Special housing for sick or elderly dogs
  • Toys
  • Exercise areas for dogs that can be penned together for short periods
  • Obedience training
  • A gift and supply shop
  • An intake examination of the dog
  • Plush bedding
  • An opportunity to visit with kennel staff in a lounge area.

Most dogs do well in a kennel with indoor-outdoor runs, feedings twice a day, and a caring staff that pays close attention to the animals. Most dogs also do well in a kennel with indoor runs if they are walked twice a day. Kennel frills are for the owners, not the dogs. Music, walks in the woods, structured playtime, fluffy blankets, and other amenities may relieve the owner's sense of guilt at leaving the dog in the kennel, but they generally add to the cost.

When you know which type of kennel (or pet sitter) appeals to you, choose several and start calling. Make appointments with a couple that meet your requirements and have space when you need it. Then visit them.

Check a kennel out first

  1. Call now to arrange a visit to see the kennel. Ask for an appointment in mid-week; good kennels are very busy on Mondays and Fridays as dogs come in or go home. If you can't get an appointment to see the facility, you should cross that kennel off your list.
  2. First impressions are important. When you arrive for the visit, check to see that most of the runs are clean -- it's almost impossible to keep all the runs clean all the time, so cut some slack for a few dirty runs here or there.
  3. Sniff the air. The kennel should have a clean smell, not one generated by stale urine or old feces. If sour kennel smells waft into the office while you're chatting with the owner or manager, you'll probably want to go somewhere else. You'll be able to tell the difference between a kennel that has urine and decay soaked into the woodwork and a kennel that is basically clean with a run or two that was dirtied after the morning scrubbing.
    • If the kennel yard is full of debris, if the building is in need of serious repair, if the food bowls are dirty and the water bowls scummy, go to the next kennel on the list.
    • Take a look at the kitchen where the dog meals are prepared; it should be clean, food should be in barrels or in the refrigerator, etc.
    • Ask questions about feeding schedules, extra charges to give heartworm pills or medications, or anything else you wonder about.
    • If you like the kennel and it's booked for the time you'll be away, get put on a waiting list and make a reservation at your second or third choice. If a space becomes available, don't forget to cancel any other reservations you have made.

After your first impression look specifically for:

  • Clean and clean-smelling kennel runs, hallways, feed storage and preparation areas, etc.;
  • Clean bedding;
  • Good ventilation and light;
  • A comfortable temperature;
  • A knowledgeable and caring staff;
  • A breakdown of costs (most charge extra to give medications, for a going-home bath or grooming, etc.)
  • A list of required vaccinations (many kennels now require Bordatella vaccination against kennel cough).
Once you've eliminated the obviously inadequate kennels from consideration, you have to decide which level of care you want for your family pet, how much you want to pay for that care, and how comfortable you are with the people who will be providing that care.

Ask questions

Whether you are interested in basic care or some degree of frills, don't hesitate to ask questions about the care your pet will be given. Make sure you know if your pet will be housed in a separate run, and that if you pay for a run, the dog is not crated because the kennel is overbooked. If the dog will be crated during part or all of his stay at the kennel, find out about the exercise schedule. If it's important to you that someone be on the kennel property all night, make sure this is the case.

Ask questions about feeding schedules, extra charges to give heartworm pills or medications, or anything else you wonder about..

Talk to the kennel staff

On the other hand, make sure you give the kennel all the information necessary to properly care for your pet while you are gone. If Digger has ever bitten anyone, say so. If Dancer is an escape artist, say so. If Muffy vomits for the first three days you are gone, say so. If Fluffy has worms or is under treatment for a chronic noncontagious disease, say so. If Rambo is a jerk on a leash, say so.

If Rambo is a jerk on a leash or if he barks incessantly, there's still time to teach him some manners before your vacation. An obedience class will help with the leash problem, and many trainers can help with a barking problem.

If you like the kennel and it's booked for the weeks you will be away, get put on a waiting list and make a reservation at your second or third choice. If a space becomes available, don't forget to cancel any other reservations you have made. Don't make multiple reservations and cancel all but one the week before you go.

Make sure you drop off the dog and pick him up when you say you will do so or that you notify the kennel of any change of plans.

Prepare your dog

To prepare Sassy for her stay in the kennel

  • Her health check, vaccinations, and heartworm medication should be up-to-date.
  • Make sure she is flea-free
  • Teach her to sit before being petted or fed so the kennel helpers won't have to worry about her darting out the gate or spilling the food;
  • Teach her to walk quietly on a leash if the kennel staff will take her for a walk;
  • Socialize her to the attentions of strangers, especially if she needs medication or grooming;
  • Make sure she's accustomed to a crate in case she needs to be transported to the veterinarian or housed in a crate at the kennel.
  • If she has any health problems, is not reliably housetrained, hates men or other dogs, is likely to eat the kennel run, or has any other problems or idiosyncracies, you should alert the kennel staff.
  • If the kennel doesn't feed the food you use, bring along a supply that will last 'til you get home.
  • A few basic manners won't hurt, either. Sassy should sit and stay when asked so the kennel worker can open the run to give her food and water, pick up feces, or give her a pill. If she's going to get a daily walk, she should be trained to walk without tugging on the leash. If she's supposed to be groomed or get a bath before you get back, make sure she'll stand quietly in the tub and won't try to bite the groomer who trims her nails.

Dropping your dog off

On kennel arrival day:

  • Exercise Goldie before you turn her over to the kennel staff.
  • Leave the kids at home, put the dog in the car, and drive to the kennel.
  • Walk into the kennel office, give Goldie a firm pat, tell her you'll see her in a week or so, and let her go. Hugs and tears stress the dog. She's not going to forget you in a week or even a month, and she's not going to hate you for leaving her home while you have fun.

Be prepared to provide

You'll need to bring

  • Food if Sassy is on a special diet;
  • Up-to-date shot records;
  • Heartworm preventive and any other medications Sport requires along with a dosage schedule;
  • An emergency contact besides the veterinarian;
  • Sport's behavior history (don't let the kennel staff find out the hard way that your pooch bites when frightened, digs at concrete 'til his paws get bloody, howls incessantly, climbs out of his run, fence fights, etc.) Many kennels will handle difficult dogs if they know up front what the problems are.

If you are coming back earlier or later than expected, don't forget to call the kennel about your change of plans.

And Finally. . . .

Successful boarding of a pet should include homework to select the right kennel; good dog manners and socialization; honesty with the kennel staff and no guilt for leaving Ranger behind while his family enjoys a well-earned respite from daily life.

No matter when the vacation is scheduled, start now now to prepare.

If you make an informed choice of a boarding kennel and follow these common sense suggestions for using the services, your experience — and Fancy's — should be a good one.


Norma Bennett Woolf


Sheltie Size

Sue Ann Bowling



Shetland Sheepdogs are one of the few breeds with an absolute disqualification on size. At the same time, the breed as it now exists has within the last century and a half or less combined breeds ranging in size from papillions and English Toy Spaniels to full-sized Collies. The allowed size range has changed during the development of the breed, generally moving upward from a one-time maximum of 12" as more and more Collie genes were incorporated. (The actual sizes were often much larger, especially during the period when Collie crosses were common.) But the desired size range is achieved by balancing genes from large and small breeds, and consequently breedings in which both parents are the correct size can produce puppies much larger or smaller than desired. As one result, Shetland Sheepdog breeders tend to become obsessed with measuring the size of their puppies, and a number of growth charts have been developed to estimate adult size from measurements made at various ages. Replots of the Sea Isle, Nobel and Pow (Ch Cherden Sock It To 'Em CD ROM) line charts are shown here.

One of the oldest charts is the Sea Isle chart, especially as modified by Jo Parker. This chart checks for potential oversize only, and does not give any "maybe" zone except at the very top, where there are separate lines for strains that stop growing by six to eight months and those that may continue to grow until they are as much as a year and a half old. (Note also that bitches normally stop growing earlier than dogs, so the upper line is useful for the girls.) The green triangle shows the 10-week - 10 inch decision point for Macdega and Barwood; the blue diamond is the 9-week - 9 inch point used at September Shelties.

Sea Isle Growth Chart. Based on the same numbers as the one included in Sheltie Talk

In recent years the Nobel chart has become popular. This chart includes two sets of limits, one for potential oversize and the other for potential undersize, as well as an "iffy" range at both the upper and lower limits. Note that this chart does not define any safe range prior to almost 10 weeks of age.

Nobel size chart, replotted from the data in the back of the Shetland Sheepdog calendar

A third chart is specifically for lines with heavy Pow (Ch Cherden Sock It To 'Em CD ROM) breeding, and is based on statistics collected by Cheryl Anderson and sent to me by Nora Borgstrom. Pow was the result of crossing a dog heavily linebred on Golden Note/Timberidge/Geonimo lines (Ch Diamond's Robert Bruce ROM) with a bitch who combined Page's Hill with Ch Thistlerose Arcwood Aladdin (Pocono/Thistlerose).

Pow line height chart (use in conjuction with weight chart below) The blue and green lines give separate values for male and female pups.

Pow line weight chart

Nora Borgstrom says the following about this chart:
"The first type (slower maturing) appears smaller,finer boned, but still has that chiseled headpiece and plenty of muzzle and underjaw. Through puppyhood and even teen stages it appears weedy, no coat to speak of,but still has that "look of promise." This type once it has reached maturity will never "go off". At ten or twelve the look and body are still there,and the head piece never coarsens. The second (faster maturing) type is the one that you sometimes worry and fret "Will he stay in?" type.Very often they will be at the top of the chart or even a little over through early growth stages, so you will use the weight to gage the final outcome. If they are a little over chart in the height department but are okay weightwise it's a good chance they will stay in. It's never a sure thing in the boys especially but once youve seen a few of these chancy ones, you begin to "just know" which are going to stay in.Not too many puppy bloomers in the POW line but as I said when they finally mature they don't change. The second type of growth seems to produce the "stallion like" male. The first type tends to produce more moderately."

Different Sheltie lines do follow different growth patterns, so if anyone has information on growth rates for other specific lines, I'll post them too. Of course most Shelties today are combinations of a number of lines, and line crossing can produce growth patterns (especially in the second generation) that are quite different from either parent strain. Note also that with any chart it is wise to look at how fast the dog is growing relative to the rate shown on the chart as well as how tall the dog is.

Size is measured at the highest point of the shoulder blades, just behind the base of the neck. The dog should be measured standing on a hard, level surface with the front legs vertical and the head in a natural position. The ideal measuring device is an adjustable wicket or guillotine standard, but for the owner of a single Sheltie, the easiest way is to tape a yardstick to a wall with the 0" mark against the floor. Then take a drawing triangle or a rectangle of cardboard (the cardboard backing from a pad of paper works fine) and hold an edge against the yardstick above the height of the dog. Stand the dog with its front feet lined up with the yardstick and slide the triangle or rectangle down until it just rests on the withers. Read the dog's height from the yardstick at the bottom edge of the cardboard.

Some historical perspective on the size problem might be in order.

Shetland Collie Club (1908) "height shall not exceed 15 inches...A register shall be kept of members' dogs 12 to 15 inches."

Scottish Shetland Collie Club (1909) "height about 12 inches and weight from 10 to 14 pounds" but seems to have been interpreted as a 12 inch maximum height.

Dogs benched at Crufts in 1910 ranged from 13 to 16 inches at the shoulder

Crufts 1911 longer, lower dogs, 10 to 12 inches

Scottish Shetland Collie Club (1913) ideal height 12 inches

English Shetland Collie Club (1914) ideal height 12 inches

Scottish Shetland Collie Club (1914) ideal height 12 inches at maturity, fixed at 10 months. (Smooth coated specimens were explicitly barred for the first time in the same year.)

English Shetland Sheepdog Club (1923) From 12 to 15 inches, the ideal being halfway.

American Shetland Sheepdog Association (1929) 12 to 15 inches

American Shetland Sheepdog Association (1934) resolution passed that all Shetland Sheepdogs be measured in the ring and those over 15 inches be penalized accordingly. AKC refused.

American Shetland Sheepdog Association (1936)

Gentleman's agreement not to show dogs over 16 inches.

American Shetland Sheepdog Association (1937?) Gentleman's agreement formalized and 13 1/2 inch ideal height stated explicitly.

(The above taken from Catherine Coleman's book on the breed.)

American Shetland Sheepdog Association (1952) 13 to 16 inches with a disqualification for any dog measuring under 13 or over 16 inches. It is worth pointing out that the Sheltie is one of the very few breeds with the same size specified for dogs and bitches. Note also that the committee that wrote the new standard wanted a 15 1/2 inch upper limit. It is somewhat ironic that the ideal height over much of the breed's history (13 1/2 inches) would be considered too small to show by most breeders today. (Source: 1977-78 ASSA Handbook)

English Shetland Sheepdog Club (1965) Ideal height 14 inches for bitches and 14 1/2 inches for dogs, anything more than an inch above these heights to be considered a serious fault. The wording of the standard was changed in 1986 to put height in cm, but the actual height remained unchanged. (Source: 1970 and 1990 ESSA Handbooks). Note that almost every country except the United States and Canada uses these size limits.

I have a copy of the 1934 ASSA catalog with heights marked. Here are some adult heights more than an inch and a half from the 13 1/2 inch ideal:

Novice dogs: 2 entered, both in size.

American bred dogs: 7 entered; 3 over (1st place Wee MacGregor of Anahassitt 15 1/2; 4th place Neilsland Nuffsaid 15 1/2 inches; Rowcliffe Rip 17)

Limit dogs: 4 entered, 1 over (4th place Saruh 15 1/4)

Open dogs 1 entered, in size - Gigolo of Anahassitt 14 3/4 inches (eventual best of breed)

Novice bitches 5 entered, 4 oversize (1st place Weetamoe o'Page's Hill 16 7/8, 3rd Cynthia 17 1/4, 4th Topaz o'the Hills 17 7/8; Brenda 15 1/2)

American Bred Bitches 9 entered, 4 oversize (1st place Weetamoe o'Page's Hill 16 7/8; 2nd place Anahassitt Adoration 15 5/8; Pheemie 15 3/4; Sheltieland Sweetbriar 15 3/4)

Limit Bitches: 4 entered, 1 over (2nd place Ardeth of Anahassitt 15 3/4)

Open Bitches: 4 entered, 1 over (2nd place Alice of Anahassitt 15 1/4)

The Specials were Ch Mowgli ROM (15 3/8), Ch Bodachan of Clerwood (no height available) Ch Sprig of Houghton Hill (12 7/8) and Ch Helensdale Sapphire (15 1/2).

Note that Sprig, who would be disqualified for undersize under today's standard, was the only one of the three measured specials that was in size under the (unenforced) standard of his day: 12 to 15 inches, ideal 13 1/2 inches.

Dogs whose names are in italics are behind modern ROM Shelties.

last update October 29, 1997



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How Do I Take My Dogs Pulse?

There are several areas on the dog's body where you may be able to feel the pulse. A pulse occurs with every heart beat. Sometimes, you can just place your hands low on your dog's chest, near the elbow joint, and feel the heart beats. You can count how many beats you feel in 15 seconds and then multiply it be 4. That will give you the pulse.

A second place to find the pulse is high on the inner side of the thigh. You will be feeling for the femoral artery. Place two fingers on the middle of the thigh near where the leg joins the body. What you feel is the 'femoral pulse.' The femoral pulse can be very difficult to feel in cats.

It is always best to use your fingers to feel the pulse. If you use your thumb, and press too hard, what you feel will actually be your own pulse.

The normal pulse for a dog ranges from 70 to 180 beats per minute. In general, the larger the dog, the slower the pulse. Puppies generally have a fast pulse, up to 220 beats per minute. Cats usually have a pulse of 120-240 beats per minute.

The pulse of a dog is not always steady. Sometimes, the rate changes as the dog breathes in and out. The pulse will be faster on inspiration and slower on expiration. This is normal and is called sinus arrhythmia.


How Do I Take My Dogs Temperature?

You may have heard that you can tell whether your dog has a fever by feeling his nose -- cool and wet is good, hot and dry means fever -- but it’s not that simple. In fact, dog fever often goes unrecognized or undetected.

The only accurate way to tell if your dog has an increased body temperature is to take his rectal temperature. Experts recommend using a digital thermometer specifically designed for rectal use in dogs. Most thermometers intended for use in human ears do not work well for this purpose.

To take your dog’s temperature, first coat the thermometer with a lubricant such as petroleum gel or baby oil. Next, gently insert the thermometer about one inch into your dog’s anus and wait for results. Most thermometers sold for this purpose will take less than 60 seconds to register.

The normal body temperature for dogs is between 101 and 102.5 F, compared to 97.6 to 99.6 F for humans. This means your dog may feel feverish to you even when his temperature is completely normal.

The word “fever” is typically used to describe elevated body temperature caused by infection or inflammation. A temperature of more than 103 F is considered a dog fever.

When dogs have high temperatures that are the result of hot external temperatures or excessive exercise in humid conditions, the condition is referred to as hyperthermia or heat stroke. When temperatures reach 106 F, serious and fatal complications can occur.

What are titers and what do they mean for my dog?

by Anne Jones RN, BSNE

Probably the hottest topic in the life of dogs today is vaccination protocol. How often should my dog receive vaccines and which ones should he receive? That topic is covered elsewhere but the basic thinking today is that dogs carry immunity for much longer than one year and that they only need a few basic (Core) vaccines unless there are exceptional reasons for others, such as for Lyme disease. You can read in more detail about Bichons and vaccines and about the immune system in another place.

One recommendation that you will read is to use titers once the basic immunity has been established. Current thinking and recommended protocol is that boosters past the first one should be no more often than every three years. This is the current "safe" veterinary recommendation but research is ongoing and vaccines have proven to be effective for much longer than three years and titers can substantiate that your dog does remain immunized. So what is a titer?

A serum antibody titer is a blood test that measures the immune response to a disease-causing organism. The test actually measures the antibody response when challenged and the response (or antibody level) reflects past exposure or vaccination to a particular disease - or a need for additional protection in order to prevent infection. A positive result shows presence of adequate antibodies and a negative indicates need for protection. The most common titers in dogs are those that test for CPV (canine parvovirus) and CDV (canine distemper virus) but there are others. Only when the serum antibody tests show protection to be less than adequate is it necessary to give boosters. Though a rabies titer is available, state laws may vary as to whether a titer can replace vaccination boosters.

Different laboratories may have different standards of protective response so it is important that your veterinarian is knowledgeable about the recognized standard for the lab he/she is using. However a general rule will be that the higher the titer reading, the greater the protection. A dog that has an acceptable reading does not need further protection and giving booster vaccines will challenge the immune system needlessly to produce more antibodies. Studies indicate that immunity is maintained once it becomes established at a given level, regardless if from vaccines or from having the disease. Testing every 2-3 years will show when that level is reached.

Actual expected readings will vary from lab to lab so it serves no purpose in quoting the expected values. The important message in this article is to state that having titers run on your dog, while possibly more expensive than boosters in some clinics, are cheaper in the long run than treating immune mediated illnesses that can be fatal. Comparison studies continue as to the how long dogs retain immune status after initial vaccines and first boosters. Your best ally in protecting your dog will be your own veterinarian but you may need to have frank discussion with your vet to come to an agreed upon policy for giving boosters or using titers. The current stated protocol for core vaccines (distemper, parvo, adenovirus and rabies) is every three years but expect that time frame to be extended as research supporting lasting immunity reaches the veterinary journals. Titers are the safe course to follow.