10 Common Health Problems Seen in Shetland Sheepdogs

The stunning Shetland sheepdog, sometimes known as a “sheltie,” is renowned for its flowing coat, intense energy, and sensitive nature. In addition to being loving family companions, they are frequently used as therapy, assistance, and medical alert dogs. They were raised to endure the arduous conditions of working in the isolated Shetland Islands off the coast of Scotland, where things may get rough. They may, nevertheless, experience a few health issues. The ten most typical health issues that Shetland sheepdogs face are listed below.

Issues with Dental Health

Gum disease, gingivitis (plaque-induced inflammation), periodontitis (gum disease-induced tissue destruction), tooth decay, and developmental anomalies are among the dental problems that affect dogs. Most dogs may experience some form of dental illness at some point in their lives, and shelties are no exception. Regularly cleaning your dog’s teeth will help you avoid a number of issues.

Shelties frequently have dental irregularities, and losing permanent teeth is a common occurrence. Premolars and molars in particular are frequently absent. The canine teeth may get dislodged and “stick out” through the lips as permanent teeth develop within the hard palate. These abnormalities in the teeth can lead to a build-up of debris and plaque, increasing the risk of gingivitis.

Diseases of the Inherited Eye (CEA & GPRA)

Shelties may be affected with Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA), often referred to as choroidal hypoplasia (CH), an inherited eye condition. It has an impact on the choroid, the layer of tissue in the eye responsible for carrying blood to the retina. Research has revealed that the defective gene responsible for this illness is carried by 15–72 percent of shelties. For this gene, a DNA test is available.

Another hereditary eye illness is called Generalised Progressive Retinal Atrophy (GPRA), in which the retina’s unique cells gradually degenerate and cease to function. It can begin at any age between two and nine years old, and blindness is the end outcome. The GPRA gene has two variations, one of which causes the condition to manifest earlier than the other. A DNA test can determine the identities of both genes.

Hip Dysplasia

Some shelties may be affected by hip dysplasia, and some breeders are now hip-scoring their breeding line. It results in improper development or misalignment of the hip joint’s ball and socket. The dog eventually finds it difficult to move about when the joint finally gives up. Unbalanced nutrition and excessive weight gain can exacerbate this hereditary susceptibility. Anything from joint supplements to surgery can be used to treat it.

Adverse Reactions to Drugs

A genetic mutation can occur in some dog breeds, such as the sheltie, preventing them from producing P-glycoprotein, a protein necessary for the movement of poisons and medications throughout the central nervous system. This leads to the accumulation of some medicines, which can result in neurological symptoms like tremors, excessive salivation, and even death. There are a number of such drugs, including certain antibiotics and anti-diarrheal ones, in addition to the anti-parasitic medicine ivermectin. The disorder is commonly denoted as MDR1. Although the US has a low incidence of this illness, early research conducted in the UK indicates that up to 50% of Shetland sheepdogs may be afflicted.

Dermatomyositis (DM or FCD)

Dermatomyositis is an autoimmune illness that is inherited and sometimes referred to as “sheltie skin syndrome,” DM, or DMS. It results in an extremely unpleasant muscle and skin irritation. Red, scaly, and crusty skin lesions are common on the face, ears, legs, and tip of the tail. Problems with feeding and muscular waste can arise from muscle involvement. It typically appears in the first few years of life and can be brought on by infections, hormone changes, or stress. Despite being a genetic condition, many dogs acquire it as a result of relocation, travel, or family strife. Finding a treatment that works can take some time, as there are various treatments available, including steroids.

Gallbladder Mucocele

In this disorder, the gallbladder enlarges due to an overabundance of mucus buildup. It is caused by a complex web of events that lead to gallbladder lining alterations and inflammation. It results in diarrhoea, vomiting, tiredness, and decreased appetite. The gallbladder may occasionally need to be removed. Studies have indicated that shelties are more likely to have this illness.


Shelties can be one of the dog breeds where epilepsy is more prevalent. This breed’s seizure frequency ranges from one per week to one every six months, with the most common onset age being between one and 1.5 years. It is four times more common in women than in men, and while the precise gene is unknown, it is most likely caused by a genetic mutation. It is manageable with medicine in many dogs.

von Willebrand’s disease (vWD)

In dogs (and humans), von Willebrand’s disease (vWD) is caused by a lack of a specific blood glycoprotein required for clotting. There are five possible genetic alterations that could cause any of the three types of disorders. The most severe kind III entails potentially fatal haemorrhage. This kind is likewise connected to Shetland sheepdogs.

Thyroid Disease

Thyroid disorders affect the thyroid gland in dogs, causing it to either overproduce or underproduce thyroid hormones. Dogs with hypothyroidism, or insufficient thyroid hormone, have slowed metabolisms; those with hyperthyroidism, or excess hormone, have accelerated metabolisms. Shelties can be one of the dog breeds that is prone to autoimmune thyroiditis.


Dogs are susceptible to allergies just like people are. Itching is the most typical symptom of them, and Shetland sheepdogs frequently have this health issue. Their skin, tummy, and feet are most impacted. The dog’s symptoms usually worsen with age, but they are likely to begin between the ages of one and three. One of the most prevalent health issues with Shetland sheepdogs is this one. Your sheltie may start licking their paws or developing ear infections on a regular basis. Consult your veterinarian as soon as possible as there are numerous alternatives for management and therapy.