In general, Shetland Sheepdogs are hearty, long-lived dogs, but like any living creature, health issues may arise. Some may have an underlying genetic cause. Concerned breeders of Shetland Sheepdogs are striving to breed healthy Shelties and decrease the incidence of heritable diseases in the breed. Hip dysplasia, thyroid disease, eye diseases, dermatomyositis (Sheltie Skin Syndrome), von Willebrand’s disease (vWD), gallbladder mucoceles and epilepsy are some of the known health problems of the breed. Although these problems are NOT COMMON in the breed, the Board of Directors of the American Shetland Sheepdog Association (ASSA) recommends that questions about the health of the dog and its relatives be asked when inquiring about the purchase of a puppy or adult, use of a stud dog and/or the acceptance of a brood bitch. Does the Sheltie (adult or puppy) or its relatives have any of the above mentioned problems? Questions should also be asked about abnormal tooth alignment, missing teeth, and cryptorchidism (retained testicle).
Tests are available for many potentially heritable disorders. Minimum health testing of breeding stock is recommended by the ASSA through the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) program. Many of the test results for individual dogs can be found in the database of the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) website.
No animal (dog or human) is perfect and free of any genetic abnormality. The ASSA is NOT advising you not to buy a puppy or breed to a stud dog if these conditions exist, but wants puppy buyers and breeders to be aware of genetic problems in the breed so that informed decisions can be made when buying or planning a breeding.