Health problems, in general, are not common in Shelties; however, testing of breeding stock is a recommended practice to keep the incidence of certain problems as low as possible. It must be remembered that dogs are animals, not machines, and on average, every dog has 4 to 5 defective genes . Congenital and/or hereditary problems will occur no matter how conscientious a breeder is. Nonetheless, breeders should strive to breed Shelties that are a combination of beautiful breed type and good health.
The Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) is a canine health database program jointly sponsored by the AKC/Canine Health Foundation (AKC/CHF) and the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). Its purpose is to assist breeders in breeding healthy dogs and being a central resource of health information for breeders, owners, and researchers. Over 100 breed clubs participate in the program. The national club for each participating breed recommends health tests to be performed in dogs used for breeding. The number and types of tests are tailored to the needs of each breed. Dogs that have the required tests posted in the OFA public database will receive a CHIC number, and the CHIC database can be searched for dogs having CHIC numbers. Additional health tests may be recommended, but are considered optional for that breed. Normalcy is not required for participation in the CHIC program; abnormal results of any test are only released to the public with owner permission. As new tests become available, the list of required and optional tests may be altered. Participation in the CHIC program is voluntary. The Shetland Sheepdog, at the request of the ASSA, has been part of the CHIC program since 2008.
Breed requirements for Shetland Sheepdogs are as listed below and on the CHIC Shetland Sheepdog web page. In addition to the requirements below, a CHIC requirement is that each dog must be permanently identified (verified by the testing veterinarian) via microchip or tattoo in order to qualify for a CHIC number.