Shelties are active, intelligent, and adorable small dogs that make excellent house pets. Like all dogs, they need proper care and attention to lead happy and healthy lives.
What is the average lifespan of a Sheltie, and what can you do to ensure your dog lives life to its fullest?
Healthy shelties have an average life expectancy of 12 to 14 years. If you take good care of your sheltie and are quick to tend to health issues promptly, you can expect it to stay by your side for nearly two decades.
In this article, I’ll talk about the average lifespan of shelties, what you can do to help yours stick around longer, and highlight health problems you should look out for.
The Average Lifespan of a Sheltie
A lifespan of 12 to 14 years places the Sheltie firmly above the average lifespan for dogs, which sits at 10 to 13 years.
This higher-than-average lifespan can be credited to the Sheltie’s smaller body size. Interestingly, dogs tend to live longer the smaller they are.
If you think about it, this is the exact opposite of what we see happen in the animal kingdom – larger animals generally live longer.
According to a professor at the University of Melbourne, larger dogs age faster than their smaller buddies.
Still, the unfortunate reality is that our precious companions often leave us too quickly.
To many pet owners, losing their dog is similar to losing a family member. It can leave one struck with great grief and sorrow.
You can do a lot to help your four-legged companions live a long and comfortable life. And it all starts with setting up a proper diet plan and regularly exercising your sheltie.
The next most important thing is to address any health issues without delay. An earlier medical diagnosis can make all the difference.
The good news is that Shelties are healthy dogs, generally speaking. They aren’t particularly susceptible to a disease or disorder.
Diet and Exercise
A healthy diet and plenty of regular exercise will ensure your sheltie stays happy and healthy for years to come.
Let’s talk about diet first.
Shelties may be small, but they’re energetic little creatures. Their naturally active lifestyle requires you to feed them a nutritious and balanced diet.
Adult shelties need around 600 calories a day. Senior dogs can get by with a slightly reduced intake of 500 calories daily since they’re not as active.
Don’t overfeed your sheltie. They’re prone to weight gain and can end up overweight before you know it.
Being overweight is a big issue for dogs because it overburdens their already-stressed joints.
Like us, dogs need carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. However, proteins should make up the bulk of their caloric intake, which makes meat-based dog foods your best option.
Shelties are notorious for being picky eaters, so you may first have to go through some trial and error.
It’s essential not to use treats to compensate for the lack of a solid diet. Treats shouldn’t make up more than 10% of your sheltie’s caloric intake.
An easy way to go wrong with diet-setting is by relying too much on treats.
Shelties, officially known as Shetland Sheepdogs, are herding dogs. They’re very active and highly intelligent, as you would expect a herding dog to be.
Shelties need both physical and mental stimulation. They’re very energetic and need regular exercise.
Experts recommend your exercise your Sheltie for at least an hour daily.
If you cannot give your sheltie the physical and mental stimulation it needs, it will seek out things to do on its own. This will usually end up being problematic for you.
Here are a few ways fun ways to exercise your Sheltie:
- Go out for a walk. This simple yet effective routine will work for most dogs. You can incorporate some jogging and run if your Sheltie is especially energetic.
- Play fetch. This time-old classic is very effective at exerting dogs. But more importantly, it’s a lot of fun. Playing fetch will stimulate your sheltie’s hunting and chasing instincts – something dogs love. Fetch makes dogs happy!
- Use dog toys. From chew toys to puzzle games, there are all sorts of dog-friendly toys out there. The best part is that they allow you to sit back and relax while your Sheltie has a blast.
Common Health Problems to Look Out For
Shelties are generally healthy dogs. They tend to stay disease-free, but are genetically predisposed to a few non-lethal disorders.
- Hip-dysplasia. One of the most common disorders affecting dogs, hip dysplasia causes improper joint development and, eventually, arthritis. Some early signs are difficulty walking and an abnormal gait.
- Drug sensitivity. Shelties can carry the MDR1 gene mutation, which causes them to have life-threatening reactions to certain drugs in higher doses. This condition is entirely genetic and non-curable.
- Eye problems. Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA) is a class of eye disorders that usually develop within the first few months of Sheltie’s life. Abnormalities are treated via surgery.
The American Shetland Sheepdog Association (ASSA) requires breeders to take the following tests to identify any hidden or lurking genetic disorders.
If you acquired your Sheltie from a responsible and reputable breeder, the chances of it developing one of these genetic disorders are low.
Still, look out for symptoms and report to your veterinarian if you notice any.
Sheltie Health Problems | Veterinarian Explains
Older Dogs Need To Be Cared For Differently
As Shelties near the end of their life, they become less active. Many develop arthritis, either naturally or as a result of hip dysplasia.
Even healthy dogs suffer from reduced joint functionality and mobility.
Your Sheltie will still want to play with you every now and then, though! Don’t be afraid to entertain its wishes with some moderate-intensity playtime.
Making sure your Sheltie isn’t overweight becomes increasingly important as it ages. Excess weight causes joint health to deteriorate much faster.