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site updated 4/18

Sheltie Health


There are several health concerns that potential Sheltie buyers and breeders need to be aware of.  Some of these can be screened for. Some have genetic tests and others have tests in the works. 

* - can be screened for

# - has a genetic test for

Dermatomyositis (Sheltie Skin Syndrome) - This issue affects skin and muscle.  It is found in several breeds including Shelties. It is a dominant gene and there is a genetic test in the works, though as of now, it is not complete. This is a dominant trait so a dog either has it or not.  The gene varies in how it is expressed with some affected dogs showing little to no signs where others are heavily affected.  Currently, skin biopsy is the only test for it.  DM can appear like mange or other skin lesions, therefore, a skin biopsy should be done to rule out DM if a dog develops lesions.  There is NO cure for DM.

Epilepsy (Canine Seizure Disorder) - Seizures can be brought on by many things (illness, injury, poisoning, etc. ) and can be genetic. As of now, the mode of inheritance is unknown. Affected dogs should not be bred and reltives of them bred with extreme care. (Canine Epilepsy)

*Hip Dysplasia - Hip Dysplasia can affect any breed or cross. There is no genetic test for it as of now.  It is assumed to be a polygenetic trait and may have external factors as well.  Breeding dogs should pass either OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) or PennHip (University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program) screening by a qualified vet. Breeding clear dogs will not eliminate the issue but does reduce the possibility of it being passed on.

*Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) - This is a progressive disease and often will not be detected until the dog is an adult. Dogs should be CERF (Canine Eye Registry Foundation) certified annually if being bred.

*Sheltie Eye - This can be screened for in young dogs.  Once a dog screens clear, he is fine, unlike PRA which is progressive.

*Thyroid - Blood tests can help determine if a dog is affected. Thyroid problems can affect weight gain, coat, etc.  A clear test as a young dog does not mean a dog will remain clear.  (OFA Thyroid information.)

# von Willebrand's Disease - vWD is a bleeding disorder which affects many breeds including Shelties.  There are two tests for it with the genetic test being the only sure way of knwong a dog is clear.  The other test is a coagulation test whcih can have results skewed by different factors.  A dog can also be clear by parentage - both parents are free of any of the genes.  This is a recessive gene and therefore can be carried.

# MDR1 Gene - This gene affects how various medications are metabolized by the body.  It is found in various herding and even some non-herding breeds. It is a simple Dominant/Recessive trait with a DNA test.

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