You’ve probably heard about what wonderful dogs Shetland Sheepdogs are. And you’ve likely also heard about how much they shed, so you may be wondering if you can handle dealing with their shedding should you choose to own one.
Shetland Sheepdogs do shed a lot during certain circumstances. But there are some ways you can manage their fur to minimize their shedding.
Shetland Sheepdogs (commonly referred to as Shelties) are truly fantastic companions and very gentle dogs who make wonderful pets for any family. But you will need to learn about when and why they shed, as well as how to manage it.
Shetland Sheepdogs Shedding
Shelties are known for their long, dense furry coats. And although they are absolutely beautiful dogs — having that much fur means they’re going to shed a lot. They are definitely known to be one of the dogs most likely to shed — and owners are often surprised to see exactly how much they do shed.
How Often Do Shelties Shed?
When a Shetland Sheepdog is still a puppy their fur will only be about an inch long and not overly thick, so you’ll see little to no shedding. However, as your dog matures, you’ll start to see more fur growing in — and therefore more shedding.
You’ll notice they get thicker fur around their head and mane first of all (often while they’re still a puppy) but this fur still likely won’t cause too much shedding. It’s when the rest of their coat grows in (often by the time they’re five years old) that you’ll start to notice heavy shedding. Shelties will shed year-round — but are certain times of the year when you notice it even more.
Male Shetland Sheepdogs will have a major molt once a year or so — typically just before summer. And as for females, she will molt just before summertime and after every heat cycle (every 6-8 months or so) if she is not spayed.
Why Do Shetland Sheepdogs Shed So Much?
As Shelties were originally bred to be working dogsthey thrive in cold weather and have developed a double coat of fur to keep them insulated and warm. Their undercoats are very dense with a woolly feel that can get matted if it’s not tended to regularly. Their outer coat is long and straight — and can also get tangled if not brushed regularly.
Their fur is constantly replenishing so they will naturally lose some fur as it’s pushed out. And if they’re scratching or grooming themselves this can also cause them to expel some fur.
Things That Factor Into The Amount Of Shedding
There are a few different things that factor into the amount of shedding you will see from your Shetland Sheepdog.
Age of your dog. As mentioned earlier, young Shelties have less fur and will shed less. The main ages you’ll find your Shetland Sheepdog sheds is roughly between the ages of five and ten.
Shetland Sheepdogs have an average life expectancy of about 14 – 16 years if they’re well taken care of. During the last few years of their lives, you can expect to see a natural thinning of fur. This all depends on their hormone and vitamin levels. If you’re concerned about how much your dog is shedding or with the condition of their fur, consult with your veterinarian to have some simple blood work done to check to see if they need any supplements.
Regularity of grooming. If you don’t groom your Shelty at least twice a week — possibly more during molting times — this can lead to abnormal shedding cycles. This can also lead to matting of the fur which can be uncomfortable, or even painful, for your dog. These knots may eventually need to be cut out.
Weather changes. As with most animals who have fur Shelties will shed some of their “winter coat” in the spring, in preparation for a warm summer. However, although their coat will be lighter, it will still be fairly thick so you want to watch your Shetland Sheepdog carefully for signs of heatstroke or other heat-related discomforts.
Hormones. Hormonal changes in their body can cause your Shetland Sheepdog to shed several times per year. Females will shed around every heat cycle as their hormones change. Both male and female Shelties will shed less due to hormones if they are neutered or spayed.
Elements That Can Affect Your Shetland Sheepdog’s Abnormal Shedding
If you notice your Shetland Sheepdog is shedding abnormally it’s always best to consult with a veterinarian because this can occasionally be a sign of illness or a lack of vitamins and minerals in their diet. But often the reason why your Shetland Sheepdog is shedding abnormally is more easily explained by one of these reasons.
Damaged fur. If you slack on grooming your Sheltie for long periods of time, or if your dog likes to roll around on rough surfaces or do anything else that could damage their fur they could shed more. This is because the damaged fur will naturally break off. Even if their fur is only damaged once the shedding process may take a while to get rid of all the broken fur.
Stress. If you’ve recently moved or added a new pet or family member into your home, your dog may feel a bit stressed due to the change. This can lead to an abnormal level of shedding. If you notice your Sheltieis starting to shed excessively and exhibit other negative behavior due to stress give your dog more love and attention, and keep their routine as close to normal as possible.
Skin Issues. It’s possible your Shetland Sheepdog could develop a skin issue which could cause them to shed excessively. There are a few causes of skin issues in Shelties:
- Parasites and other mites
- Bacterial or fungal infections
- Immune diseases
- Other illnesses
- Food-related allergies
- Allergies to materials they come into contact with
- Some medications
- Too much self-grooming
Often you won’t even notice the skin on your Shetland Sheepdog is irritated because of their thick coat. And if they have chewed off or shed enough fur for you to see the skin that means the issue has been occurring for a while.
Keep a close eye on your dog for any signs that they have skin issues. Itching, biting, irritability, twitching, or trouble staying still are signs you need to consult your veterinarian to get the situation under control before any major irritation occurs.
Taking Care Of Your Shetland Sheepdog’s Coat
You need to take care of your Shetland Sheepdog’s coat from both the inside and outside.
Feed them good food. Feed your Sheltie only good quality dog food which is suitable for their age. This will help them have enough vitamins and minerals in their diet to help keep their fur smooth and shiny.
Get the proper brushes. You’ll need more than one brush to take care of your Shetland Sheepdog’s coat. Since they have different levels of fur, you’ll need to tackle each one individually.
- A de-shedding tool for working through their woolly undercoat.
- A fine-tooth comb for getting rid of tangles and for combing through sensitive areas.
- A thicker brush for brushing their top coat to help distribute the oils throughout the fur.
Consult a professional. Since you’ll need to groom your Sheltie at least twice a week you should know how to do it correctly and efficiently. Take your dog to a professional groomer a few times and get some tips on how to do it yourself.
Get some scissors or consider regular trims. As you know, a Sheltie’s coat of fur is thick so you may need to trim it down occasionally. Now, cutting out an occasional knot during routine grooming is one thing you can do yourself, but it’s best to take your dog to a groomer for a full trim once or twice a year.
Bathe them if needed. Shetland Sheepdogs don’t typically get too dirty or oily, and they’re very good about keeping themselves clean, so you don’t need to worry much about regular bathing. However, if they’ve rolled in something dirty or you’re starting to notice that they smell it’s time for a bath.
Since they need bathing so infrequently you can simply take them to a groomer to do so, or pick up some soap specifically for your dog and do it yourself.
Tips For Shedding Season — Keep Your House From Being A Mess
The truth is that if you’re going to have a Sheltie you’re going to have to deal with some shedding. However, there are a few things you can do to manage it within your house.
Groom them regularly. Brushing and trimming your dog regularly will help to manage any loose fur that would otherwise end up on the surfaces in your home.
Give them their own space. Giving your dog a bed to lay on whenever possible will prevent them from laying on your furniture or carpet and (hopefully) give you fewer areas you need to vacuum up fur from.
Get a good vacuum cleaner. You’re just going to have to deal with some fur when you have a Sheltie so get yourself a good vacuum cleaner that you can pull out a few times a week to get rid of the fur before it becomes overwhelming.