Here is a compilation of known problems in the Sheltie; genetic defects, disorders & disease. First published by the 1997 Edition of the Guide to Congenital and Heritable Disorders in Dogs by W. Jean Dodds, DVM, Susan Hall, DVM and Kay Inks and published by the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights. Links have been generously provided by the Canine Inherited Disorders Database by Alice Crook, BSc, DVM; Brian Hill, DVM, MS, DACVIM, Sue Dawson, BA, PhD, serving as a joint initiative of the Sir James Dunn Animal Welfare Centre and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association with disease descriptions from George A. Padgett's, DVM Control of Canine Genetic Diseases along with additional ocular data obtained from the2007 Edition of Ocular Disorders as published by the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists. Additional disorders were notated due to personal observation and/or personal experience. Due to multiple sources, there may be duplicated terms relating to the same or similar disorders.
Key: R=recessive; D=Dominant; UND=Undetermined; X=Sex-Linked; Inc-D=Incomplete Dominance
=Under a given age; >=Over a given age.

Behavioral | Blood | Cardiovascular | Dentition | Endocrine | Eyes
Gastrointestinal | Immunological | Musculoskeletal | Nervous System
Puppy Disorders | Reproductive System/Urinary | Respiratory | Skin

Behavioral DISORDERS

Aggressiveness (excess):

Padgett: Extremely assertive or forceful with other dogs and people, may attack or bite without reasonable provocation. UND/<3yrs

Separation Anxiety:

Personal: Personal: Shelties, by nature, are loyal to their owners; however, in extreme cases, sometimes separation can cause adverse reactions making adaptation to new environments extremely difficult. Sheltie may be restless, nervous, and easily frightened. In severe cases, may refuse to eat and/or drink.

Shyness (excess):

Personal: Extremely shy or panicked, to the extent flight or fright takes over; in flight-response even the trained sheltie does not respond to commands issued by their owner while in fear-response the panicked sheltie may protect itself from approach by wildly growling at or viciously attacking any perceived threat. These reactions are uncommon, but are more prominent during hormonal changes, especially in juveniles.

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Blood Disorders

Factor VIII Deficiency (Hemophilia 'A'):

AVAR: The most common severe inherited clotting disorder of humans and nonhuman animals. Inherited as a sex-linked recessive trait (carried by females and manifested in males). Affects most dog breeds. A blood clotting disorder due to deficiency of coagulation factor VIII.

CIDD: Hemophilia is a bleeding disorder of varying severity that is due to a deficiency in specific clotting factors. Normally the body responds to an injury that causes bleeding through a complex defense system. This consists of local changes in the damaged blood vessels, activation of blood cells called platelets, and the coagulation (clotting) process. Most inherited bleeding disorders are the result of abnormal platelet function or a deficiency in one or more of the factors involved in the blood clotting system. Hemophilia is the most common inherited coagulation factor deficiency. Hemophilia A is a result of a deficiency of factor VIII, and hemophilia B of factor IX. Hemophilia A is more common than hemophilia B, and varies in severity depending on the level of factor VIII activity. Hemophilia B  is often a severe bleeding disorder. Hemophilia is an X-linked recessive. It is one of the few sex-linked traits in dogs. Because males have only one X chromosome, a male dog is either affected or clear of the defect. Females, with two X chromosomes, may be affected (abnormal gene on both chromosomes), clear, or a carrier with no clinical signs (one gene affected). In effect, the disease is carried by females but affects mostly males.

Padgett: Absence of Factor VIII in the blood causing prolonged and excessive bleeding due to failure to form a clot. Affected dogs may die. X-R/Birth.

Factor IX Deficiency (Hemophilia 'B'):

AVAR: Same as Hemophilia A, but more rare and involves a different clotting factor. Affects about 20 dog breeds [including the Shetland sheepdog]. A blood clotting disorder due to lack of coagulation factor IX.

Padgett: Also known as Christmas Disease. Absence of Factor IX in the blood causing prolonged and excessive bleeding due to failure to form a clot. Affected dogs may die. X-R/Birth.

von Willebrand's Disease (vWD):

AVAR: A type of bleeding disorder caused by defective blood platelet function. Occurs in 59 dog breeds [including the Shetland sheepdog] but most often in Doberman pinschers. An autosomal trait affecting both sexes.

CIDD: Von Willebrand's disease (vWD) is a common, usually mild, inherited bleeding disorder in people and in dogs. It is caused by a lack of von Willebrand factor (vWF), which plays an essential role in the blood clotting process. Three forms of the disease are distinguished based on vWF concentration and function. Dogs with Type I vWD (by far the most common) have mild to moderate bleeding abnormalities, depending on the level of vWF. The much rarer types II and III vWD cause severe bleeding disorders.The most common form (Type I vWD) is thought to be an autosomal trait with incomplete dominance. Type II & III vWD is rare and are autosomal recessives.

Padgett: Reduced Factor VIII in the blood resulting in a prolonged bleeding time; may be mild, moderate, or severe and can cause death. R/NC-D/<1yr.; Type III vWD: R; vWD not defined by DNA typing: R.

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Cardiovascular Disorders


Padgett: Abnormality of the heart muscle, may cause edema of the lung, weakness at exercise and sudden death. Polygenic/<2yrs.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM):

Padgett: Clinical signs include dyspnea, exercise intolerance, syncope, cough, anorexia, weight loss and lethargy. Heart sounds are muffled. UND/<6yrs.

Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA):

AVAR: Failure of the vessel remnant joining the aorta and pulmonary artery in fetal life to close properly at birth, thereby shunting blood away from the lungs.

CIDD: At birth, mammals must adapt from living in a fluid environment (the amniotic fluid) and acquiring oxygen through the mother's blood, to breathing air and acquiring oxygen through their own lungs. The ductus arteriosus is very important in the adaptation process. This is a small communicating blood vessel between the pulmonary artery (which carries blood to the lungs), and the aorta (which carries blood to the rest of the body).  Before birth, most of the blood from the fetal heart bypasses the fetal lungs via the ductus arteriosus. The lungs gradually become functional fairly late in fetal development. At birth, the blood supply from the mother is of course cut off, the dog (or other mammal)  begins breathing on its own, and blood flow through the ductus arteriosus decreases dramatically. Within a few days, the ductus closes off completely. Where the ductus does not close, the dog is left with a patent ductus arteriosus (PDA).   The extent to which this affects the dog depends on the degree of patency, or opening, of the ductus. PDA is the most commonly diagnosed congenital heart defect in dogs. It occurs in many breeds and is seen more often in females. Inheritance is complex.

Padgett: Failure of the fetal vessel between the aorta and pulmonary artery to close around the time of birth; causes heart murmurs, exercise weakness and may cause death. Polygenic/Birth.

Portosystemic Shunt (extrahepatic):

Padgett: The animals are born with extra vessels, which allows blood to bypass the liver. Und/<1yr.

Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD):

Padgett: A hole in the heart wall that divides the right and left sides, causing poor circulation and possible death. Polygenic/Birth.

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Abnormal Dentition:

Personal: [AVAR] Abnormal placement, number and development of teeth.

Misdirected Canine Syndrome (Lance Canines):

Personal: Late-shedding puppy canines. A condition which reverses the angled position of the adult canine so that it grows rostrally (frontwards, towards the nose) and interferes with the incisors. I suspect this condition to be an autosomal dominant occurring around six months of age. Pulling the retained puppy canines early on corrects the problem; however, it does not change the genetic component.

Missing Teeth:

Personal: [AVAR] A condition where there are too few teeth.

Overshot/Undershot Alignment of Jaw/Teeth:

Personal: [AVAR] Overshot jaw is a condition where the upper jaw is too long for the lower jaw. Undershot jaw is a condition where the upper jaw is too short for the lower jaw.

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Endocrine Disorders

Hepatic Lipidosis:

AVAR: An abnormal accumulation of lipids in the liver which leads to liver failure. Common in miniature schnauzers and Shetland sheepdogs.


AVAR: A disease where the animal has too much cholesterol in the blood system. Commonly associated with hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroidism (Autoimmune Thyroiditis, Hashimoto's Disease, Lymphocytic Throiditis):

AVAR: A common endocrine disease where the body produces an abnormally low amount of thyroid hormones. An autoimmune destruction of the thyroid gland which affects more than 50 dog breeds [including the Shetland sheepdog]. Lymphocytic Thyroiditis: An autoimmune disease causing inflammation and destruction of the thyroid gland, which becomes infiltrated with lymphocytes (white blood cells) and leads to hypothyroidism. This is the most common endocrine disease of the dog and has an inherited predisposition. Thyroiditis: An autoimmune inflammatory disease of the thyroid gland.

CIDD: The clinical signs of hypothyroidism are caused by a decrease in normal thyroid hormone activity. The disorder may be acquired (a progressive deficiency of thyroid hormone) or congenital (meaning the animal is born with the disorder). The acquired form is the most common disorder of the endocrine system in dogs. It occurs as a result of gradual atrophy of the thyroid gland or of gradual infiltration and replacement of the thyroid gland with lymphocytes due to an autoimmune process (lymphocytic thyroiditis). Acquired hypothyroidism is generally seen in middle-aged (4 to 10 years) mid - to large breed dogs. Congenital hypothyroidism  is very rare.

Padgett: Destruction of the thyroid gland due to an attack from the animal's own immune system. Causes rough, scaly skin; hair loss and weight gain. UND/<2yr.

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Eyes (Ocular) Disorders

Blepharophimosis (narrow palebral fissure):

Padgett: Palebral fissure is too narrow when the puppy is born. This can be corrected by surgery at the lateral canthus. UND/<8wks.


AVAR: As in humans, a change in structure of the lens of the eye leading to cloudiness and usually to blindness.

CIDD: A cataract is any opacity or loss of transparency of the lens of the eye. The opacity may be confined to a small area of the lens or capsule, or it may affect the whole structure. A complete cataract affecting both eyes will result in blindness, whereas small non-progressive cataracts will not interfere with vision.

Padgett: Vary by breed and age of onset. As a generality, any lens opacity that obscures vision and may cause blindness is considered a cataract. Early onset and progressive cataracts. R UND/<3yr. Cataracts not further defined. UND/Varies.

ACVO: A partial or complete opacity of the lens and/or its capsule. In cases where cataracts are complete and affect both eyes, blindness results. The prudent approach is to assume cataracts to be hereditary except in cases known to be associated with trauma, other causes of ocular inflammation, specific metabolic diseases, persistent pupillary membrane, persistent hyaloid or nutritional deficiencies. Cataracts may involve the lens completely (diffuse) or in a localized region. No breeding.

Central Progressive Retinal Atrophy (CPRA):

Padgett: An optical defect due to retinal pigment degeneration resulting in secondary degeneration of the rods and cones. Central vision loss, but peripheral vision may last to old age. Some dogs may not lose vision. UND/<2yrs.

Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA):

Choroidal Hypoplasia, Optic Nerve/Disc Coloboma, Retinal Detachment, Retinal Hemorrhage, Staphyloma/Coloboma, Collie Scleral Ectasia Syndrome

AVAR: Chroidal Hypoplasia: Improper development of a part of the eye; Optic Nerve Colobma: An abnormal development of the eye, usually seen in collies, which can lead to blindness.

CIDD: CEA is a disorder of the deep structures of the eye that affects collie breeds around the world. The four main changes are: 1.) Inadequate development of the choroid, a thin layer of blood vessels that delivers oxygen and nutrients to the retina (called hypoplasia of the choroid or chorioretinal dysplasia); 2.) Coloboma - a cleft or defect of the optic disc or adjacent areas; 3.) Staphyloma - an area of thinning in the sclera which is adjacent to the choroid; and 4.) Retinal detachment with or without hemorrhage - a complication associated with the other defects. In its mildest form, there are minor changes in the choroid which will have little effect on sight. About 25 per cent of dogs with CEA have colobomas/staphylomas as well as choroidal hypoplasia. Retinal detachments occur in approximately seven per cent of dogs with CEA. Total retinal detachment will cause blindness. Inheritance is autosomal recessive with variable expression and pleomorphism (meaning that there is a wide range in clinical expression of the defect).

Padgett: Causes variable defects in the choroid, retina, and optic nerve; can cause retinal detachment and blindness. R/<1yr.

ACVO: A spectrum of malformations present at birth and ranging from inadequate development of the choroid (choroidal hypoplasia) to defects of the choroid, retina, or optic nerve (coloboma/staphyloma) to complete retinal detachment (with or without hemorrhage). Mildly affected animals will have no detectable vision deficit. This disorder is collectively referred to as "Collie Eye Anomaly". Although there is a lack of scientific evidence, it is believed that the incidence and severity of this entity in collies was decreased by breeding only "mildly affected" animals. At this time, the Genetics Committee of the ACVO recommends against breeding dogs with any form of the Collie Eye anomaly. Optic Nerve Coloboma (without Choroidal Hypoplasia) is a congenital cavity in the optic nerve which, if large, may cause blindness or vision impairment. No breeding.


Personal: [AVAR] An inflammation of the conjunctival membrane of the eye.

Corneal Dystrophy:

AVAR: An abnormality of the cornea usually characterized by shallow pits in the surface.

CIDD: Corneal dystrophy is an inherited abnormality that affects one or more layers of the cornea.  Both eyes are usually affected, although not necessarily symmetrically. Chronic or recurring shallow ulcers may result, depending on the corneal layers affected. The mode of Inheritance in [most] other breeds has not been identified.

Padgett: Clinically, a corneal opacity without inflammation (gray to white) that interferes with vision. Usually starts with lipid deposits in the corneal stroma. Onset varies by breed. UND/varies.

ACVO: A non-inflammatory corneal opacity (white to grey) present in one or more of the corneal layers; usually inherited and bilateral. The corneal changes in the Shetland sheepdog are characterized grossly by multifocal, central, subepithelial and superficial stromal, grey-white, circular or irregular rings. Some affected animals develop corneal erosions. The preocular tear film in the majority of dogs is unstable and requires symptomatic therapy to keep the patients comfortable. Further studies are necessary to define this disorder. Breeder's option.

Distichiasis (eyelashes):

AVAR: Abnormally growing eyelashes.

CIDD: Extra eyelashes grow from abnormal follicles located on the inside edge of the eyelid. They may be singular or multiple.

Padgett: Abnormal location of the eyelashes on the margin of the eyelid, causing irritation. UND/<6mos.

ACVO: Eyelashes abnormally located on the eyelid margin which may cause ocular irritation. Distichiasis may occur at any time in the life of a dog. It is difficult to make a strong recommendation with regard to breeding dogs with this entity. The hereditary basis has not been established although it seems probably due to the high incidence in some breeds. Reducing the incidence is a logical goal. When diagnosed, distichiasis should be recorded. Breeding discretion is advised. Distichiasis in the Shetland sheepdog usually involves stiff lashes which require permanent epilation. Breeder's Option.

Ectopic (Aberrant) Cilia (eyelashes) :

CIDD: The extra eyelash grows through the eyelid to the inside. One or more ectopic cilia may be present.

Padgett: Eyelashes are abnormally placed on the conjunctive (inner surface) of the eyelid (most often upper eyelid). UND/Birth.


Padgett: Turning in of the eyelids, causing the eyelashes to rub the eyeball. UND/<1yr.

Heterochromia Iris (wall eye):

AVAR: The presence of different colors in the same or both irises.

Padgett: Odd or different colors of the iris or a portion of the iris. UND/Birth.

Imperforate Lacrimal Punctum (Epiphora):

Padgett: Failure of development of the nasolacrimal drainage system, causing tears to spill onto the face. UND/<1yr.

Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KSC - dry eye):

Padgett: Inadequate tear production, causing irritation of the conjunctiva and cornea. UND/<1yr.


CIDD: Affected dogs have prominent third eyelids and small eyes which appear recessed in the eye socket (enophthalmos). A defect early in development results in the smaller than normal eye (microphthalmia).This is often associated with other eye abnormalities, including defects of the cornea, anterior chamber, lens and/or retina. Microphthalmia is also seen with coloboma - a cleft in a portion of the eye, particularly the iris. Microphthalmia with multiple defects (ocular dysgenesis) is often seen in dogs with a merle hair coat with excessive amounts of white. The eyes are commonly different colors. Partial deafness may also be part of this syndrome. These dogs are frequently blind. Cataracts (opacity of the lens) often occur with microphthalmia, causing some degree of visual impairment.

Padgett: (Ocular dysgenesis in dogs with merle coat with excessive white.) An anomaly in development causing the eyeball to be abnormally small. UND/Birth.

Optic Nerve Hypoplasia:

AVAR: A condition where the optic nerve going from the eye to the brain is too small.

Padgett: Visual impairment or blindness occurs. Pupil of the affected eye may be dilated. UND/<3mos.

Persistent Pupillary Membrane (PPM):

AVAR: A developmental abnormality where the membrane forming the iris does not form properly.

Padgett: A failure of blood vessels in the anterior chamber to regress normally; there may be impaired vision or blindness. UND/<3mos.

ACVO: Persistent blood vessel remnants in the anterior chamber of the eye which fail to regress normally during the first three months of life. These strands may bridge from iris to iris, iris to cornea, iris to lens, or form sheets of tissue in the anterior chamber. The last three forms are seen in the Shetland sheepdog and pose the greatest threat to vision and when severe, vision impairment or blindness may occur. Iris to Iris: Breeder's option; all other forms: No breeding.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA):

AVAR: A disease where the retina slowly deteriorates, producing night blindness.

CIDD: [Generalized PRA] These diseases affect primarily the photoreceptor cells. Both eyes are similarly affected and dogs eventually become totally blind. [Centralized PRA] Also called RPE dystrophy, the abnormality is in the retinal pigmented epithelium (RPE). The photoreceptor cells will also degenerate eventually. The rate of vision loss is much slower than with generalized PRA, and not all dogs become totally blind. PRA is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait.

Padgett: Degeneration of the retinal vision cells, which progresses to blindness. UND/Varies.

ACVO: A degenerative disease of the retinal visual cells which progresses to blindness. This abnormality, also known as progressive retinal atrophy or PRA, may be detected by electroretinogram (not part of a routine eye screening examination) before it is apparent clinically. PRA is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait in most breeds. No breeding.

Retinal Dysplasia:

AVAR: A condition where the retina is malformed.

Padgett: Abnormal folds in the retina due to faulty development. UND/<1yr.

Trichiasis (eyelashes):

CIDD: Eyelashes growing from normal sites turn inward. The eyelashes are often abnormally long.

Padgett: Abnormal placement of the eyelashes on the eyelid. UND/<3mos.


Padgett: Abnormally long eyelashes. UND/Birth.

Uveodermatologic Syndrome:

ACVO: Uveodermatologic syndrome in the sheltie bears many similarities to a connection in people called Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada (or VKH syndrome. Thus, the condition in dogs is often referred to as VKH or VKH-like syndrome. [See VKH also under Immune Disorders.] It is an immune-mediated disease in which pigmented cells (melanocytes) in the eye and in the skin are destroyed by white blood cells (lymphocytes). The first clinical signs are usually inflammation of the intraocular structures (or uveitis) in both eyes. Adhesions between the iris and lens (posterior synechia) and the peripheral iris and cornea (peripheral anterior synechia) develop rapidly. Other complications include cataract development, retinal degeneration, retinal separation or detachment, optic disc atrophy and secondary glaucoma. The uveitis is very difficult to control medically and ultimately results in blindness in most affected dogs. Whitening of the hair (poliosis) and skin (vitiligo) may also be noted in advanced cases. The genetics of this condition are unclear, but some genetic predisposition is indicated by the higher prevalence of this disorder in shelties compared with other dog breeds. Affected dogs are generally young, ranging in age between 1-1/2 to 4 years. No breeding.

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Gastrointestinal (Alimentary) Disorders

Acute Hemorrhagic Enteropathy (Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis):

Padgett: Clinical signs are acute onset of bloody diarrhea, dehydration, and hemoconcentration. UND/>4yrs.

Canine Sprue:

Padgett: Clinically, this is chronic diarrhea that may be very severe. The diarrhea is generally accompanied by weight loss. UND/<9yrs.

Megaesophagus (Esophageal Achalasia):

Padgett: Regurgitation of undigested food occurs due to failure of esophageal muscles to force swallowed food through to the stomach. UND/<6mos.

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Immunological Disorders


Personal: [AVAR] Same as in humans. Dogs can be allergic to things they come in contact with, eat or inhale.

Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE):

AVAR: A form of autoimmune disease affecting the skin.

CIDD: There are several forms of lupus erythematosus that are recognized in people, two of which have been identified in dogs. Lupus is an autoimmune disorder, meaning that the body mounts an inappropriate immune response to some part of itself. Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an uncommon but severe disorder in which the inappropriate immune response is widespread in the body, and can cause arthritis, kidney disease, anemia, and skin disease. Cutaneous lupus erythematosus (CLE) is thought to be a milder variant of SLE, and the problems are confined to the skin. CLE is also called discoid lupus erythematosus

Padgett: Typically, a benign skin disorder with no general involvement. Changes include scaling, erythema and loss of pigment of the nose. Erosions, ulceration and crusting may occur. Lesions may also develop in the eye and ear area. UND/Varies.

Immune Mediated Polygenicarthritis:

Padgett: Dog may be febrile and show variable degrees of lameness or arthropathy. There is generally nonseptic inflammation of the joints. Steroid therapy usually relieves the signs, at least temporarily. UND/<6yrs.

Rheumatoid Arthritis:

Padgett: Clinically, a stiff gait with soft tissue swelling and joint pain. There may be crepitus laxity and subluxation. Complete luxation and angular deformities may occur. UND/<4yrs.

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus:

AVAR: An autoimmune disease where antibodies form against the nuclear protein of cells. Characterized by skin lesions as well as other organ dysfunctions and blood abnormalities.

Padgett: Signs shown are positive ANA, LE cell or Coombs' tests, polygenic-genicarthritis, alopecia, anemia, proteinuria, lymph-gland enlargement, anorexis, diarrhea and fever. UND<9yrs.

Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada-like syndrome:

AVAR: An autoimmune disease common in Akitas and the "sled" dog breeds where the eyes, blood and other tissues are progressively destroyed leading to blindness and death.

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Musculoskeletal Disorders

Calcinosis Circumscripta:

Padgett: Abnormal deposits of calcium in the skin and subcutaneous tissue. UND/<1yr.

Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD):

AVAR: A developmental malformation or subluxation of the hip joints.

CIDD: The hip joint is a "ball and socket" joint: the "ball" (the top part of the thigh bone or femur) fits into a "socket" formed by the pelvis. If there is a loose fit between these bones, and the ligaments which help to hold them together are loose, the ball may slide part way out of the socket (subluxate). With time, as this occurs repeatedly, other degenerative changes in the joint occur (also called osteoarthritis) and your dog will become painful, lame and weak in the hind end. This disease is progressive; that is, it gets worse with time. The mode of inheritance of this disease is polygenic. Factors that can make the disease worse include excess weight, a fast growth rate, and high-calorie or supplemented diets.

Padgett: Abnormal formation of the hip socket; causes rear-limb lameness. Polygenic/<2yrs.

Craniomandibular Osteopathy (CMO):

Padgett: Also known as lion jaw. Abnormal growth of bone involving the lower jaw, the back angle of the lower jaw, the head or extremities. An or all sites may be affected. R/<6mos.


Dwarfism (Osteochondrodysplasia, Chondrodysplasia, Achondrodysplasia, Pseudoachondrodysplasia, Primary Metabolic Skeletal Abnormality, Enchondrodystrophy):

AVAR: Abnormal development of cartilage leading to dwarfism (seen aberrantly in most breeds, but that's what makes a Basset hound and other achondroplastic breeds long and low).

Padgett: The skeletal dysplasias are a varied group of inherited disorders that are not well-defined. When breeds are compared, it is difficult to determine which diseases have the same etiology and which are different, although it is possible with some of them... Dwarfism is defined here as a disorder that reduces the size of a dog below that which is reasonably established as expected for a given breed. It may or may not include physical deformities and they may be proportionate or disproportionate. Not further defined: UND/<6mos.

Elbow Dysplasia:

Padgett: OCD of the medial humeral condyle, fractured coronoid process and nonfusion of the anconeal process. UND/<1yr. FCP-OCD Polygenic/<1yr; Shoulder joint Und/<1yr.

Elbow Luxation:

Padgett: Clinically, the ulna rotates laterally and the antebrachium rotates internally. The radiohumeral joint is relatively unaffected and the ulna remains in a nearly normal position; or the radial head is displaced caudolaterally and the ulna remains in a nearly normal position. UND/<6mos.

Legg-Calvé-Perthes Disease (LPD):

Padgett: Aseptic necrosis of the head and neck of the femur; causes rear-leg lameness. Polygenic/<1yr.

Multiple Cartilaginous Exostoses (Enchondromatosis):

Padgett: Clinically, most often, this disease is silent. It may produce pain on occasion if pressure is put on the protuberances. There may be lameness intermittently. Bony nodules can be felt on the ends of the long bones or ribs, but they may be found anywhere on the body. UND/<18mos.

Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD):

Padgett: Aseptic necrosis of bone under joint cartilage; causes lameness. FCP-OCD Polygenic/<1yr.

Patellar Luxation:

Padgett: Poor development of the structures holding the kneecap in place. The patella usually rotates medically (inward) in small breeds. Polygenic/<1yr.

Premature Closure of the Tibia/Ulna/Radius:

Padgett: Tibia-A lateral angulation of the tarsometatarsus and tibial bowing that may be uni- or bilateral, UND/<1yr.; Ulna-Stops growing sooner than the radius; causes wrists to turn in and front feet to turn out, R/<1yr.; Radius (Radial Dysgenesis)-Radius stops growing sooner than the ulna, causing bowed front legs, UND/<1yr.

Tarsal, Metatarsal & Intertarsal Joint Luxation:

Padgett: [Also known as slipped hocks.] A separation of the various bones making up the hock joint. UND/<10yrs.

Shoulder Luxation:

Padgett: Shoulder slips out of place, usually medially (toward the body). UND/<1yr.

Superficial Digital Flexor Tendon Displacement:

Padgett: Clinically, a rear-leg lameness of varying severity. Affected legs may be carried periodically. There is distention of the calcaneous bursa, which can be readily palpated. UND/<5yrs.

X-Linked Muscular Dystrophy:

Padgett: Muscle degeneration characterized by a stiff gait. Difficulty in swallowing, inability to jump and an enlarged tongue are present. X-R/<10wks.

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Nervous System Disorders


CIDD: Inherited deafness in one or both ears occurs due to the degeneration of sensory inner ear structures (sensorineural deafness) within a few weeks of birth. This occurs in many breeds and is especially common in the dalmatian. The trait for deafness is tied to the genetics of coat color, particularly in breeds with the merle or piebald gene. There is an increased risk of deafness with increasing amounts of white in the coat. Dogs with an increased amount of white in their coats and blue eyes (discussed further below) are predisposed to congenital deafness. In breeds in which deafness is associated with merle color, the trait appears to be autosomal dominant.

Padgett: Inability to hear (may be unilateral or bilateral).

A.) Piebald or extreme piebald gene deafness. R or UND/<3mos.

B.) Deafness due to effects of dominant merle gene. D/<3mos.


CIDD: Seizures are the result of a disturbance in the electrical activity of brain cells. They can occur for a variety of reasons, in any breed of dog. Epilepsy is the term used for recurrent seizures where no underlying disease process can be identified as the cause (also called idiopathic epilepsy). Inherited idiopathic epilepsy is genetically transmitted in some breeds of dogs. Seizures typically begin between 1 and 3 years of age. Before or after this age, the seizures are more likely caused by an active disease process, such as infection, trauma, a metabolic disorder, or a tumor.

Padgett: Seizures occur that are commonly called fits; they recur generally closer together. UND/>1yr.

Neuroaxonal Dystrophy (NAD) :

Padgett: Ataxia, difficulty in maintaining balance and intention tremor occur; all signs tend to progress. The condition does not respond to treatment. R/<6mos.

Vestibular Disease:

CIDD: The vestibule is an oval cavity in the inner ear containing tiny bones (bony labyrinth) and sensory cells that affect locomotion and are part of the hearing system. In dogs with this condition, some of these structures begin to degenerate shortly after birth. Affected dogs show early signs of a vestibular deficit (e.g. a head tilt, lack of coordination, and circling) and become completely deaf by about 3 weeks of age, although this is often not noticed until later.

Padgett: Head tilt, loss of balance, circling, rolling and staggering gait. UND/<3mos.

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Puppy disorders

Cleft Lip/Palate:

Padgett: A fissure or cleft in the roof of the mouth and upper lip; may be present together or separately. This allows food and/or fluid to enter the nasal respiratory pathway. UND/Birth.


Personal: [AVAR] A syndrome where the animal has an abnormally low blood glucose. {In shelties, usually seen in newborn puppies.}

Inguinal Hernia:

Padgett: An outpouching of skin in the areas of the inguinal ring, which may contain viscera; a scrotal hernia is a type of inguinal hernia. R or UND/<6mos.

Swimmer Puppies:

Personal: [AVAR] A developmental defect which causes a flattening of the body so that newborn puppies are unable to place their feet under them for proper locomotion.

Tail Abnormalities:

Personal: [AVAR] Any number of problems associated with the tail. {In shelties, congenital (at time of birth), associated with position in the uterus.}

Umbilical Hernia:

Padgett: An outpouching of the skin over the "belly button". It may contain abdominal viscera and sometimes regress spontaneously. R or Polygenic/<6mos.

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Reproductive/Urinary Disorders


CIDD: During development before birth, the testicles migrate from the abdomen into the scrotum. Normally this is complete by 10 days of age. Cryptorchidism means that one or both of a dog's testicles have not descended into the scrotum. If this does not happen by 8 weeks, the dog is generally diagnosed as cryptorchid, although the testicles may still descend up to 4 months or so. Both males and females can carry the gene for cryptorchidism. Heterozygous males and females, and homozygous females, will be physically normal, but can pass the gene on to their offspring. Homozygous males are cryptorchid. Thus cryptorchidism is thought to be a sex-limited autosomal recessive trait.

Padgett: An absence of testicles due to retention in the abdomen or inguinal region; can be one- or both-sided, or may slide in and out of the scrotum. R UND/<3mos.

Ectopic Ureters:

Padgett: The ureters do not properly attach to the bladder, causing urine dribbling, usually from birth. UND/Birth.

Fanconi's Syndrome:

CIDD: Normally in the kidney, there is selective reabsorption of water, sugars, minerals, and amino acids so that these substances are not lost excessively in the urine. In this disorder, there is a defect in the tubules of the kidney where this reabsorption occurs. Loss of these normally conserved substances leads to electrolyte imbalances, dehydration, and other problems. 

Padgett: Polygenicdipsia and polygenicgenicuria, muscle and joint pain and marked proteinuria. UND/<6mos.

Polygeniccystic Kidney:

Padgett: Large cysts occur only in the kidney, causing malfunction and death. UND/<1yr.


Personal: [AVAR] A bacterial infection of the uterus where it fills with pus.

Renal Aplasia (Renal Agenesis):

Padgett: Unilateral or bilateral absence of the kidney or renal tissue, leading to uremia and death, if bilateral. UND/<1yr.


Personal: [Padgett] Collection of calculi (kidney or bladder stones) in any part of the urinary system. The stones may be composed of varying minerals. A.) Calcium Oxalate Und/<9yr. B.) Cystine Sea Cystinuria Und/<9yr. C.) Struvite Und/<9yr. D.) Urate Und/<9yr.

Uterine inertia, primary:

Personal: [AVAR] A condition where the uterus does not have the muscular strength to proceed with the birth process, and not due to any acquired problems (e.g., malnutrition).

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Respiratory Disorders

Tracheal Collapse:

Personal: [Padgett] Improper formation of the cartilaginous rings of the trachea, causing mild to severe breathing problems. Und/<1yr.

Tracheal Hypoplasia:

Personal: [Padgett] A small trachea due to improper development causes mild to severe breathing difficulties. Und/<3mos.

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Skin & Integumentary Disorders

Acral Lick Dermatitis:

Personal: [AVAR] A skin disease caused by an animal's licking a localized area excessively, especially on the legs and paws.

Acute Moist Dermatits:

Personal: [AVAR] Known as "hot spots", a localized area of a severely itchy, inflamed and oozing dermatits exacerbated by the animal's intense licking and chewing at the spot.

Alopecic (Color Dilution) Syndrome:

CIDD: This condition develops in some, but not all dogs that have been bred for unusual coat color, especially "fawn" (a dilution of a normally red or brown coat) or "blue" ( a dilution of the normal black and tan coat color). Alopecia means hairlessness - affected dogs have a poor, patchy haircoat progressing to widespread permanent hair loss. At the cellular level, there are abnormalities of the hair follicles and uneven clumping of pigment (melanin) granules in the hair shafts in affected areas. The inheritance is unclear.

Padgett: Clinically, hair tends to thin and be lost with little or no scaling or any inflammatory changes. Distribution of loss varies. Hyperpigmentation may occur. Color Dilution Alopecia (blue merles): Loss of hair and excessive thickening of the skin seen in dilute colors of black and fawns. R/<6mos.

Atopic Dermatitis:

Padgett: Roughened, itchy, oozing skin caused by immune reactions to various allergies, such as fleas or pollen. UND/<1yr.

Bullous Pemphigold:

Padgett: Clinical signs include the development of vesicular and bullous ulcers. These may affect the skin or the oral cavity and mucocutaneous junctions. Lesions commonly occur on the groin, axillae and footpads. UND/Varies.

Castration Responsive Dermatosis:

Personal: [AVAR] A skin condition characterized by loss of hair, thickened skin and inflammation which responds to castration (i.e., hormonally dependent).

Demodicosis: Demodectic Mange:

Padgett: A localized Demodex infection that usually results in a mild erythema and may develop into some form of alopecia. Pruritus may or may not be present. These are most commonly seen on the face and usually there is spontaneous recovery within six-eight weeks. This is not considered to be hereditary (localized). A generalized demodicosis usually develops as a chronic dermatitis with crusting, scaling, and hyperpigmentation. There may be intense pruritus and a secondary pyoderma. Folliculitis, cellulitis, furunculosis and seborrhea may occur. A susceptibility and predisposition to Demodex Canis is thought to be based on a T-cell disturbance. Demodicosis (generalized) is considered to be inherited. UND/<1yr.

Dermatomyositis (DM):

AVAR: A disease affecting the skin and muscles, usually in collies or Shetland Sheepdogs.

CIDD: This condition is one of inflammation (itis) of the skin (dermato) and muscle (myo) that is seen in young collies and Shetland sheepdogs. There appears to be a defect in the immune system that predisposes dogs to this disorder. The skin lesions typically develop first with variable muscle problems occurring later. There are many similarities to dermatomyositis in people. This trait is believed to be autosomal dominant with variable expressivity.

Padgett: Skin lesions develop in areas susceptible to mechanical trauma. Vesicles develop, followed by erythema, crusting and scaling. Alopecia generally develops and ulcers may occur in severe cases. Inc-D/<6mos.

Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB):

AVAR: A disease affecting the skin and muscles, usually in collies or Shetland Sheepdogs.

Padgett: Trauma-causes cutaneous blistering of the skin, no matter what causes the trauma. Lesions can occur anywhere, especially on the footpads. UND/<16wks.


AVAR: An infection of the hair follicles

Nasal Solar Dermatitis:

Personal: [AVAR] A skin disease of the nose and muzzle which is greatly affected by exposure to sunlight. Common in collies.

Pemphigus Foliaceus:

Padgett: Clinical signs usually start on the ears or face and involve footpads. There may be erythematous macules that progress to crusty, brown areas. The skin is scaly and hair loss is present. UND/<4yrs.

Pemphigus Erythematosus:

Padgett: Clinical signs include alopecia and erosion of the skin. Scaling; wet, crusty lesions; pain and pruritus are variable. UND/<4yrs.


Personal: [AVAR] A skin disease with excess scaling of the skin and often an excess of sebum (oil-like substance) and odor.

Ulcerative (Idiopathic) Dermatosis:

CIDD: See Dermatomyositis.

Padgett: Clinically, there may be lesions at the mucocutaneous junctions of the mouth, genitals, anus & eyes. The lesions are vesicobullous eruptions that result in ulcerations that tend to coalesce. UND/<3yrs.


AVAR: A lack of pigment in the skin (called vitiligo in man and hypopigmentation in nonhuman animals). Common in rottweilers, Doberman pinschers, Old English sheepdogs and dachshunds.


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"Just because some people select and breed dogs now does not mean that the original dogs were created that way. Looking closely at the behavior of wolves, and understanding the biology of a wild animal, I don't think there is a ghost of a chance that people tamed and trained wild wolves and turned them into dogs. I think a population (at least one) of wolves domesticated themselves."

-Raymond Coppinger



Common breeding tests for the Shetland sheepdog include eye tests, hips/elbows/knees, thyroid panels and sometimes vWD certification.

The only breeding test that can 100% identify whether or not your puppy has any one of the genetic diseases listed above is the vWD-DNA test. However, this disease is very rare in shelties, affecting 1% of the breed's population.


Eye exams

Eye exams certified by the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF), which reports any eye abnormalities in the breed due to hereditary disease. In Shetland sheepdogs, the two main concerns are Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA) and Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA).



This is done through x-rays evaluated by three specialists at the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) or PennHip (University of Pennsylvania) and is used to detect the presence of hip dysplasia. OFA will do preliminary evaluations on dogs under two years of age, but will only certify dogs over two years of age. Dogs that have preliminary certification done through OFA, should have x-rays resubmitted because they are not given a permanent rating and often times, the rating can change for better or worse.



This test is used to detect autoimmune thyroid disease. Autoimmune thyroiditis can be influenced by environmental changes, such as excessive heat; or hormonal changes, such as aging. A thyroid test is a blood test and should be a complete panel that includes Total T4, Free T4, Total T3, Free T3, T4 auto antibodies, T3 auto antibodies, TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), and TgAA. A thyroid test is not always a conclusive diagnosis.


vonWillebrand's Disease

vWD, Factor III is a bleeding disorder in the Shetland sheepdog. The DNA test determines whether a dog is affected (two genes), a carrier (one gene), or clear of the disease. According to vetGen, affected shelties are very rare: (7% carrier-status; 1% affecteds as of January 26, 2005). Most breeders will not introduce the affected gene, but those that are breeding affected lines can easily & effectively manage its safe elimination through prudent vWD-DNA testing.


Control of Canine
Genetic Diseases
by George A. Padgett, DVM
ISBN 0-87605-004-6

Genetics of the Dog
by Malcolm B. Willis
ISBN 0-87605-551-X

Dog Owner's
Home Veterinary Handbook
by James M. Giffin, MD &
Liisa D. Carlson, DVM
ISBN 0-87605-201-4

Medical &
Genetic Aspects of
Purebred Dogs
Edited by Ross D. Clark, DVM &
Joan R. Stainer
ISBN 0-935078-24-X

Canine Inherited
Disorders Database (CIDD)

Alice Crook, BSc, DVM
Brian Hill, DVM, MS, DACVIM
Sue Dawson, BA, PhD

Amatras are breeders dedicated to focusing on longevity, health, temperament, structure, brains and beauty. Dogs are added to the program with these qualities only and bred only to improve each trait through each successive generation.




© Amatras Shetland Sheepdogs

Englewood, Florida

Established 2000.