The English Shetland Sheepdog Club


Health Issues in Shetland Sheepdogs

Although the Shetland Sheepdog is relatively free from major health problems, you should be aware of a few issues.

Shelties can be affected by the hereditary eye problems CEA & GPRA. A paper on the subject can be downloaded from our Downloads pages or click here

There is a DNA test for CEA(CH) but this is not a substitute for physical eye examination of puppies at 6 weeks old, which will also identify other eye problems such as coloboma and distichiasis. Both can also be hereditary.

It has been discovered recently that there are two variants of GPRA in Shelties; CNGA1 and BBS2. Both can cause blindness. CNGA1 is early onset and BBS2 is late onset. Both can be identified by regular eye examination and there are DNA tests for both conditions. DNA testing for both conditions is now available. Click here for details.

Hip Dysplasia has been known to affect some Shelties. A number of breeders are now getting their breeding stock hip scored.

Shelties can suffer adverse reactions to an anti-parasitic drug called Ivermectin. It has been discovered that some breeds of dog, mainly, but not exclusively varieties of Collie, are unable to produce a protein which is essential for pumping drugs and toxins out of the central nervous system. Ivermectin is just one of several drugs which are now known can cause this reaction and the condition is generally referred to as MDR1 because the protein responsible is known as the Multi-Drug Resistance protein. MDR1 is not a disease and as long as a dog with the sensitivity is not exposed to any of the dangerous drugs then it will not be at risk of a reaction. A comprehensive article was published in issue 120 of the Nutshell. The article was updated in January 2013 and is available here or from our Downloads pages.

Dermatomyositis (DM or FCD) is an extremely serious, but fortunately rare, skin disease which can affect Shelties. You can download a copy of a paper, originally given by Mrs Marion Withers at the Club's Annual General Meeting in 2004 and updated in January 2010, from our Downloads pages or click here. Please note that this paper contains photographs of some dogs affected by this condition, which some of you may find disturbing. Larger images of these photographs can be viewed from the Downloads pages or click here.

You may also find this article about dental issues interesting.

The Kennel Club have released the Breed Health Conservation Plan for Shetland Sheepdogs which can be found here.

The ESSC is a member of the Pastoral Breeds Health Foundation which is actively fundraising & promoting research into health issues and promoting health testing of Pastoral Breeds. Their website has a lot of useful information which you can find here


The English Shetland Sheepdog Club, 2008-2020