Skin disorders of sheltie dogs

Updated February 21, 2017

Shelties, or Shetland sheepdogs, are small herding dogs that are known for their intelligence and their energy. Shelties are prone to skin problems. Before adopting one, become familiar with what these skin issues are and what kind of impact they could make on your pet.


Shelties are prone to several types of skin disorders. Dermatomyositis, which is also called Sheltie Skin Disorder, is one of them, and it leads to red, crusted lesions on the dog's skin. A Sheltie might also suffer from hyperthyroidism, which causes dry, flaky skin, or from skin allergies, which can cause itching and hives.


Observation is the first step toward identifying skin problems in Shelties. A dog who is constantly scratching at his skin might be showing signs of a skin problem, and red lesions are a sign that you should take your dog to the veterinarian. Dermatomyositis can only be diagnosed through a skin biopsy, and is often mistaken for allergies or mange.


In the case of dermatomyositis, the condition cannot be cured, but it can be controlled with steroids. Medication can treat hyperthyroidism. You can control allergies in a Sheltie by identifying the allergens and reducing the Sheltie's contact with them. Medications will treat inhalant allergens, while you can easily treat food allergies by switching out the dog's food for something of a higher quality.


Because this is dermatomyositis is an inherited disease, it cannot be prevented in dogs that currently manifest it. However, through spaying or neutering dogs that do have it, you can keep it from spreading to future generations. Choose a Sheltie from a reputable breeder who can show you that both of the dog's parents are healthy.


Dermatomyositis is a condition that has no genetic test available to diagnose it. Some dogs carry the disease but do not show it, and puppies in the same litter will not have the condition to the same degree or severity. Dermatomyositis can be managed and it is not contagious, meaning it will not be harmful to bring around other dogs or humans.

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