Shetland Sheepdogs, popularly called Shelties, are small, compact herding dogs that resemble small Collies. These dogs' high energy level requires a nutritious diet high in protein and other nutrients. Owners should keep an eye on their dogs’ overall condition and health, and if the dogs begin to gain weight they should be fed less, while dogs that are too thin usually need more food. If you can feel a dog’s ribs without a lot of effort, their weight is about right, but if you can’t find the ribs when you run your hands along your Sheltie’s sides, you need to cut back on your dog’s food. If your dog's ribs are very prominent, it's likely that your high-energy dog requires more food.
Your Sheltie can get the nutrients they need from dry food, as long as you pay attention to what’s in it. Check to see that the first ingredient listed on the label is a specific type of meat, such as beef, fish, chicken or lamb. If it simply says “meat,” or if it says “by-products,” you don’t really know what you are getting; it could be any part of the animal and may not be a good source of protein. If the first ingredient listed is grain, such as wheat or corn, it indicates that the food contains more grain than meat and may not be the best choice for your dog. The high-quality dry dog food can be found in health food stores, online pet supply stores, and some chain pet supply stores, but generally it's harder to find in supermarkets. When feeding Shelties, always use the label instructions as a guide and give them the amount indicated for their size. For most Shelties, this is between 3/4 of a cup and 2 cups per day, though active dogs may need more. Divide the total and feed your dog half of the food in the morning and half in the evening.
Shelties love home-cooked foods, and, so long as you're careful, your Sheltie will stay healthy and fit on a home-cooked diet. The basis for any home-cooked meal is protein such as fish, chicken, turkey, beef, or lamb. About a quarter pound for the average-sized Sheltie will do. Other ingredients to add when making a meal for your Sheltie are cooked rice or yams and vegetables such as peas, carrots and broccoli. For variety, or if you are feeding a vegetarian diet, choose cooked eggs or cottage cheese as a source of protein. When cooking raw food for your dog, be sure to follow safe handling practices and wash all utensils and work surfaces with hot, soapy water as soon as you are done.
Many owners enjoy giving their dogs snacks, but snacks should never replace meals for basic nutrition. Baby carrots, for instance, make great snacks because they're vitamin rich and Shelties love them. The crunch is good for their teeth and gums, and carrots won’t cause dogs to gain weight. Other treats Shelties love are boiled liver or chicken, cut into bite-sized cubes. Keep these treats refrigerated so that they don’t spoil too quickly and handle them as you would any other meat or poultry. Some specialty stores sell dried yams, which are chewy and nutritious and won't add a lot of empty calories.
Some common human foods are highly toxic to dogs. The list includes chocolate, alcohol, avocados, onions and macadamia nuts. Other deadly foods are raisins, grapes, yeast dough and raw eggs. Since Shelties are not very large, it doesn’t take much of any one of these toxic foods to cause them to become seriously ill. If you suspect your dog has eaten any of these foods, contact a veterinarian immediately.