Shelties Diet and Nutrition

Best Dog Foods for Shelties

The Shetland Sheepdog is a smart and sensitive breed that can make a great loyal companion to the right owner or family. Since they are instinctively wary of strangers, this miniature Collie lookalike also make excellent guard dogs.  

Shelties are notorious for pancreatitis and gallbladder disease. So to combat this, Shelties need to be fed a diet with mid-protein (in the 20's) and low fat (around 10%) to remain healthy and thrive in their old age.

Experienced owners know that Sheltie is sensitive to many foods and you might have to test out a few until you find the right one for your pup. With that in mind, we've done the research for your Sheltie.

Check out our recommendation for the best foods to feed Shetlands that contain no Chinese ingredients but only high-quality ingredients and the right numbers for long term feeding. 

Quick Comparison

Best Dog Food for Shelties of 2022

Best overall dry dog food

Taste of the Wild

Best Dog Food for Shelties

Top rated dog food

Blue Buffalo 

Best foods for Shetland Shepherds

Best affordable dog food

American Journey

Grain-free dry dog food

Best puppy food 

FROMM Four-Star 

Holistic Gourmet Dog Food

Best senior dog food

Nulo Freestyle Senior

Treat your senior dog to a superior nutrition plan

Shetland Sheepdog Quick Breed Overview

Shetland Sheepdog

Shetland Sheepdogs look a lot like miniature Border Collies, remind people of the popular dog Lassie. Shetland Sheepdogs are a unique small breed all their own, originally coming from the Shetland Islands located North of Scotland. The breed eventually became popular as herders in Europe.

The size of a Sheltie (at the withers) is about 14-16 inches(males) and 13-15 inches(females). The weight of most males is about 16-20 pounds while most females are about 14-18 pounds, slightly smaller.

Shelties have a reputation as vocal dogs, but that might be undeserved. Ill-bred dogs often display a terrier-like personality–hyper and yappy, always on the go–but can just as easily be overly timid and may become a fear-biter. The intelligent Sheltie can be trained to be an excellent watch dog, and not yappy, giving two or three barks to alert its owner to a person at the door.

Unlike some dog breeds, males and females make equally good pets. The main difference is that males tend to have more impressive coats, and unspayed females will ‘blow’ coat after every heat cycle. Males should appear masculine, females feminine.

Here's a few other important breed traits to be aware of:

  • Temperament: Obedient, energetic, smart and loyal. 
  • Lifespan: Average 12- 15 years
  • Health issues: Progressive retinal atrophy, canine hip dysplasia, hyperthyroidism, Van Willebrand Disease, Sheltie Skin Syndrome, and Collie Eye Anomaly.

What diet to feed Shelties?

An overfilled dog food bowl and a Sheltie dog

Shelties should be fed a fresh diet which includes meat and vegetables. Going with dry dog food is okay but owners should be aware that Shelties suffer from grain allergies and have sensitive stomachs. Sheltie owners should make sure that the food they buy promises balanced nutrition and avoid buying cheaper brands that will lead to health problems for this breed.

Trusted dry dog food blends like Taste of the Wild, Blue Buffalo and Merrick Grain-Free are a few hypoallergenic food options that offer holistic nutrition that can often make a big difference for sensitive breeds like Shelties.

When deciding how to feed your Shelty, it's best to consult the instructions on your dog’s food and go from there. Since Shelties are a smaller breed they can be fed one meal during the day or smaller meals if owners find that it's better for their sensitive stomachs.

Shelties, like any other dog breed, should be fed per their weight and activity levels. Measure out your Sheltie’s food and leave it out only at mealtimes so your dog doesn’t become overweight and unhealthy.

You should be flexible, yet still be aware of the importance of feeding your pet on a schedule. Small adjustments might need to be made as a dog gets older and their energy levels slowly begin to decrease.

Shelties Potential Health Concerns & Dietary Solutions

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): PRA can not be detected until later in life, as it is a “progressive” disease. Affected dogs often begin with night vision problems, progressing to loss of day vision and total blindness. Currently, there is no treatment for either disease.

This degenerative disease that results in blindness, and doesn’t start with symptoms like redness or itchiness that are common with other eye problems. 

Owners might notice a shift in their dog’s behavior like not wanting to go down stairs or losing their way in the dark, instead. Mix dry kibble with cooked key veggies including carrots, broccoli, and sweet potatoes (leave out any condiments to avoid allergies) - since these are essential for optimum Sheltie’s eye health.

Hip Dysplasia: an inherited disorder that results in improper hip joint development and eventual loss of functioning in the hip joints. This disease is common in large dogs and can be helped by managing a dog’s weight. Ingredients like glucosamine and chondroitin included in a healthy diet can help promote a dogs’ joint health.

Sheltie Skin Syndrome: Many Shelties suffer from skin problems that can start when they are less than a year old. This is an inherited disorder that can be made worse by extended exposure to UV rays. Some warning signs include red, scaly skin or facial hair loss. Owners who see these signs should take their Sheltie to the vet. One way to prevent skin issues in Shelties is by feeding them a diet that contains fatty acids and Vitamin E.

Sheltie Eye Syndrome: Collie Eye or SES is an inherited disorder that affects a Collie or Sheltie’s eye development in the womb. SES can be detected in young puppies by a certified ophthalmologist. The disease involves all three layers of the posterior eyeball. Mild SES can result in a blind spot, while severe cases will lead to complete blindness. When obtaining a Sheltie, owners should be aware of whether there are any signs of eye problems in their dog or in its parents. Each individual puppy should have his eyes examined by a qualified veterinary ophthalmologist.

As with all dog breeds, diet should be monitored and adjusted as needed as many non-working Shelties can overeat and easily become obese.

Reviews of the Best Dog Food for Shelties 

Best Overall:  TOTW - High Prairie Roasted Bison & Venison Recipe

diet for Shelties

Taste of the Wild (TOTW) is a grain-free dry dog food brand that is a great option for dogs with allergies and sensitivities to other dog foods. This blend is made with real lean bison and venison as its source of protein to supply dogs with the energy they need to live an active life. The meat in this recipe is even roasted to add more flavor! Taste of the Wild dry dog food is supplemented with fruits, vegetables, and natural antioxidants to make sure that dogs are maintaining healthy immune systems.

Pet parents have seen noticeable changes in their dogs after switching to Taste of the Wild from other brands of dry kibble from improvements in their coat and skin to an increase in appetite and energy levels. Picky dogs love it, plus helps relieve allergy symptoms, and helps get rid of digestive problems. Owners love that this recipe is made with healthy ingredients first, like real meat, berries, sweet potato, peas, and tomatoes, is made in the USA, with only 370 kcal/cup. Overall, we recommend this high quality dry kibble for Shelties.

Top Rated: Blue Buffalo Life Protection w/ Chicken & Brown Rice

Blue Buffalo is a holistic dog food brand that focuses on dogs’ complete health and only uses the best ingredients. Each bag is made with real meat, wholesome whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Blue Buffalo Life Protection is also fortified with exclusive LifeSource Bits, a special blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that is approved by vets and pet nutritionists. Some of the wholesome ingredients featured in this formula are lamb, brown rice, carrots, spinach, pumpkin, pomegranate, apples and blueberries. This recipe contains 24.0% protein and 14% crude fat, with 378 kcal/cup. It is free from corn, wheat and soy.

Dogs raised on Blue Buffalo are lean, muscular, healthy, and happy. Some owners who switched their dogs to this brand after having trouble with other dry dog foods have noticed significant improvements in their dogs’ stool quality, as well as their skin and coat health. Even picky dogs seem to love this blend. Blue Buffalo is made with all the ingredients needed to give dogs more energy and help them maintain a healthy weight. Another advantage is that this formula contains a precise ratio of calcium and phosphorus to promote strong bones and to protect your Shelties' teeth. There are also fresh fruits and vegetables for nutritional balance.

Budget Pick: American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe

Large Breed Dog Food

This is an all life stages formula that is grain-free and contains no trace of corn, wheat, soy or gluten. It's also high in protein with the first listed ingredient as deboned salmon (great source of omega-3 fatty acids) and packed with nutritious carbohydrates.

A variety of fruits and canine-friendly vegetables, vitamin and mineral supplements and a single probiotic strain help round out the ingredient list.

For pet parents working on a tight budget, this reasonably priced dog food offers a very nutritious and balanced diet for your Sheltie pet dog.

Best for Shelties puppies: FROMM Four-Star Salmon A La Veg

Holistic Gourmet Dog Food

FROMM Four Star is a holistic gourmet grain-free dog food that is suitable for dogs of all life stages and features no corn, wheat, soy or gluten. 

This is a nutritious dog food that provides almost everything owners want in a dog food.

An assortment of fruits and canine-friendly veggies, including carrots, apples, celery, cranberries and broccoli, are incorporated into this recipe to provide vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, while brown rice, sweat potatoes, and whole oats and barley provide most of the carbohydrate content of this grain-free food.

The salmon and salmon meal packs in the required Omega-3 fatty acids needed to help maintain coat health and fight off skin infections.

Best for Senior Shelties : Nulo Freestyle Senior Trout and Sweet Potato Recipe

Treat your senior dog to a superior nutrition plan

Nulo Freestyle is a premium, all-natural dog food formulated with a variety of ingredients to keep your dog healthy, and without any unnecessary additives.

It's also completely free from chicken and egg proteins, making it a great choice for Shelties with allergies to these super-common ingredients. It utilizes Glucosamine and Chondroitin to help with joint pain and inflammation.

The Nulo Freestyle senior formula is grain-free and features wholesome vegetables and fruits, fish and turkey meal for a balanced diet for your ageing dog. A proprietary probiotic strain is also included with this food, to help keep your Shelties' tummy working well.

Bottom Line

All five recipes listed above use meat as the first ingredients, supplemented with healthy whole fruits and veggies as well as essential vitamins, minerals and amino acids to ensure your Sheltie leads a healthy and long life.

We’d love to hear about your experiences with feeding your Sheltie. Let us know about your experiences - both good and bad - with various brands and recipes.

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