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Shetland sheepdogs or shelties are a small, active, and happy-go-lucky breed. If you have one at home, you know how they like to have fun and are always cheerful to have around. They are smart, extremely loyal, and eager to please, making them the ideal choice for training and companionship.


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Shelties have long snouts and a narrow head. Their ears are rounded and stand up. They’re also deep-chested with level-back torsos. They have straight hair and a dense undercoat ranging from sable to black to blue to merle. Overall, shelties have the look of a miniature collie.

Shetland sheepdogs come from Scotland originally, where they worked as herding and guard dogs. They protected the sheep while at the same time keeping them out of the garden. They also kept hungry birds away from the farm. Because of their background, shelties are an active breed that needs plenty of exercises, mental stimuli, and entertainment.

What’s more, shelties need proper nutrition to maintain their active lifestyle and happy, energetic selves. For this reason, finding the best dog food for shetland sheepdogs is crucial. Fortunately, we’re here to help. Below you’ll find our top picks specifically for shelties. The best sheltie diet is rich in healthy fats and protein that promotes strong joints and is easy to digest.

In this article, you’ll find everything you need to know about feeding your sheltie. We’ll start with our top dog food picks and then discuss nutritional needs, feeding schedules, and cover some frequently asked questions.

5 Key Nutritional Needs of a Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie)

While it’s true that all dogs require a blend of protein, fats, and carbohydrates, for an active breed like a sheltie, striking the proper balance is more critical than ever. Adequate nutrition is essential to keep your sheltie feeling good and always excited and ready to please.

With that in mind, there are several factors to consider. Shelties are built with a lot of lean muscle for running and jumping, so it’s important to provide the protein they need. However, they can have stomach problems if they eat too much or their digestive system is thrown off, so a high-protein diet combined with supplements for minerals, digestive health, and joints are ideal.

That said, here are five key nutritional needs to keep in mind:

Protein

Of all of the nutritional needs of your sheltie, protein is perhaps the most important. Protein provides the building blocks for muscles. As a puppy, your sheltie needs plenty of protein to develop muscle. Then, as an adult, it’s critical to maintain lean muscle for activities ranging from playing fetch to leaping over obstacles.

Sheltie puppies should eat a minimum of 22% protein in their diet. This minimum drops to 18% for adult dogs, but it remains crucial to maintain a high-protein diet.

Fats

Below protein, fats are essential. Fats are especially important for a breed as active as the shetland sheepdog as it provides long-lasting energy your dog needs. Shelties tend to need extra energy, so their diet should be relatively high in fats.

For proper health, fats should come from animal sources. When purchasing food for your sheltie, look for those that contain fat from animals such as salmon, beef, and chicken. Fat from animals ensures bioavailability and proper digestion.

Carbohydrates

Shetland sheepdogs do not have any specific requirements when it comes to carbohydrates, but they can provide additional nutrients your dog needs. They are also a source of energy for your sheltie, and fiber can help with your dog’s digestive system.

For shelties, digestibility is something to consider. Look for whole grains and carbohydrates that come from legumes and vegetables. Nevertheless, dietary fiber should never exceed 5% as too much can upset your dog’s stomach and lead to improper digestion.

Vegetables and Fruits

Vegetables and fruits can provide essential nutrients not found in whole grains and animals. Nutrients obtained naturally in this way have greater value and bioavailability than those from supplements. Look for a dog food that contains a mix of different vegetables and some fruit.

Supplements

Supplements are also necessary, especially as your sheltie begins to age. As we’ve already mentioned, shelties tend to have digestive issues, so greatly benefit from prebiotics and probiotics. Supplementing with some chelated minerals (those bound to protein molecules to improve absorption) is always a good idea for muscle health.

Maintaining healthy bones and joints are also critical for your sheltie. Glucosamine is an excellent supplement for joint health that is good for every dog, but especially shelties.

5 Special Dietary Considerations for a Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie)

Shetland sheepdogs make excellent family pets. They are closer to a small breed than a larger one, standing at 13” to 16” tall, and look like miniature collies. When fully grown, they weigh around 30 pounds. That said, they are amazingly fast and have impressive stamina and agility.

Unfortunately, shelties are prone to a number of health conditions to watch out for. However, with proper diet and care, they live between 12 and 14 years of age. Diet is critical to avoid and treat many of the issues below.

Eye Problems

Shelties are prone to something called collie eye anomaly. This is a genetic condition in which the eyes do not develop properly. Collie eye anomaly can cause your sheltie to experience impaired vision and eventual blindness. While a proper diet is essential to maintain health, talk to your veterinarian right away if you think your sheltie might have this condition.

Musculoskeletal Problems

Another issue that shelties can have is hip dysplasia and elbow luxation. Both of these involve bone joints that tend to slip out of place, causing inflammation, pain, and joint damage. For this reason, it’s imperative that you feed your sheltie a proper diet. You may also want to consider supplements to help improve your dog’s joint health.

Genetic Health Issues

Food Allergies

Shetland sheepdogs are not particularly affected by allergies more than other breeds. Still, it’s important to stay away from foods that can cause serious health problems for all dogs. These include raisins, chocolate, onions, and mushrooms. Dogs can’t digest many of these foods or can have adverse reactions to them, up to and including organ failure and seizures.

Level of Activity

The shetland sheepdog is a medium-sized breed, but with the metabolism of a small dog. For this reason, your dog may need a calorie-intense diet to keep up. Shelties have a lot of energy, so they need plenty of attention, activities, and exercise.

Keep these things in mind when it comes to feeding your sheltie. Make sure your dog is getting enough to eat. However, if your sheltie begins to gain weight, then it’s time to make an adjustment.

Daily Calorie Intake

Generally speaking, most medium-sized dogs need close to 700 calories as a puppy and between 800 and 900 calories as an adult per day. This total will depend mainly on how active your dog is, but considering that shelties tend to have a lot of energy, it’s critical to feed appropriately.

Feeding Schedule for a Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie)

Shelties benefit from a consistent feeding schedule. Nonetheless, the amount of food your dog needs will depend on your sheltie’s age, weight, and activity level. Remember, shelties are closer to small breeds than larger ones, so they have faster metabolisms and need more calories than other medium-sized breeds.

Generally speaking, shetland sheepdogs should eat between one and two cups of high-quality food rich in protein and high in fat each day. It’s best to split this up into two meals each day, one in the morning and one in the evening.

For puppies, they may need three meals a day, especially as they’re growing. If your sheltie is particularly active or you are training your dog for sports or herding, you may also need a third meal to fuel your dog’s metabolism. Otherwise, adult shelties with an average activity level should be okay with two square meals a day.

Best Overall Dog Food for Shetland Sheepdog (Shelties)

With all of the above information in mind, it’s time to shop for dog food for your shetland sheepdog. We’re looking for top-quality, natural ingredients. We need food that is rich in protein and high in fat. What’s more, it should have carbohydrates from sources that are easy to digest, and vegetables and fruits for added nutrients. The inclusion of healthy supplements is also a big plus.

We’ve carefully researched the market and picked some of our favorites. You really can’t go wrong with any of these dog foods. That said, every dog is different and individual, and it’s essential to find the best possible food for your sheltie.

For starters, our overall top pick is:

Our Top Pick – The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Chicken Recipe Dehydrated Dog Food

To be honest, there are several really great picks for dog food perfect for shelties. After going back and forth over which brand to pick, we finally settled on The Honest Kitchen. It’s minimally processed, made from high-quality ingredients, and has the ideal formula for active shetland sheepdogs.

The Honest Kitchen dehydrated dog food is made to be higher in calories and fat than other foods. This high-fat content aligns with the needs of your sheltie and your dog’s high metabolism. It has free-range chicken, garden vegetables, and carbohydrates from whole grain barley.

What’s really great about this product is that instead of kibble, it’s dehydrated, so you add water, and the food comes to life. It’s a great middle-ground between expensive delivery services and dry kibble. It provides a hearty meal that your dog will love. Plus, being dehydrated keeps the flavor and preserves nutritional integrity.

10 More Top-Rated Dog Foods for Shetland Sheepdogs

As we said, there’s a lot of great dog food for your sheltie. Besides our top pick, we also put together a list of ten additional top-rated dog foods for Shetland sheepdogs. Take a look!

Runner-Up: Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Key Features:

  • Grain-free
  • Lots of added vitamins, minerals, and omega fatty acids
  • Made to be highly digestible

Taste of the Wild almost made out top pick and for a good reason. It provides an affordable and balanced diet for your sheltie that’s grain-free and highly digestible. This particular recipe features buffalo as its first ingredient. It includes sweet potato and peas for carbohydrates and for fast energy that doesn’t come from grains.

We also love this food because it includes ingredients for digestive support, with real fruits and vegetables, and chicory root to improve digestion. It also contains essential minerals that are chelated and combined with amino acids to ensure absorption.

All in all, Taste of the Wild is a lean food with balanced nutrition to keep your dog healthy. It’s formulated to keep your dog’s skin clear and that beautiful sheltie coat in perfect condition. It provides lasting energy, immune system support, and omega fatty acids that your sheltie needs.

Pros:

  • Contains premium animal proteins
  • Easily digestible grain-free carbohydrates
  • Supplemented with chelated minerals, omega fatty acids, and probiotics

Cons:

  • Main source of fat is canola oil, which is plant-based
  • Has plant proteins from potatoes and peas

Super Premium: NomNom Fresh Food Delivery

Key Features:

  • Fresh food
  • Conveniently delivered
  • Nutritionally customized for your dog

If you’re looking for super-premium food, there’s NomNom, a food delivery service for your dog. This service prepares custom meals for your dog and delivers them in monthly shipments. The trick is to select the best option for your sheltie, but there are also several options to customize dietary needs.

The shipments arrive already portioned appropriately for meals. You keep them in the refrigerator and serve them on a regular schedule. The food is nutritionally balanced, and it’s fresh, so you know your dog is eating well.

It’s amazing stuff, but you will pay a premium. The food is formulated by a doctor, and the nutritional levels are established by the AAFCO. NomNom is a good choice if you can afford it.

Pros:

  • Made from fresh ingredients
  • Delivered to your door automatically
  • Perfectly portioned

Cons:

  • Limited number of recipe options
  • Expensive dog food
  • Some delivery restrictions

Key Features:

  • Contains high-quality protein
  • Lots of added supplements

Blue Buffalo offers a solid all-around dog food. Its first ingredient is real meat that provides high-quality protein for your dog. From there, it’s formulated with whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and supplements to make food that’s ideal for most breeds, including shelties.

One of the biggest selling points of Blue Buffalo is that it includes what they call “life source bits,” which are vitamin-fortified pieces that provide essential vitamins and minerals. This makes this food a good choice for immune health and strong bones. It also includes glucosamine for joint health.

Blue Buffalo has natural ingredients, including chicken protein, fat sourced from animals, and the right kind of carbohydrates. It offers a nice balance for active shelties while promoting general wellbeing and health.

Pros:

  • High in protein and fat
  • Contains vitamins, chelated minerals, and glucosamine for general health
  • No corn, wheat, or soy

Cons:

  • Not specifically formulated for shelties

Best Value: American Journey Salmon and Brown Rice Dry Food

Key Features:

  • Provides a well-rounded and balanced diet
  • Includes plenty of supplements
  • Comes at a reasonable price

For those of us who are on a budget, American Journey is a good choice. This dog food provides great nutritional value without breaking the bank. The recipe has real salmon for lots of protein and omega fatty acids.

On top of that, it has digestible whole grains and vegetables. It also has fruit for antioxidants. It’s free from wheat, soy, corn, and artificial colors, and plenty of supplements for your dog’s health.

Overall, American Journey provides 25% protein, 15% fat, and 6% fiber. This is a decent balance for your sheltie to ensure the development of lean muscle and maintain energy for long walks, running, and even dog sports.

Pros:

  • Includes several sources of animal protein
  • Rich in essential fatty acids
  • Contains digestible carbohydrates
  • Supplemented with chelated minerals

Cons:

  • May be too high in fiber for some dogs
  • Contains some plant protein from peas

Best Customized Food Plan: The Farmer’s Dog

Key Features:

  • Fresh food delivered to your door
  • Nutritionally customized for your dog

The Farmer’s Dog is another service that delivers freshly-made dog food to your house. Their recipes are simple and nutritious, and all of their ingredients are human-grade and sourced from small farms across the United States.

The food comes portioned in bags that are never frozen and then delivered to your doorstep. When you sign up, you’ll get automatic deliveries each month, so you always have food for your dog. Plus, each meal is made and shipped within days for the freshest possible quality.

One of the best parts about The Farmer’s Dog is that you can customize your nutritional plan specifically for your dog. For instance, meals can be pre-portioned to the calorie needs of your sheltie. What’s more, this is some of the most nutritious food you can buy, formulated, and cooked by certified professionals.

Pros:

  • Plans can be customized and meal pre-portioned just for your sheltie
  • Choose from three healthy recipes
  • No fillers or preservatives

Cons:

  • More expensive than traditional dog food
  • Fresh food spoils quickly, so you may need to freeze some of it before it’s eaten

Best Fresh Food Delivery: Ollie

Key Features:

  • Custom meal plans delivered to your door
  • Easy and nutritionally balanced

Like the other fresh food delivery services we’ve featured so far, Ollie cooks fresh ingredients, packages meals into portions perfect for your dog, and delivers them straight to your door. What makes Ollie stand apart from the others is the quality of its recipes.

Although Ollie only offers four different recipes, each one is made with animal meat as its main source of protein and a variety of other ingredients that provide vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Each meal strikes a nice balance between protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Overall, each meal contains above-average protein, above-average fat, and below-average carbohydrates.

In other words, not only are you getting your sheltie’s food delivered to your door, but you also know that each meal is nutritionally balanced for your dog. To sign up, you tell Ollie all about your dog, including age, weight, allergies, and some other things, and the company customizes a plan for you.

Pros:

  • Provides some of the most balanced and nutritious meals available
  • Meal plans are made specifically based on your dog’s breed, weight, activity level, etc.
  • Dog Food delivered to your door, making it very convenient for you

Cons:

  • More expensive than traditional food

Best Sous-Vide Dog Food: A Pup Above

Key Features:

  • Fresh food delivery service
  • Uses a Sous-vide cooking method

The last fresh food delivery service on this list is A Pup Above. Like the others on this list, they The last fresh food delivery service on this list is A Pup Above. Like the others on this list, they make and deliver freshly made food to you so that you don’t have to go to the store for dog food. In general, fresh food is an excellent way to ensure your dog is eating healthy and getting the nutrition they need.

What makes A Pup Above different is that they use the sous-vide cooking method to make their food. This method involves sealing fresh ingredients in a BPA-free bag and slowly cooking them over the course of two hours. This process produces food with more flavor and 72% more protein than other fresh food recipes.

What’s more, A Pup Above is an ethically-conscious company that gets all of its ingredients from local sources whenever possible and makes eco-friendly decisions to keep their carbon footprint small. Their fulfillment center runs on 100% renewable energy, and their packaging is entirely recyclable.

Pros:

  • Sous-vide cooking method produces food with 72% more protein than other fresh food recipes
  • Conveniently delivered to your doorstep
  • A Pup Above is an ethically-conscious company

Cons:

  • Food is not pre-portioned like other similar companies
  • Expensive, especially compared to traditional dog food

Best for Puppies: Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Grain-Free Puppy Recipe

Key Features:

  • Freeze-dried dog food
  • Real chicken and wild salmon

Merrick offers dry puppy food with the nutritional value of raw food. They do this by freeze-drying raw bits of real chicken. They then combine this with salmon, vitamins, and minerals for a formula rich in protein and highly-digestible ingredients. This creates food that is a great pick for new sheltie owners.

Merrick Backcountry is grain-free, which is good for puppies with sensitive stomachs and skin problems. It has lots of omega fatty acids and rich nutrients perfect for a growing pup.

Shelties, in particular, benefit from animal protein that helps them to develop the lean muscle they use for running, leaping, and agility. This food has plenty of vitamins and minerals for a growing puppy, plus glucosamine for developing healthy joints.

Pros:

  • Freeze-dried food offers some of the benefits of a raw diet
  • Plenty of animal protein from chicken and salmon
  • Highly digestible
  • Contains essential vitamins, minerals, and glucosamine

Cons:

  • More expensive than other dry dog food
  • May not be healthy for dogs with liver or kidney problems

Best for Sensitive Stomachs: Solid Gold Wolf King Bison and Brown Rice Adult Recipe

Key Features:

  • Easily digestible formula for sensitive stomachs
  • Real bison as the main ingredient

If your Shetland sheepdog has a sensitive stomach, you may want to consider Solid Gold Wolf King food. It’s made from high-quality ingredients and specially designed to be easily digestible. It features protein from bison and carbohydrates from brown rice, making for a recipe that most dogs are comfortable with.

Solid Gold Wolf King also includes fish meal for omega fatty acids, which help with skin and coat health. The whole grain carbohydrate content is easy on the stomach and is supplemented with fruits and vegetables for added nutrients. Plus, it has probiotics to help with digestion.

Overall, Solid Gold Wolf King is a good choice if your sheltie appears sluggish after eating or tends to puke up dinner. It offers an ideal blend of protein and fat and provides all of the essential nutrients your sheltie needs for a healthy and active lifestyle.

Pros:

  • Animal protein from bison
  • Easily digestible whole grains
  • Include vegetables and fruit
  • Contains omega fatty acids, chelated minerals, and probiotics

Cons:

  • May not have enough fat for an active sheltie

Best for Shelties with Allergies: Wellness Simple LID Grain-Free Salmon and Potato Dry Food

Key Features:

  • Formulates for dogs with allergies and skin sensitivities
  • Limited ingredient and easy on the stomach

Some shelties are particularly sensitive and may have food allergies and skin issues. In cases such as these, limited ingredient food may be the solution, such as Wellness Simple. This food gets its protein from a single source and includes only a few ingredients in order to keep the recipe as simple as possible.

All of the ingredients in Wellness Simple are chosen carefully to be easily digestible, while still including all of the necessary nutrients for a balanced diet. Protein comes from salmon, which also provides omega fatty acids. Carbohydrates come from potatoes, so this food is grain-free. It also uses peas for added nutrition and protein.

As for supplements, Wellness Simple still has everything your dog needs. It has probiotics and prebiotics, chelated minerals, and vitamins. Overall, it provides 25% protein, 12% fat, and 5% fiber.

Pros:

  • Made with a limited number of ingredients
  • Contains salmon protein from a single source
  • Grain-free carbohydrates
  • Has chelated minerals, probiotics, and prebiotics

Cons:

  • Main source of fat is canola oil
  • May be a little high in calories for some dog’s diets

Frequently Asked Questions

When it comes to choosing the right food for your sheltie, a lot of us have questions. Fortunately, we tend to have the same questions. Hopefully, if you’re still on the fence about which food to choose, one of these will help nudge you in the right direction.

Is Fresh or Dry Food Better for My Sheltie?

We’ve included both options on our list, and it’s hard to say which is best. The important thing is to make sure your sheltie is getting all of the nutrients needed to remain active, healthy, and happy. A high-quality food rich in protein and with enough fat and supplements will generally do the trick.

That said, fresh food is generally better. It usually offers excellent nutritional value while being easy to digest. The problem is that it’s pretty expensive.

Not everyone can afford to sign up for one of the home delivery options we mentioned earlier. If you can’t, don’t worry. Many dry foods still offer all of the nutrients your dog needs to thrive.

When Can My Sheltie Puppy Start Eating Adult Food?

Most puppies are ready to start eating adult food by the time they are one year old. To avoid switching all of a sudden, you can start transitioning your sheltie’s food slowly. Start by mixing the puppy food with adult food a little bit at a time until your sheltie is used to the new food. Using this technique can help to avoid upsetting your dog’s stomach.

It’s crucial not to switch to adult food too early, as puppy food has increased amounts of certain nutrients your dog needs for muscle and brain development. While your puppy is growing, they need additional fat and minerals.

Should I Be Using a Grain-Free Food for My Sheltie?

A lot of dog foods advertise that they are grain-free, but what does this mean, and is it really something you should be worried about? The short answer is: it depends. Some dogs are sensitive and have allergies to ingredients found in food that contains grains such as soy, wheat, and corn. For this reason, a lot of dog food has started removing the grains in favor of legumes and peas.

Nevertheless, this is not good for all dogs. In fact, some dogs have problems with peas and other plant-based proteins. When in doubt, speak with your veterinarian before switching from one type of food to another. At the end of the day, every dog has different nutritional needs.

Are Vegetables Good for My Sheltie?

All dogs need nutrients that they can get from vegetables, but only from certain kinds. While all of the dog foods features in this article contain vegetables in some form, you may want to supplement a high-quality dog food with some extra veggies now and then.

A good way to add some veggies to your dog’s diet is to chop them up and mix them into your dog’s food. Good candidates include broccoli, cucumber, sweet potatoes, peas, spinach, zucchini, carrots, and asparagus.

Do Shelties Need Supplements?

Most young dogs get all of the nutrients they need from what they eat as long as they are consuming high-quality food. Nevertheless, as your sheltie ages, you may want to begin adding supplements to your dog’s diet. These supplements can help with joint issues, bone health, and general health and activity level.

When looking for a supplement for your sheltie, find one that has glucosamine and other beneficial ingredients, such as chondroitin and curcumin. When in doubt, look for one with a broad spectrum of nutrients.

Also, as a rule of thumb, for the supplement to have the impact you expect, make sure it has around 20mg of glucosamine for each pound your dog weighs. This is important because some supplements don’t contain enough glucosamine to offer any real benefit for your dog.

Conclusion

Shetland sheepdogs have unique nutritional needs. They are a medium-sized breed that needs a diet closer to small-breed dogs. Shelties are loving, loyal, and eager to please, but they also have a lot of energy and need the very best food to keep them going.

When it comes to keeping your sheltie healthy and happy, you can’t go wrong with any of the dog food options covered in this article. That said, it’s up to you to find what works best for your household, budget, and dog. We hope you’ve found this guide to the best shetland sheepdog foods helpful.

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