Mari's Sweet Shelties

Got Questions?  I will try to answer them here!
Lots of questions with lots of answers....but as always, feel free to call me and ask your questions direct.  This page does not eliminate the person-to-person contact that I love to provide, but rather is a quick reference for your common questions.  
These are questions I routinely answer for puppy buyers.  All answers are from my own experiences and are personal opinion.

What do all of these terms mean: Puppy Mills vs Backyard Breeder vs Professional Breeder?
    Puppy Mills are, according to Wikipedia: A puppy mill, sometimes known as a puppy farm, is a commercial dog breeding facility. No standardized legal definition for "puppy mill" exists. The term "mill" is also applied to operations involving other animals commercially bred for profit, including cats. For-profit breeding on a smaller scale may be referred to as backyard breeding, although this term has negative connotations and may also refer to unplanned or non-commercial breeding. Puppies from mills often have severe health issues, they are raised in filth, are unsocialized, and frequently have life-long issues.
   Backyard Breeders are, according to Wikipedia: a general term, often considered derogatory, used in USA to describe people who breed animals, often without registration. [note: NYS Ag & Markets specifies when registration needs to occur. Many home breeders stay under this number, therefore registration not required]  The term most often is used to describe certain types of breeders of dogs and horses and is used in this sense by the Animal Welfare community, the ASPCA, larger established breeders and breed clubs in contrast to the more positive term, "reputable breeder" that describes operations that use responsible methodology and practices. 
  The term Professional Breeder does not seem to exist.  People consider themselves professional for many reasons. Perhaps they participate in AKC or other kennel club show rings, perhaps they produce a certain number of pups a year. Whatever the reason they call themselves "professional",  no standardized legal definition exists.

Which type of Breeder am I?
   I am a lover of the Shetland Sheepdog.  I believe they are wonderful family pets, beautiful to look at, loyal over all distractions, faithful to the end.  I do not title myself any of the above.  I love breeding my shelties...I love the whelping day when the pups are born, I grieve the lost of a puppy that doesn't sustain life, I am fascinated with the day to day development of these little beings.  I adore meeting potential puppy families and matching them to their dream fur-baby. I love their going home day and placing all the joy and anticipation into waiting family arms.  I love the families' stories.  I am a breeder of Shelties, for the love of the breed, for the love of the families I get to meet, for the love of the babies.  (And yes, the financial part is a great contribution to the welfare of our family.) But always, always....the life of the puppy outweighs any financial gain!!! 

​How big will the dog be?
   First, it is impossible to give a definite answer of how big a puppy will be at full grown, based on its birth size.  I've had the smallest pups at birth end up on the larger size and vice-versa.  The Sheltie standard in size ranges from 13" to 16" measured at the top of the shoulder.  But that doesn't reflect their overall height: dog measures 15" at shoulder but when she lifts her nose up as high as it goes, she's more like 24" tall to tip of nose.  The length of their bodies also varies and there is not a standard here but averages 18"-24" long.  Their weight is usually 20-30#, unless you share too many yummy snacks with them, then they can become overweight, even obese.  My standard answer to someone asking me how big will the dog be is about kneecap height.

Do Shelties shed?
   In a word...Yes!  (Most dogs, like humans, shed.) The Sheltie coat is two-layers.  The top overcoat is long and beautiful when all brushed out.  The undercoat is shorter hairs, and this is where matting can occur.  Your sheltie will need brushing out routinely.  I find their shedding to be very manageable.  They shed out seasonally. You will start to see clumps of fur on the floor.  This is a good indication that its time for a bath & brush out.  When they are in active shedding, a through brushing once a week for about a month will control the shedding nicely.  I prefer a "shedding rake" (available at Walmart) and comb.  I find these work much better then a brush.  Once the shedding season is over, you won't need to do much to handle the loose hairs.  (Unlike short hair dogs ie: labs, who shed continually all year long with times of massive shedding. We have had labs in the past.  I will take sheltie hair over that any day!!!!) I recommend shelties be brushed out and never clipper-ed as this causes a lot of damage to their coats.  

What are the puppies personalities like?
  This question is impossible to answer for many weeks. As they develop and begin to move around, play, eat solid food, we will begin to see some personality traits emerge. If you have already contracted for a puppy, I will share these developments with you throughout the 8 weeks. But understand, any personality traits we note are "litter pecking order type traits". Once they are out on their own, in your home, you will see so much more develop as they become a member of your family.

What training will the puppy have when they come home at 8 weeks old?
  No formal training is done while the puppies are growing old enough to go to their homes. They are very busy transitioning from infant to puppy, going through weening from mom, eating solid food, drinking from a dish, walking and running with balance, playing with siblings, etc. The last 2 weeks here, they are busy socializing, learning there is more world out their then just my home. They will probably have learned a basic command of "be quiet" as we do not allow excessive whining or barking, or at least we fool ourselves into thinking we are teaching them this. 

Does Mom-dog miss her puppies?  Should the babies come back to visit their Mom?
   I am often asked this.  Dogs do not have the same attachment to parents as we humans do.  By the time the puppies are ready to go their new families, mom-dog is just as ready for them to leave.  The 2 weeks of socialization, where we are taking them in and out of the house, prepares the adult dogs for the puppies eventual permanent departure.  The adults seem to observe their leaving, look around when they are gone, watch me reset the dog room to non-puppy time and just move on with their lives.  Likewise, a puppy coming back to visit is not recognized by mom or the other dogs as a former baby, only an intruder.

​What food will puppy be eating when they go home at 8 weeks old?
   I feed Purina Puppy Chow Tender & Crunchy (available at Walmart) from when they move into dry food through to them going home.  I will give you a quart bag of food for you to take with you. Transitioning puppy to the food of your choice should always be done gradually, introducing new food to current food.  This will help avoid digestive upset.  I also recommend that you keep the puppy on the puppy chow for 3 to 4 weeks after taking them home, for 2 reasons:  1) they are going through a lot of changes as they move from our house to sounds, smells, environments. Keeping their food the same until they are settled with the changes just reduces one stress and may make their digestive tract transition more easily. 2) I highly recommend a much better, higher quality food for your puppy to grow up on and eat the rest of its life, a no or low grains, high meat content.  However, at 2 months old, the puppy just cannot absorb all that goodness and therefore, a high quality food will initially result in more defecating as they expel the excess nutrition.

When does the puppy need shots?
   Basic shot schedule:  A combination shot is given at 6 weeks, 10 weeks & 14 weeks (+/-).  Rabies shot is given at 12 weeks or older.  The first shot will be given by my vet during their first check-up at 6 weeks.  I recommend you schedule a vet appointment at 10 weeks old for another check-up and 2nd set of shots.  The rabies can easily wait for the 14 week appointment and can be done together.  No need for an extra appointment.  After this series of shots is complete, you are good for one year.  This is the basic plan.  Please follow the advise of your vet for precise care.

What should I bring when picking up puppy?
   Depending on how far you will be traveling, think about having the following items with you:  a collar or harness (I prefer a harness & can advise you on size the week before your pick up), a 6' leash.  You might want newspapers in car to put down in the event puppy needs to potty "now" and you cannot stop. Also paper towels, shopping bag...clean up stuff in case puppy vomits.  Again, depending on distance, you might need water, bowl, & food (which I will give you).

What should I have ready at home?
   Crate or pen, gates or some form of containment area for where puppy will sleep and be when you cannot watch them. Food, toys, newspapers (pups are on newspaper all the time in their puppy pen here so are accustom to potty-ing there.  Paper towels (cheap, for accident clean-ups).   If you work all day and cannot get home to tend puppy mid-day, you might want to line up some puppy-day care until they are about 5-6 months old.

Do I have to keep the name you gave the puppy?
   I give all my puppies "puppy names".  These are temporary names for identification purposes during their 8 weeks of infancy.  You are free and welcome to change their name to your choice.  You are also just as welcome to keep the name that I have given.  There have been many names kept and many names changed! I love to know the name you will be using, however, until they move to your house, we continue to use their puppy names.

Are the puppies housebroke when they come home?
   Not even close!  If the weather isn't winter, I do take them outside on nice days for big pen time.  They do get some acquainted with grass in this process.  But when the puppy comes home, he will just go wherever his is, when he needs to go.  Housebreaking is part of your bonding time with puppy. That being said, some ideas on how to housebreak:  
*  Using a crate is very helpful for this.  When puppy is sleeping, put him in crate. When he wakes, take him outside immediately.  Carry him until he is used to this.  That will keep him from going until you are outside.
*  Eating triggers the need to defecate.  So as soon as puppy is done eating, take him outside.
*  Your first task is learning his bladder and bowel needs, and getting him outside to do that.
*  As you learn his needs, you can start to work him into the schedule you need him on.
*  If puppy is very distracted outside, develop a "potty spot" for him.  Choose a place where you will go every time you take him out (be sure everyone in household knows this spot and does the same). Go to this spot and stand.  Allow puppy length of leash and 360 degrees around you to do his business but until he goes, do not leave this spot.  Reward with praise for pottying.  Once business is done, then take a little or long walk and let puppy explore.  In establishing the potty spot, it can even be helpful to pick up feces from where you didn't want him go and move it to where you do want him to go.  In the puppy pen here, while in the litter, starting about 5-6 weeks old, the litter will usually start using one corner specifically in the pen for potty.  So this "potty spot" is a natural occurrence, capitalize on that!
*  Endurance, perseverance and dedication will have your puppy housebroke in no time at all!!!