Is My Sheltie Too Skinny?


Portrait of a Sheltie Shetland Sheepdog dog in the forest

Shelties are often a smaller dog compared to most of the other herding dog breeds out there. Because they act and look like many other bigger dogs, it is easy to assume that the Sheltie is too skinny when they do not grow to be some of the bigger weights. Many pet owners with Shelties wonder how they can tell when their Sheltie is getting too skinny.

The average Sheltie is between 20 to 25 pounds. There are some that are a few pounds under and are not considered too skinny at all. As long as the Sheltie is eating enough food and getting the nutrition that they need, they will often not be considered too skinny. For pet owners who are worried about how skinny their Sheltie is, it is important to discuss this issue with their vet.

Let’s take a closer look at what is considered a healthy size for your Sheltie, how to know when your Sheltie is too skinny, and when it is time for you to discuss the weight issue of your Sheltie with their vet.

Is My Sheltie Too Skinny?

This will really depend on the age of your Sheltie and even their gender. Even though the male and female Shelties are similar in sizes in most situations, there may be a slight variance based on their gender. Of course, younger Shelties are going to weigh less than their adult counterparts so it will depend on the age of the dog as well.

Most Shelties are going to be somewhere between 20 to 25 pounds on average. There are some that do get a little bit bigger depending on how they are raised, with some getting up to 40 pounds in weight. There isn’t going to be a lot of variance in size between the males and the females of the breed.

Shelties are generally a smaller breed than some of the others out there. This can contribute to why some owners of Shelties will worry that their dog is not big enough or that they are too skinny. They are a lot smaller that we are used to with other dogs, but that does not mean they are skinny.

Your Sheltie is meant to be smaller. They will not get much more than 40 pounds, and even this is the large end of the spectrum for this kind of dog. Most Sheltie dogs will stay closer to the 25 pound mark, which can look skinny for the height and stature of this breed. They often also have a shorter coat than other dogs so it is easier to see their actual weight compared to the dogs that have a full coat of hair.  It does not mean that the Sheltie is unhealthy.

Growth and Size of the Shelties

Shelties are able to grow at a quick rate, especially during the first few years. During each of the stages, it is not that uncommon for the Sheltie to be slightly oversized or undersized depending on the genetics of the particular dog. Some examples of the weight of the average Sheltie as they grow includes:

  • 3 months they will be between 6 to 11 pounds.
  • 6 months they will be between 11 to 20 pounds.
  • 9 months they will be between 12 to 24 pounds.
  • 12 to 14 months they will be between 14 to 25 pounds.

Most Shelties will be close to 20 pounds when they are of adult age, though some will be a little bit bigger, up to 40 pounds in some cases. It is most common for the Sheltie dog to stay a little bit smaller and you will see them being between that 20 and 25 pounds we talked about before.  If they are too much smaller than this and have not been sick, it may be time to discuss your concern with your vet to see if there is a problem and if you should be concerned here.

How to Keep My Sheltie at a Healthy Weight

The two ways to make sure that your Sheltie is staying at a healthy weight is to give them the right kind and amount of food, and keeping them active. If they seem to be a little underweight, then you may need to consider adding a little more food to their bowls at mealtime and seeing if they eat more of it. Some dogs naturally do not want as much food and it is possible that your Sheltie will not eat more than you originally gave.

You can also consider a food that is more nutritionally dense than before. This will give more calories, and more nutrients, to your dog in the same amount of food. This can help your dog stay healthy and get the extra calories that they need, without worrying about them taking in more food.

Most dog owners worry that their dog will be weigh too much and this can pose a bunch of health conditions as well. When this is the problem, it is relatively easy to fix, at least compared to what you will do if the dog is too skinny. Cutting down a little on how much food the Sheltie eats each meal and giving them more play time and exercise will make a world of difference.

How Do I Help My Sheltie Gain Weight?

It is often best to discuss this with your vet before you decide to get started. Shelties are generally thin and skinny and many pet owners may assume that their Sheltie is too skinny, even when the dog is the perfect size. Adding more calories to the diet and trying to make the dog less skinny could make them overweight and cause some other health issues along the way.

Tricolor shetland sheepdog walking on the road

If your vet agrees that your Sheltie does need to gain a few pounds, the best way is through the food that they consume. Adding a little more food to the dinner bowl when they eat each meal can add up to some healthy weight gain in no time. You do not need to add in a lot. If you give them a cup, then add in just a quarter of a cup extra or less. Be aware that if the Sheltie feels satisfied with their meals, they may not take the extra that you provide.

The right kind of dog food will make a difference too. There are some dog foods that are more nutrient dense, and therefor have more calories, than the traditional dog food and can be a healthy way for your dog to gain weight. You can discuss some of the best dog food options to try on the Sheltie with your vet to ensure you keep your pet healthy.

When Should I Be Concerned About My Sheltie’s Weight?

There is a lot of variance between the weight of each specific Sheltie dog. Just like humans, it is hard to find two that are exactly alike. Since most are between 20 to 25 pounds, you should expect that your adult Sheltie will be somewhere in that range as well. Even if they are a few pounds below the average, as long as they are getting adequate amount of nutrition and eating well, then there is no concern here.

However, if your dog seems to be quite a bit under the average weight and shows very little interest in eating, they could run into issues with getting enough nutrition to keep them healthy. When this happens, it is time to talk to your vet to see what you can do to help your Sheltie become healthier again.

Any time you are concerned about the weight of your Sheltie, it is a good idea to talk with your vet about this problem. They can complete a full checkup on the dog to figure out if there is something done while running any tests necessary. They may be bale to prescribe some medications to help or give you advice on other ways you can take care of the dog and get them to at least eat a healthy diet, even if they do not like to eat that much.

Your Perfect Sheltie Dog

Each Sheltie is going to be unique. Some are picky eaters and may not be able to gain the same kind of weight that other Shelties can. This does not mean they will be unhealthy if they are a little bit underweight based on the average weight for Shelties. Keep in mind before you become concerned that the Sheltie puppy is pretty small to start with. They may be the perfect size, but since we are used to bigger dogs most of the time, we may become concerned about the dog with no reason.

The most important thing to remember here is that as long as your Sheltie is active and healthy, and they eat foods that are good for them and promote healthy growth and lifestyle, then you should not need to worry about their weight as much as you think!

JJ France

JJ loves everything that swims! JJ is our resident axolotl and fish expert! JJ especially likes understanding the habits and behaviors of exotic pets. The less know the better as far as JJ is concerned. JJ has been a contributor to Embora Pets since 2018.

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