Sheltie barkingShelties ARE barkers.  No two ways about it.   And for the most part, barking can be controlled in most Shelties.  But what if your Sheltie barks all the time?   Is your Shelties barking getting on your nerves?   Are you considering giving away your Sheltie because you cannot tolerate the barking?  Excessive barking can be a serious problem.

Most Sheltie folks have various opinions on the subject, & I know I have my own.  I doubt I’d ever want to de-bark one of my dogs, but everyone is different & each situation is unique.

I really love Shelties, but they are not the right breed for all people and all living situations.  I really wish people would “think” before the bring a dog into their lives.  My boys sometimes drive me crazy with the barking, but I knew that going in. It makes me so sad to hear about the things people do to Shelties to get them to stop barking, when if they did a little homework in advance, they would have realized that a Sheltie wasn’t right for them in the first place.

Now, I shouldn’t generalize, but I’m sure certain situations would call for debarking as the best alternative for the dog’s welfare.  But I’ve heard a de-barked Sheltie & it makes me sad.  How can the dog NOT know their voice does not carry?  I can’t claim to know how dogs think & feel, but they do hear very well.

I digress….Read through two professional opinions on the subject & decide for yourself.

The Rescue Perspective: 
Excerpts from Central Illinois Sheltie Rescue

Rescue groups say that some of the abuse that Shelties suffer is from people’s intolerance of the barking.

Until you work in rescue and see how some Shelties are quieted, you won’t believe it…

  • Had oven cleaner sprayed in their throat because of barking.
  • Found with their throat slit wide open, because of excessive barking.
  • Found with their muzzle tied shut with bailing wire.
  • Had been given up 3 times for it’s barking.  At age 1, it had gone through 3 owners.

If a rescue gets a dog whom they feel is an abuse risk because of excessive barking, many will have the dog surgically debarked.

“Debark surgery is the kindest, most humane thing we can do for a chronic barker.  With a Debark surgery a dog will still go through all the motions and enjoyment of barking…….it’s just that no noise will be produced.   No more shock collars.  No more muzzles.  No more yelling at the dog.   No more angry neighbors.  And….most important, it eliminates the worry of possible abuse.  It is the best all around solution to problem barking.”

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Animal rights groups attack life-saving debarking procedure

By Charlotte McGowan
Charlotte McGowan is the author of The Shetland Sheepdog in America and is an honorary Life Member of the American Shetland Sheepdog Association. She has bred dogs for over 40 years. She has been an AKC dog show judge for over 30 years.

There is a move around the country by animal rights interests to outlaw the practice of debarking dogs. So much misinformation about this procedure abounds that it is truly time to set the record straight. As a dog breeder for over 40 years, I can tell you that debarking in the hands of a well trained veterinarian is a very useful tool for breeders and owners and it saves lives. I have had a lot of dogs debarked over the years and the usefulness of this procedure should not be ignored. I know friends who have used debarking for decades with no ill effects on the dogs.

Q: What is debarking?
A: 
This is a surgical procedure to reduce tissue in the vocal chords. Some vets use a punch to remove tissue. Other surgeons make cuts of varying sizes and I have heard of some using a laser. The goal of the surgery is to lower the volume of the dog’s bark and the ability of the bark to carry over a wide area.

Q: Does debarking remove the dog’s ability to bark?
A: 
No. Debarked dogs continue to bark. What debarking does is to lower the volume of the bark so that it does not carry for miles around.

Q: Is the surgery always successful?
A:
Sometimes scar tissue forms and heavy barkers will become louder than when first debarked. The skill of the veterinarian is also a factor. 

Q: Is this a “cruel and barbaric procedure?”
A:
No.  People with little or no experience raising naturally noisy and talkative breeds may tell you this. People with breeds like Shetland Sheepdogs (Shelties) can tell you that this procedure is simple and that it saves lives of dogs that might otherwise be dumped in the pound for their barking.

Debarking is a more simple procedure than removing the uterus in spaying or removing testicles in neutering.

Q: Do dogs suffer emotionally from debarking?
A: 
It is a huge myth to suggest dogs are emotionally disturbed by debarking. Debarked dogs can bark. Even if reduced sound comes out of their mouths, they don’t seem to notice at all! Debarked dogs that are not being constantly disciplined for barking, in fact, tend to be much happier dogs!

Q: Is it true that only criminals and drug dealers debark dogs?
A: 
This is the biggest myth about debarking! The majority of people who debark dogs are responsible dog owners at the end of their rope with dogs whose bark is so piercing that they can be heard for miles around.

To be breed specific, Sheltie, Collie and other herding breed owners are the
people most apt to do this. Herding breeds, by nature can be very vocal in their work. They also are joyful in their barking. They bark at squirrels, strangers, in play. They bark just to bark. Sheltie and Collie breeders are not criminals and drug dealers!

Q: Is it true you can train any dog not to bark?
A: 
I defy some of the so-called new wave of dog behaviorists to train a group of Shelties not to bark! Shelties in numbers larger than one love to do group barking. It is part of who they are.

Q: Isn’t debarking a hazardous procedure?
A:
Any procedure that requires anesthesia, whether it is a dental cleaning, spay, or debarking has intrinsic risks. The key to success is good veterinary skill in all these procedures.

Q: Do people debark just to avoid training their dogs?
A:
The majority of people who debark have run out of options and are trying to be good neighbors. We are not talking about people who are irresponsible and leave their dogs out all night or ignore chronic barking. We are talking about people who understand that the piercing bark of a Sheltie, even on limited occasions, can be enough to cause a war in built up residential neighborhoods.

Animal rights interests have painted debarking as a cruel quick fix when in fact it is something no owner does lightly.

Q: Is excessive barking due to bad breeding?
A:
Here’s another myth. Shelties  kept birds of prey away from lambs on the remote Shetland Islands. They also kept livestock out of the crofters meager gardens and protected fish drying on the beach from eagles and other raptors.

Barking is a useful tool for this work. It also helps let the owner know where the dog is. Unfortunately, in modern life, neighbors are not impressed when Shelties bark at birds!

Q: Anti debarking legislation is being put forth around the country as part of anti dog fighting bills. Isn’t this a good idea?
A:
Criminals pay not attention to laws. They are not going to license their dogs in the first place, let alone report any that may be debarked. The people impacted by anti debarking laws are responsible owners, especially people with Shelties and Collies. Animal rights interests want to outlaw any procedures they deem unnecessary. Responsible and compassionate veterinarians should understand that debarking can save lives by keeping dogs out of shelters and in homes.

While some dogs, especially when they are the only dog in a home, can be trained to reduce their barking, others cannot be trained to the point where neighbors will not be annoyed.

Q: Do you debark ALL your dogs?
A:
No. Some dogs are less noisy than others. I do debark the dedicated squirrel chasers because they can be extremely noisy and the squirrels are always going to be out there. I wish I could train the squirrels to move to another neighborhood but that’s just about as hard as training a sheltie not to bark.

Additional reference:

Thanks to sheltiebrat for the great photo of Rocky doing what Shelties do best – bark! :)

Next: Where can I get a Sheltie?

Back to: Sheltie FAQ

pupcarSummer can be a very dangerous time for dogs — especially those dogs left inside hot vehicles. Every year, countless dogs die after being locked in cars while their guardians work, visit, shop, or run other errands. These tragic deaths are entirely preventable.   Most people simply don’t realize how quickly closed, unattended cars or trucks can become
stifling death traps.

Why people don’t remember this completely annoys us here at Sheltie Nation.  We rank this right up there with leaving children in cars.  This is really a common sense “no no”.Regardless, we all have at one point or the other, opened a car door in the summer to a wave of heat or sat down on a too hot car seat.  Is it really that big of a leap of logic to imagine how a dog (or any animal) would feel being trapped inside?

Did you know…When it’s 85 degrees out, the temperature inside a car, even with the windows left slightly open, can soar to 102 degrees in 10 minutes, and can reach 120 in just half an hour?   (At 107 degrees, dogs begin to suffer brain damage.)

To help spread the word The Animal Protection Institute (API) has launched a newly designed website, www.MyDogisCool.com packed with life saving tips and resources such as windshield fliers, millions of which have been distributed since the start of the campaign. The national outreach effort also includes materials and warning notices for stores and public places.

oven_new1_2
Through the website www.mydogiscool.com, you’ll learn about what you can do to protect dogs from the dangers of hot cars. You can find out how quickly cars heat up in warm weather, whether it’s too hot to take your dog along that day, and how to get the word out that it’s just not cool to leave a dog in a hot car, even for “just a minute.”

On warm or hot days, leave your dog at home.  Even better, purchase the API fliers (25 for $3.00) to leave in your own glove box in case you come across a dog you suspect may be in need of help.  You might just educate a complete idiot & save a precious dogie life.  But if you see a dog in distress, do not hesitate to call the authorities!

flyerthmbTo purchase the flyers:  http://www.mydogiscool.com/b_flyer.php

Thanks to puppup for the Sheltie in the car shot.  We know it wasn’t hot that day!

Larry’s touching email & our post about his dog Toto has caused quite a few email inquiries about Canine von Willebrand’s Disease & how it affects Shelties.  We have put together a basic overview of the disease & how it is passed on.

Overview
Von Willebrand’s Disease (vWd) is an inherited bleeding disorder, similar to hemophilia.  It is a complex and difficult disorder to deal with, because genetics, diagnostic abnormalities, pathogenic mechanisms, and sometimes conflicting clinical signs are all involved.

There are 3 status levels of the disease:

1. Clear – does not have the disease and can not pass on the defective gene for the disease.

2. Carrier – does not have the disease but can pass on the defective gene for the disease.

3. Affected -has the disease and passes on the defective gene for the disease.

It comes in 3 major types, but only two affect Shelties, Type I and Type III.

Type I is a mild bleeding disorder with the risk coming mostly from trauma or surgery. (This form of the disease is rarely found in Shelties.)

Type III is a severe bleeding disorder that results in a high risk of bleeding from something as simple as a nail cut too short to the risk of serious bleeding due to trauma or surgery.  Sadly, Type III is the most common type found in Shelties.

The commonality between all vWD is a reduction in the amount or function of von Willebrand factor (vWF), which is manifested through abnormal platelet function and prolonged bleeding. The vWF factor is a blood protein which binds platelets to blood vessels when they are injured. Absence or deficiency of the factor can, therefore, lead to uncontrolled bleeding episodes.

Diagnosis
Diagnosis can be performed by measurement of plasma concentrations of vWF. Testing should be done at an early age since the disorder often diminishes with age, causing false-negative test results in older animals.

Signs
In dogs, the most common clinical signs are spontaneous bleeding from the gums or nose, blood in the urine or gastrointestinal tract, or excessive bleeding at the time of surgery. Clinical signs also include a bloody nose, prolonged estrus or postpartum bleeding, bloody urine, bloody stool, excessive bleeding after toe-nail cutting and sometimes hemorrhaging into body cavities and organs.

The good news?
A February 3, 2004 report showed that 92% of the Shelties tested are DNA clear of the disease, 7% are determined to be carriers of the disease, and 1% are affected by the disease.  But, the results only represent those responsible breeders who test for & eliminate breeding stock based on the results.  This is another example of why you should obtain your new Sheltie puppy from a responsible breeder, and not from a pet store or newspaper “back yard” breeder ad.

The results of various breeding combinations are as follows:

Clear x Clear = 100% Clear
Clear x Carrier = 50% Carrier, 50% Clear
Clear x Affected = 100% Carrier
Carrier x Carrier = 25% Clear, 50% Carrier, 25% Affected
Carrier x Affected = 50% Carrier, 50% Affected
Affected x Affected = 100% Affected

Because this disease can be eradicated before breeding (by having a dog tested) it can be eliminated from the breed all together. Unfortunately, experience and hearsay indicate that the AKC is not active in the enforcement of these preventive measures.  Testing prior to breeding is a must if it is ever going to be completely eliminated.

As we have stated before in previous posts – always obtain your new puppy from a reputable breeder.  A breeder that genuinely cares for the Sheltie breed will not knowingly pass along the genes of an affected dog.  When interviewing breeders, be sure to ask if they have tested their breeding stock for von Willebrand disease.

ettingerFor those who wish additional
information, an excellent source concerning the disease is Ettinger’s Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine: 2-Volume Set

Back to: Sheltie Health

MaggieOur friend Patrick sent us a heartfelt reminder that as good Sheltie parents, we owe it to our furry children to take good care of them.

“Our first Sheltie Mandy died at age 12 from being overweight.  I learned a terrible lesson from this tragic loss and want all Sheltie owners to know how important it is to keep your Sheltie fit.  They are natural herders and want to get to the outdoors as often as possible.  Please take time to take care of your own health and the health of your Sheltie…get out to the park and have a good run at least 4 times a week…daily is even better.”

Thanks to Patrick & Maggie Girl for the caring reminder & lovely spring photo.  :)

dogheartworminterceptorHeartworm has become a national problem, and most veterinarians recommend protecting your dog with some kind of regularly administered preventative medication. Preventing hearworm is easy to do for your dog & only requires a monthly pill.

However, some Shelties, Collies, and related breeds have an unusual sensitivity to Ivermectin, the active ingredient in the popular monthly heartworm preventative called Heartguard. The monthly medication Interceptor was developed especially for these sensitive breeds. Its active ingredient is milbemycin, which has been demonstrated safe for Shelties and their relatives. The daily heartworm medication Filaribits is also safe for these dogs, although some concern has been expressed about possible liver damage connected with extra ingredient in Filaribits Plus.

If you have any concerns about which heartworm medication is right for your dog, please check with you vet.

 

Back to: Sheltie Health

candy_barsWe’ve all heard it, “Don’t give your dog chocolate it will kill him”. We’ll how true is it you’re probably wondering. Do I have to rush him to an emergency vet if he ate one of my M&M’s?

Well, it depends…

 

Toxic Levels
The bad news is chocolate contains theobromine that is toxic to dogs in sufficient quantities. This is a xanthine compound in the same family of caffeine, and theophylline.

The good news is that it takes, on average, a fairly large amount of theobromine 100-150 mg/kg to cause a toxic reaction. Although there are variables to consider like the individual sensitivity, animal size and the TYPE of chocolate the dog consumed.

* White chocolate: 200 ounces per pound of body weight. It takes 250 pounds of white chocolate to cause signs of poisoning in a 20-pound dog, 125 pounds for a 10-pound dog.

* Milk chocolate: 1 ounce per pound of body weight. Approximately one pound of milk chocolate is poisonous to a 20-pound dog; one-half pound for a 10-pound dog. The average chocolate bar contains 2 to 3 ounces of milk chocolate. It would take 2-3 candy bars to poison a 10 pound dog. Semi-sweet chocolate has a similar toxic level.

* Sweet cocoa: 0.3 ounces per pound of body weight. One-third of a pound of sweet cocoa is toxic to a 20-pound dog; 1/6 pound for a 10-pound dog.

* Baking chocolate: 0.1 ounce per pound body weight. Two one-ounce squares of bakers’ chocolate is toxic to a 20-pound dog; one ounce for a 10-pound dog.

Clinical Signs
Hyper excitability
Hyper irritability
Increased heart rate
Restlessness
Increased urination
Muscle tremors
Vomiting
Diarrhea

Put Activated Charcoal in Your Emergency Kit  
Toxiban Activated Charcoal.
The substance is a fine powder form of processed charcoal that binds to many types of poisons and can keep them from being absorbed into the bloodstream. This product isn’t easy to find online, but you can click on the photo to find a good source.

Toxiban might be wise to have in your pet emergency kit because it also is effective in adsorbing other poisonous substances eaten or drunk by dogs or cats. These toxins include, but are not limited to, strychnine, organophosphate and carbamate insecticides, herbicides, rodenticides, depressants and analgesics.

Treatment
If you suspect your pet has ingested chocolate contact your Vet immediately!  They can help you determine the the proper treatment for your pet.

In the event your dog has eaten chocolate, always gather as much information as possible. Note the type of chocolate the dog ate, how much chocolate was eaten and approximately when your dog ate it. Write this information down. Should you need medical help, your veterinarian will appreciate any facts you can provide. If you can’t get this information quickly, don’t belabor it. Write down what you can.

If your dog doesn’t eat enough chocolate to induce toxicity, but is vomiting (without your prodding) or has diarrhea, it’s likely that it’s the chocolate’s high fat content that is the culprit. Watch your dog carefully. You don’t want him or her to dehydrate. Provide plenty of fluids.

A good outcome is likely if treatment is provided within 4 to 6 hours of ingestion. The effects of chocolate can linger for 12-36 hours, though, so your dog may require hospitalization.

Even more troubling is the increasing widespread of the use of xylitol in human foods. More toxic than chocolate, it can kill your dog in a very small dose.