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Are Shetland Sheepdogs (Shelties) Hypoallergenic? Vet-Approved Facts

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By Nicole Cosgrove

shetland sheepdog in the grass

Vet approved

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca

BVSc GPCert (Ophthal) MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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As a herding breed, Shetland Sheepdogs are intelligent, sensitive, and trainable, with each dog having a natural knack for pleasing their owners. With the Sheltie’s ability to charm people and pets, its shedding double coat is about the only good reason one could have for not wanting this gorgeous dog in the house. Shetland Sheepdogs are not hypoallergenic and are less than ideal for anyone with doggy sensitivities.

One look at the flowing rough coat of a Sheltie makes it clear they can be challenging for a person with dog allergies, but dog allergens are found in different sources and in varying amounts. Although Shetland Sheepdogs shed considerably, they aren’t the most allergy-igniting breed to keep around. With proper grooming and help from your vet, you can have control over minimizing hair, dander, and other irritants in the home.

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Are Shetland Sheepdogs Hypoallergenic?

Shetland Sheepdogs are not a hypoallergenic breed. No dog is truly hypoallergenic because all dogs produce allergens. Furthermore, the type or length of a dog’s coat does not affect the amount of allergen produced. Even hairless dogs produce allergens and therefore can trigger allergies in susceptible individuals. Dog allergens are mainly found in saliva but also in urine. The allergens are typically transferred to dog’s hair by grooming or licking. Then the allergens are released from hair to become airborne and remain suspended for long periods of time until they settle down on carpets, furniture, or even your clothes. Shelties are considered medium to heavy shedders and have long double coats. They’ll shed consistently throughout the year, blowing their coat twice annually.

Shetland Sheepdogs are relatively small. They generally weigh under 25 pounds, about half the size of their Rough Collie relatives. You won’t have as much of a shedding issue as a Golden Retriever, German Shepherd, or Bernese Mountain Dog, if only because Shelties have less mass to produce that amount of hair.

trimming shetland sheepdog by professional groomer woman
Image Credit: Frank11, Shutterstock

Shetland Sheepdog Dander

Dander is composed of dead skin cells or hair containing allergens. Dander, like hair, can carry allergens, and all dogs produce dander, even the less shedding breeds. However the degree of shedding may have an impact on allergen spreading, causing an association between heavy shedding and worse allergies. With their dense undercoat, Shetland Sheepdogs are more prone to shedding, and this may impact the amount of allergens released.

Shetland Sheepdog Drool

Dog lovers rarely mind a kiss from their pet, but they’d likely all agree that less dog drool is always preferable. Drool is rarely anything other than disgusting. It’s a viscous cleaning pain, and a diverse collection of allergens is contained within it. Even if your dog isn’t shedding hair and dander, allergens in their saliva could make your allergies flare up.

Shetland Sheepdogs have a reputation for being a low-drool breed. Although they may occasionally drool when excited or ready to eat, they don’t have the same consistent slobber of a Basset Hound or Saint Bernard.

blue merle shetland sheepdog at the park
Image Credit: arturs.stiebrins, Shutterstock

How to Groom a Shetland Sheepdog

Free-floating could mean, to some degree, free-floating allergens. While you can’t stop your dog from shedding, you can minimize the amount of hair that gets around the house. By grooming your dog diligently, you’ll remove the loose fluff before it gets a chance to escape.

Shetland Sheepdogs need frequent brushing to control their loose undercoat. Plan to brush them at least a few times weekly to relieve mats and remove loose fur and hair, giving them extra care during the spring and fall as their coats change and shed profusely. Bath your Sheltie once every 2–3 months, brushing their hair beforehand. Otherwise, a complete grooming every 4–8 weeks will keep their coat and skin healthy.

Keeping your pet's skin and coat clean and healthy is very important, but finding a great shampoo can be harder than the actual grooming! We love our Hepper Pet Shampoos because they makes grooming so much easier. These pH-balanced formulas are made with natural ingredients like oatmeal, cucumber, and aloe. They are free of phthalates, sulfates, and soaps and very gentle on your pet's skin. Now you just need to decide which formula is best for your fur baby! Here’s a quick guide to help you choose the right option for your pet’s next bath!

Hepper Oatmeal pet shampoo
Hepper Colloidal Oatmeal Pet Shampoo

Hepper Waterless No Rinse Pet Shampoo
Natural cucumber & aloe scent
Natural cucumber & aloe scent:
Natural cucumber & aloe scent:
Safe for cats & dogs
Safe for cats & dogs:
Safe for cats & dogs:
Rinsing required
Rinsing required:
Rinsing required:
Free of harsh chemicals & nasty ingredients
Free of harsh chemicals & nasty ingredients:
Free of harsh chemicals & nasty ingredients:
Lathers easily
Lathers easily:
Lathers easily:


How to Protect Yourself From Dog Allergens

Mild allergies may not bar you completely from having a dog. A Shetland Sheepdog is a gorgeous, intelligent, affectionate, energetic creature, and it’s an all-around joy as a family dog. If one member of the household suffers the runny nose, itchiness, swelling, and irritation of dog allergies, here are a few ideas to help keep the allergens to a minimum:

  • Wash your hands after petting or being around your dog
  • Keep your Sheltie well-groomed to control shedding
  • Vacuum carpets and floors 1–2 times weekly with a vacuum cleaner equipped with a HEPA filter
  • If possible, get a non-allergic person to vacuum and clean or wear a disposable mask
  • Set up a HEPA air purifier to filter airborne dander
  • Establish pet-free zones in the house, especially your bedroom
  • Keep your dog off furniture and beds
  • Wash couch covers, bedding, and drapery regularly

A healthy diet leads to healthy skin and coat, which lowers the likelihood of skin issues that could cause your Sheltie to scratch or over-groom and spread more saliva onto their fur. Talk to your vet about foods and strategies to boost your dog’s hair and skin health. Meanwhile, if you have allergies, get tested to see which allergens are causing issues for you. Discuss optional medications, nasal sprays, and OTC treatments with your doctor. It is important to understand what the allergic threshold is since you may be suffering from other types of allergies at the same time. Minimizing the exposure to allergens other than dog’s can help you stay below your symptom threshold, which means you won’t experience the uncomfortable allergy manifestations, such as runny nose, itchy eyes and sneezing, among others.

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A Shetland Sheepdog is not a hypoallergenic dog breed, and in fact, there is no dog breed that can be considered as such. That doesn’t make this incredible breed unmanageable for people with mild allergy sensitivities.

Shetland Sheepdogs hardly drool, and with frequent grooming and a healthy diet, they will keep a healthy skin and coat. It takes work and a few added conversations with your doctor and vet, but every Sheltie lover knows it’s a small price to welcome one of these magnificent dogs into the home.

Featured Image Credit: bilberryday, Shutterstock

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