Shetland Sheepdogs, also known as Shelties, are a popular breed of herding dog that originated in the Shetland Islands of Scotland. One question that often arises among potential owners is whether or not Shelties bark a lot. The answer to this question is not a simple one, as it can vary depending on several factors. Do Shetland Sheepdogs Bark a Lot?

Firstly, it is important to note that Shetland Sheepdogs are known to be vocal dogs. They were originally bred to herd sheep and other livestock, and barking was a useful tool in this task. However, excessive barking can be a problem for some owners, especially those living near neighbors. It is also important to consider that each dog may have their tendencies when it comes to barking.

Do Shetland Sheepdogs Bark a Lot?

Breed Origins and History

Shetland Islands Roots

The Shetland Sheepdog, also known as Shelties, is a breed of herding dog that originated from the Shetland Islands in Scotland. The breed was developed to herd and protect the small livestock of the islands, such as sheep and ponies. The Shetland Sheepdog is believed to have descended from the Toonie dog, a small, fox-like dog that was common on the islands.

Breed Development

The Shetland Sheepdog was developed by crossing the Toonie dog with other breeds, including the Rough Collie and the Border Collie. The breed was first recognized by the Kennel Club in 1909 and was originally called the Shetland Collie. However, due to objections from Rough Collie breeders, the name was changed to Shetland Sheepdog in 1914.

Over the years, the breed has become popular as a companion dog, thanks to its friendly and intelligent nature. The Shetland Sheepdog is also known for its agility and obedience and is often used in dog sports such as obedience trials and agility competitions.

Overall, the history of the Shetland Sheepdog is closely tied to the history of the Shetland Islands, and the breed has played an important role in the lives of the islanders for centuries. Today, the Shetland Sheepdog is a beloved breed around the world, known for its loyalty, intelligence, and playful nature.

Physical Characteristics

Size and Coat

Shetland Sheepdogs, also known as Shelties, are a small to medium-sized breed of dog. They typically weigh between 14-27 pounds and stand 13-16 inches tall at the shoulder. Their double coat is made up of a soft, dense undercoat and a longer, coarser topcoat. This thick coat helps to protect them from the harsh weather conditions of their native Shetland Islands.

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Color Variations

Shetland Sheepdogs come in a variety of colors, with sable, black, and blue merle being the most common. Sable Shelties have a base coat of golden or mahogany with darker tips, giving them a shaded appearance. Black Shelties have a solid black coat, while blue Merle Shelties have a mottled gray and black coat with irregular patches of blue.

It is worth noting that Shetland Sheepdogs are heavy shedders, especially during the spring and fall seasons. Regular grooming is necessary to keep their coat healthy and prevent matting.

Temperament and Behavior

Shetland Sheepdogs, also known as Shelties, are intelligent and gentle dogs with a reserved and alert nature. They were originally bred for herding purposes, and this instinct is still present in many shelters today.

Herding Instincts

Shelters have a strong herding instinct, which can sometimes manifest in their behavior towards people and animals. They may try to herd children or other pets in the household, which can be both endearing and potentially problematic. This instinct can also make them excellent guard dogs, as they are always alert and ready to protect their family.

Interaction with People and Animals

Shelties are known for their friendly and affectionate nature towards their family members. They are loyal companions and enjoy spending time with their humans. However, they can be reserved with strangers and may take some time to warm up to new people. It is important to socialize Shelties early on to ensure they are comfortable around unfamiliar people and animals.

Barking Tendencies

One common question about shelters is whether they bark a lot. While every dog is different, Shelties are known for being vocal dogs. They may bark to alert their family of strangers or to express excitement or anxiety. However, with proper training and socialization, excessive barking can be minimized.

Overall, Shetland Sheepdogs make excellent companions for those who are willing to provide them with the attention, exercise, and training they require. Their herding instincts and vocal nature make them unique and interesting dogs to own.

Training and Exercise

Shetland Sheepdogs are active, intelligent dogs that require regular exercise and mental stimulation to prevent boredom and destructive behavior. In addition to physical exercise, training is essential to help Shelties learn good behavior and become well-behaved members of the family.

Shetland Sheepdogs

Mental Stimulation

Shetland Sheepdogs are herding dogs with a high level of intelligence. They thrive on mental stimulation and enjoy learning new things. To keep your Sheltie mentally stimulated, consider incorporating activities such as agility, rally, and obedience training into their routine. Positive reinforcement is an effective training method that rewards good behavior with treats, praise, and playtime.

Obedience Training

Obedience training is an essential part of a Shetland Sheepdog's training regimen. These dogs are eager to please and respond well to commands. Basic obedience commands such as sit, stay, come, and heel should be taught early on. Professional trainers can help owners teach their Shelties more advanced commands and behaviors.

Exercise Needs

Shetland Sheepdogs are active dogs that require daily exercise to stay healthy and happy. They enjoy activities such as walking, running, and playing fetch. Owners should provide their Shelties with at least 30 minutes of exercise daily. In addition to physical exercise, mental stimulation is also important. Puzzle toys, interactive games, and training sessions can all provide mental stimulation for your Sheltie.

In summary, Shetland Sheepdogs are smart, active dogs that require regular exercise and mental stimulation. Obedience training and positive reinforcement can help owners teach their Shelties good behavior. With proper training and exercise, Shelties can make excellent family pets.

Health and Grooming

Grooming Requirements

Shetland Sheepdogs have a double coat, which means they shed a lot. They require regular grooming to maintain their coat's health and appearance. The outer coat is long and straight, while the undercoat is short and fluffy. The undercoat is the one that sheds more often, and it is essential to brush it out to prevent matting and tangling.

It is recommended to brush Shetland Sheepdogs at least once a week, but during shedding season, it is better to brush them daily. A slicker brush and a metal comb are the best tools to use for grooming. The slicker brush helps to remove tangles and mats, while the metal comb helps to remove loose undercoat hair.

Shetland Sheepdog

Shetland Sheepdogs also require regular bathing, but not too often, as it can strip their coat of natural oils. It is recommended to bathe them every two to three months, or as needed. It is important to use a dog-specific shampoo and conditioner to prevent skin irritation.

Common Health Concerns

Like all breeds, Shetland Sheepdogs are prone to certain health problems. Some of the most common health concerns for this breed include:

  • Hip Dysplasia: This is a condition where the hip joint does not develop correctly, leading to arthritis and pain.
  • Collie Eye Anomaly: This is an inherited eye condition that can cause blindness.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy: This is a degenerative eye disease that can lead to blindness.
  • Von Willebrand's Disease: This is a bleeding disorder that affects blood clotting.

To prevent these health problems, it is essential to take your Shetland Sheepdog to the vet regularly for check-ups and vaccinations. It is also important to feed them a healthy diet and provide regular exercise.

In conclusion, Shetland Sheepdogs require regular grooming to maintain their coat's health and appearance. They are prone to certain health problems, but with proper care and attention, these can be prevented or managed.

Living with a Sheltie

Shetland Sheepdogs, also known as Shelties, are a popular breed of dog known for their intelligence, loyalty, and affectionate nature. However, one of the most common concerns potential owners have is whether or not Shelties bark excessively. In this section, we will explore what it's like to live with a Sheltie and how to manage their barking behavior.

Home Environment

Shelties are adaptable dogs that can thrive in a variety of living situations, from apartments to large homes with yards. However, they do require plenty of mental and physical stimulation to prevent boredom and destructive behavior. Providing your Sheltie with a comfortable and stimulating home environment can help reduce excessive barking.

Exercise and Play

Shelties are an active breed that requires regular exercise and playtime. A lack of physical activity can lead to boredom and excessive barking. Providing your Sheltie with plenty of toys and opportunities to play can help keep them calm and happy.

Barking Management

Shelties are known for being vocal dogs, and some may bark more than others. To manage excessive barking, it's important to identify the triggers that cause your Sheltie to bark. Common triggers include boredom, separation anxiety, and attention-seeking behavior. Providing your Sheltie with plenty of exercise, mental stimulation, and attention can help reduce excessive barking.

In addition to managing triggers, there are other strategies you can use to manage excessive barking. These include:

  • Teaching your Sheltie the "quiet" command
  • Providing your Sheltie with a safe and comfortable space to retreat to when they feel anxious or stressed
  • Using positive reinforcement to reward calm behavior

Overall, living with a Sheltie can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. By providing your Sheltie with a stimulating home environment, regular exercise and playtime, and effective barking management strategies, you can help ensure that your Sheltie is a happy and well-behaved companion.

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Sheltie Care Tips

Diet and Nutrition

A balanced and healthy diet is essential for the overall well-being of Shetland Sheepdogs. It is recommended to feed them high-quality dog food that is rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals. Shelters can be prone to obesity, so it is important to monitor their food intake and provide them with regular exercise. Fresh water should always be available to them.

Training Tips

Shelties are intelligent and eager to please, making them relatively easy to train. Positive reinforcement techniques, such as treats and praise, work well with them. Consistency is key when it comes to training, and commands should be clear and concise. Shelties can be vocal, so it is important to teach them when it is appropriate to bark and when it is not.


Socialization is crucial for Shelties to develop into well-adjusted and confident dogs. They should be exposed to a variety of people, animals, and environments from a young age to prevent them from becoming shy or fearful. Positive experiences during socialization can help reduce the likelihood of excessive barking due to anxiety or fear.

Overall, Shelties make wonderful companions with their affectionate and loyal personalities. By providing them with proper care, attention, and training, they can thrive and bring joy to their owners.

Breed-Specific Considerations

Herding Dog Challenges

Shetland Sheepdogs are herding dogs and, as such, they have an instinct to bark. This trait is useful for herding livestock, but it can become a challenge in a family setting. Shetland Sheepdogs have a strong desire to protect their family and their territory, which can lead to excessive barking if they feel threatened or if they perceive any danger.

It is important to train Shetland Sheepdogs early on to minimize excessive barking. Positive reinforcement training can help them understand when barking is appropriate and when it is not. It is also important to provide them with plenty of exercise and mental stimulation to prevent boredom, which can lead to excessive barking.

Adaptability to Living Spaces

Shetland Sheepdogs can adapt well to different living spaces, including apartments. However, their herding instincts can make them prone to barking if they feel confined or if they are not given enough exercise.

It is important to provide Shetland Sheepdogs with plenty of mental and physical stimulation, even in small living spaces. This can include interactive toys, puzzle feeders, and regular walks or runs. It is also important to provide them with a safe and secure outdoor space, such as a fenced yard, where they can run and play without the risk of escaping.

Herding Dog Challenges

Overall, Shetland Sheepdogs can make great family dogs, but their herding instincts require careful consideration and training to minimize excessive barking. With proper training and stimulation, they can adapt well to different living spaces and become loyal and loving companions.

Sheltie Community and Support

The Sheltie community is a tight-knit group of dog owners who share a love for the Shetland Sheepdog breed. They are passionate about the breed and are always willing to lend a helping hand to fellow Sheltie owners.

Rescue and Adoption

Sheltie rescue organizations are dedicated to helping abandoned, abused, and neglected shelters find loving homes. They provide medical care, foster homes, and behavioral training to ensure that each dog is placed in the best possible home. Sheltie rescue groups are a great resource for those who are looking to adopt a Sheltie.

Clubs and Societies

The Kennel Club and other Sheltie clubs and societies provide a wealth of information and resources for Sheltie owners. They offer training classes, breed-specific events, and health information. These organizations are a great way to connect with other Sheltie owners and learn more about the breed.

Overall, the Sheltie community is a supportive and knowledgeable group of individuals who are passionate about the Shetland Sheepdog breed. Whether you are a new Sheltie owner or a seasoned pro, there are resources available to help you provide the best possible care for your furry friend.

Fun Facts and Trivia

Shetland Sheepdogs, or Shelties, have made numerous appearances in popular culture. Lassie, the famous collie, was played by a Shetland Sheepdog in the original book "Lassie Come-Home" by Eric Knight. Shelties have also appeared in movies such as "The Littlest Hobo" and "The Shaggy Dog". In addition, they have been featured in popular TV shows like "Full House" and "The West Wing".

Unique Sheltie Traits

Shelties are known for their intelligence and agility, making them excellent competitors in dog sports such as agility and obedience. They are also beautiful dogs, with their long, flowing coats and bright, expressive eyes. Shelties are often used as therapy dogs and medical alert dogs due to their gentle, affectionate nature and ability to learn quickly.


One unique trait of the Shetland Sheepdog is their vocal nature. They are known to be a vocal breed, often barking to communicate with their owners or alert them to potential dangers. This trait can be managed with proper training and socialization, but potential owners need to be aware of it.

Overall, Shelties are playful and athletic dogs with a variety of unique traits. They make wonderful companions for those who are willing to provide them with the love, attention, and exercise they need.


In conclusion, Shetland Sheepdogs, also known as Shelties, have a reputation for being vocal dogs. While they are not considered one of the most excessive barkers, they are still prone to barking more than some other breeds. Do Shetland Sheepdogs Bark a Lot?

It is important to note that excessive barking in shelters can be a result of a lack of mental and physical stimulation, anxiety, or a lack of training. Therefore, Sheltie owners must provide their dogs with enough exercise and mental stimulation, as well as proper training to prevent excessive barking.

Additionally, it is important to consider that each dog is an individual and may have different barking tendencies. Some Shelties may bark more than others, while some may be relatively quiet. Potential owners need to research the breed and consider their lifestyle and preferences before making a decision.

Overall, while Shetland Sheepdogs are known to bark more than some other breeds, proper care and training can help reduce excessive barking and ensure a happy and healthy life for both the dog and their owner.