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Do Shelties Like To Cuddle? [Is This Breed Affectionate?]

There is something about cuddling; its something we all usually want to be able to do with our dogs. But is this going to be possible with the sheltie breed? Are they open to a cuddle, or are they more reserved and would prefer that you didn’t? I spent a good amount of time researching the breed and finding all I could about their temperament. Read on to find out what exciting information I was able to uncover.

So do shelties Like To Cuddle? Most shelties generally like to cuddle, once they establish a bond and relationship with their owners. This is often done as a display of affection, but they may also do so for warmth, to protect you if they perceive a threat, or to relieve stress that they may be feeling.

The truth is, not all shelties will like or look to cuddle.

It does depend on their personality, openness to this activity, and also the context and environment.

Puppies may also be less open to cuddling, to begin with; but it is usually something that develops with age, where they become more reliant and form a closer bond with their owners.

And it can be disheartening to have a dog that doesn’t want to cuddle.

This is especially true if a previously affectionate dog becomes more reserved and unwilling to partake in this pastime.

Nonetheless, it is important that we respect the needs and desires of our dogs and be willing to accept the decisions they may take.

While some shelties are more open to cuddling than others, thankfully they are a very intelligent dog breed whom will ultimately want to make their owners happy.

For this reason, owners often find that in time and with a little bit of persistence and encouragement, cuddling can become almost a trained, or learned behavior (If it does not come naturally).

Ultimately, the most important thing we can do with our dogs is to strengthen our bond with them. Plenty of one-on-one time, affection and attentiveness is key here.

Let us now take a closer look at the temperament of the sheltie breed.

We will be covering whether they are affectionate and the reasons why they may/may not like to cuddle in much greater detail so be sure to keep reading until the end!

Are Shelties Affectionate?

Shetland Sheepdogs (Shelties) are famously loving and affectionate, they make an excellent family companion in many ways. They are often fantastic with children, due in part to being small, gentle and open to stroking. This makes things much easier for kids with a fear of dogs.

Shelties are often known as velcro dogs because they love to be close to their owners. They often follow their owners closely around the house for hours on end, keen to be by their side.

Most shelties love to cuddle up on their owner’s lap. Some even report that this can go on for hours on end, especially if they are being stroked.

These dogs love being stroked so much that when you stop, they often reach out to pull your hand back to keep you stroking.

Being affectionate benefits dogs in so many ways. Giving and receiving affection improves their mental and physical health; it brings a lot of positivity into their life.

If you own a sheltie, coming home after a tough day at work makes it all worth it, because of the excitement that they display.

These dogs bounce up and down; they are barking and smiling when you come in the door because they are so pleased to see you.

However, it is important to note that due to their heritage as a herding and working dog, they do have some particular tendencies.

While shelties are loving toward their owners, they are quite wary of strangers, which makes your bond with them very special.

Being wary of strangers makes this breed an ideal guard dog. Many shelties greet unfamiliar people by barking at them. Its their way of looking to protect you.

This is due in part to their former line of work, where they would bark to herd sheep and keep the flock in line.

Equally, they were used to bark at birds and other animals to protect the land of their farmer owners. Barking is quite common in this breed.

Some shelties are even known to nip at people; whether this be at adult or children. Again, this is a herding behavior that was passed down through generations.

It is important that nipping and other herding behaviors are recognized and trained out from an early age. For most owners, this is not something you want your dog to continue doing.

Nonetheless, you will often only hear good things about shelties from their owners; they have many great traits which often means you cannot help but fall in love with this dog breed.

Why Do Shelties Like To Cuddle?

Shelties may cuddle to receive belly rubs and strokes, or just to get close with their owners. Either way, it is a lovely feeling for both dog and owner.

Several studies on the brains of dogs have confirmed that bonding with owners is much more important for them than for other pets.

This is especially true for the sheltie breed; whom were initially bred to be herding and working dogs.

They have depended on their owners for centuries and have had to develop ways to communicate and recognize the desires of their owners from commands and other more subtle cues. They have always remained close, and by the side of humans.

Cuddling is one way of staying as close as they can to the humans they love most.

Shelties are one breed that isn’t naturally independent, even though there are exceptions.

While some shelties do run away from their owners, this is the exception rather than the norm and is most common with new puppies who do not know any better.

Shelties, like most dogs, live to please their owners and are fully aware of how cuddling makes their owners happy.

They are very intelligent and astute to their owners feelings, and soon begin to recognize that pleasing their owners leads to favorable outcomes, like getting lots of treats, exercise or attention.

Beyond this, cuddling also helps dogs to relieve stress.

Studies have shown that snuggling and petting increases oxytocin levels in both dog and owner. Oxytocin is also called the “love hormone”; for it is involved and associated with trust and social bonding.

By cuddling up with you, a sheltie that is feeling anxious, nervous or worried about something (whether that be a person, animal or something else within the environment) will feel more safe and reassured. It can help them overcome the stress, knowing that they have you nearby to help them while they are most vulnerable.

When puppies are born, they snuggle with their mom and siblings to keep warm.

So, if your sheltie is snuggling under the blankets with you, it could be because they’re cold and also looking to feel safe and comfortable. Its an instinctual reaction.

When humans began domesticating dogs, they were there to defend their owners but also to prevent their owners from freezing to death. Dogs and humans have cuddled together for warmth, safety, and protection for thousands of years.

Irrespective of why a sheltie may cuddle, this is all due to a desire to get closer to their owners and family members.

But this does come at a cost; Shetland sheepdogs are generally quite sensitive and do not do well away from their owners for any stretch of time. This can be difficult when you have things to do, or places you need to be.

Why Would A Sheltie Not Like To Cuddle?

Like humans, every sheltie is different, and some may not be quite so cuddly. Some are naturally more independent. There is nothing inherently wrong if this is the case, and this is to be expected in some dogs of this breed.

Its also important to remember that some shelties will only be open to cuddling at certain times or in certain contexts; for example just before bed as they relax and begin to fall asleep.

For some shelties, they will show affection in other ways.

Some shelties prefer petting to a cuddle. Others want a belly rub. Other dogs like to lie at the feet of their owners in bed, but they don’t like to touch.

Others may like being close to you but not on your lap; they don’t find being on your lap comfortable or they get too hot when they do so.

Some shelties are just not the cuddling type, but that isn’t necessarily a reflection on you as an owner.

Shelties make excellent guard dogs, but for some, the guarding instinct is so strong that they can’t relax fully and instead they feel the need to always be on alert.

Puppies are also less prone to cuddling to begin with, and most go through a running away phase. This is where they test their owner’s limits and boundaries. Usually, in time and with a bit of training, their behavior improves and their desire to cuddle naturally increases.

While some dogs may never grow up to become the cuddling type, preferring their own space and being in their own bed, this is uncharacteristic for most dogs.

Here are the other main reasons why a sheltie may not be as open to cuddling as you may have hoped:

  • Not Enough Socialization – especially while they are a puppy and as a young dog. You need to ensure your sheltie meets lots of people so that they become more confident and familiar with humans, and in different settings.
  • Improper Training – whether this be not enough or the wrong training approach – such as using punishment instead of positive reinforcement. This can lead to an all-round less affectionate sheltie.
  • Isolation – If you leave your sheltie for too long on their own they can soon develop feelings of abandonment. This is likely to result in a weaker bond with you as their owner and less willingness to cuddle.
  • Illness/Injury – your sheltie could be in pain or distress. They may not cuddle to conceal the injury from you or it may be painful when they do cuddle.

It is therefore essential that you raise your sheltie appropriately; giving them sufficient care, attention, and appropriate training.

However, if you ever suspect your dog is injured or in pain, you must visit a vet as soon as you can. Often this occurs in dogs whom have an aversion for cuddling in what appears to be all of a sudden.

Ways To Get Your Sheltie Cuddling More

All dogs are different, and while most have a natural inclination to get close and cuddle with their owners, some are not the cuddling type and are more independent.

The good news is that most dogs want to make their owners happy. Strengthening the bond you have with your dog should make them behave more affectionately towards you.

Any training you do with your dog will naturally draw them closer to you and make them more affectionate towards you.

The best time to start training your dog is when they a puppy. For puppies, training with their owner and receiving treats and praise for doing something right is a great way to establish an affectionate response from the beginning.

When your dog shows you any love at all, you can reward their behavior by lavishing affection; seeing you happy will soften their heart towards you and get them more poem to cuddling.

Your dog must trust you, as this will inevitably impact their behavior towards you.

You can be seen as trustworthy in your dog’s eyes by meeting all of their basic needs, like food, a comfortable environment, exercise, water, and lots of attention.

If you want your dog to lavish attention on you, you must be willing to reciprocate.

Make sure that you have lots of one-on-one time with your Sheltie. You can do this through interactive play, grooming, quiet time together, going for walks together, or doing any physical activity.


The Shetland sheepdog was first bred to work and to herd sheep, but many of their positive traits make them an ideal breed to own.

Naturally, most shelties like to cuddle; they are generally sweet and gentle-natured and would go to any lengths to please their owners. Coupled with their intelligence makes them easy to train.

It is no wonder that the Shetland sheepdog has become a much-sought-after family pet.

Cuddling serves many purposes and your dog may look to do so for many reasons; its a display of their affection, they may be attempting to relieve stress, or they may even be cold.

However, we must remember that not all dogs do like to cuddle. Its a very personal thing.

If your Sheltie is not naturally open to cuddling and is more of the independent type, thankfully there are some things you can do.

The more time you spend with them, and the more you be in their company, the more you can strengthen your bond. You can also proactively look to promote cuddling by stroking and getting closer to your dog. But, just remember to always be considerate of their needs and wants – never force it.

Early socialization and training from a young age are also advised.

Over time, you will soon learn to recognize whether or not this pastime is going to be possible. Ultimately, if your dog is not open to cuddling – do not despair. It does not necessarily mean that something is wrong and it may just be something you have to accept.

Otherwise, if cuddling suddenly stops or you suspect that something is not quite right in your dog – it could be a sign of illness or injury. In this case you should get them examined by a vet; you may even find that following treatment, cuddles resume.

Either way, this is a breed that requires a lot of activity and exercise. They like to be kept busy as they are a working dog by nature.

Lounging around all day is not going to cut it with this breed. So, you must make sure that you fit in lots of time to be active. Take them on hikes, give them plenty of time to run around and invest in some interactive dog toys to keep them mentally stimulated.

By doing so, your dog can expend some energy and ensure they are not restless and more open to a cuddle or two.

Interested in learning more about the Sheltie breed? My guides below are for you: