Over the years, there have been numerous herding dog breeds developed to help humans herd farm animals. Not to be confused with livestock guardian dogs, the herding dogs have the ability to follow various commands from their masters, and move a group of livestock in a very effective and efficient manner.
Also known as a stock dog, herding dog breeds normally have a dark coat color with white or brown markings. Breeders developed these dogs to have dark coat colors to make it easy for shepherds to identify them among the flock these dogs are herding. Some herding dog breeds are excellent with sheep, some are better handling cattle, while others can work with a few different types of herd animals.
Best Herding Dog Breeds to Accompany Farmers
Whether you’d like to adopt a new family member or get a pet to lend a helping hand in your farm, one of the following herding dog breeds will be a perfect choice. I have an Australian Shepherd in my farm up north and they really help a lot with my farming duties. Are you still on the hunt for the best herding dog? Then, read on to learn more about these amazing herding dog breeds.
1. The Collie
The Collie is one of the herding dog breeds originated in Scotland. With his superb herding skills, the Collie brings sheep to the shepherd by gathering them. When predators like wolves, or other signs of threat are visible, the Collie barks to warn the shepherd.
Aside from being one of the best herding dog breeds there is, the Collie also makes a good family companion. In fact, the Collie is known for his love of kids. This herding dog will protect and watch over the children in your family just to keep them safe from any harm. Much like what the famous Hollywood dog, Lassie, did for her family.
2. The Shetland Sheepdog
A cousin to the Collie, the Shetland Sheepdog keeps the sheep flock in line. Just like its cousin, Shelties, as what he’s nicknamed, alert bark to notify shepherds when something’s not right.
Additionally, Shelties are also considered as one of the smartest dog breeds existing. Because of their intelligence, it is not hard to train this herding dog. They live to please their masters and work very hard protecting and herding his flock.
3. The Australian Shepherd
Aside from being a herding dog, the Australian Shepherd is also bred to be a horseman’s companion. He is quite active and intelligent. Other owners even let him compete in herding trials.
The Aussie, as what he is most fondly called, is a very hardworking herding dog. It makes him quite happy when he has an assigned task to do. Aussies are also brave and protective of his family. You’ll be surprised with how fierce he can get just to defend you.
4. The Canaan Dog
The Canaan Dog is known as an ancient pariah dog that thrived and survived in Israel’s desert region. It’s believed in biblical times, the Canaan Dog was used by the Hebrews to herd their flocks.
Nowadays, aside from being one of the best herding dog breeds, they’re bred to be companion dogs that also compete in some dog sports like agility and obedience trials.
5. The Belgian Malinois
The Belgian Malinois originated in Malines, Belgium. This intelligent herding dog loves doing his work. He also makes a good police dog, protection dog, and family dog.
Because of his high energy and intelligence, he might not be a good choice for first-time pet owners. He can be a bit hard to control if you’re not an experienced handler.
6. The Australian Cattle Dog
The Australian Cattle Dog was developed by Australian settlers to herd cattle. Because of his distinct way of herding cattle wherein he nips the heels of the cattle, he’s also known as the Australian Heeler. He’s smart and sturdy, making him also good in competing with several canine sports such as obedience, agility, flyball, or rally.
7. The Pembroke Welsh Corgi
A member of the Spitz family, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi is another ancient herding dog used to chase cattle from the dooryard to the grazing lands. They’re intelligent and happy in nature, but can sometimes be very stubborn.
Don’t underestimate his small size as the Corgi have a lot of energy and are very active. In addition, Corgis are also prone to overeating, you need to monitor his food intake to avoid obesity. Give him his daily needed exercise to exhaust all his energy and to keep him healthy.
8. The Bearded Collie
The Bearded Collie is a native of Scotland, and has been bred to herd both sheep and cattle. With their strong and harsh outer coat, they can work in any kind of weather and terrain.
Also known as Beardie, this herding dog is a one happy and energetic pooch. To avoid any possible behavior problem he may have, you need to let him vent out all his energy by giving him lots of exercise daily.
9. The Puli
The Puli is a herding dog popular for his corded coat that jumps on the back of sheep to lead them in the right direction. Reportedly, this mop-like pooch can jump as high as six feet! With his intelligence and loving nature, he can be a good family companion as well. Although, he can be noisy since he’s very vocal and loves to bark.
10. The Beauceron
Considered as one of the rare dog breeds, the Beauceron is one of the herding dog breeds from France who takes his work seriously. He herds both sheep and cattle and can work as a guard dog too. He’s always ready to defend his flock from any prey.
Beaucerons love to please their masters and easily learn what they’re being taught. They do well in obedience training. To keep him calm and well-mannered, you need to give him enough exercise every day.
11. The Old English Sheepdog
The Old English Sheepdog was developed to help farmers herd sheep and cattle, as well as drive the animals to city markets. Because of his double coat, the OES can withstand cold weather that’s why he’s been used to herd reindeer too.
Nowadays, this playful and affectionate pooch are accompanying families in the comforts of their home. The OES also does well competing in some canine sports like agility, conformation, obedience, and herding trials.
12. The Berger Picard
The Berger Picard is a loyal and alert dog used for herding sheep and cattle. It’s believed the Berger Picard is the oldest among all the French shepherds.
Berger Picards are medium-sized herding dogs popular for their thick eyebrows. They are also known to get along well with children. With their high intelligence, they are quite easy to train. Be careful though with the tone of voice you use when training him. He can be sensitive so it’s best to give him commands in a cheerful manner.
13. The Polish Lowland Sheepdog
Also called Polish Owczarek Nizinny or PON for short, the Polish Lowland Sheepdog is an excellent herder that almost got extinct during World War II. Being a working dog, if he’s not herding flocks, he participates in obedience and agility competitions.
14. The Bouvier des Flandres
Known for his versatility, the Bouvier des Flandres is not only good in herding (specifically cattle), but also does other work such as pulling carts and guarding. Originating from the European region of Flandres, his name translates to “cowherd from Flandres.”
Did you know that President Ronald Reagan’s first presidential dog during his term is a Bouvier des Flandres named Lucky? Lucky sure is one lucky dog having to experience living in the White House!
15. The Mudi
The Mudi is one of the rare dog breeds found in Hungary. He herds cow and sheep, as well as guards his flock. This herding dog is very independent and capable of managing his flock without assistance. Impressive, right?
However, being rare as they are, only a few owners enjoy the company of the Mudi. Those few would attest how incomparable and valuable this herding dog is. In addition to his herding skills, the Mudi is also a good guard dog, a ratter, and a loving family companion.
16. The Border Collie
The Border Collie is one of the most trainable herding dog breeds. Because of his dedication and love for his work, he is named “workaholic.” The Border Collie has a unique way of herding his flock, using an intense stare that could hypnotize cattle or any type of livestock he’s herding. Wow, that’s amazing!
17. The Briard
The Briard is sweet and gentle herding dog capable of herding just about anything! This herding dog may be obedient and kind but is very protective of his flock and family. Because of his protective instinct and a superb hearing ability, other than herding, he does great on tasks such as search and rescue, police work, and guarding.
18. The Rottweiler
As early as the Middle Ages, the Rottweiler has been used as a herder and driver of cattle to markets. With their strong and heavily muscled body, farmers and butchers also used them to pull carts.
At present, Rotties are popularly used for protection and are considered as one of the best guard dogs existing. While Rotties are known as being aggressive, if they’re socialized and trained well, they can be good family companions too.
19. The Spanish Water Dog
The Spanish Water Dog is a very flexible working dog with strong herding and guarding instincts. He’s used to herding sheep and goats, and has been used in mountainous parts of Spain since he’s capable of working in the mountains. Additionally, he’s also one of the hypoallergenic dog breeds possessing superb hunting skills.
20. The German Shepherd
One of the most popular dog breeds in the United States, the German Shepherd is originally bred to herd flocks. This dog is highly intelligent and can perform numerous other tasks such as police and military work, search and rescue, drug detection, and guide for the disabled. Having a double medium-length coat, he can work even in harsh climates.
Learn how to train your herding dog by watching this video from eHow:
Possessing excellent herding instincts, these herding dog breeds are definitely the best choices to help you out on your farms. Herding dogs are highly intelligent and easy to train and a majority of them have been family dogs for ages. Still, even when not used for herding, these dogs’ inclination to herd is quite noticeable in their habit of nudging and nipping!
Do you know other herding dog breeds? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below. Can’t get enough of these terrific tail-waggers? Be amazed with these 17 Hound Dog Breeds!
Featured image via Modern Farmer