What are Herding Dogs?
Herding dog breeds are those traditional working dogs that have a strong instinct to control the movement of other animals. However, over centuries of selective breeding, the natural instinct of these dogs to attack cattle and sheep has been minimized, maintaining their excellent hunting skills.
The shepherding impulse is so strong in these dogs that they can even gently herd their owners – especially young children. So this strong instinct is also the reason why scientists are using herding dogs, in particular, to map the genetics of behavior. Because the dog’s behavior is so breed specific – even without training – they argue that there must be a strong genetic link.
From raising livestock on your farm to becoming your new best friend, as livestock dogs make great additions to all types of homes.
Dog Training For Herding
The group of shepherds includes some of the most popular dog breeds in the country. So whether you are looking for a shepherd, a daily companion or a family dog, herding dogs are always great options.
They are friendly, energetic and intelligent, but not all races of shepherds are the same. So if you are ready to acquire a shepherd, consider the characteristics of these main breeds.
The group of shepherds contains some of the most popular dog breeds today. Because they are energetic, intelligent and highly trained, these dogs have been bred for years for their ability to control and move livestock.
Although this group of breeds is still preferred on farms, most sheepdogs today have never been a farm animal. Still, many individuals can see the animal’s inclination to “herd” their families, especially small children.
These behaviors are not aggressive, however. But they are traces of the genetic line of sheepdogs. For collies, sheepdogs, cowboys and even small dogs have been selected over time for their herding instincts.
It is important, however, to observe what is the correct breeding of dogs in this group can evolve to problematic behavior, if not satisfied. Because the requirements must provide regular exercise and mental stimulation to keep your dog happy and healthy. So many sheepdogs will be restless without a “job” to do. Therefore owners who keep sheepdogs as family pets can use training from childhood. For example, agility training, which usually provides an excellent outlet for high intelligence and unlimited energy for many sheepdogs.
Behavior of Herding Dogs
There are two different types of maneuvers for herding dogs.
Some of our herding dog breeds are used to propel cattle forward and keep them moving. So these dogs belong to the dog breeds of cattle. Their behavior usually includes a tendency to pinch or bite the heels of the animals they are touching. Sometimes they use this tactic with their owners, but fortunately, they can unlearn this behavior because they are very trainable.
Then there are the dogs known as herders. For they instinctively ‘gather’ the cattle and move them towards their owner. This is the behavior that we consider so valuable in our sheepdog breeds and that we see especially when watching sheepdog presentations.
Herding dog breeds, such as hunting dogs, have been bred for generations to work as a team with their trainers and follow instructions from a distance. That is why they are some of the most intelligent and loyal dogs on the planet. For example, sheepdogs are usually intensely busy dogs and prone to obsessive behavior if their emotional need to work and solve problems is not satisfied.
Some of our herding breeds have also been used to protect livestock, so they may have developed guarding instincts that need to be managed properly.
The Most Popular Herding Dogs
This list includes 16 sheepdog breeds. While you recognize some of the most well-known and popular dog breeds, there are also some rare and unusual dogs.
Border Collie is a workaholic who is remarkably intelligent and highly active. These dogs were bred mainly as sheepdogs and originated from an area in Scotland that was right on the border with England – hence the name. They are often found competing (and winning) in agility competitions, as well as herding animals. They are medium-sized working dogs, but highly intelligent and with great personality. So they are always eager to please, and their big brains make training easy.
If you are thinking of having a Border Collie at your home, be prepared to take long walks, spend the nights playing and melt into your irresistible brown eyes. For these dogs have remarkable intelligence, obedience and stamina. Therefore, they are favorites for dog sports and are still a popular choice for sheep grazing. Therefore, for active and dedicated jobs, border collies are some of the best partners available. So these are brilliant working dogs that need a job to do or can become terrible.
With his majestic flowing coat, distinctive markings and strong and loyal personalities. However, they are bigger and calmer than Border Collie cousins and do well on a farm or in a city. Also simply called “collies”, iconically loyal. Devotion to a single person or family is a common element among the race. Therefore, a long-haired and alert dog, with a real posture, should be socialized as a puppy to avoid strangling other people. Lida is worked deeply into their genes, and this natural and pure instinct makes them loyal protectors. But these good dogs need affection, companionship and mental stimulation to remain happy, and their high intelligence will make training easy and enjoyable. However, they did achieve fame – and popularity – through Lassie, the TV screen hero of the 50s and 60s. Lassie was played by several different Collies.
Herding cattle and distributing sweet hugs is part of a working day for an Australian shepherd. Therefore, these active, agile and intelligent sheepdogs are known for their striking appearance and the competitive advantage they have in the challenges of obedience and agility. But despite the name, Australian shepherds were raised in the western United States. These dogs are highly intelligent and trainable, even participating in exhibitions and rodeos. So they are also capable working dogs, employed in search and rescue, service and military / police work. So Australians thrive when they have an active goal, like controlling a flock of unruly sheep or pleasing their owners in daily training sessions. These sheepdogs live well with children as family dogs, as well as with other animals. So it can be argued that these smart dogs are the smartest breed in the world!
Old English Sheepdog
These adorably disheveled and healthy dogs use their powerful bodies and energetic personalities to make their way into hearts and homes. This pure lineage, as the name suggests, dates back to English history. The Old English Sheepdog is a large breed, with a strong herding instinct that applies to everything that moves. However, a flock of geese, a moving car, their young children, they see everything as an opportunity to show their skills. Their energy levels make training a must, but they adapt quickly and are always eager to please.
Famous in the UK for appearing in a popular TV ad for Dulux paint in the 1970s, this furry dog is sometimes still known as the Dulux dog. But in Brazil she is known as Priscila da Tv Colosso. However, this is not a breed for those who want a dog with an easy-care coat. Well, the Old English Sheepdog needs regular grooming or grooming to avoid getting tangled hair.
Australian Cattle Dog
Like most handling dogs, Australian Cattle Dogs are active, intelligent and loyal. They protect their family, are suspicious of strangers and excel in competitions of agility, obedience and flyball. So they easily control animals three times their size, and farm dogs’ courage has a tendency to translate into stubborn antics. This dog was first bred by Australian settlers to lead cattle across wide and treacherous spaces on the continent, and believes that they are descended from wild dingoes. However, these athletic and intelligent dogs need a lot of work, agility training or other activities to stimulate the mind and body.
The Australian Cattle Dog, also known as Red and Blue Heelers, will need a job to be happy and trouble-free. But always remember that mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise. Therefore the Blue Heeler is also a dog with a great conformation. Upright ears help keep ear infections at bay, and a well-balanced, well-proportioned body is great for strength and speed.
Shetlands is a medium-sized breed, with high intelligence and fun. So these dogs are very talented in competitions of agility, obedience and tracking. These dogs are sheep herders originally bred in the Shetland Islands in Scotland. But they are seen all over the world as a miniature version of the Collie, this is a puppy with a big heart. Intelligent and hardworking, the Shetland Sheepdog is quick to bark and warns you if there are strangers.
These dogs are confident and intelligent, making them capable of high energy activities and jobs. However, it also means that they can exercise their herding instincts very well. Malinois is becoming increasingly popular not only as a pet, but also as a service dog. Although somewhat similar to the German shepherd, the Malinois has a better conformation with strong hindquarters.
Welsh Corgi Cardigan
Corgis can share less physical qualities with most breeds of cops. Still, this breed also maintains a high capacity for training and intelligence of its ancestors in herding. Corgis are adaptable to life on a farm or in an apartment in the city, although they require daily exercise. Curiosity: the appropriate Welsh plural of “corgi” is “corgwn”. These short-legged cattle herding dogs are a larger and more robust version of their Pembroke cousins. They have bigger ears and the tail is kept low and not high on the back, as in the case of cousin Pembroke.
Welsh Corgi Pembroke
Affectionate and intelligent, this breed of corgi is distinguishable from other Welsh (the cardigan) due to its lack of tail. Like other corgis, the Pembroke is an intelligent and affectionate animal. Although it may not seem like it, this breed is athletic – with a lot of resistance – and is happier when it has a job to do. Corgis were bred to lead herds of cattle from Wales to London, but today they are more often kept as family pets. They are perhaps best known for being the favorites of the British royal family. Pembroke Corgis are smaller and lighter than their Cardigan Corgi cousins. They carry a gene that causes lack of tail in some puppies. Unfortunately, the Corgi’s disproportionately long back and short legs predispose this breed to painful back problems.
German Shepherd Dog
This classic working dog was created to shepherd sheep. Confident, trainable, courageous and athletic. The popular German shepherd is eager to learn and to be put to work. The most popular representative of sheepdogs in Brazil is the German shepherd dog. Known for his loyalty, intelligence and protective nature, the German shepherd is also one of the most controversial herding dog breeds. Concerns were raised about the change in the Pastor’s shape and weakness in the back quarters of some. However, there are working German shepherds with strong backs and hindquarters found in almost all regions, with the breed remaining a popular choice for military and police work worldwide.
Miniature American Shepherd
This dog is a trend in the USA, partly due to its smaller size. Some believe, however, that it is also because they have become a huge hit on social media. They are very photogenic with their multicolored hair and their blue or brown eyes – or one of each color. The American Miniature Shepherd was created out of the Australian Shepherd and is still often referred to as the Australian Miniature Shepherd. They were raised on purpose in the 1960s by farmers in California as smaller dogs. Despite their small size, they are true herding dogs – energetic, bright and loyal.
Bouvier des Flandres
Then, in twelfth place, we have one of the big boys! Bouviers Des Flandres is one of the largest herding dogs. This all-purpose farm dog that can reach heights of 70 centimeters or more. It originated from parts of Belgium and France. Like the Old English Sheepdog, Bouviers is a disheveled breed that needs profound care. In some regions, you will find breeders who still cut these dogs’ ears, but in most areas we are happily returning to the natural ears.
This striking and courageous dog is essentially a long-haired version of the Malinois with a beautiful long and silky coat in a brown or red color. These dogs come from a Belgian village with the same name. The Tervuren has a dark mask and ears that sometimes spread over the shoulders and beyond. Another distinctive feature is the “collar” around the neck.
Beauceron, like the Bouvier des Flanders, is another very tall sheepdog. But the similarity ends there. The powerful Beauceron has an elegant short black fur with red accents, including red feet. The breed’s name comes from the French nickname Bas-Rouge, which means red socks.
Described as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, this dog is a black, long-haired version of the Malinois. The perfect companion for life. The Laekenois, Malinois, Tervuren and Belgian Sheepdog were once a single breed. All of these smart dogs are popular with competitors for obedience and job tests.
The last on our list of the most popular sheepdogs is the medium-sized Bearded Collie. It resembles a leaner and lighter version of the Old English Sheepdog. It is a relatively old breed from Scotland, described as fun, loud and independent.
Finding The Right Herding Dogs
The above breeds are just a sample of the many herding breeds that exist. These dogs are not only excellent herding dogs, but are also great for canine sports, and some also stand out as guard dogs. Owning a sheepdog is an adventure full of love, loyalty, companionship and more. Keep in mind, however, that these high-energy dogs require a lot of exercise and are not always the best pets in the family. If you are thinking of adding one of these working breeds to your family or farm, make sure you understand the responsibility that will come with these dogs. With the right training, care and environment, these herding breeds can become your next best four-legged friend.
Herding Dogs – Summary
Herding dog breeds are intelligent, energetic, hardworking and loyal. They train easily and need to be well trained, and keep busy to be happy. These breeds are not the right dog for sofa ornaments. They will thrive in active families or with an enthusiastic trainer. Short-legged Corgis and some lines of German shepherds are prone to conformational problems, but overall this is an athletic and healthy group of dogs.
Let us know if you are a fan of sheepdogs and tell us about your dog in the comments box below!