Herding dog breeds are particularly intelligent and lively!

These are dogs that were primarily used on farms move livestock between fields, drive it to market, and a few were developed to guard. Many are still used for this today.

Herding dogs are not aggressive, but being bred to move large animals, they may have a tendency towards nipping and herding. They require owners that have the time and energy to keep up with them. They are highly trainable but need an activity to focus on. They respond well to firm, consistent, and positive training rather than harsh reprimands.

Australian Shepherd

Herding Dog Backgrounds

For hundreds of years, the need to control livestock spurred the development of herding dogs. Though these dogs often worked independently, it also fostered a special partnership between man and dog. Without the aid of such dogs, people throughout the world would have been hard put to work their livestock, or get it to market.

Herding dogs were developed across many parts of the European continent, Australia, Poland, and Israel. Two herding dogs were developed in the United States, and even Siberia and the western Artic developed two reindeer herding breeds.

Each of these herding dog breeds was developed with a unique set of skills, determined by the region they were worked and the nature of the work needed. Some were adept at gathering livestock from remote or harsh terrain, while others were skilled at driving livestock to market, and a few were developed to guard as well. The types of livestock also varied. The most common livestock was cattle and sheep, but were also developed to control other animals as well, such as goats and reindeer, and even poultry.

Dog Breed Information for Herding Dogs

Inherently, herding dogs are alert, intelligent, and un-intimidated. Controlling the movement of large animals is the specialized skill of these dogs and is purely an instinctive behavior. Herding dogs are rarely aggressive, but because of this acute instinct they may have a tendency toward nipping and herding. These animals need a job to keep them both physically and mentally stimulated.

In general, herding dogs make excellent companions. As household pets they will most likely not be utilized for herding, but are readily adaptable to other types of stimulating activity. They require an owner that is dedicated to providing them with training and a focus. They are highly intelligent and respond enthusiastically to training exercises.

Popular Herding Dog Breeds

The first dogs used for herding were large and rough, but with an acute herding instinct. The need for specific skills and temperaments brought crossings with other breeds into the mix. Border Collies, Australian Shepherds and Cattle dogs were commonly crossbred with other breeds for specialization.

Today some of the most popular herding dogs include:

  • German Shepherd
  • Shetland Sheepdog
  • Pembroke Welch Corgi
  • Australian Shepherd
  • Collie
  • Border Collie
  • Old English Sheepdog
  • Australian Cattle Dog
  • Cardigan Welsh Corgi
  • Bouvier des Flandres.

Dog Care Tips for Herding Dogs

Herding dogs are wired to be performing some type of work, and are only happy if they have a purpose. They are some of the smartest and most active breeds of the dog world. The thing you will hear most about these dogs is that ‘if they don’t have a job, they will find one’! This can translate into digging up the yard and chewing up your favorite shoes.

There are a number of dog sports, as well as jobs, to utilize this breeds herding instinct. Some of the sports include agility, herding trials, flyball, obedience, and tracking. Some jobs for those with the right disposition and socialization include serving as therapy dogs, as assistance dogs to people with disabilities, or work as police dogs. An interesting modern example of use for these dogs is controlling wild geese on golf courses and airports.

Featured Image Credit: Osetrik, Shutterstock