Not every dog was bred just to be a companion. Some dogs, in fact, have a working lineage that’s still part of them to this day. One such lineage is that of the herding dog, dogs who were originally bred to herd cattle, sheep, or other animals but today often spend more time trying to herd their people around their homes.
Though there are dozens of herding breeds out there, it’s never a bad idea to look at some of the most popular. Below are ten of the herding breeds that tend to get quite a bit of interest whenever they’re up for adoption.
The Herding Dog Breeds
Australian Cattle Dogs
These distinctive dogs, also known as blue heelers, are balls of energy who still have an awful lot of herding instinct left in them, these dogs are as intelligent and as they are rambunctious. Though they need an awful lot of socialization to reach their full potential as pets, they are also dogs who can be perfect fits for those who have very active lifestyles.
These cattle-herding dogs are still dogs who have great work ethics, though today’s Australian shepherd is now found more often on the agility course than on the range. Easy to train and great with kids, this is a loyal family dog who needs a lot of exercise in order to be his or her best – a yard with large boundaries is best. Socialization is also a must here, as these dogs are natural guard dogs who can be suspicious around strangers.
This dignified breed started its life as a French watchdog, but today’s Beauceron is more of a high-energy family dog who loves getting the chance to run and play. These dogs are fairly easy to train and love to make their owners happy, though you’ll definitely want to curb their destructive impulses by giving them plenty of exercise and a good selection of toys.
These long-coated dogs do a remarkable job of almost blending in with the sheep who they guarded, but they’re also happy dogs who love to love their owners. You should absolutely expect to be deluged by kisses when you have one of these dogs, so be prepared for a little bit of extra drool.
These dogs are still workers at heart, though, so giving them a job is the best way to keep them happy. You should also note that they’re very dog-friendly, so these can be perfect pets for households that already have animals.
Yes, the quintessential American dog is also a herding dog. Incredibly smart and very friendly, these dogs love people almost as much as they love running around. These are dogs who need to exercise and would prefer to be working, but they are also dogs who can tend to be quite shy if you don’t spend enough time exposing them to people.
Bouvier des Flandres
Though their name may be complex, the Bouvier is actually an incredibly loving dog that leverages its strength in ways that have always tended to benefit its owners. Big fans of hard work and even harder play, these are affectionate animals who are much more comfortable around their families than anyone else. These dogs do take a little bit of work to train properly, but many of them can become great family pets when you put in the effort.
Canaan dogs aren’t all that far removed from wild dogs, but that just means they need some extra help to reach their potential. When you train them and socialize them correctly, these dogs become devoted family pets who are protective of anyone who they believe is a member of their packs. These dogs love to run and can make perfect companions for distant runners who want a little bit of canine company.
Cardigan Welsh Corgi
Yes, Corgis are actually herding dogs. Small and famously compact, these dogs might not look like they can do much work but they’re famously able to wrangle even groups of children where they want to go. Loud barkers who have a tendency to be quite stubborn, these dogs need a fair bit of training to stay in line but once they get what they need they can become the kinds of family pets that people cherish forever.
Collies of all stripes are fantastic herding dogs and even better pets. With beautiful coats and incredibly inquisitive personalities, these are the kinds of dogs with whom you can leave your children and still feel safe. These dogs love to learn tricks and run through obstacle courses but be warned – these are also dogs who need a lot of exercise to feel their best.
While you might think of the German Shepherd as a guard dog, the truth is that it is still one of the herding breeds. These loyal and intelligent dogs tend to love people more than anything else, putting their immense strength and amazing minds to work whenever they think they can make a human happy.
These Shepherds do take a lot of socialization to be friendly towards strangers, but they can become incredibly friendly pets once they get to know you. These dogs also have the ability to really shine in athletic competitions, making them a perfect fit for those who want to get out and play with their dogs.
Old English Sheepdog
When many people think about sheepherders, this is the breed about which they think. With their long shaggy coats, these giant mops tend to be very easy to spot even at a distance. Old English Sheepdogs are also notable clowns with silly personalities, which might a necessary payoff considering how much grooming these dogs need.
Friendly and smart, Old English Sheepdogs are great working dogs who need long walks and plenty of exercise. These dogs can become fantastic family pets with the right training and can become unforgettable companions with time.
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Just like the Cardigan, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi was originally a herding dog. While now they tend to use all of that energy to herd around their family members, they’re still intelligent enough to learn tricks and loud enough to alert their families of any nearby danger.
What’s great about these dogs is that they don’t need quite as much space as other types of herding dogs. They still need exercise, of course, but their tiny legs can get worn out by a good walk. Fairly easy to train, Pembroke Welsh Corgis are great for those who want a small dog on whom they can depend.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What kind of dogs are herders?
There are dozens of breeds of dogs who can trace their lineage back to herding dogs. These range from the various types of Collies and Shepherds to Corgis and Canaan Dogs.
2. Do herding dogs make good pets?
Herding dogs can actually make great pets. Herding dogs are typically very smart and very easy to train and most of them were bred with a certain amount of deference to humans in mind. What this means for modern dog owners is that these dogs love to be around people and that they can adapt to most circumstances as long as they can get an adequate amount of exercise.
3. What is the smallest herding dog?
The smallest herding dogs are probably the Corgis. Tiny dogs who were initially bred to herd sheep, these dogs are small enough that a good walk can tire them out but still smart enough that they’ve retained a fair bit of their old herding instincts.
4. What is the best dog for herding cattle?
Border Collies and Australian Cattle Dogs tend to get the nod among those who still use dogs to herd their cattle. Both are not the only dog who genuinely like to work, but they’re both intelligent enough that training them to both herd cattle and to respond to commands takes relatively little effort.