From herding livestock on your hobby farm to becoming your new best friend, herding breed dogs make great additions to every kind of home. The herding group includes some of the country's most popular dog breeds. Whether you're looking for a furry farmhand, an everyday companion, or a family dog, herding breed dogs are always great options.
They're friendly, energetic, and smart, but not all herding breeds are the same. If you're ready to adopt a herding breed dog into your family, consider the characteristics of these top five herding breeds.
1. Border Collie
Border Collies are workaholics that are remarkably smart and highly active. These herding breed dogs are often found competing in (and winning) agility competitions as well as cleverly herding livestock. They're medium-sized highly intelligent working dogs with big personalities.
Border Collies are always eager to please, and their big brains make training a breeze. If you're considering welcoming a Border Collie into your home, be prepared to go on long walks, spend your evenings playing fetch, and melt in their irresistible brown eyes.
2. Rough Collie
With their majestic flowing manes, distinctive markings, and strong, loyal personalities, the Rough Collie is the 37th most popular dog breed in the country, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC). They're larger and calmer than their Border Collie cousins and do well whether they're on a country farm or in a city home.
Herding is bred deep into their genes, and that natural, pure instinct makes them loyal protectors. These good dogs need affection, companionship, and mental stimulation to stay happy, and their high intelligence will make training easy and enjoyable. Just ask the world-famous Rough Collie, Lassie!
3. Australian Shepherd
Herding livestock and doling out sweet cuddles are all in a day's work for an Australian Shepherd. These active, agile, and intelligent herding dogs are known for their striking looks and the competitive advantage they have in obedience and agility challenges.
Aussies thrive when they have an active purpose like controlling a herd of unruly sheep or pleasing dog owners in daily training sessions. These shepherd dogs live well with children as family dogs, as well as with other animals, and they make affectionate additions to families of all sizes. It can be argued that these intelligent dogs are the smartest dog breed out there!
4. Old English Sheepdog
These adorably shaggy, able-bodied canines use their powerful bodies and energetic personalities to needle their way into hearts and homes.
The Old English Sheepdog is a large breed with a strong herding instinct that applies to everything that moves. A flock of geese, a moving car, your small children—they see everything as an opportunity to show off their skills. Their energy levels make training a must, but they catch on quickly and are always eager to please.
5. Australian Cattle Dog
Like most herding breed dogs, the Australian Cattle Dog is active, intelligent, and loyal. They're protective of their family, wary of strangers, and excel in agility, obedience, and flyball competitions. They easily take control of animals three times their size, and that farm dog courage has a tendency to translate into stubborn mischief.
Your Australian Cattle Dog, also known as Red and Blue Heelers, will need a job to stay happy and out of trouble. And always remember that mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise.
Finding the Right Herding Dog
The above breeds are just a sampling of the many herding breeds that exist. Other common herding dogs include the Shetland Sheepdog, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Bearded Corgi, Belgian Malinois, German Shepherd, Queensland Heeler, Terrier, Sheltie, and Collie breeds. Not only do these dogs make excellent herding dogs in farm life, but they're often great at dog sports, and some also excel as guard dogs for family members.
Owning a herding dog is an adventure full of love, loyalty, companionship, and so much more. Remember, though, that these high-energy dogs require plenty of exercise (and daily exercise), and with a high herding drive, they don't always make the best family pets. If you're thinking of adding one of these working breeds to your family or farm, make sure that you understand the responsibility that will come with these dogs. With the proper training, care, and environment, these herding breeds can become your next four-legged best friend.
This article was originally published October 2, 2020.