Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What Dog Breeds are Best for Herding?

There are many dog breeds used for herding sheep, goats, cattle, and other livestock. Typically these dogs are very intelligent and do not always make ideal house pets because of their love of “work”.
Certain breeds of dogs used for herding are more popular in some areas than in others.

Border Collie


Border collies are one of the most popular herding dogs. They are highly intelligent and have a real desire to please. Movie fans will recognize this breed from the film “Babe” (the talking pig). 

They are sleek dogs with medium length hair. The most popular color for a border collie is black with white, however they can also be tri-colored or brown and white. They stand about knee high. Border collies always have an alert look in their eye, as though they are always looking for cues. If not used for herding, they enjoy agility.

Australian Cattle Dog


Also known as red heelers or blue heelers (according to their color), these dogs are tough and robust. Nipping at the heels of livestock is very much discouraged in other breeds of herding dog (such as the border collie), but the Australian Cattle dog was originally bred to nip at the heels of livestock as part of its herding behavior. Although this is not as common as it was, some dogs will still nip at running kids, or other pets.
These dogs did originate in Australia and were the product of herding dogs crossed with a few dingoes.

Welsh Corgi

photo from wikimedia commons


Welsh corgies are sometimes referred to as “The Queen's Dog” because of Queen Elizabeth's love of Pembroke Welsh corgis. The other type of Welsh corgi is the Cardigan Welsh corgi. The difference between the two is mainly that the Pembroke does not have a tail and is slightly smaller. Welsh corgis were bred to be short so they can avoid getting kicked by an angry cow or steer.

German Shepherd

©B Nelson - German Shepherd dog


Once a popular herding dog the German Shepherd is now more often used as a police, or personal protection dog. In fact most people no longer associate them with being herding dogs despite it being part of their name. 

Of course there are other collie breeds, the Shetland sheep dog, and many other dog breeds which are also popular for herding. Herding breeds should all be considered fairly intelligent and good for people who have lots of time to keep their dog mentally stimulated if not using it for herding.