Herding dog breeds are fantastic for both active families and families with children. These pups love to work, and it shows! There are many different herding breeds out there, so how do you know which is right for your family? We have a special guest today to tell you about the top five! Thank you to Anna Smith from Dogsaholic for sharing your insights!
Top 5 Herding Dog Breeds
Dogs are a man’s best friend. They’ve done a lot of things for us, but the time when man started assigning dogs with a herding job was arguably the turning point where dogs really started to actively contribute to a man’s prosperity. Herding dogs are popular both as a working dog and as a family pet, due to their intelligent and hardworking nature. If you are looking for a loyal dog that is dedicated to helping you with your work in every way possible, then look no further.
As family pets, herding dogs are affectionate and energetic, but they may need to be trained a bit to weed out their herding behavior because some have been known to nip or bark at their family members in an effort to “herd” them. Herding dogs are some of the most loyal dog breeds known to mankind. Humans have been working hand-in-paw with herding dogs for hundreds of years, but this breed was only officially registered as a separate category by the AKC in 1983. Today, there are more than fifty breeds in this category. Check out our top 5 picks on the best of the bunch!
TOP 5 HERDING BREEDS
1- Rough Collie
Rough collies are an iconic herding dog. If you’ve watched the movie Lassie, then you should know how famously loyal the Rough collies are. They are the type of dog that will follow one family and one family only until the end. If you somehow lose them, Rough collies have been known to find their own way home. If you are a part of a family with kids, then the Rough collie may be the perfect pet dog for you. Some herding dogs can be overbearing with their natural instincts, and may treat small children as their herd, but that’s not the case with Rough collies. They are fiercely protective of young children and you can count on them to either be a guard dog or a playmate.
If you’re not looking for a family pet so much as a dog that can do a good herding job for you, the agile Rough collie is also a great choice. They are perfect for speeding around the herd to keep the animals in line. Rough collies have also been known to use their powerful barks to admonish any straying livestock. Their thick coat makes them the perfect dog for cold highlands.
2- Old English Sheepdog
It is impossible not to recognize the Old English sheepdog on sight because of its unique features. With long, fluffy hair that often covers its eyes, one might wonder how the Old English sheepdog is supposed to herd animals when it can’t even look straight ahead, but these dogs make up for that with sheer boundless energy.
Known as a very cheerful and friendly breed, the Old English sheepdog is a wonderful family pet. They may not be the best dog for families with small children because they have been known to exhibit herding behaviors such as nudging or nipping, but they usually the perfect companion for adults, especially older people who need an injection of cheer in their lives and have the time to dedicate care to these dogs’ high-maintenance coat.
As actual herd dogs, the Old English sheepdogs are not usually as agile as some of the other breeds due to their larger frame. However, their thick coat allows them to move around unhindered even in places where the temperature can be hard to bear. The Old English sheepdogs are great barkers. Their deep-throated woofs will scare the livestock into obedience. They also exert some great protective behaviors towards the herd.
3- Australian Kelpie
The Australian Kelpie are little-known outside of their home country, which is a shame because they are some of the most successfully bred herding dogs. These handsome dogs are not usually kept as a family pet, but if what you need is a trustworthy partner, then the Australian Kelpie will go beyond all of your expectations.
Most herding dogs are separated into two categories: heelers and headers. Heelers nip at the heels of the animals, chasing them around in a high-speed rush. Headers run to the forefront of the herd and block its way. Headers either bark or stare the herd down in order to steer it in another direction or stop it in its path. The Australian Kelpie can alternate between the two methods depending on what the situation requires. They are good at herding all kinds of livestock. Some have even been known to ride a wave of sheep by walking on their backs in order to get ahead of the herd.
4- Border Collie
The Border collie exhibits all of the necessary traits in a good herding dog. They are energetic, intelligent, agile, and obedient. Some would even attest that the Border collie is the most intelligent of all dog breeds. The Border collie is great with kids and can be a great family pet, but due to their boundless energy, they are not a good fit for families with busy members that have no choice but to leave their dog alone at home for extended periods of time. The Border collie may also not be a good pick for elderlies. They need an owner that is as active as they are.
Border collies have a long history as herding dogs, and they typically do great on a ranch. They are the happiest when there’s a lot of work to do. Border collies are herders. Their signature move is called the “strong eye,” in which they get in front of the herd and stare it down to stop it in its tracks.
5- Shetland Sheepdog
Physically, the Shetland sheepdog looks like the Rough collie’s smaller relative, but the two are actually not related. Shelties may look too small to properly herd large animals such as the sheep, but they are actually really effective. Shelties are quite vocal, and they often combine their sharp barks with fast movements to induce a natural flocking instinct in the livestock. Shelties can gather the group in one place faster than most other herding breeds.
The Shetland sheepdog is great with small children, and has the potential to be a wonderful addition to the family. This breed has also enjoyed a marvelous success as therapy dogs. Shelties typically have a calm and caring temperament, so they can effectively soothe others. If you’re thinking about adopting a Sheltie, though, make sure you can spare enough time to give them enough exercise. These athletic dogs need to move their bodies to stay healthy.
There are many other herding dogs for you to choose from, but the aforementioned 5 are the most well-rounded ones, seen from both a family’s and a rancher’s point of view. You should remember, however, that each dog is an individual. No two dogs are exactly the same. Even though they belong to the same breed, they may exhibit different personality and quality. It is best to spend some time personally with the dog in question before you make the end decision to adopt it so you can see whether there’s chemistry between the two of you or not.