Herding dog breeds are strong and athletic. They are also loyal and intelligent. They easily work with people. New breeds continue to be added to the group.
The Pumi is a recent example. This rare herding breed from Hungary was recognized by the AKC in 20161
No one knows when herding dogs were first bred. Some researchers think they have been around for thousands of years! People first domesticated sheep around 10,000 years ago.
Dogs may have been used to help control the flocks. Over time, humans began to breed different types of dogs to help control more livestock.
Herding dogs did more than keep groups of animals together. They also became companions for shepherds who spent long days alone.
Some herding breeds, including the Briard and the Beauceron, had another important job. They protected livestock from predators.
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Herding Dog Breeds
Herding Dog Breeds | From (A to C)
Powerful and agile, the Aidi is a mountain dog that protects its owner and property with splendid courage. This rustic breed is from Morocco.
A misnomer regarding this breed is that they were sheepdogs and tended to flocks. A 1963 breed standard had to be nullified in 1969 because it listed this dog as the Atlas Sheepdog.
American Indian Dogs
American Indian Dogs go back to as early as 30,000 years ago, and they are believed to have been widely used by ancient Indians as pack animals, watchdogs, herding, and guard dogs.
They show resemblance to German Shepherds, but they are smaller, reaching 18-21 inches high at the withers.
These dogs are protective and suspicious about strangers, but not vicious. They have wedge-shaped muzzles, erect ears, and alert and faraway eyes.
American White Shepherd
The American White Shepherd is a direct descendant of the German Shepherd. The American White Shepherd has evolved from a continuous selection for a working companion dog with that exclusive color, beauty, and grace seen both standing and in motion.
With their intelligence levels and loyalty, they are recognized by many as one of the most versatile working dogs that serve mankind.
The Anatolian Shepherd has been known in the Anatolian plateau of Turkey for centuries. A large and noble animal, it is used as livestock guardians.
More agile and slender than the Kuvasz and the Great Pyrenees, the Anatolian Shepherd is capable of immense endurance and speed. For many years, this breed was used as a wolf hunter/killer and a combat dog in wars.
Appenzell Mountain Dog
The Appenzell Mountain Dog is the rarest of the four ancient Swiss mountain dogs. A very active breed, they are accustomed to working continuously.
They are not adapted to living indoors or in a kennel. A surefooted dog, it was used to pull carts of milk and cheese to the merchants in towns.
Australian Cattle Dogs
Australian Cattle Dogs are ideal family pets because of their independent resolve, innate energy, and high-spirited antics.
They were originally bred in Australia for herding cattle. Their other names include Blue Heeler, Red Heeler, and Queensland Heeler. They weigh between 32 and 35 pounds, and their height is between 17 and 20 inches.
The litter has between 3 and 5 puppies, and the lifespan is between 11 and 15 years. A short undercoat and a short outer coat compose its dense, straight double coat.
People often are all too often unaware that this breed was created as a hybrid between the Bull Terrier, Collie, and Dingo. Thus, its wild tendencies like foraging for scruples and innate resourcefulness are from the Dingo. The Dingo, of course, is an undomesticated wild dog in Australia.
The Australian Kelpie was developed for herding sheep on the large Australian farms of the 1800s. Incredible workers, this breed has earned a reputation of never tiring.
The Australian Kelpie is also exceedingly intelligent and extremely obedient to its owner. Some say that Australia’s sheep market would not have been so successful if it had not been for the Australian Kelpie and its ability to do the work of several men.
Even though this breed is called the Australian Shepherd, it originated on the ranches in the Wild West of the United States.
It was bred to work in the pastures and meadows as a herding dog. Thus, pictures of the breed alongside cows, goats, and sheep are common.
The name probably originated because shepherds and their sheep emigrated to America and Australia from Spain during colonial times.
The dog was just part of the cargo. Nowadays, it’s still useful on the ranch, but it also is good as a guard dog, watchdog, police dog, searches dog, and playful retriever. Experts attest that this breed is the quintessential playmate for energetic children.
The Bearded Collie, probably much like the Scottish shepherds that bred them originally, has a frock of shaggy hair and a noteworthy beard.
Nowadays, they make their rounds in dog shows. Like any pet, they also live in domestic homes as well. They originally herded sheep full-time, and their high energy levels are a purported carry-over from these days.
However, unlike the rigors of the sheep-laden fields of former years, the breed prefers a cozy indoor life with plenty of families. Thus, it’s not advisable to leave it alone in the house all day. This dog is a servant at heart without timidity of brazen aggression.
The Beauceron is a rare French dog that is almost unknown outside of France. They were derived as hunting dogs for wild boars.
The Beauceron is still used on farms in France to herd sheep and cattle. They are the most preferred dogs in France for herding and are said to have been palace dogs at one time. There is an ancient painting showing two Beaucerons guarding the throne of a French king.
Belgian Groenendaels are popular Belgian sheepdogs with moderately long black silky coats and solid (not heavy) muscular bodies.
The head carriage of this elegant dog is proud. Belgian Groenendaels are very smart, obedient dogs with strong protective instincts.
Intensive socialization from an early age using gentle firm training will overcome their timidity, yield their highest cooperation, and minimize chasing, herding, and nipping instincts. They make excellent guard and police dogs and thrive on companionship.
The Belgian Laekenois is the rarest of four Belgian Sheepdog breeds. The Laekenois was developed as a watchdog to guard the fields in Antwerp and is still popular today as a guard dog.
The Laekenois has a rough wiry coat and needs trimming twice per year. They require ample time, and attention in training, as well as companionship.
The Belgian Malinois is a serious and watchful, protective breed. They should be trained and socialized very well from an early age.
These dogs make excellent police and guard dogs, as well as excellent pets. Their Belgian city of origin is Malines. They have been known to excel in tracking, agility, obedience, and protection. These sheepdogs have a short-haired coat that is easy to groom.
This is a slender elegant breed. Like other Belgian Sheepdogs, the Tervuren makes an excellent companion that interacts well with children. They are also strong watchdogs.
Due to their long straight, medium-length heavy outer coat and dense undercoat, the Belgian Tervuren requires daily combing and brushing. The Belgian Tervuren not only excels in herding but also in protection/law enforcement.
This ancient breed is at least 2000 years old. Mostly found along the Alpine chain, they have a long thick, and shabby coat. But once fully flocked they require little care except for occasional brushing and bathing.
The Bergamasco is an exceptionally intelligent breed, as well as strong, sound, and brave. They are great with all children and have been used in therapy with handicapped children.
Berger de Picard
The Berger de Picard is named for the Picardie region in northeast France and is possibly one of the oldest French shepherd dogs.
French shepherds preferred a herding dog with a strong protective instinct to protect their herds in the vast, unenclosed grazing areas. The Berger de Picard has a distinctive rough coat nicely suited for herding.
The Blue Lacy is an energetic herding dog. This breed is able to instinctively handle the meanest longhorn or the most nervous hen.
It has been said they were able to do the work of five cowboys. The Blue Lacy was given its name by the “Lacy Brothers,” who settled in the granite hills next to Marble Falls, Texas.
The Border Collie is a herding dog breed that’s indisputably regarded as the brainiest dog. Its intelligence is remarkable. It hails from the countrysides of Great Britain, specifically England and Scotland, although it has concentrations in Ireland too.
Like a lot of herding dogs, it needs attention, a job to work on, and many activities to expend its energy.
Neurosis, hazardous behavior, and aggression can result from improper socialization, male dog competitiveness, and lack of jobs or activities.
Ongoing attention and outdoor sports are a couple of prerequisites to owning this breed. The dogs can be cautious, reserved, or even nippy around strangers.
Unlike some herding dogs that have devolved to companion and show circuit types, the Border Collie is still a farm staple around the world.
Bouvier des Flandres
The Bouvier des Flandres derives part of its name, Flandres, from the region of the Netherlands, Belgium, and France that’s called Flanders.
Being endemic to Europe, it did many things that are characteristic to the region. For instance, it led cattle on long droves.
Cattle droving is the practice of leading cattle along wide roads en route to market. Many shepherds that maintained sheep and cattle used them for farm work and herding.
Police, security, and law enforcement, as well as normal people, use them as guard dogs. There’s never been a time in history when this distinctive-looking dog has been unnecessary. Their synonym names have to do with their cattle driving abilities or strange hair surrounding their face.
The Briard has been known for some centuries. Charlemagne, Napoleon, Thomas Jefferson, and Lafayette all owned Briards.
This ancient sheep guard and herder have also been used by the French Army as a sentry, messenger, and to search for wounded soldiers because of its keen sense of hearing.
The Briard is a farmworker by nature and lives to herd anything. They have the exceptional hearing ability and are basically kind, but with a strong protective instinct.
From the wild dogs of Israel, adaptable Canaan dogs were produced to guard, herd, and manage sheep.
During the War, they served as sentries and messengers, mine detectors, trackers, search and rescue dogs, and guides for blind men.
Nowadays, they still tend farm stock as they did for the Bedouins centuries previously. Tombs dating back 2200 B.C. contain drawings of similar canines. This Spitz family breed came to America in 1965.
The Cane Corso was bred in Puglia, a region in southern Italy. Originally, they were used to hunt wild boars, stag, and bears, but when the animal’ numbers decreased, the Cane Corso became a farm dog.
It was used for herding, guarding, and protecting the livestock. The first Cane Corso came to the United States in 1987. The name Cane Corso means the dog that guards the property.
Cardigan Welsh Corgi
The Cardigan Welsh Corgi is an ancient breed dating as far back as the 800’s. Vikings imported them into Wales. Corgi is the Celtic word for dog. Cardigans don’t like to spread out their loyalty too thin.
Their affection is usually relegated to one or two masters. It was originally used for herding cattle, and his low, long stature helped him avoid the kicks from cattle.
The breed nips and barks at heels, of each other and of cattle, to control, move, herd, and stimulate their targets. It’s also used as a farm guard dog and a rodent assailant. In fact, their first job was farm guarding, but cattle droving took dominance over their affairs.
They were originally in high concentration in Cardiganshire, Wales, which explains their current name. The “Cor” portion of the word translates directly to the dwarf. The “gi” portion translates to a dog. It was discovered in the rolling, misty hills of Cardiganshire, Wales.
Catahoula Leopard Dog
The Catahoula Leopard Dog is widely known for its ability to herd cattle and hunt wild boar, but has also been used in every aspect of work, hunt, and show that can be imagined, including guard dogs, agility, search and rescue, and detector dogs.
Some claim that this breed is one of the most versatile dogs in the United States today. Contributing to the Catahoula Leopard Dog were the Red Wolf, the Mastiff, Greyhound, and Beauceron.
The Collie is divided into the Rough and Smooth Collie varieties. Its biggest concentration is in Britain. It’s also called the Scottish Collie because it stayed in Scotland, exclusively, for such a long time.
They’re hardy, brainy herding dogs that have also been used to elicit water rescues. Their coats are white, blue merle, and sable and white together.
They do well as seeing-eye dogs and movie stars because of their raw intellect. They’re able to do almost anything if properly trained to do so. The Smooth Collie is equivalent in all aspects to the Rough Collie except for the longer coat.
A modest breed, the Croatian Sheepdog was derived from the dogs that the Croatians brought with them in the 7th century to the area that they occupy today.
This breed possesses an excellent hereditary instinct for working sheep and cattle. When driving cattle, this little dog throws itself with great bravery at the most ferocious bull and forces it to obey.
Herding Dog Breeds | From (D to L)
The Dutch Shepherd was used on farms to herd and guard sheep. Towards the end of the 1800s, the Dutch Shepherd breed was almost extinct.
The Dutch formed the first Dutch Shepherd club in 1898 to increase the breed’s population. At this point, the Dutch Shepherd became a family pet and continued to do some work activities.
The Dutch Shepherd today is used for police work, guarding, rescues, herding, and as a family pet.
East European Shepherd
The East European Shepherd is known as the favorite dog of the KGB and has fierce loyalty and devotion to its owner.
A descendent of the German Shepherd, the East European Shepherd was bred for hardiness and resilience in the harsh Russian climate.
The breed can make an exceptional watchdog but is probably not the best pet for families with small children.
Egyptian Sheepdog (Armant)
The Egyptian Sheepdog originated in Egypt with herding dogs from Rome, France, and other countries whose armies passed through Egypt.
It is believed that Napoleon’s dogs contributed to this breed. These Egyptian Sheepdog creatures are hardy, working dogs that have been used for herding and watch-dogging. Today, Egyptian Sheepdogs are fading away due to the loss of a distinctive type.
English Shepherd Dog
History states that Caesar originally brought the English Shepherd Dog to the British Isles in 55 BC when he invaded the area.
This breed was used to herd the livestock brought for food for the troops. This breed accompanied some of the first settlers to America and today has continued to work on farms. These dogs have also begun to participate and succeed at some of the newer dog competitions.
The Entlebucher Sennenhund is a mountain dog from Switzerland. It belongs to the mastiff family. This breed’s name comes from the area Entelbucher in the Canton of Lucerne.
Lucerne shepherds used this breed as guard dogs, cattle drivers, and general farm dogs. Their short size makes them great “all-purpose” dogs. This family dog likes to please and be loved by its owner.
German Sheeppoodle (Schafpudel)
The German Sheeppoodle roots can be traced back to the early middle ages. This herding dog has done a great job working with its master to tend flocks of sheep.
This breed is intelligent and loves to accomplish new tasks given by its master. Currently, the German Sheeppoodle is rare and near extinction.
The German Shepherd sometimes referred to as the Alsatian Herder, Berger Allemand, Schaferhund, or just GSD, is a sweet, lively dog that loves to jump up on visitors and family members. It likes to play and has lots of energy to spare.
The Alsatian Wolf Dog, named after the French province of Alsace, was its moniker in the aftermath of anti-German sentiment post World War I.
Most people don’t know that its primary role was herding sheep. It has uses in the military, army, police force, as a guide dog, guard dog, show dog for obedience and agility contests, therapy aid, and family pet.
Shepherds in many parts of the country including the Balkan Mountains, Albania, Epirus, Macedonia, Southern Greece, and the Parnassus Ranges used the Greek Sheepdog.
This breed is all white in color and its general build is somewhat between the Kuvasz and the Polish Sheepdogs. The Greek Sheepdog is rare and currently work is being done to facilitate its recovery.
This very old breed is probably closely related to the forerunners of the large mountain dogs, which spread from north India over central Asia into Turkey and then to Europe.
The Himalayan Sheepdog is a very effective flock guardian. Today, the use of this breed as a sheepdog has decreased greatly.
The Icelandic Sheepdog came with Vikings to Iceland in the ninth century. Some authorities suggest that initially there were several types of Icelandic dogs, varying from a dog similar to the Norwegian Buhund to one similar to the Greenland Husky.
But the most dominant type of the earlier days is prevailing in the modern Icelandic Sheepdog and there has only been one type for quite some time. The Icelandic Sheepdog is adaptable to family life.
King Shepherd is believed to have been developed by crossing German Shepherds of American lines with Malamutes and/or a Flock Guardian breed (i.e Great Pyrenees,) which were then bred back to German Shepherds of European descent.
The breeders wanted to develop a better-quality family companion and guardian that was capable of performing a wide array of working duties ranging from police service, to guide dogs, to search and rescue dogs.
The Komondor dog descended from Tibetan dogs and was brought to Hungary by nomadic Magyars about one thousand years ago.
This breed was developed to be a flock guardian, but not a herder. The Komondor was expected to guard large herds of animals alone and without commands from its master.
The combination of this devotion and the desire to take responsibility creates an excellent guardian of herds or home. These dogs are vigilant, courageous, and faithful.
The history of the Koolie’s origin is unclear at this time, however, it is well known that they are excellent working dogs.
They have primarily been used for herding. The Koolie is popular in Australia for herding sheep. This breed is a dedicated worker that will exert itself until it drops. These dogs love to please their master.
The Kuvasz has existed in present-day Hungary for almost 500 years. This breed is a majestic, well-proportioned white sheepdog with a very handsome head.
The Kuvasz was a valuable working dog, badly needed and much used by the herdsmen and the peasants trying to eke out a living from the land. The chief enemies of the nomadic shepherd were the wolves and thieves.
The Lancashire Heeler is an extremely rare breed in the Netherlands. This breed is great at working cattle. They also have terrier instincts for ratting and rabbiting.
The Lancashire Heeler is a joyful and bold dog that is loving towards its master. Interest has slowing been growing in the Netherlands regarding this heeler dog.
Herding Dog Breeds | From (M to P)
The Maremma Sheepdog originated in Italy as a flock guardian. This dog was bred for generations in the Maremma and Abruzzi regions of Italy.
Today, the Maremma Sheepdog still maintains the same instincts and traits that have made it a successful flock guardian.
Those traits include bravery, loyalty, intelligence, and a sound distrust of strangers. Today, this dog still makes a great protector of flocks and families alike.
The McNab dog is a native stock dog of Northern California by way of the Grampian Hills of Scotland. Alexander McNab came to the United States from Glasgow, Scotland in 1868.
He developed the McNab and the first mention of this breed was in 1885. They are described as having the smarts of a Border Collie and the playful antics of a Terrier. Overall, this breed is energetic and intelligent and requires a lot of exercises.
The Mioritic Sheepdog is a large sheepdog that originated in Romania in the Carpathian Mountains. This breed is courageous and fearless, making it a great protector of flocks and its master.
Even though the Mioritic Sheepdog has an aggressive attitude, it is responsive to its owner’s commands. This breed is very playful and needs plenty of exercises.
The Mudi is considered to be one of the oldest herding dogs from Hungary, even though its exact origin is not known.
This dog is still considered a primitive breed and has never been systematically bred. The Mudi is a true farm dog that can be used for many things. Today, they are still used for herding, watch-dogging, and hunting small vermin and even boars.
Norwegian Sheepdog (Buhund)
The Norwegian Sheepdog is a rare breed that dates back to the time of the Vikings. These dogs were primarily used as guard dogs and hunters.
The Norwegian Sheepdog was sent to Iceland and contributed to the development of the Iceland Dog. This breed makes an ideal house pet today, as it is affectionate, non-aggressive, and loves attention.
Old English Sheepdog
Disney immortalized the Old English Sheepdog with their films about the Shaggy Dog. He was also reborn in the movie, Shaggy Dog.
It starred Tim Allen as a man that inhabited the body of an Old English Sheepdog. All movies involving the Old English Sheepdog are usually humorous because the dog’s funny appearance is disarming and puts people at ease.
It was originally bred to herd sheep. It’s also called the Bobtail, Bob, and OES for a short acronym spelling.
Old Time Farm Shepherd
The Old Time Farm Shepherd was once a very popular dog but at one point in time, it reached the brink of extinction.
A small number of breeders were successful in reviving this breed that was instrumental during the homestead days.
During those times, this dog’s duties varied from moving the bull to protecting the children. Many of the current descendants of this breed are primarily used as companion dogs today.
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
The Pembroke Welsh Corgi had a hometown in Pembrokeshire, Wales. It’s purportedly a descendant from dogs that the Vikings imported to Wales, which makes them pretty old creatures.
They’re the smallest herding dogs in existence. One would hardly surmise that cattle and sheep would respond to such a small dog. Nonetheless, they’ve won some sheepdog contests.
The Corgi rose to prominence because of the English royalty’s preponderance of them in relation to other breeds.
They’re squat dogs that look like furry cylinders with bold, bright dispositions and big heads. They’re good watchdogs, will bark vigorously, and sometimes die defending a family against intruders or aggressive pets.
Polish Lowland sheepdog
In early Poland, the Puli was crossed with Hun herding breeds producing the first version of the Polish Lowland sheepdog for guarding and herding.
Additional crosses in the 1500s produced dogs that closely resemble today’s breed. Still used to herd cattle and sheep, it is a great apartment pet also.
Intelligent, active, hardy, and even-tempered, these dogs are obedient, diligent, and fearless protectors. Suspicious of strangers and loyal to family, they are affable with children.
Portuguese Cattle Dog
This ancient peasant working dog, the Portuguese Cattle Dog, is a devoted protector of master and family. Muscular, intelligent, and brave, they are trustworthy companions and unyielding guard dogs having Mastiff lineage crossed with other local dogs.
The Hyena or Lycaon head resemblance, their progressive low growl to sharp prolonged barking, and agile wind-like running gait are uniquely distinctive. Its deep strong character requires experience and firm handling. Its coat color varies but needs much grooming.
The Portuguese Sheepdog originated from the Briard in Portugal. In its native land, they call it “monkey dog,” because of its monkey-like appearance and attitude.
It is utilized for driving and guarding all types of flocks and herds. This breed was often preferred because of its skillfulness in keeping the flocks at pasture and returning strays or runaways.
The Puli was developed in Hungary using the Pomeranian or Hustspitz dogs. The Puli is a versatile working dog that has primarily been used for herding but has also been utilized for police work in some parts of the world.
The coat of this breed is very unique and will develop into natural cords. Even though the cords do not require brushing, the owner must be dedicated to keeping the Puli’s coat clean.
The Pumi descended from a crossing of the Puli with prick-eared shepherd dogs from Germany and France in the 17th and 18th centuries.
This breed proved to be very useful in rounding up cattle by using its courageous and fearless demeanor. Using their outstanding nose, these dogs also hunt small animals and rodents. The Pumi enjoys being active and learning new things.
The Pyrenean Shepherd is a little dog from Europe that developed in the Pyrenees. Shepherds loved this dog and claimed that pound for pound there are few equals.
These dogs were also used for guarding and are fearless creatures. There are two different varieties of this breed. One has a long coat and is called the rough face variety, while the other has a short coat and is the smooth face variety.
Herding Dog Breeds | From (S to V)
No one knows what type of dog the Schipperke is, and you couldn’t tell by looking at it. It’s all black by the way. Some call it a Spitz, others a Terrier, others a Sheepdog, and some call it unknowable.
It lacks a tail, and the American Kennel Club only accepts black as the purebred color. However, tan, fawn, yellow, and brown often show up on this dog. Watchful, wary, alert, and territorial define this breed.
A lot of people believe the dog is born tailless because docking has become so common and ubiquitous. The tail will come up and curve over the dog’s back if it’s unaltered or docked at birth. In this way, it resembles a Spitz.
Most Scotch Collies can be used as hunting dogs, however, their primary application is as herding dogs. Nowadays, they are kept as house pets.
They are excellent with children, generally, get along with other dogs, and are usually good with non-canine pets. Though they are not hyper and are usually content to watch over the house while you are gone, the Scotch Collies still need plenty of exercises.
The Shetland Sheepdog is also called the Shetland Collie, Dwarf Scotch Shepherd, Toonie Dog, Apartment Collie, Miniature Collie, and most of all, Sheltie dog. Many of the names are obsolete except for the first and last.
It’s a very small sheepdog specifically bred for the Shetland Isles region off the coast of Scotland. Delightful, graceful, fluid, nimble, and obedient are elements this dog is prized for.
Their intelligence is akin to the Border Collie. Some handlers profess that they have an intelligence that’s unbecoming of a dog and more fitting of a human.
Today’s Shiloh Shepherd is the result of many years of hard work by devoted breeders. They wanted an old-world style shepherd dog with quality temperament and health.
This process began in the 1970s and continued for more than a decade. Shiloh Shepherds have tremendous loyalty and courage and make quality guards and watchdogs.
Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog
The Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog descended from the original Smithfield and Dingo dog. This created a red bobtail that was later crossed with the Blue Merle Smooth Coated Collie.
Through selective breeding of the bobtail dogs, breeders were able to establish an absence of a tail in the dog. The Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog is held in high esteem in its native country of Australia for its natural ability in working and controlling cattle.
The Swedish Vallhund dates back to 8th century Sweden where the breed worked as farm dogs, primarily herding cattle.
After World War I when farming practices changed, this breed’s numbers began declining and by the 1940s, they were on the verge of extinction.
Karl Zettersten and Count Bjorn developed a breeding program in an effort to save the breed. They were successful and today the breed is used as a work dog and companion.
In 1942, the nearly extinct cattle-herding breed, Vasgotaspets or Swedish Vllhunds, were revived. SKC recognized them in 1943, the UKC in 1996.
It’s now AKC approved for eligibility in the exhibition Herding events competition. This slow-to-mature Spitz-type dog is preferably gray but shaded red, brindle, blue and gray with minimal white markings are accepted.
It’s intelligent, alert, energetic, and ready to work, but requires abundant exercise and mental stimulation. The Swedish believe Vllhunds beget Corgi breeds.