The 7 Best Herding Dog Breeds in 2023
There are many reasons why dog owners might want a herding breed. They might have a herding job for them, or they simply want to get a highly trainable, intelligent dog breed that makes an energetic pet. Plus, if you are interested in competing in herding trials, one of these dog breeds will make a fantastic competitor.
Dogs evolved alongside us. We needed them for various jobs, and one of the earliest ones was caring for cattle. Some dogs had fantastic natural instincts. Through selective breeding, we created different dog breeds that specialize in rounding and moving livestock. That was a careful process because herding is modified predatory behavior. Herding dogs circle livestock, but the instinct to kill and feed on them was bred out.
Here are our favorite herding dog breeds;
We absolutely need to start this list with the most intelligent dog breed in the world - Border Collie. These dogs are incredibly skilled when it comes to herding and shepherding. They are among the few breeds that can herd geese. Their incredible energy helps them work the whole day tirelessly, and their intelligence allows them to perform complicated tasks.
Borders have a unique way of herding other animals. Their tactic is called the “eye.” Border Collies can work alone or in packs, and they will circle animals and stare them down. After facing a focused Border Collie, the animal will move in one direction. If that is not the direction the dog wants them to move, Border will adjust its position and repeat the process. We would highly recommend you watch a video of Border herding animals - it’s fascinating.
Want to know more about herding trials? Check out this article - What is herding?
The gorgeous Australian Shepherd is related to the Border Collie, so you shouldn’t be surprised to learn they are exceptional at herding. These dogs are muscular, intelligent, and incredibly energetic. Like their cousins, Aussies can perform various tasks and herd animals like it’s nothing.
Most modern-day Australian Shepherds are family pets. They love living active lives full of adventure. If you’re an active individual that loves hiking, cycling, or running, this might be the ideal breed for you. However, their herding instincts are still with them. They might want to herd children in parks or backyards.
The Australian Cattle Dog is one of the most enthusiastic dog breeds you could ever meet. They are charming and could potentially make great pets. However, their true purpose is work. They have an insane amount of energy that only the most active life can spend. They herd animals by nipping at their feet, which is why they got the nickname “Heelers.”
Australian Cattle Dogs specialize in moving livestock through rough terrain. Australian settlers developed this breed intending to get a farm dog that could perform various tasks on ranches and farms. Some cynology experts think these dogs came to life through crossing different working breeds with Australian dingos.
These days, Corgis are known as being fantastic family pets. They are very cuddly and fluffy, making them ideal snuggle buddies. However, Corgis were initially bred as working dogs. Many dog owners and the general public doesn’t know that simply because that is not how they picture a working, herding dog.
Corgis might be ridiculously cute, but they are also determined, focused, and energetic. They don’t share many physical similarities with other herding breeds, but they are effective “heelers.” Like the Australian Cattle Dog, the Corgi used to nip livestock by their heels to make them move in the direction they wanted.
The Swedish Vallhund is Corgi’s distant cousin, and it is one of the coolest dog breeds out there. Swedish Vallhunds are Viking dogs! This breed is around 1.400 years old, and Vikings used them for herding cattle, especially reindeer. Many Viking tombs were discovered that contain the remains of a Viking and their Swedish Vallhund.
Like the Corgi, the Swedish Vallhund nips at the feet of the cattle they need to move. These little dogs have loud and enthusiastic barks. If you’re thinking about getting one of these dogs, barking might become an issue. Make sure you start working on that from the moment this dog comes to your home.
Like the breed’s name says, the Old English Sheepdog is old. It is one of the best herding dogs out there. Not only are they large, fluffy, and intelligent, but they are also great with kids. OES is patient, tolerant, and gentle. These dogs might be a working breed, but they can make fantastic family pets.
The Old English Sheepdog is an all-in-one dog. They are gentle, affectionate, and clownish with their families. However, if the situation should arise, these dogs will protect their families without hesitation. One thing that all future owners should know is - Old English Sheepdogs require a lot of grooming.
The Collie comes in two varieties - Rough and Smooth. The Rough Collie has long, soft coats that protects them from the elements. The Smooth Collie has a shorter, rougher coat that is better suited for herding in milder climates. Both varieties of the breed are incredibly intelligent and hardworking. Other than their coat, there is little difference in their characters.
The Rough Collie is the better-known variety of the breed. That is mostly because of “Lassie” TV shows and movies. Being featured on the big screen made these dogs very popular, which is not always good for a breed. Many shady and irresponsible breeders saw the opportunity to sell dogs. However, they cared little about the quality of breeding and were only interested in the money.
World Dog Finder team