17 Mar, 2023
If you've ever been nudged by your pup for some extra treats or have noticed that your dog likes to closely protect your children, your dog's breed likely has some natural herding instincts. Dogs have been working closely with humans for thousands of years. In different parts of the world, dog owners have been selectively breeding their dogs for specific characteristics, whether it be herding, hunting, guarding, or companionship. These herding dogs have a very strong prey drive and are some of the most intelligent dog breeds in the world. They can understand nonverbal cues from their owners and quickly learn new tasks. These dog breeds also love their owners and will be happy to work with them for hours on end if that means they get to enjoy some cuddles at the end of the day! So without further ado, let's look at 7 amazing herding dogs.
The German Shepherd is incredibly intelligent and capable of just about any task you train it to perform. These pups will be as loyal as they come toward their owners and will always be ready to protect them at all costs. This powerful dog was initially bred in Germany in 1899 for herding flocks all day. German Shepherds, like other working dogs, thrive on having a job to do. They are highly energetic, and if not given enough exercise, they will become bored...and let's just say your favorite pair of shoes won't be in good shape! The German Shepherd especially enjoys the outdoors and will love going on long hikes with their people, making them very well suited for an owner that loves going on adventures with their fur friend.
The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is a dog that almost anyone can immediately recognize. This dog originated in Pembrokeshire, Wales, hence their name. They were used for herding all kinds of different animals, and the Pembroke still holds much of their herding instincts. Their obsession with herding can be seen through their infamous tendency to bark at everything. They are always alert, and any deviation from their "normal" will result in a bark. They often nip at the heels of children purely from their herding instinct. Considering how short their legs are, these little guys can run surprisingly fast and will have no problem keeping up with the bigger dogs. These pups love being around other dogs/animals and are very prone to canine separation anxiety. Taking your Corgi to the dog park is a wonderful way to keep them happy, and it will reflect in their behavior as well.
The history of the OES is largely unknown. They are believed to have originated from England or Scotland; however, these theories have no certainty. It is known that these dogs were used as drovers, which means they would assist in driving cattle and sheep to the market. This large breed will weigh anywhere between 60-100 pounds. Their already big size is even more prominent due to their tremendous coat. The coat of this dog is something that needs to be taken into consideration before acquiring them. Many Old English Sheepdogs end up in shelters because of the overwhelming amount of grooming that comes with them.
The Shetland Sheepdog, more commonly known as a "Sheltie," is a herding dog originating from the Shetland Islands in Northern Scotland. Shelties are smaller than most herding dogs for a good reason. Due to the harsh winters and isolation of the islands, the original breeders thought it would be cruel to breed large dogs when food was very scarce. These days, you can see Shelties dominating obedience and agility competitions because of their extreme intelligence and athletic ability. This dog is considered among the most intelligent breeds, and it certainly shows. It is incredible to see how fast this dog can learn new commands; there is little that the Sheltie cannot do. Training and making these dogs work is necessary, as this is what Shelties were bred for!
One of the most versatile dog breeds that exist today. The high energy and working mentality of the Australian Shepherd allow them to excel in competitive dog sports, police-related work and even thrive as guidance dogs. Despite the Aussie's name, this breed originated in the United States in the 1840s. These dogs were bred to herd cattle, and they thrived at it. Today these pups serve primarily as companions, but they still have their love to herd. You will see their instincts come out, whether chasing animals, chasing cars, or even sometimes nudging your kids around the house!
The Australian Cattle Dog (ACD), also known as a Blue or Red Heeler depending on the color of the coat, is a herding dog developed by Australian farmers in the early 19th century. These dogs are one of the hardest working and toughest breeds to exist and will often work through injuries without their owners knowing. These 30-50 pound dogs were specially designed to be very durable to handle the extreme heat and vast terrain where they would herd cattle in Australia. ACDs are very high-energy dogs, and they are also extremely intelligent. ACDs were bred to nip at the heels of cattle to herd them, and this herding trait is still seen in ACDs when they try to nip at anything moving, including you!
If there has ever been an example of the ideal working dog, it would undoubtedly be the Border Collie. These pups were bred to herd, and they thrive at it. This dog is used for herding all around the world until this day. They are known for their intense stare, which alone can control sheep to move in the exact direction that they desire. Their herding instinct is not something that can be trained out of them. They will try to control squirrels and children and can even chase after cars. For this reason, they need to be watched very carefully when taken out in public. Owners of these dogs often describe a sixth sense from their Border Collies. This manifests itself when it seems as though your dog knows what you want to ask from them before you even ask it. They are known to be one of (if not the most) intelligent breeds.