Herding dogs are a group of dog breeds specifically bred and trained for working with livestock, particularly sheep, cattle, and goats. These intelligent and highly trainable dogs have an instinct to control and manipulate the movement of livestock, helping shepherds and farmers efficiently manage their herds. Herding dogs employ a combination of techniques such as barking, nipping, circling, and giving strong eye contact to influence the behaviour and direction of the livestock. They work closely with their human handlers, responding to verbal commands, whistles, or subtle body cues. Beyond their indispensable role in herding, these dogs often make wonderful companions because of their loyalty, intelligence, and eagerness to please. Popular herding breeds include Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, German Shepherds, and Welsh Corgi. Whether on a farm or as a family pet, herding dogs showcase their exceptional working abilities and contribute to the successful management of livestock.
Dog Breeds Used To Round Up Sheep
There are several dog breeds specifically bred and trained for rounding up sheep, a task known as herding. These breeds possess the instinctual skills and intelligence required to control and move sheep efficiently. Some popular dog breeds used for herding sheep include Bearded Collie, Australian Shepherd, Old English Sheepdog, Shetland Sheepdog, Welsh Corgi, Belgian Malinois, etc. These are just a few examples of dog breeds commonly used for herding and rounding up sheep. Each breed has its own unique characteristics and strengths, so selecting the right breed depends on the specific requirements of the herding task and the environment in which they will be working. In this article, you will come to know about different dog breeds used to round up sheep. Scroll down to know more.
1. Australian Shepherd Dog
The Australian Shepherd, commonly referred to as an “Aussie,” is a versatile and energetic dog breed known for its intelligence, agility, and herding abilities. Despite its name, the breed was developed in the United States during the 19th century. Australian Shepherds have a medium-sized, well-balanced body with a slightly longer-than-tall build. They possess a double coat with a dense undercoat and a weather-resistant outer coat. Aussies come in various colours and patterns, including black, blue merle, red, and red merle, often with white and/or copper markings. These dogs are highly intelligent and eager to please their owners. They excel in obedience training and can learn a wide range of commands and tasks. Aussies thrive on mental stimulation and require consistent, positive training methods to fulfill their potential. As a herding breed, Australian Shepherds possess strong instincts for working with livestock. They have a natural ability to gather, control, and move livestock, including sheep, cattle, and other animals. Aussies exhibit keen focus, quick reflexes, and an intense gaze to manipulate the movement of livestock. It is important to note that Australian Shepherds are active dogs that thrive in homes where they receive adequate mental and physical stimulation. They require a committed owner who can provide them with the exercise, training, and socialization they need to be well-rounded companions.
2. Bearded Collie Dog
The Bearded Collie, or “Beardie,” is a medium to large-sized dog breed known for its shaggy coat, herding abilities, and lively personality. With their distinctive appearance, including a long, shaggy double coat and expressive eyes, Bearded Collies capture attention wherever they go. They possess strong herding instincts and are intelligent, making them highly trainable and responsive to positive reinforcement. Active and energetic, Beardies thrive on regular exercise and mental stimulation. Their friendly and outgoing nature makes them great family companions, and their non-shedding coat requires regular grooming to keep it clean and tangle-free. Overall, Bearded Collies are charming, affectionate dogs that excel in herding, as well as being loyal and playful additions to the family. This dog breed is commonly used to round up sheep. With their strong herding instincts and natural ability to control and move livestock, Bearded Collies excel in working with sheep. Their lively and energetic nature, coupled with their agility and intelligence, allows them to gather, guide, and manage sheep in various herding situations. They employ a combination of barking, nipping, and circling techniques to influence the movement and behaviour of the flock. Proper training, socialization, and a strong bond with their handlers are essential for harnessing their herding abilities and ensuring successful sheep management.
3. Old English Sheepdog
The Old English Sheepdog, also known as the Bobtail, is a large and distinctive breed known for its shaggy coat and gentle temperament. With their robust build and iconic appearance, Old English Sheepdogs are friendly, affectionate, and devoted family companions. They are intelligent and trainable, requiring consistent positive reinforcement methods for optimal learning. While their coat requires regular grooming to prevent matting, their moderate activity level makes them adaptable to various living environments. Old English Sheepdogs are well-suited for families who can provide them with love, attention, and care to keep them happy and healthy. This dog breed can be used for actively rounding up sheep, just like some other herding breeds. The Old English Sheepdog’s original purpose was to help drive sheep to market rather than gathering and controlling them in the field. However, they can still contribute to the management of sheep in different ways, such as providing companionship to the shepherd, deterring predators, and assisting with general flock movement. Their large size, agility, and intelligence enable them to navigate through various terrains and interact with livestock when needed. Despite their herding background, the Old English Sheepdog’s primary role today is often that of a beloved family companion and show dog.
4. Shetland Sheepdog
The Shetland Sheepdog, or Sheltie, is a small to medium-sized dog breed known for its elegant appearance, intelligence, and gentle nature. With their long, flowing double coats and plumed tails, Shelties captivate with their beauty. They are highly trainable and excel in obedience and agility activities. Shelties are loyal, affectionate, and social dogs. Although they are small, they have moderate energy levels and require regular exercise and mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy. With their adaptability and watchful nature, they are well-suited for various living environments, as long as they receive the love, attention, and care they need to thrive. This breed has historically been used to round up and manage sheep. While they may not have the same size and strength as larger herding breeds, these dogs possess natural herding instincts and the ability to work closely with livestock. With their intelligence, agility, and keen sense of direction, they can effectively gather, guide, and control sheep. They often employ a combination of barking, circling, and nipping to influence the movement of the flock. Their smaller size allows them to navigate through tight spaces and work in more confined areas. While their primary role today may be that of a companion, these dogs still keep their herding abilities and can contribute to the management of sheep when given the opportunity and training.
5. Pembroke Welsh Corgi Dog
The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is a small herding dog breed known for its distinct appearance, including a low-set body, short legs, and fox-like face. These dogs have a strong herding instinct and were originally bred to work with cattle. They are intelligent, affectionate, and energetic, forming close bonds with their families. With proper training and socialization, they can be well-behaved and adaptable companions. Regular exercise and mental stimulation are important for their overall well-being. While their short legs may set them apart physically, Corgis possess a big heart and a lively spirit, making them a beloved breed among dog enthusiasts worldwide. We have traditionally used this breed for herding sheep. With their strong herding instincts and agility, Corgis excel at gathering, driving, and managing livestock. They use their natural instincts to nip at the heels of sheep and guide them in the desired direction. Their low stature allows them to move and avoid kicks from the larger animals. Thus, this breed can round up sheep.
6. Belgian Shepherd Dog
The Belgian Shepherd Dog, also known as the Belgian Sheepdog or Belgian Malinois, is a versatile and intelligent breed that has a long history of being used for herding sheep. With their strong work ethic and natural herding instincts, Belgian Shepherds excel in gathering, controlling, and protecting flocks of sheep. They have a high level of energy and drive, which allows them to work tirelessly in various herding situations. These dogs are known for their agility, speed, and quick thinking, making them adept at moving sheep through different terrains and obstacles. Their intelligence and trainability contribute to their effectiveness as herding dogs, as they can understand and respond to commands quickly. While they are highly capable working dogs, they also make loyal and dedicated companions for active individuals or families who can provide them with the mental and physical stimulation they require. So, this dog breed can be used to round up sheep.
7. Australian Cattle Dog
The Australian Cattle Dog, also known as the Blue Heeler or Queensland Heeler, is a medium-sized and robust breed originally developed for herding cattle in Australia. They have a distinctive appearance with a muscular build and a short double coat that comes in blue or red speckled patterns. Australian Cattle Dogs possess a strong herding instinct and were specifically bred to work with livestock, showcasing natural herding behaviours such as nipping at the heels and using their bodies to guide and control cattle. They are known for their intelligence, alertness, and loyalty, making them excellent working dogs and devoted companions. With their high energy levels, Australian Cattle Dogs require regular exercise and mental stimulation to keep them physically and mentally satisfied. They excel in activities like agility, obedience, and herding trials. Their trainability and eagerness to learn to make them highly responsive to proper training techniques, although their independent and assertive nature may require firm and consistent handling. While they can be protective of their families, early socialization helps them develop good manners and adapt well to various environments. Australian Cattle Dogs are generally low-maintenance when it comes to grooming, and their moderate shedding can be managed with regular brushing. They thrive in active households where they receive the attention, exercise, and mental stimulation they require. However, their herding instincts may not be suitable for first-time dog owners or families with young children, as they may exhibit nipping or herding behaviours. With the right care, training, and outlets for their energy, Australian Cattle Dogs make loyal and dedicated companions for those who appreciate their working abilities and spirited nature.
8. German Shepherd Dog
The German Shepherd is a versatile and highly intelligent dog breed known for its strength, loyalty, and exceptional working abilities. These are active dogs that require regular exercise to keep them physically and mentally stimulated. They are remarkable dogs that excel in various roles and have earned a well-deserved reputation as dependable, intelligent, and versatile working breeds. Their unwavering loyalty and dedication make them cherished companions for individuals and families alike. While the German Shepherd dog breed is primarily known for its versatility as a working and service dog, they are also capable of rounding up and herding sheep. German Shepherds possess a strong herding instinct and a natural ability to gather, control, and protect livestock. With their intelligence, agility, and keen sense of direction, they can effectively guide and manage a flock of sheep. Their confident and assertive nature allows them to assert control over the sheep while maintaining a protective and watchful demeanour. These dogs are highly trainable and excel in tasks that require obedience, problem-solving, and discipline. While their herding abilities may not be as widely recognized today due to their popularity in other working roles, such as police, military, and search and rescue work, they still possess the inherent skills and instincts necessary to successfully round up sheep when given the opportunity and appropriate training.
9. Miniature American Shepherd Dog
The Miniature American Shepherd, also known as the Mini Aussie, is a small-sized herding dog breed that is indeed used for rounding up sheep. While they may be smaller in stature compared to their standard-sized Australian Shepherd counterparts, Miniature American Shepherds possess the same herding instincts and working abilities. With their intelligence, agility, and natural herding skills, they are capable of gathering, guiding, and controlling flocks of sheep. Their smaller size allows them to navigate through tight spaces and work in more confined areas, making them well-suited for herding tasks in smaller farms or livestock operations. They are highly trainable, responsive to commands, and eager to work, making them valuable assets in managing and maintaining the movement of sheep. These dogs possess a strong work ethic, are quick on their feet, and are known for their ability to adapt to different herding situations. Despite their smaller size, they still exhibit the same dedication and drive as larger herding breeds, and their versatility extends beyond herding as they can excel in various dog sports and make loving family companions as well.
10. Cardigan Welsh Corgi Dog
The Cardigan Welsh Corgi is a small herding dog breed that originated in Wales and has a rich history of being used to round up and manage sheep. These dogs have a strong herding instinct deeply ingrained in their lineage. They are known for their natural ability to gather, drive, and control livestock, particularly sheep. Their low stature allows them to nip at the heels of sheep while avoiding kicks, and their agile bodies enable them to move swiftly and change direction as needed. These dogs are highly intelligent and trainable. They are quick to learn and respond well to positive reinforcement training methods. With their innate herding instincts and desire to please, they can be shaped into skilled herding dogs through consistent and patient guidance. Cardigan Welsh Corgis are versatile and adaptable working dogs. They can adjust their herding techniques based on the specific needs and behaviours of the sheep they are working with. They are also adaptable to different environments and climates, making them suitable for various herding situations. While Cardigan Welsh Corgis may not be as widely recognized for their herding abilities compared to some other breeds, they are highly skilled and have a long-standing history as competent herders. Their intelligence, agility, and natural herding instincts make them a valuable asset in managing and tending to sheep. Thus, this dog breed can be used for herding and rounding up sheep.
11. Puli Dog
The Puli is a unique and distinctive dog breed with a rich history that dates back several centuries. Originating from Hungary, the Puli is known for its iconic corded coat, which sets it apart from other breeds. The Puli has a compact and sturdy build, characterized by its distinctive corded coat. The cords are formed by the long, dense, and woolly hair that naturally mats together over time. They can be solid black, grey, or white. Pulis have a charming, almost bear-like appearance, with expressive eyes and floppy ears. Historically, the Puli dog was bred and utilized as a herding dog. Their natural herding instincts, agility, and intelligence made them invaluable for guiding and guarding flocks of sheep or other livestock. They are known for their ability to work independently, making decisions based on their instincts and training. While the Puli has a herding background, it can also make an excellent family companion. They form strong bonds with their families and are protective by nature. However, their herding instincts may lead them to nip at heels or try to gather and control family members. Early training and socialization can help channel these instincts appropriately. They are unique, charismatic dogs that stand out due to their extraordinary corded coat and their history as capable herding dogs. Their intelligence, agility, and playful nature make them not only exceptional working dogs but also beloved family companions. However, potential owners should be prepared for the special care and grooming requirements that come with their distinctive coats.
12. Briard Dog
The Briard, also known as the Berger de Brie, is a versatile and intelligent dog breed that has a long history of being used to round up and manage sheep. The Briard has a strong herding instinct deeply ingrained in its heritage. This breed possesses a natural ability to gather, drive, and guard livestock, making them well-suited for herding tasks. They are known for their independent thinking and adaptability in different herding situations. These are highly intelligent dogs that are eager to learn and please their owners. They are receptive to training and excel in tasks that require problem-solving and obedience. With proper guidance and positive reinforcement training methods, they can develop into skilled and reliable herding dogs. The Briard is a remarkable breed that combines intelligence, versatility, and a strong herding instinct. With their natural herding abilities, trainability, and dedicated nature, they continue to be valued as working dogs in herding operations. Additionally, their loving and loyal disposition makes them cherished companions for those who appreciate their working heritage and desire a devoted family pet.