The dogs in the herding group were bred to herd livestock for farmers, and even though they are still used for herding today, they’ve proven to be all-around dogs. If you are considering buying a herding dog for your farm or just for your family, this will tell you more about the different breeds and what you could expect from one.
In general, the herding breeds are highly energetic and athletic, so you’re going to need a lot of room for your dog to exercise regularly. They are also
intelligent and easily trainable and often excel in obedience classes, and because of their intelligence and athleticism, herding dogs are the most common
class to compete in agility. Most herding dogs also make great family pets as they are extremely loyal and often good with children, though they may try to herd them from time to time.
The most common of all the herding breeds is the German Shepherd. German Shepherds are admired throughout the world for their strength, intelligence, and beauty. They are also extremely versatile dogs: doing police work, leading the blind, competing in agility and obedience, and many other areas. The GSD (German Shepherd Dog) is an easy-going dog, but fiercely loyal to its owner(s) and protective when provoked. GSDs are fearless and self-confident, and may be aloof with strangers, but should never show hostility. They are excellent family dogs because of their loyalty and protective instinct, and they are usually great with children. GSDs need a lot of exercise, mental and physical or they may become destructive. These intelligent dogs can become easily bored and then will search for other ways to entertain themselves. So, if you are considering getting one, be sure you have room and time for your dog to get plenty of exercise.
Another popular herding breed is the Collie, made popular by “Lassie.” Most people are drawn to the collie because of its stunning coat, though many people don’t realize there are two different breeds of Collie. The Rough Collie has the long coat and the Smooth Collie has a shorter coat, but other than the difference in appearance, these dogs are exactly the same. The Collie is also an intelligent dog, excelling in obedience classes, as long as the classes aren’t exactly the same because Collies tend to get bored with repetitive activities. They are also great family pets, being affectionate and loyal and sometimes protective. They also may be aloof with strangers, but should never show aggression other than a bark or two if they feel their family needs protection. Collies also don’t need as much exercise as some of the other herding breeds, a walk or two a day would be enough to keep this dog happy.
Border Collies are another herding dog, who are becoming more and more famous due to their success in agility and Frisbee competitions. They are extremely athletic and need lots and lots of exercise to keep them happy. Like the Collie and German Shepherd, they too get bored easily and can become destructive. Border Collies need a job to do to keep them mentally happy also. They are true workaholics and love nothing more than doing what you ask of them. They are affectionate and loyal, and would love nothing more than to play catch with you.
The Australian Shepherd is another athletic and intelligent member of the herding group. They too need loads of exercise and mental stimulation or you may find them to be destructive or barking nonstop at everything. They are beautiful dogs with a long, shiny coat that comes in many different colors. They are great dogs, but may not be the best for small children because as puppies they tend to play rough and they need a lot of socialization because they are loners by nature. They also may be stubborn and dominant, forcing you to really prove yourself. If you are willing to exercise this dog a lot, work with it in training, and socialize it properly, the Australian Shepherd can make an excellent pet.
The dogs in the herding group are fantastic and I recommend them to anyone who has the time to take care of them. If you are considering a herding breed, be sure you can provide the proper care and exercise. Buying any dog is a huge commitment and a herding breed without enough exercise and attention can become a nuisance. Also, be sure to read more about the breed you’re interested in and ask a veterinarian or breeder for information.