Herding Dog Breeds
Among the several dog breeds categorized by the American Kennel Club, the herding group deserves recognition for playing an important role as an all-around farm dog. These hard working dogs were once categorized under the working group, but in 1983, the American Kennel Club decided they deserved a sub-group of their own. Dogs within this group are blessed with different morphological traits and temperaments, a testament of selective breeding meant for allowing them to accomplish specific tasks.
A Look Back into History
What do dogs grouped within the herding category have in common? They have been selectively bred to control the movement of livestock such as cattle, goats, sheep and reindeer. Several of them were quite versatile and have been used in the past for several other tasks. Size didn’t matter when it came to driving herds of animals; even the low-set corgi standing at one foot tall at the shoulders was capable of moving cows from point A through point B.
Dogs within this group were developed to engage in different herding styles. The Australian cattle dog, for instance, was selectively bred to control the cattle’s movements by nipping at their heels, whereas, the border collie was bred to stare down sheep. Most herding dogs are medium to large in size and many of them are gifted with a weather-proof coat meant to protect them from the elements.
Who Should Own a Dog in the Herding Category?
- Active dog owners. If you are planning to keep a herding dog as a pet, consider that you will need to find outlets for pent-up energy. And don’t forget about mental stimulation! Walking, hiking, fetching are some fun activities you can engage in with your dog.
- Those looking for a companion to engage in canine sports. These dogs are highly intelligent and trainable. They will enjoy being your partner in several canine sports such as agility trials, Rally-O and Canine Musical Freestyle.
- Those looking for help on the farm. These dogs will be happy to lend a helping paw if you have herds of sheep, cows and any other farm animal you need help with gathering.
- People looking for a loyal dog. Unlike some independent breeds, most dogs within the herding group are loyal, one-man companions who love to stick by your side.
- Owners offering space to romp. Many of the herding breed need plenty of space to romp around. A home with a large yard, or better, a home on a farm will keep these dogs happy and healthy.
With a history of herding animals, dogs in the herding group have a strong instinct to herd anything that moves. In absence of farm animals, a bored herding dog may therefore feel compelled to herd cars, people on bikes, the owners and even children. A good way to curb this tendency is to give these dogs outlets for their instinctive herding, chasing and nipping behaviors. A game of tug-of-war and other impulse-control games can be helpful. With proper exercise, socialization, training and mental stimulation, a herding dog has the potential to make a wonderful companion.