Common Herding Dogs Characteristics

Dogs have been bred for centuries to perform certain tasks, and herding is one of the most ancient and essential of these roles. Herding dogs must be highly intelligent and able to think on their feet, as they often need to make split-second decisions in order to keep their flock safe. They must also be quick and agile, as they need to be able to nimbly dodge any obstacles in their path.

Finally, herding dogs must have a strong bond with their human master, as they will be working closely together in often challenging circumstances. common herding dog breeds include border collies, Australian shepherds, and Welsh corgis. Each of these breeds has its own unique history and set of characteristics, but all share the same ability to successfully perform the vital task of herding.

Herding Dogs Working Styles

There are two main types of herding dogs: those that herd by nipping at the heels of the animals, and those that herd by corralling them with their bodies. The first type is known as an “eye-dog,” and it uses its body language and expressions to intimidate the animals into following its commands. The second type, known as a “barking dog,” will use a series of short, sharp barks to help keep the animals moving in the desired direction.

Both styles are effective, but they often require different approaches from the dog handler.For example, an eye-dog may need to be worked more slowly and carefully so that it doesn’t scare the livestock, while a barking dog may need to be given more freedom to move around and make noise. Ultimately, it’s up to the handler to find what works best for their dog and the animals they’re working with.

Herding Dog Breeds and Herding Instinct

Herding is a natural instinct for many dog breeds, which have been bred for centuries to work alongside humans in managing livestock. These working dogs are blessed with keen intelligence, intuition, and a strong desire to please their handlers.

When it comes to herding, there are two main types of dog breeds: those with a strong prey drive who work by stalking and chasing their quarry, and those with a more gentle approach who use their body language and positioning to guide livestock. While all herding dogs share some common traits, each breed has its own unique strengths that make it well-suited to working in particular environments and with different types of animals. 

Border Collie

The Border Collie is a herding dog that is known for its high intelligence, intense work ethic, and boundless energy. Originally bred in the Scottish Borders region, these dogs were traditionally used to herd sheep. Today, they are still prized for their herding abilities, but they also make excellent companion animals.

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Border Collies are highly intelligent and easily bored, so they require plenty of physical and mental stimulation. They are energetic dogs that need a lot of exercise, and they excel at canine sports such as agility and flyball.

Border Collies are also known for their “eye,” an intense stare that is used to herd sheep. This stare can be disconcerting to strangers, but it is simply a sign of the Border Collie’s intense focus and concentration. Border Collies are loyal, affectionate dogs that make great companions for active people. They are not an ideal breed for first-time dog owners, but they can be a wonderful addition to the right family.

Australian Cattle Dog

Australian Cattle Dogs are herding dogs developed in Australia in the 19th century. The breed is a cross between the Northumberland Blue Merle Collie and the Dingo, and was bred to have the strength and stamina to work long hours in harsh conditions. Today, the Australian Cattle Dog is still used as a working dog on farms and ranches, but they also make excellent family pets. They are intelligent, affectionate, and lively dogs that need plenty of exercise.

Australian Cattle Dogs are also known for their blue or red mottled coats, which help them to blend in with their surroundings when working cattle. If you are looking for a loyal and hardworking companion, the Australian Cattle Dog may be the perfect breed for you.

Bouvier des Flandres

Originally bred in Belgium as a working dog, the Bouvier has since become a popular pet in many countries around the world. Though they are sometimes mistaken for other breeds, such as the Standard Poodle or the Labrador Retriever, the Bouvier des Flandres is a distinct breed of herding dogs with its own unique history and characteristics.

Standing up to 30 inches tall at the shoulder, the Bouvier is a powerful dog that is well-suited for active families. Though they are gentle and loving with their families, Bouviers can be protective of their territory and wary of strangers. With their strong build and independent personality, Bouviers require consistent training and socialization from an early age. However, when properly trained and socialized, they make excellent companion animals that will form lifelong bonds with their owners.

Old English Sheepdog

The Old English Sheepdog is a large herding dog that originated in Britain. The breed was originally developed to help farmers herd sheep, and they are still used for this purpose today. Old English Sheepdogs are intelligent and trainable, and they excel at agility trials and herding competitions. They are also popular as pets, and their gentle nature makes them well-suited to families with children. The Old English Sheepdog is a versatile breed that can excel in many roles. Whether you’re looking for a herding dog or a family pet, the Old English Sheepdog is an excellent choice.

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Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Pembroke Welsh Corgis are herding dogs that originated in Pembrokeshire, Wales. They are one of the oldest herding breeds, and were historically used to herd cattle and other livestock. Today, they are still used for herding, but are also popular pets. Corgis are known for their short legs and long bodies, which give them a unique appearance.

They are also intelligent and eager to please, making them good candidates for training. If you’re looking for a herding dog that is also a loyal companion, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi may be the breed for you.


The Laekenois is a medium-sized breed of dog that is classified as a member of the Herding Group by the American Kennel Club. The breed originated in Belgium and is named after the city of Laeken. Laekenois are intelligent and affectionate dogs that make great companions. They are also very active and require plenty of exercise. Laekenois are relatively rare dogs, but they are slowly gaining popularity in the United States.


The Puli is a small- to medium-sized breed of Hungarian herding dog. The breed is known for its long, shaggy coat, which is often black or white. Pulis are intelligent and active dogs that make great companions. They are also very independent and require firm training.

German Shepherd

These herding dogs are one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States. These intelligent and versatile dogs are often used as working dogs in a variety of fields, including law enforcement, search and rescue, and assistance for the disabled.

German Shepherds are also popular pets, known for their loyalty and obedience. Although they require plenty of exercise and training, German Shepherds make great companions for active families. 

Belgian Malinois

Belgian Malinois are herding dogs that were originally bred in Belgium. They are closely related to German Shepherds and have a similar appearance, although they are usually smaller and have a more athletic build. Belgian Malinois are intelligent and obedient, making them excellent working dogs. They are often used as police or military dogs, as well as service dogs for the disabled.

Belgian Malinois are also active and affectionate companion animals, although they require plenty of exercise and may not be suitable for families with young children. With proper training and socialization, a Belgian Malinois can make an excellent addition to any home.


The Tervuren is a herding dog that is often used in police and military work. It is a strong, intelligent breed that is known for its loyalty and obedience. The Tervuren is a medium-sized dog, with a short, dense coat that can be either black or brown. It has a long head, with pointed ears and dark eyes. The Tervuren is an active breed that requires plenty of exercise. It is also a relatively rare breed, which may make it difficult to find one for sale.

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The Briard is a herding dog that originated in France. The breed is named for the Brie region of France, where they were commonly used to herd sheep. The Briard is a large breed, with males standing 26-28 inches tall and females 24-26 inches tall. They are solidly built, with a long head and medium-length coat. The coat is dense and wavy, and comes in several colors, including black, brindle, and gray.

Briards are intelligent and trainable, but they can also be stubborn and independent. They are loyal and protective of their family, but they can also be reserved around strangers. Due to their herding instincts, they may try to herd children or other pets. Briards require daily exercise and need a firm hand during training. They are not well suited to apartment living.

Finnish Lapphund

The Finnish Lapphund is a herding dog that comes from the Lapland region of Finland. The breed is relatively new, having only been developed in the early 20th century. Finnish Lapphunds are medium-sized dogs with thick, double coats that protect them from the cold. They are friendly and intelligent dogs that make great companions. Finnish Lapphunds are also excellent herding dogs and are often used to herd reindeer. The breed is still quite rare outside of Finland, but is gradually gaining popularity in other parts of the world.

Belgian Sheepdog

The Belgian Sheepdog is a herding dog that was first developed in Belgium in the late 1800s. It is a medium-sized dog with a sleek, black coat and long, pointed ears. The Belgian Sheepdog is an intelligent and active breed that is well-suited to life in the city or country. It is an excellent companion for families and children, and it also gets along well with other dogs.

This breed requires a moderate amount of exercise and grooming, and it is generally healthy and long-lived. If you are looking for a loyal and loving companion, the Belgian Sheepdog may be the perfect breed for you.

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