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What Are Herding Dogs? Dog Groups Explained

Written by Ella White

Updated

Dog herding geese

Herding dogs are similar to working dogs – in fact, they were recognized as part of the same group until 1983 – since they all share the ability to control the movement of other animals. Bred to gather and herd livestock, herding dogs are often used for other working roles like policing, guarding, and protecting. But that doesn’t mean they can’t make great pets, too.

What is a herding dog?

Herding dogs are defined by their ability to instinctively herd other animals – including their owners! – which sets them apart from other breeds in the working dog group. They’re whip-smart and incredibly athletic, so they can run rings around a distracted owner. They take dedication and determination, but the payoff is well worth the work. Herding dogs can make dedicated and affectionate pets that will keep you well exercised!

What characteristics do herding dogs have?

Due to their breeding, most herding dog breeds share similar personalities.

  • Energetic
  • Alert
  • Intelligent
  • Strong
  • Guards
  • Protective
  • Sociable
  • Active
  • Loyal
  • Agile
  • Fast
  • Happy/joyful

Are herding dogs good family pets?

Herding dogs are designed to work and respond to commands, so they’re easy to train and make brilliant companions. They’re generally friendly and happy animals that can get on well with children – though their strong herding instinct means they’re known to sometimes round up the children in their family! 

An active family with lots of space would be well suited to a herding dog, as they need a lot of exercise and mental stimulation. If you’re not up for lots of long walks while they run around outdoors, you’re probably not a great match.

What is the best environment for a herding dog?

Like other dogs with worker instincts, herding dogs thrive when they have plenty of space and lots of access to the outdoors. Usually bred to work in fields, they prefer countryside environments and need plenty of mental stimulation.

Keeping a herding dog cooped up in a city apartment might lead to depression or destructive behaviour, unless you’re able to dedicate a lot of time to taking them outside and keeping them active.

What dog breeds are counted as herding dogs?

Breeds of herding dogs recognised by the American Kennel Club include:

  • Australian Cattle Dog
  • Australian Shepherd
  • Bearded Collie
  • Beauceron
  • Belgian Laekenois
  • Belgian Malinois
  • Belgian Sheepdog
  • Belgian Tervuren
  • Bergamasco Sheepdog
  • Berger Picard
  • Border Collie
  • Bouvier des Flandres
  • Briard
  • Canaan Dog
  • Cardigan Welsh Corgi
  • Collie
  • Entlebucher Mountain Dog
  • Finnish Lapphund
  • German Shepherd Dog
  • Icelandic Sheepdog
  • Miniature American Shepherd
  • Mudi
  • Norwegian Buhund
  • Old English Sheepdog
  • Pembroke Welsh Corgi
  • Polish Lowland Sheepdog
  • Puli
  • Pumi
  • Pyrenean Shepherd
  • Shetland Sheepdog
  • Spanish Water Dog
  • Swedish Vallhund

What to feed a herding dog

Got a herding dog and want to see them live the healthiest life possible? Air-dried dog food is one of the best ways to feed your dog an entirely natural diet without having to cook them up a fresh portion twice a day. 

With air-dried food you can simply pour all the nutrients your dog needs into their bowl every morning – no mess, no fuss, and no added nasties. Just 100% natural protein that will keep your herding dog as happy and healthy as they should be.