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Which Herding Dog Breeds Are Best Suited for Active Lifestyles?

Updated: 2 days ago

An Australian Shepherd tongue out sitting behind a yellow herding ball in front of a house
Herding Dog Breeds

Herding dog breeds, once categorized in working group by AKC, are originally bred and specifically trained to herd and protect livestock. These dog breeds are often recognized for their intelligence and responsiveness to training, making them capable of managing herds of animals such as sheep, goats, and cattle. With their energetic and focused nature, herding dogs are designed to work tirelessly in any condition, displaying remarkable agility and sp

two herding dogs chasing after red herding ball in a park
Herding Dog Breeds

Historically, these herding dog breeds have been invaluable assets to farmers and shepherds, helping in the movement of farm animals, sheep or cattle, and protecting them from predators. Each dog breed within the herding group possesses unique characteristics and skills honed by their breed's specific role and the environment in which they were developed. From the swift Border Collie to the tireless Australian Cattle Dog, herding dogs represent a diverse and fascinating group within the canine kingdom.

Characteristics of Herding Dogs

Herding dog breeds are typically characterized by their high intelligence, acuity, and quick learning abilities. They are wired to take commands and work in partnership with their human counterparts, displaying a high level of trainability. Additionally, these dogs possess a strong instinct to guide and protect, often seen when they gather their family members or other pets together, much like a flock of sheep. This instinct can be observed even in herding dogs that have never been near a farm or seen any farm animals.

Herding dog breeds are also known for their incredible energy and endurance, often preferring to be active and engaged rather than idle. Agility is another common trait, as these dogs are accustomed to moving quickly and changing direction on a moment's

an australian shepherd and a samoyed herding a yellow herding ball in a backyard
Herding Dog Breeds

notice to keep their charges in line. Many herding dog breeds are versatile, able to adapt and excel in various disciplines beyond herding, such as obedience, agility, and search and rescue tasks. It's important to note that these breeds need plenty of exercise and agility training due to their high energy and intelligence, so they are best suited to active owners who can meet these needs.

The aforementioned traits of herding dogs are incredibly beneficial in their role as herders. Their high intelligence and quick learning abilities allow them to understand and respond to a wide range of commands, making it easier for them to control and herd sheep, and of course herd cattle. Their strong instinct to guide and protect is essential in preventing farm animals from straying and keeping them safe from potential threats. The remarkable energy, endurance, and agility of these dogs enable them to work for extended periods, covering large areas of terrain and quickly responding to any challenges that may arise by other animals. Their versatility also comes in handy in various situations on the farm, as they can adapt to different tasks and roles as needed. Nonetheless, these traits require proper channeling through physical exercise and mental stimulation, making an active lifestyle crucial for these breeds.

Top 10 Popular types of Herding dogs

an excited border collie tongue out sitting next to red herding ball
Herding Dog Breeds

Border Collie

Originating from the rugged and picturesque border region between Scottish highlands and England, where they herded sheep, the Border Collie is highly regarded for its exceptional intelligence and agility. With a rich history dating back centuries, border collies have been selectively bred for their remarkable herding abilities, making them indispensable assets on farms and ranches across the globe. Collies' unwavering work ethic, unwavering loyalty, and innate instinct to gather and control livestock make them truly invaluable partners in the agricultural industry.

Australian Cattle Dog

Hailing from the vast land down under, Australia, Australian Cattle Dog is widely recognized and revered for its exceptional stamina and unwavering resilience. With a rich history deeply intertwined with the farming industry, they have earned a well-deserved reputation as the ultimate herding dog breeds. Their innate protective nature and remarkable herding instinct make them the trusted and indispensable companions of farmers, who rely on their unwavering loyalty and exceptional abilities to effectively manage and guide their cattle. These remarkable canines, as known as blue heeler, are truly a testament to the harmonious bond between humans and animals, embodying the perfect blend of strength, intelligence, and unwavering dedication.

German Shepherd

a German Shepherd holding a blue herding ball in front of his kennels
Herding Dog Breeds

German Shepherd dog breed, originally from Germany, are highly cherished for their exceptional intelligence, has strong bone and sturdy build; remarkable versatility, and unwavering loyalty. Renowned for their outstanding herding capabilities, they possess a keen ability to gather and guide and protect livestock with precision and finesse. German Shepherd dog breed is a large dog, known for impressively erect ears, strong physique, and a confident demeanor that perfectly encapsulates their power and agility. In addition to their exceptional herding skills, these remarkable dogs are frequently sought after for their trainability, making them valuable assets in various police and military roles as guard dogs. With the innate aptitude for learning and adapting to complex tasks German Shepherd dog breed has earned them a well-deserved reputation in world wars as one of the best dogs and also they are versatile and reliable breeds, good with kids and other animals.

Belgian Shepherd

a belgian shepherd waiting to herd a yellow herding ball in a backyard
Herding Dog Breeds

Belgian Shepherds, aka Belgian Sheepdogs, originating from Belgium, are admired for their keen intelligence, agility, and steadfast loyalty. This breed encompasses four distinct sub-breeds: the Groenendael, Tervuren, Belgian Malinois, and Belgian Laekenois. The Groenendael and Tervuren are characterized by their long-haired, lush coats, with the former being solid black and the latter displaying a blend of black and fawn. Another Belgian Sheepdog breeds, the Belgian Malinois sports a short-haired, tan coat with black markings, and is widely recognized for its heightened endurance, making it a popular choice for military and police work. The Belgian Laekenois, distinguished by its rough, wiry coat, is the rarest of the four. All sub-breeds of the Belgian sheepdog shares the same robust structure and adeptness at herding, making them an invaluable resource in a variety of working roles, to herd sheep or cattle etc.

Shetland Sheepdog:

a herding dog jumping at a red herding ball in a park
Herding Dog Breeds

Known as "Shelties," these canines from the Shetland Islands of Scotland are known for their distinctive features and remarkable qualities. They are not only intelligent, agile, and obedient, but they also possess a strong herding instinct that makes them excellent at controlling small livestock. With their thick double coats, they are well-suited for the challenging weather conditions of the region. Shelties are not only loyal and protective but also highly trainable, making them wonderful companions for families and individuals alike. Whether it's the striking appearance or remarkable abilities, Shetland sheepdog has rightfully earned the place as beloved canine companion all around the world.

Australian Shepherd:

an Australian shepherd herding a red herding ball in a park
Herding Dog Breeds

Despite its name, the Australian Shepherd is a dog breed that was actually developed in the United States. Known for their intelligence, versatility, and boundless energy, these dogs are highly skilled in herding sheep and cattle and excel in performing high-energy tasks. With their keen super smart problem-solving abilities and natural agility, Australian Shepherds have become valuable assets to farmers and ranchers alike. Australian shepherd breed has a striking appearance, including their mesmerizing coat patterns and captivating eyes, adds to their overall charm and appeal. Due to their exceptional work ethic and unwavering loyalty, Australian Shepherds have also found success in various dog sports and activities, making them beloved companions for active individuals and families.


2 bearded collie standing next to a red herding ball in front of a fence
Herding Dog Breeds

There are two types of Corgis: the Pembroke Corgi and the Cardigan Welsh Corgi. Both breeds, hailing from Wales, are surprisingly good herders despite their small size. Pembroke Welsh Corgis are known for their expressive faces, short legs, and lack of a tail, distinguishing them from their Cardigan Welsh Corgis. On the other hand, A Cardigan Welsh Corgi has a longer body, a fox-like tail, and is generally a bit larger in size. Regardless of their differences, both types of Corgis possess agility, intelligence, and a strong instinct to herd, which has made them popular companions among farmers and dog lovers alike. Unlike they look like toy dogs, Corgi's are proud members of the herding group.

Old English Sheepdog

a shepherd dog herding a blue herding ball covered with mud
Herding Dog Breeds

Originating in England, the Old English Sheepdog is a large and majestic breed with a thick double coat that provides protection from the elements. Old English sheepdogs have a rich history as skilled herders, known for their ability to manage large flocks with ease and precision. With their impressive endurance and strong herding impulse, they excel in their role as guardians and caretakers of the flock. Their intelligence, loyalty, and gentle nature make them not only excellent working dogs to herd farm animals but also beloved companions for families around the world.

Bouvier Des Flandres

Originating from Belgium, the Bouvier Des Flandres, developed to herd cattle, is a breed of dog known for its robust and powerful physique. This versatile and intelligent working dog has been traditionally utilized for herding cattle and even pulling carts. With its distinctive appearance and exceptional strength, the Bouvier Des Flandres continues to impress as a remarkable working companion.

Bearded Collie

2 herding dog chasing after a red herding ball in a park
Herding Dog Breeds

Also fondly known as "Beardie," the Bearded Collie is one of Britain's oldest breeds, tracing its roots back to the 1500s. Renowned for their boundless energy, these dogs are characterized by a long, shaggy coat and a distinctive "beard" that gives them their name. Bearded Collies excel in herding due to their high level of intelligence, agility, and their instinctual drive to gather and control livestock. Their friendly and sociable nature, combined with their playful demeanor, makes them excellent family pets, while their tenacity and endurance continue to make them highly effective working dogs.

These breeds possess traits that allow them to excel in their herding roles. Their keen intelligence, agility, stamina, and alertness make them indispensable partners in managing livestock. Furthermore, their protective instincts ensure the safety of the animals they are trained to herd. Each breed comes with its unique set of skills, reflective of the specific needs of the region and job they were bred for. Whether it's the swift Border Collie, the resilient Australian Cattle Dog, or the hardy Bouvier Des Flandres, these breeds showcase the remarkable diversity and capability of herding dog breeds.

There are also some well known dog breeds like, Australian kelpie, resilient to harsh weather conditions of the continent, Finnish Lapphund to herd deer; Berger Picard, in France and many more.

Training and Care for Herding Dog Breeds

Proper training is paramount for herding dog breeds to effectively fulfill their roles. This training not only hones their natural abilities but also ensures their safety and the safety of the livestock they manage. An adequately trained herding dog understands the commands of its handler, allowing it to work in harmony with its human partner. Additionally, training helps to stimulate these intelligent breeds mentally, preventing boredom and associated behavioral problems. Moreover, a well-trained herding dog can transition between work and home life, making them not just efficient workers but also loving companions. Proper training, therefore, is integral in maximizing the potential of herding dogs, highlighting their inherent skills, and fostering a strong bond between the dog and its handler.

Common Training Techniques for Herding Dog Breeds

  1. Voice Commands Training: This type of training involves teaching dogs to respond to verbal cues. The specific commands vary, but some common ones include "Away" (move counter-clockwise around the livestock), "Come-Bye" (move clockwise), and "Stand" (stop moving).

  2. Whistle Training: Whistle commands are often used for herding dogs, especially when they are working at a distance from their handler. Different whistle sequences have different meanings, like stopping, changing direction, or gathering the flock.

  3. Boundary Training: This helps the dog understand the limits within which they need to keep the flock. The handler will mark the boundaries and guide the dog to maintain the livestock within these confines.

  4. Reward-Based Training: Positive reinforcement, such as treats or praise, is often used to encourage desired behaviors. For instance, a dog may receive a reward when it successfully completes a task or follows a command.

a border collie chasing after a red collie in front of a little girl in green park
Herding Dog Breeds

Remember, training a herding dog requires patience, consistency, and understanding of the breed's inherent abilities and instincts. It's also important to start training early, typically when the dog is still a puppy, and continue consistent training throughout their life. This ensures that they are not only efficient workers but also well-behaved, well-balanced companions.

Exercise for Herding Dog Breeds

a French bullddog tongue out holding a red herding ball on grasses
Herding Dog Breeds

Herding breeds, by their very nature, are energetic and agile, requiring regular and rigorous exercise to not only maintain their physical health but also to stimulate their sharp minds. Physical activity channels their inherent drive to work, reducing restlessness and discouraging destructive behaviors. Among various dog toys, the Collieball™ stands out as an ideal choice for these breeds. The Collieball™'s design encourages dogs to engage in herding-like behavior, providing both mental stimulation and physical exercise. Its unpredictable bouncing patterns mimic the movement of livestock, making it an excellent tool to help fulfill the herding breeds' innate need to work and herd, even when they're not on the job.


In conclusion, herding dog breeds play a crucial role in today's society by helping farmers and ranchers manage their livestock. Their skills, intelligence, and dedication make them invaluable workers. However, these dogs also require responsible ownership and proper training to thrive both physically and mentally. By understanding their natural

a Belgian Shepherd holding his blue herding ball in front of his kennel.
Herding Dog Breeds

instincts and providing them with appropriate care and training, herding dogs can continue to be efficient workers and beloved companions for many years to come. So if you are considering adding a herding dog to your family or farm, remember the importance of responsible ownership and give these amazing breeds the love and care they deserve. Together, we can ensure that herding dog breeds continue to play an essential role in our society.

The CollieBall is a fantastic toy choice for herding breeds. This ingenious toy stimulates both the physical and mental faculties of these intelligent dogs. Designed to be both durable and engaging, the CollieBall requires the dogs to use their problem-solving skills to extract treats or food hidden inside, mimicking the challenge and satisfaction of herding. The physical activity involved in playing with the toy helps to burn off excess energy and maintain physical health, while the mental engagement keeps the dog's mind sharp and focused. Furthermore, the CollieBall can help reduce anxiety by providing a rewarding and distraction-filled activity, promoting the overall well-being of herding breeds.

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