Herding Group

Share Button

The dogs grouped under this heading each have a single task in common: herding. The herding dogs possess similar conformations, with the exception of the low-to-the-ground cattle dogs, and are among the most agile canines in the world. Additionally, herding dogs must be counted among the most trainable, since historically these dogs relied on the instructions, and sometimes hand-signals, of the shepherd. In the United Kingdom, these dogs are included in the Working Group, a group that also includes the herding dog’s counterpart, the flock guard. The work of herding sheep traditionally requires a threesome: the shepherd, herding dog and flock guard. The herding dog is the smaller, more agile, quick dog that runs and directs the flock. The flock guard is the larger, formidable dog, usually white and long coated, which protects the flock from would-be intruders and predators — namely, wolves and coyotes.

Herding dogs can be divided by the flock or stock they work. The sheep herders tend to be smaller bodied and more collie-type, such dogs as the Border Collie, Sheltie, and Briard. The larger type sheep herders look more like the German Shepherd, including four breed varieties of Belgian Sheepdog. Cattle dogs can be divided similarly: small low-stationed dogs like the Corgis and Swedish Vallhund; and the compact but larger and taller dogs like the Australian Cattle Dog, Old English Sheepdog, and Bouvier des Flandres. These division are strictly theoretical since certain herders are capable of any stock: the Australian Shepherd, Border Collie, Australian Cattle Dog, and Belgian Tervuren. The rule as opposed to the exception, is that these dogs are highly trainable and intelligent, which facilitates this kind of versatility and such adaptability to stock.

A number of popular companion dogs are herding dogs by ancestry: the German Shepherd Dog (Alsatian), Collie, and Shetland Sheepdog. Today the herding instincts of the more common herders are less intact than in those primarily working breeds. Herding dog trials at kennel club-sanctioned shows are beginning to take place and the results have been surprisingly promising, with Bearded Collies and Briards showing strong instincts at their original occupations. Herding dogs are typically affectionate, even compassionate, companions that make quality watchdogs and guard dogs. Their natural protective instincts are reliable and their character is markedly discerning, perhaps due to their innate ability to separate the sheep from the goats.

The Herding Group (AKC)

Australian Cattle Dog
Australian Shepherd
Bearded Collie
Belgian Malinois
Belgian Sheepdog
Belgian Tervuren
Border Collie
Bouvier des Flandres
Cardigan Welsh Corgi
Entlebucher Mountain Dog
Finnish Lapphund
German Shepherd Dog
Icelandic Sheepdog
Norwegian Buhund
Old English Sheepdog
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Polish Lowland Sheepdog
Pyrenean Shepherd
Shetland Sheepdog
Swedish Vallhund
Share Button