A dog from the herding breed could be the ideal choice if you’re looking for a hardworking and loyal family companion. Herding dog breeds are known for their protective and gentle characteristics.
Although herding dog breeds have been here for centuries ago, their presence was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1983. They were previously included in the working dog category.
The History of Herding Dog Breeds
Herding dog breeds used to be categorized based on their ability to herd various farm animals such as cows, sheep, and goats. Regardless of AKC’s official recognition, the herding dog breeds group is technically one of the oldest dog group categorizations in human history.
We have used them to help us in managing our livestock since ancient times. Studies show that mankind has used herding dogs in their day-to-day activity since the Neolithic age which is dated back to more than 10,000 years ago.
It’s possible that their first task was to assemble wild animals during hunting expeditions, making it easier for their owners to capture the prey. They did, however, fill a variety of roles in their lives. Since shepherds’ work was often tedious and exhausting at that time, many of these dogs also served as companions for the people who relied on them for their services.
These particular breeds of dogs were then raised and distributed all over the world. As a result, the herding dog breed division has some of the most distinctively different-looking dogs of all of the dog breed categories.
The “Peat Dog” is reported to be one of the earliest herding dog breeds. People referred to them as “pile dwellers.” This dog was said to be about the size of a fox. Other reference shows that the Mediterranean neolithic nomads first brought the early “Peat Dog” breed to Britain at around 2,500 BC.
Archaeologists have excavated a perfectly preserved dog skeleton from a causeway-ed campsite in Britain. This dog stands about 16 inches tall and has smallish teeth, indicating that it was a domesticated dog breed that did not survive by killing its own food.
Herding dog breeds have been documented in Iceland since the 13th century, according to studies. They were also widely known in Europe by the early 1600s, especially in France and the whole United Kingdom area.
Popular Herding Dog Breeds
Nowadays, many popular dog breeds are classified under the herding dog category, including the K-9’s favorite, German Shepherd, and the much-loved Border Collie. Many families choose the herding dog breeds list because they are intelligent, playful and can help them keep an eye on their children.
Here are some of the popular herding dog breeds known in history:
1. Australian Shepherd
Some of you may not know that Australian Shepherd dogs did not actually come from down south. They were brought by Basque shepherds who inhabit the Pyrenees Mountains in the late 19th century. It may be true that the Basque people migrated from Australia, but they did not bring the said dog breed with them.
Needless to say, these sheep herding dog breeds need a lot of physical exercise and socialization to be proper family companions. People love them due to their beautiful coloration and remarkable intelligence.
2. Border Collie
The history of border collie started when a Scottish man mixed many breeds in the late 1800s to create his perfect herding dog. He created a dog breed that is lean, energetic, and intelligent, making it perfect for herding sheep in Scotland’s hilly and rocky border with England. As a result, it was given the name Border Collie.
When their strong demands for physical activity are not met, Border Collies are known to develop hyperactive behaviors. It needs something to do on a daily basis, even if it means a 30-minute jog around the park.
The collie is a medium-sized canine with a pointed snout and a light build from Northern England and Scotland. Many associated landraces are included in the collie breeds, which is a specific group of herding dogs.
Collies are perceptive and intuitive dogs who are recognized for their unwavering loyalty and incredible ability to understand their owners’ needs. They have strong bonds with their owners, but that will also mean that they will not stand being left alone for even only a few hours.
4. Pembroke Welsh Corgi
The Pembroke Welsh corgi, one of several herding dog breeds appropriate for apartment dwellers, brings a lot of character into its compact frame. Unlike other herding dogs that need a large play area, you can meet their physical exercise requirements only by doing a quick game of catch-and-retrieve down the corridor.
5. German Shepherd
According to the AKC, the German shepherd is the third most popular dog breed in the United States. With their fierce wolf-like appearances, these strong dogs are very trainable and have been used in both government and law enforcement services in addition to their original roles as livestock herders and guardians.
Since they are prone to be barkers if their mental and physical needs are not fulfilled, they need daily physical exercises. They need strong leadership, as well as sufficient socialization with other dogs.
6. Shetland Sheepdog
People often identify Shetland Sheepdogs, or often called “Sheltie”, as Collie’s miniature version. They are very smart, making them able to learn new tricks very quickly. They also have strong bonds with the people around them.
Being one of the most gentle herding dog breeds, Shelties are perfect for family dogs. They love to spend a lot of time with family members and will always be ready to comfort you when you’re not feeling well.
The Characteristics of Herding Dog Breeds
Herding dog breeds’ characteristics are strongly related to their past as cattle dog breeds. Even if most of them have never seen livestock in their lives, they still have that herding instinct inside them.
Here are some of their distinct characteristics:
Who doesn’t want a clever and easy-to-train dog? Most herding dog breeds have a high degree of intelligence and respond well to different training methods, resulting from hundreds of years in selective breeding.
Still, herding dogs need a “purpose” in their lives. You can end up with a bored, irritated, and sometimes neurotic canine if you don’t have the time or skills to train your herding dog.
High Energy Levels
If you’re thinking of having a herding dog as a pet, be aware that you’ll need to provide him with plenty of physical and mental stimulations. A herding dog without both simulations may develop a range of behavioral issues, including scratching, barking, chewing, and more.
The majority of the dogs in this group are natural-born runners who were bred to keep a herd of sheep in line for long periods of time. A few hours of high-intensity off-leash play is expected. If you want your herding dog to be well-behaved, you can do them at least twice or three times a week.
Herding dog breeds are the epitome of devoted friends. They were trained and developed to accompany their owners and follow them wherever they were. They have the natural instinct to guard family members without being overly protective.
Easy to maintain
Each herding dog breed has its own grooming requirements. A furry Briard would take considerably more care than a short-haired Australian Kelpie. However, as long as you provide them with enough physical activities, your herding dog should remain healthy.
Herding breeds are lively dogs with high energy levels and a great attitude, making them ideal buddies for active families. They must, however, maintain a high level of activity at all times. Therefore, a herding dog may not be the best option for you if you live in an apartment or don’t have access to a safe open environment.