Considering a herding breed? What you need to know!

Herding breeds were bred to control things in their environment and herd livestock on the farm. Therefore they can have a tendency to “move” or herd their people also. Because they were bred to do this work, they have excellent vision, coordination and motor skills. These traits can make them very sensitive to sudden changes in the environment. These skills, which are so useful on the farm, can make them hyper sensitive to visual stimuli in our human world. Visual stimuli and/or sudden environmental changes could be something as simple as a squirrel running, a fly buzzing overhead, or a flag blowing in the wind. But that sensitivity can also apply to skateboards/bikes/runners or even dogs or people on a walk. Small children can also trigger that natural instinct to chase or even nip. Care should be used in managing the herding breeds and small children.


As far as exercise, working breeds have incredible stamina and are known to be workaholics moving sometimes 50 miles or more a day on a farm herding livestock.  A short walk is an appetizer for these dogs. It often won’t touch their daily exercise needs. An active home with options for agility, swimming, hunting and mental stimulation are ideal for the working breeds in order to meet their exercise needs.


As a working breed bred to do a job, they also have great instincts and intelligence.  Because they were bred to work with humans and often look to us for information, training through force free, science based methods is an excellent way to balance their natural drives, helping them live in our concrete world while managing those instinctual behaviors. Training will not only help the herding breed learn how to live outside the farm but it’s a great bonding experience.


Many report their herding breed can be cautious, shy or even fearful. The breed group can have a tendency of wariness of both those environmental changes mentioned above but also of strangers. These tendencies can be very useful on the farm but concerning in close quarters or city living.


Of course all dogs are individuals so not all herding dogs herd any more than all sighthounds chase rabbits but having an understanding for the herding breed characteristics can help you successfully train, manage and meet the needs of your herding breed.

NOTE: Some of the herding dogs are the Cattle dogs, Border Collies, German Shepherds, Border Collies, Shelties, and Corgis.

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