Border Collies, Corgis, German Shepherds, and Australian Cattle Dogs are a few of the most popular breeds that make up the AKC’s Herding Group. Whether you have a purebred pup or suspect your rescue dog has some herding breed ancestry, knowing more about the group will help you raise your dog.
Herding dogs are renowned for their ability to move herds of animals more than twice their size, but it’s their loving nature and loyalty that makes them popular family dogs. If you have a herding dog or are thinking about adopting one, you’ll recognize these characteristics that make the group stand out.
#1 – They Can’t Help But Herd
They’re not called “herding dogs” for nothing. Even dogs that aren’t trained to herd animals will express their natural affinity to “move” things in their everyday lives. A Border Collie’s favorite game is to run around you while nipping at your heels. Besides being tiresome, their herding habits can be dangerous if not controlled. Dogs especially like to herd children, other pets, and even cars, and if they’re extra enthusiastic, they could get hurt or end up running down the road. You can curb their urge to herd by keeping them active.
#2 – They Like to Work
Herding breed dogs are the type of canines that aren’t good at sitting still. They like to be up and moving, and they’ll be happiest when they have a specific job to do. It’s this personality trait that makes them great on the farm and with a police badge, but even family pets with no official responsibilities need something to do. Whether their job is to lick every ounce of peanut butter out of a Kong or protect the property, giving them a specific task will keep them from getting bored and destructive.
#3 – They’re Protective
The German Shepherd and Belgian Malinois breeds are two herding breeds especially known for their protective instincts. Even Collies and Corgis can excel at personal protection training. If your dog isn’t specifically trained to protect you or your property, don’t be surprised when they show signs of defending what’s theirs. Their mission will be to beat the bad guys, and they’ll do everything in their power to protect their people.
#4 – They Love Their Owners
Herding dogs are the epitome of “Velcro dogs.” They’ve been bred for generations to work closely with humans, and they form powerful bonds with their owners. As a result, they love nothing more than spending time with their families. They like to follow people from room to room and usually prefer to be as close as possible. Even fully grown rough Collies can confuse themselves for lapdogs and choose your body as the perfect seat. Most of the time, your biggest problem will be your leg falling asleep under all that furry weight.
#5 – They’re the Jocks of the Dog World
If you’re looking for a dog that will want to go on hikes, long runs, and will enjoy agility traning, a herding breed dog is what you want. While your Corgi won’t be winning any races, herding dogs in general lead the pack when it comes to athletic achievement. They’re both strong and smart, and they enjoy being physically challenged. You’ll often see herding dogs taking home blue ribbons in agility contests, and they’re trained as police and military dogs partly for their stamina and tenacity.
Training a herding dog will take dedication and patience, but they’ll catch on quickly to positive reinforcement. They love their people, and they make great family dogs for those willing to take the time and energy to meet their needs. Whether they’re running the farm or asking for more belly rubs, raising a herding dog is never boring.