As people move away from owning farms and livestock, the need for the skills of the herding dogs has dwindled. But, they continue to make excellent pets.

Until 1983, dog breeds in this category were part of the working group. All the dogs in the herding group have the instinctual ability and drive to control the movements of other animals. These dogs consist mainly of sheep and cattle dogs.

Modern-day herding dogs tend to be household pets and in all probability will never come across livestock. Their instincts are so strong, however, that many will try to gently herd their human family, especially children.

Dogs in the herding group are intelligent and generally respond well to training. Most make wonderful family companions.

The Herding Breeds

Herding breeds include the Australian Cattle Dog, the Australian Shepherd, the Bearded Collie, the Beauceron, the Belgian Malinois, the Belgian Sheepdog, the Belgian Tervuren, the Blue Heeler, the Border Collie, the Bouvier des Flandres, the Briard, the Canaan Dog, the Cardigan Welsh Corgi, the Collie, the German Shepherd, the Old English Sheepdog, the Norwegian Buhund, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, the Polish Lowland, the Puli, the Pyrenean Shepherd, the Shetland Sheepdog, and the Swedish Vallhund.

Short Profile of Two Well-Known Herding Breeds

Most people will recognize a German Shepherd or a Collie. The German Shepherd is in fact in the top ten of the most popular dog breeds, and has been for some time. Developed from the old farm and herding dog breeds, the German Shepherd originated from Germany mainly through the credited efforts of Captain Max von Stephanitz.

German Shepherds tend to be direct, confident and fearless. They become very attached and loyal to their owners and are protective of their families. Eager to please, they are quick to learn and obedient. If trained and socialized carefully, German Shepherds can make excellent family companions.

Although their exact origin is unknown, the Collie has been around for centuries. These intelligent, sensitive and good-natured dogs were used mainly as drover dogs in England and Scotland. They helped drive and guide livestock such as sheep and cows to market.

Collies thrive on interaction with their humans, and can become destructive or noisy if left alone too long. Their devotion and loyalty to their human family is very great.

Rarer Breeds

The Belgian Tervuren and the Canaan Dog are two breeds in the herding group that may be much less recognizable. Fittingly named, the Belgian Tervuren originated from the village of Tervuren, in Belgium.

The first of these dogs were developed through Brewer M. Corbeel, a resident of the village. Courageous, alert and intelligent, the Belgian Tervuren is an energetic dog that is happiest when given a job to do.

These dogs are territorial and protective, and they are very loyal to their families. They can be possessive of their owners. As with most breeds, early training and socialization is important.

The ancestry of the Canaan Dog dates back to Biblical times. The breed originated in the land of Canaan, and they were the guard and herding dogs of the ancient Israelites.

The Canaan Dog tends to be aloof with strangers, but they are very devoted and loyal to their owners. They are intelligent, and can be independent, docile, dependable and lively. Territorial, these dogs are vigilant protectors of their family and their family’s property.

As people have moved away from owning farms and livestock, the need for these breeds in their herding capacities has dwindled. Their general characteristics are such, however, that they have continued on as beloved family pets.