Group Guide To The Herding Dog Breeds
'Rollin' Rollin' Rollin' Keep those Beasties moving Rawhide...'
As their group name suggests, Herding dog breeds were developed to work with shepherds and ranchers in the guarding and control of livestock and have at one time or other been used to protect, herd or drive cattle, sheep, and flocks of birds. This is a courageous and intelligent group and many of its members can make great family dogs.
Herding Dog Breeds Usually Fall into Two Broad Categories
Herding: The herding dog breeds are a straightforward group which were employed to herd and drive livestock. They have employed many different methods to perform this task which has led to a great deal of variety in size and temperament of the various breeds within the group.
The low-slung Corgi drives cattle to distraction by darting in an out of the cattle’s legs and nipping at their ankles in order to marshall the herd along. Their low stature allows them to avoid the resulting kicks aimed by frustrated cows. Border Collies by contrast rely on their intelligence and focused staring to circle around, drive and intimidate their charges into going where the shepherd wants them to go.
- Herding dog breeds usually have excellent hearing which makes them alert and active watchdogs. This alertness can make them nervous in a chaotic environment if not socialized properly during puppy hood.
- Herding dog breeds are usually very intelligent and develop a close bond with their owners. They thrive on attention and interaction and are especially suitable for active families.
- The nipping instincts of some breeds might require special consideration if they are around small children.
Livestock Guardians: These are some of the larger more powerful herding dog breeds. They were bred to live with and protect flocks of sheep or goats from wolves and other predators. Livestock guardians often have thicker coats than their pure herding cousins. This is because they would often live out in the pastures with their charges, for days and sometimes weeks at a time.
- Because they were not required to constantly herd, these breeds are often more sedate and require less exercise than their pure herding cousins.
- Livestock guardians are intelligent dogs who are more than capable of making their own decisions. These traits coupled with strong protective instincts makes proper socialisation from puppy-hood very important. This is to mitigate against aggressive tendencies developing as the dog reaches maturity.
- The protective instincts and decision making abilities of many livestock guardians make these dogs a favourite for service work. They are particularly sought after by the police, military and search & rescue organisations.
- In general, these intelligent dogs make excellent companions and are eager to please which can make training much easier.
Top Tip Of course like all things canine, rules are not always hard and fast and there are plenty of herding dogs that will herd and guard equally well.
Any Questions ?
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