We all know the importance of finding the right dog that’ll suit your lifestyle and personality. If you’re a jogger, getting a bulldog probably won’t be your best running companion. Or if you’re at work for long hours, a Jack Russel probably won’t be patiently waiting for you to come home. Just like humans, each breed of dog has their own personality traits that you need to look into.
Now, you all know that there’s an endless amount of breeds all over the world, so, finding the right one can be an overwhelming task. If you’re living on a farm and looking for a four-legged companion, you need a dog that’s built for the farm life.
You may be wondering what those breeds are and if you’re feeling a little lost right now, don’t worry. We did the research for you and found you the 15 best farm dogs in both herding and livestock guarding. Now, before we start talking about the different breeds, you need to consider a couple factors if you want to choose the right dog your farm.
- Do you need a herding dog or a dog to guard livestock? The difference is actually very big. A herding dog will view the animals, for example, sheep, as prey. Though they won’t attack them, they instead, gather them and move them. Whereas a guardian dog will grow up with the livestock, seeing them as a part of the pact, thus, protecting them.
- Make sure that the breed you’re choosing isn’t mainly used for dog shows. You want to make sure that the parents are working dogs or at least that the breeder has bred working dogs in the past. Show dogs lack the instincts that are needed for the farm.
- Know that you’re still going to have to train them. People usually think that by getting a dog that’s bred for the farm life, they’ll know what to do based off of instinct. And though this may be somewhat true, you’re still going to have to train them. Make sure that you’re using positive reinforcement while training, it’ll make the process go faster.
Now that you thought about these factors, it’s time that you learned the 15 types of farms dogs that are most commonly used for farm work. Each breed has its advantages and disadvantages, of course, nothing is perfect. However, this list is going to provide you with the best dogs for your farm. Let’s take a closer look.
When you think of a farm dog, you picture a Border Collie running through the fields. You know, it’s true what they say about Border Collies, they would rather work than breathe. These dogs are the epitome of a working dog and if you’re looking for a farm dog, well, this one is famous for being one.
Border Collies love herding sheep and they’re the smartest dog of all the breeds, maybe even smarter than you. And from them being extremely intelligent, they’re incredibly obedient and grounded. You won’t have to worry about them making any irrational decisions because that’s simply not in their nature. They’re not a breed that needs to be babied and overlooked.
The Great Pyrenees
A truly beautiful breed, the Great Pyrenees is named after the Pyrenees mountain range in southwestern Europe. In that region, they were used as herding dogs for sheep. Now, you’ll find them being used a livestock guarding, which they can also do as well. They’re hard-working and tough dogs which love colder climates.
Though they do love people and are generally very gentle and patient dogs, they do have an independent side to them. They can wander away from you for hours, patrolling the perimeters without needing you by their side. They’re protective yet calm nature makes them exceptional watchdogs. Do be aware though, they’re not suited for hot climates, so if you do live somewhere hot, make sure that they’re provided an ample amount of shade and water.
Another thing is that they’re droolers, so having a couple old towels lying around is probably a good idea. Other than that though, they’re amazing dogs and will be able to carry out a multitude of different tasks.
Australian Cattle Dog
If you’re looking for a herding dog that’s very independent and not reliant on human affection, then this is your dog. The Australian Cattle Dog is a great herding dog that’s extremely tough and hard-working. They love to herd which you may witness if they gently nip your heels, as they would with cattle and/or sheep.
They’re not loud dogs, however, their cautious personalities makes them amazing at protecting the home. They’re easy to train, however, do need a strong owner to show them who’s boss. However, once they understand where their place is in the home, they’re absolutely lovely dogs to have around.
They do have a tendency to nip, however, so make sure you have a toy handy. Make sure it’s a strong toy as they’re able to rip through one without hesitation. If you have a ranch or farm, they’ll make a great addition to your home and will love every minute of it.
The English Shepherd is a descendant from the same family as the Collie and Shepherds that originated in the UK. Originally, they were brought to the USA for farm use, which speaks a lot about the breed itself. Still used to this day for herding, the English Shepherd instinctively heels and herds livestock.
What’s great about this breed is that it can herd a number of different types of farm animals such as sheep and cows. They have extremely good judgement and love problem-solving. Though they love being active, they also love spending time with family and are generally very gentle and easygoing dogs.
They are reserved around new people, however, with time, they settle down and become more comfortable around people. They’re not fans of staying inside, so if you do keep them inside for a lengthy period of time, you can expect them to get a little crazy.
When people think of a herding dog, they expect them to a decent size, but don’t let the size of the Welsh Corgi fool you. Welsh Corgi’s are known for being highly intelligent and determined dogs. This dog may be small, however, it’s a master of herding cattle. Plus, you won’t have to worry about your Corgi getting kicked since it’s too small.
They’re not ideal for long round-ups because of their size, however, if you’re simply needing a dog for around the farm, they’re great additions to the family. They may nip your heels as that’s what they do to the livestock in order to move them into the right direction. However, generally, they’re bubbly, loyal, hard-working and energetic dogs that love the outdoors. When it comes to being around humans, they’re highly protective of children and family members.
Another breed that you probably didn’t think was meant to herd is the Rottweiler. Their breed has been long used for herding in Germany for hundreds of years. However, since cattle herding was outlawed in certain areas of Germany their breed became useless for that purpose. They were then used as police dogs.
However, you can still use Rottweilers as herding dogs. They love being active and need attention from their owners. Not only can they be used for herding but they’re also great family dogs and are very gentle with children. You should know though that Rottweilers are very confident dogs that need an owner who’s equally as confident.
You’ll need to show them who the authoritative figure is through positive reinforcement. If they’re given a task to complete on the farm, they’ll do so without hesitation. If you plan to walk them around town, make sure that they’re leashed as they may not respond well to other dogs. However, that depends on the individual dog.
Old English Sheepdog
The Old English Sheepdogs are known for herding. However, in recent years, they’ve been used as show dogs. So, finding an Old English Sheepdog that still herds will be a challenge. However, if you manage to find one, you won’t be disappointed.
Though these dogs are known for their shaggy hair, you want to make sure that you find one with a short coat, that way, it’s easier to maintain. They’re affectionate dogs that love to protect their family. These dogs won’t stray far from their territory, however, do love a nicely sized piece of land to roam on.
They can be prone to obesity, however, since you’re using it as a herding dog, they’ll be getting plenty of exercises. Make sure that the parents are working dogs or that the breeder has bred working dogs in the past.
When you think of a German Shepherd, you don’t think of them as herding dogs. Instead, you usually picture them as a K9 dog for military and police use. However, German Shepherds are very popular dogs for farm use in Germany and the rest of Europe. They’re particularly great at keeping livestock away from roads and crops.
Once you give them a boundary, they’re extremely well-disciplined at maintaining it. They won’t need much training since these boundaries are instinctual. Ideal for the farm life as they don’t like to be left alone in the home — they’re best for interactive activities.
Naturally, they’re loyal, protective and eager dogs. However, you need to make sure that you show them who has the authority. Once that’s understood, they’re highly respectful companions.
This breed is very rugged and sturdy. It’s extremely muscular and has a heightened sense of sight and hearing which makes it ideal for livestock protection. However, don’t be fooled by its muscular built, it’s extremely quick and agile, able to easily catch up to any predator.
What’s great about these dogs is that they can protect the livestock without the direction of their owners. They understand their role and will carry it out. However, if you need a dog for home protection as well, we wouldn’t recommend this breed as they’re known to temperamental. You have a problem training them since they’re highly stubborn, however, they’re extremely intelligent and love to work alone.
Polish Tatra Sheepdog
This breed is great for both herding and livestock guarding. However, this dog is also very skilled with personal protection and military use. So if you’re needing a breed for multipurpose use, then you should consider the Polish Tatra.
Physically, this dog is large with a white coat. It’s highly territorial and loyal to its owners. Now, this dog will not jump into a fight; it’s much too intelligent for that. Instead, it’ll bark when feeling uneasy and will only attack when it feels it’s entirely necessary.
Originally from northern Louisiana, the Catahoula Leopard was used to herd animals and keep them in their “virtual” fence. They’re highly intelligent and extremely organized which is why they’re a great herding breed. Named after the Leopard due to their spotted coat and baby blue eyes, they’re extremely sturdy in built, standing with a strong and powerful look.
They love the farm life as they’re highly energetic dogs that need plenty of exercise. They dog need companionship and attention or else they’re prone to becoming depressed and lonely. So, you’ll want to give them love and of course, be interactive with them.
The Catahoula Leopard loves completing tasks and is intelligent enough to work themselves out of troubling situations. Traditionally speaking, the Catahoula Leopard breed is gentle, somewhat reserved, loyal and protective.
This is a Hungarian breed which is a cousin of the Kuvasz. Physically, its white coat camouflages in with the flock, making it a perfect unseen protector. The Komondor is actually one of the largest dog breeds and is built with a muscular and stocky body with a coat that resembles dreadlocks.
Though it’s one of the largest breeds, it has relatively short legs and back. Personality wise, the Komondor is a very independent dog and will protect its flock till death. However, this overprotectiveness may become a problem as this breed can start to become aggressive to strangers. When the environment is normal, the Komondor is calm and relaxed.
Traditionally speaking, the Kangal is not a herding dog but does do a good job for livestock protection. It usually lives with the livestock and is able to protect against jackals, wolves and bears. If you’re also needing a dog to protect the home, this is a great breed.
They’re highly protective, loyal, yet, gentle. So, they’ll be able to be around small children and other pets without hesitation. What’s different about the Kangal in comparison to other livestock guardians is that the Kangal is quite lightweight.
This Italian breed is another great option for livestock protection. The Maremma has a muscular build and has a solid white coat for protection against its environment. Despite it’s large and intimidating appearance, the Maremma is actually a very friendly and sweet towards humans and animals, including those it’s protecting.
Actually, if you livestock are lambs, you’ll be happy to know that the Maremma is particularly gentle with them. If you have a lot of land on your farm, this is the ideal environment for the Maremma, as it loves open and calm space. The Maremma can protect your livestock from both terrestrial and aerial predators, so whether it’s a hawk or wolf, the Maremma has your livestock protected.
The Tibetan Mastiff isn’t a true mastiff, but was named this due to its large size. Though it looks like a giant teddy bear, the Tibetan Mastiff is actually a very tough and primitive dog. So, you won’t have to worry about this dog, it can survive extremely harsh environmental conditions.
As it’s a natural livestock guardian, it has no problem confronting predators, regardless of size. This dog is also highly active throughout the night, so you’ll be getting 24-hour protection. However, the Tibetan Mastiff is extremely stubborn which means you’ll be needing to provide it constant training in order to control it.
Now that you know about the best breeds for both herding and livestock guarding, you’ll be able to choose the breed which best suits your lifestyle and environment. You want to make sure that you choose a breed that suits your personality as this dog will be in your life for years to come. Take your time while choosing a breed and if possible, meet people who have the breed that you’re interested in.
You want to make sure that you’re making the right decision. We showed you the top 15 best farm dogs and now it’s your turn to pick one for your farm. Good luck and let us know in the comment section below which breed you have on your farm!