Breed Tips

Top Herding Dog Breeds

We humans domesticated dogs for various reasons. It started with protection and then as we learned that we could teach our four-legged companions way more than that, we moved to herding, search and rescue, detection, service and assistance, and finally companionship. 

We have now gone way ahead and started casting them in movies – remember Lassie and Rin Tin Tin and games like Fallout and Far Cry. However, today, we’ll talk about the masters of the flock and field – the herding dogs. Before that, let’s understand a little about herding and dogs.

Herding is basically predatory behavior modified in dogs. Humans were able to minimize the preying instincts in some dogs while maintaining their hunting skills. Among them, some like the Australian Cattle Dog, nip at the heels of animals to keep them in check; others like the Border Collie, use a strong eye to stare down the animals to keep them in a group. They go to the front of the animal’s group to stop or turn the movement. Some like the New Zealand Huntaway use their loud barks to muster mobs of sheep. Many more breeds use different techniques to help their humans herd their animals. (1)

Let’s get on to the list you’re waiting to check - 

Which Dog Breed is Known for Herding?

It would be difficult to point at a single breed here. So, here’s a list of some great options for you – (5)

Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherd

The name itself has ‘shepherd’ in it, what more proof is needed here? These ‘Aussies’ are highly intelligent, making them quick learners and are always ready to work. And by work, it can mean herding cows, sheep or even kids. 

Australian Cattle Dog

Australian Cattle Dog

These are great ‘heelers’ (the ones that nip at the heels of animals). They have powerful herding instincts and come with great loyalty to their owners. Plus, they come in a compact size. 

Border Collie

Border Collie

Smartest dog breeds out there with loads of energy and eagerness to work – there couldn’t be a better combination. A Border Collie named ‘Chaser’ could identify more than 1000 items. Teaching them herding would probably be like teaching physics to Sheldon Cooper. 

Other great options out there include – 

  • Scotch Collie

  • Welsch Corgi

  • Anatolian Shepherd

  • Great Pyrenees 

  • Bernese Mountain Dog

What are the Smallest Herding Dogs?

Don’t think that it’s only a big dog’s job. Some small dogs breeds excel at herding too. They include – (4)

  • Cardigan Welsch Corgi

  • Shetland Sheepdog

  • Pumi

  • Pembroke Welsch Corgi

  • Swedish Vallhund 

Are Herding Dogs Aggressive?

They say that most herding dogs come with a bit of aggression. This may be true for several reasons. Herding dogs are bred to control and move other animals. This mandates a judicial use of their teeth to let the cattle know who’s in charge. They were given the responsibility to move cattle from one place to another. For this, they had to develop a predatory instinct that could help them bite the cow if and when needed to make it follow orders. Hence, these dogs only know that a face-off can and should be solved through aggression, and aggressive displays. (2)

Do Herding Dogs Make Good Pets?

The predatory instincts may be evident in your dog sitting at home instead of on a farm as well. They are hard-wired into thinking that chaos is bad and there should be decorum. And to maintain that they can use their free will to affect the movement and actions of another species. Hence, most herding dogs you see will be independent. 

Having said that, this doesn’t mean that herding dogs don’t make good pets. They make excellent ones. Early training and socialization can help control potential aggressive behaviors.

More About Spot Pet Insurance

These herding dogs are undoubtedly smart, affectionate, hard-working and loyal – basically an entire package. But unfortunately, even they are prone to all the common illnesses that dogs can get affected with during their lifetime. These include – (3)

  • Skin infections

  • Kennel cough

  • Urinary Tract infections

  • Parvovirus

  • Dental problems

  • Obesity, etc. 

During such times, your savings can take a serious hit if the illness turns out to be severe. With pet health insurance, you can save up to 90% of all the costs. 

Spot accident and illness plans can be used with any licensed vet in Canada or the U.S. Whether you are home, or traveling to the U.S., veterinary services your pet receives for the diagnosis, treatment, or management of covered conditions can be eligible for reimbursement. Spot’s accident and illness plans can help cover a variety of conditions including broken bones, lacerations, aggression, kidney disease, diabetes, and more. With the addition of Wellness Riders for an extra cost, you can also receive reimbursements for wellness exams, certain vaccinations, dental cleanings, and more. 

Learn more about dog insurance or get a free quote!


  1. Wikipedia contributors. (2024, April 25). Herding dog. Wikipedia.

  2. Cvt, L. E. (2023, February 17). The Connection Between Herding dogs and Biting. Empire Ridge Ranch.

  3. Stregowski, J. (2024, May 20). Common dog diseases and health issues. The Spruce Pets.

  4. Dickson, P. (2024, June 3). 5 Small herding dog breeds (With Pictures) – Dogster. Dogster.

  5. Bagley, M. (2024, January 8). The 14 Best Farm Dog Breeds | IFA’s Helping to Grow Blog.

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