Every farmer needs a true companion to accompany him around the farm.
Since ancient times, farmers have been involved in the development of different breeds of farm dogs to help them around their own farms. Even today when we are surrounded by advanced technologies, farm dogs are still a valuable part of any farm and a great assistance to the farmer.
Gifted with particular traits, farm dogs can fulfill many roles around a farm. From herding to protecting livestock and guarding your entire land, these dogs are reliable and will always see the task through to the end.
When choosing dogs for farms, you should identify the role they must serve. All breeds are different, many of them have been specifically bred to herd cattle and sheep, while others are better suited for companion work or guarding.
No matter what breed you choose, farm dogs need proper training from a young age, otherwise, they will grow stubborn, and it will not be easy to control them. Further than that, they all need love, care, and attention. Offering all these, these dogs will also be calm, lovable, and playful with you and your entire family.
Some of the most popular farm dog breeds include Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Great Pyrenees, and Catahoula Leopard Dogs.
- What is the difference between herding farm dogs and protection dogs
- 1. Farm Dog Breeds for Herding
- 2. Farm Dog Breeds for Protection
What is the difference between herding farm dogs and protection dogs
Farm dogs for herding and protection differ in their traits as well as in the characteristics of their external appearance.
- Dogs that offer protection have a larger size and more strength, while dogs for herding have increased agility
- Herding dogs will be taught tactics like not attacking the herd and handling correctly, while those for protection will be raised together with the livestock to consider it their pack.
- Protection dogs don’t need intense physical exercises and new games to keep from getting bored, while herding dogs prefer to run a few good miles and keep their minds occupied all the time
- Herding dogs usually have shorter furs, while dogs for protection have longer furs as they spend a lot of time outside in all types of environments.
1. Farm Dog Breeds for Herding
Farm dogs for herding are intelligent and easy to train to take care of animals. They end up being a reliable friend of any farmer who has livestock.
These dogs will supervise, help to move, and handle the herd of sheep, goats, or cows from one side of the farm to another.
1.1 Australian Shepherd
Despite its name, the Australian Shepherds come from California, America, where they were created in the 19th century specifically to support the farmer in daily tasks while guiding the animals on a farm.
This farm dog breed is very energetic, playful, and protective. To be a reliable friend on a farm, the dog must be trained until 18 months.
After this age, they tend to become more stubborn, disobedient, and even destructive if they fail to receive adequate exercise. But if they are properly trained, the Australian Shepherd dogs will love to spend time outdoors and handle the livestock for many hours without interruption.
Being extremely intelligent, the Australian Shepherd can learn new tricks and tackle almost any job with confidence and enthusiasm.
The lifespan of the Australian Shepherd is around 11-13 years.
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1.2 Australian Kelpie
Australian Kelpies are dogs that do not need guidance or the close presence of a farmer because they are born with natural instincts for managing herds of animals.
They are independent dogs and can handle the livestock without receiving instructions.
Created in England from English North Country Collies of the Rutherford strain, these dogs are very loyal and fearless, so they will not back down when it comes to more aggressive cows or less obedient animals.
Agile, vigilant, and protective, these dogs have compact muscles and strong legs and will run quickly every time the animals move away from the usual herd. Needing a lot of physical exercises and mental stimulation, they will have a great time on a farm.
The breed has very few health problems and lives around 10-12 years.
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1.3 Australian Cattle
The Australian Cattle dog s also known as the “Blue Heeler” or “Red Heeler”, depending on the fur coloring. These dogs are real-born shepherds who will get their work done regardless of the weather conditions.
With a fit and muscular body, Australian Cattle dogs are active, robust, strong, and agile.
They use all these assets when guiding the herds on the right path or controlling the animals. If they don’t receive the necessary physical exercises or new activities that stimulate their mind, these dogs will get bored and acquire destructive behavior.
Although they are very intelligent, loyal, and calm, they should not be around small children because they tend to nip. This nipping tactic is great when it comes to handling cattle out of the herd, but it is not accepted around people. Apart from this habit, which can be eliminated through intensive training from a young age, Australian Cattle dogs respond very well to training and learn new commands very quickly.
The health problems specific to this breed are hip dysplasia and deafness, both being inherited conditions.
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1.4 Border Collie
Border Collies are great for farmers who are looking not only for a herding dog but also for a true buddy. Boasting the title of the most intelligent breed, Border Collies love environments that offer them lots of physical exercises and new games that train their mental stimulation.
Due to their explosive energy levels, Border Collies can run many miles per day without feeling fatigued. Instead, they will become depressed and anxious when they do not exercise enough. When herding the livestock, Border Collies will put to work their most valuable assets such as intelligence, stamina, agility, and even the experience accumulated over time in controlling livestock.
Border Collies are alert and respond very well to voices and whistles during herding. Even outside of herding, Border Collies are very receptive to the owner’s attitude and signs, sometimes anticipating his needs.
Border Collies are not a sensitive breed and are easy to take care of, but they are prone to some inherited conditions such as hip dysplasia, different eye diseases such as progressive retinal atrophy, epilepsy, and allergies.
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1.5 Catahoula Leopard
The Catahoula Leopard are dogs that know they have to be serious during work and playful after the work schedule is over. With an unusual seriousness, these dogs will handle all the herds on your farm.
Coming from the state of Louisiana, the Catahoula Leopard dogs are very happy and fulfilled when they have work and are subjected to intense physical exercises. In this way, they will use their high energy level in a constructive way, which helps them to be calmer, playful, and loving with their owners. They have a very developed sense of smell, making them the perfect dogs for a hunting session.
This is a hardy breed that generally has very few health problems and lives around 10-14 years.
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1.6 Scotch Collie
Another well-known shepherd breed is Scotch Collies. These dogs were created in the 18th century in Scotland to take care of farmers’ sheep.
Therefore, they have a great pack instinct and are recognized for their natural herding instinct, trainability, agility, and intelligence.
This breed is very easy to train and can easily take care of the sheep, cows, or goats on your farm. Along with its strong work ethic, the Scotch Collie is also known for its loyal and affectionate temperament. When he is not herding with the flocks, these dogs are gentle and friendly dogs with all the family members.
They love to play and run freely, and they need an open environment daily to consume their energy. They are perfect for active families or those who need help around their farm or ranch.
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1.7 Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Pembroke dogs are a dwarf breed, but that doesn’t stop them from being real shepherds. Although they are small in size, they are very agile, fast, and alert. All these traits make them the perfect dogs for life on the farm. Their legs, although short, are very strong and with muscular thighs. When running, they tend to use the strength of the upper body, helping them to get a good speed.
Belonging to the most popular herding dog breeds in the world, the Pembroke dogs are intelligent, which makes them easy to train. However, like other breeds, they are also a bit stubborn, so they need a bit of patience when they are trained.
When they are not out with the herd, they love to be around family, but care must be taken around children because they tend to nip at the feet.
Pembrokes are prone to certain diseases due to the fact that they are dwarfs. They may suffer from Von Willebrand disease, hip dysplasia, certain eye problems, and degenerative myelopathy.
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1.8 Old English Sheepdog
Other great dogs for handling your livestock are the Old English Sheepdogs. This breed comes from England and was developed from other types of herding dogs.
They are such good shepherds with extremely strong instincts that when they are not shepherding the flocks, they will try to shepherd everything that moves, even the children of the family.
The Old English Sheepdogs are also very social animals and get along well with all family members. They love attention and they don’t like to be alone for a long time. Although their appearance makes them look like couch potatoes, these dogs are energetic and like to be free and explore non-stop.
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2. Farm Dog Breeds for Protection
The farm dogs for protection have the role not only to handle the herds of the farm but protect the livestock and people of the farm from predators and wild animals.
They are strong and have a powerful barking that alerts the owners of potential dangers.
2.1 Anatolian Shepherd
Anatolian Shepherd dogs have existed for several thousand years, but they began to be exported from Turkey to America only in 1950.
With a massive body and imposing height, these dogs are intelligent and do very well alone, not dependent on their owners. These dogs need a strong leader who knows how to address commands in a moderate tone, not too hard and not too soft. For the most part, they are easy to train, especially if training starts from a young age.
Once they learn what their territory is, they become protective and territorial. Anatolian Shepherd dogs will defend your livestock, yard, and family. Regardless of the type of danger, they will not back down. They tend to bark excessively when they identify danger.
Very loyal and devoted, they are reticent and do not like to be around strangers.
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2.2 Great Pyrenees
The Great Pyrenees are guard dogs that will defend the territory and its cattle at any cost.
These dogs have special hearing that can detect even the slightest sound through closed windows and with all the electronics in the house turned on. Upon detecting any tiny sound, the Great Pyrenees dogs will let you know that something unusual is happening by their loud and excessive barking.
With an imposing size, these dogs are strong and hardworking, being very accomplished when they have to protect livestock from predators. Moreover, they are independent as they were created to guard the sheep alone in the mountains. Their independence is a good trait only if the dog has some training from the first months of life. If it is not trained, this independence will turn into stubbornness and they will later refuse to be obedient.
The maintenance of these dogs is easy. Their long fur protects them from cold temperatures in the winter and hot weather in the summer. You must not shave their hair because you will destroy their natural protection.
Last but not least, their longevity range is between 10 and 12 years.
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2.3 Maremma Sheepdog
The Maremma Sheepdogs were gifted with unique traits that make them excellent guard dogs.
Despite the name, these dogs are suitable and capable of defending and protecting all the farm’s animals.
Hardworking and independent, these dogs need lots of space to be free and independent.
Once they have gotten used to it and have identified the territory that belongs to them, these dogs are very protective and loyal. Always on the alert, these dogs will be very vocal when they see a stranger around the farm.
Usually, they are only aggressive when something or somebody attacks their family or herd. In the other unusual situation, they bark a lot until they get the owner’s attention.
Maremma Sheepdogs are tall dogs, but they do not need more than one hour of daily activity per day. They do well on their own and have no destructive tendencies.
Maremma Sheepdogs do not have any specific health issues and in most cases, they never develop one during their lifetime.
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2.4 Bernese Mountain
The Bernese Mountain dogs come from Switzerland, where they were created to guard livestock on farms.
These dogs are calm, do not have destructive tendencies, and are not aggressive because their large size compensates for their lack. But don’t be fooled. The lack of aggressiveness does not make them less good guards. Bernese Mountain dogs will always use their strength and intelligence to identify any danger.
Born with an instinct to take care of everything familiar to them, the Bernese Mountain dogs do not like to exercise a lot, and that is why the owner will have to walk them for an hour a day. In this way, these dogs will keep their muscle mass and prevent obesity and various diseases such as hip dysplasia.
Hardworking, gentle, and loving, these dogs develop greatly in cool regions. They also need proper care as their fur must be brushed periodically.
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The Komondor is one of the world’s most recognizable breeds and is best suited as a guardian for your farm. With Hungary origins, these giant, white dogs have innate instincts to guard herds of animals, reacting and barking at anything foreign to them.
Although Komodor dogs are large, they do not need much physical training to keep in shape. A simple run in a large, fenced yard or a walk with the master is enough for them.
Not only do they make good protector dogs, but they also make great companions as they love to play with their family members. They are affectionate and devoted to their family.
Like all other farm dogs for protection, Komodor dogs need training from an early age. They start to mature at 6 months and become more and more territorial and protective as they get older.
From a health point of view, Komodor dogs face, like all other large dogs, hip dysplasia and bloat.
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In conclusion, having a farm dog can be great for your farm. All these dogs are loyal, intelligent, and hardworking. They guard your property and handle your livestock.
After work, they are lovely companions that will stay by your side and your family.
Do you have a farm dog around your farm? What type of breed is it?