For most of us, our dogs are our loyal companions, and we choose to keep them for their dedication, affection, and companionship. But dogs have long been employed for specific tasks too, from protection to police work, and many breeds that we know and love today have their roots in herding and general farm work.
Whether you’ll be employing a cattle dog for a specific job or not, they make great pets and loyal companions. Most of these breeds are highly intelligent — some of the most intelligent on the planet, in fact — and are thus a breeze to train. That said, almost all cattle dog breeds have an abundance of energy, and if you are not putting them to work, they’ll need much more exercise than an average dog to stay happy and healthy.
In any case, we love cattle dogs for their enthusiasm, their lust for life, and their intelligence. We created this list of 13 popular cattle dog breeds that are sure to add a ton of life to any household.
The 13 Best Cattle Dog Breeds
1. Australian Cattle Dog
The Australian Cattle dog is a compact and muscular animal that was designed for the job of herding. They are hardy, resilient dogs that were developed in the harsh Australian outback, so they can do well in a variety of environments. These dogs have almost boundless reserves of energy that are almost impossible to drain, and if not regularly exercised, they can swiftly turn to mischievous behavior. They are famously loyal, smart, and alert animals that make great family pets.
2. Australian Shepherd
Despite their name, the Australian Shepherd was developed in California in the United States and is a tough, hardy ranch dog and a cowboy’s preferred herding choice. Herding is so ingrained in these pooches, they can often be found herding almost anything, including other dogs, cats, birds, and even children! As you might expect, these dogs are remarkably intelligent, energetic, and athletic, though they are not the breed for you if live a sedentary lifestyle.
3. Bearded Collie
The smart and boisterous Bearded Collie is bursting with character, with their shaggy coat and long ears. They love nothing more than being outdoors. Originating in Scotland, these pooches were developed for driving livestock and take their job seriously. These comical dogs are as enthusiastic about play as they are work, though, and they make great playmates for children and ideal family pets. They are highly energetic and tend to get bored easily, so be sure to give them plenty of mental and physical stimulation.
4. Belgian Malinois
The Belgian Malinois is a dedicated, confidant, and hardworking pooch that is about as hardworking and dedicated to their owners as they come. They are lean yet well-muscled animals with an elegant and athletic build that makes them perfect for farm work. These dogs become highly attached to and form powerful bonds with their owners and should not be left alone for extended periods. These dogs are happiest out in the fields with their human companion, doing what they know best.
5. Bergamasco Sheepdog
Most known for their unique, dreadlocked hairstyle, the Bergamasco has more going for them than their appearance. These dogs are devoted to working and always eager to please, making them ideal cattle dogs. With their wild coats, these animals are hardy and do well in cold weather — the breed was developed in the icy Italian Alps. They are highly intelligent, loyal, and loving dogs that are a breeze to train and are great with children.
6. Border Collie
When it comes to herding, few breeds can match the skill, determination, and stamina of the Border Collie. One of the smartest dogs on the plant, the Border Collie is truly an amazing dog to own and loves nothing more than working with their owner. While they are fairly reserved around strangers, you’re unlikely to find a more devoted animal. They have tons of energy, however, and you’ll need to invest a great deal of time and energy into exercising them.
7. Cardigan Welsh Corgi
The Cardigan Welsh Corgi is an ideal cattle breed — perfectly built for the job, with a loving, gentle temperament and an adorable appearance as a bonus. Don’t be deceived by their cute face and short legs, however; these dogs are supremely agile and capable of surprising speeds. They love being outdoors doing what they were developed for, but they are also friendly and loving and make wonderful family dogs.
8. Finnish Lapphund
The Finnish Lapphund is a hardy and weatherproof dog used for herding reindeer. These dogs are known for their thick, luscious coats that protect them from the cold and their muscular, compact bodies. They are loyal dogs that become attached to their owners, although they are fairly wary of strangers. In fact, they are known to become depressed when their owners are away. They are a fairly new breed in the United States, only officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 2011.
9. German Shepherds
German Shepherds are more known for their use as guard dogs and in police work, but the breed was initially developed and used for herding and still is today. They are one of the most popular dogs in the United States and the world due to their adaptability, versatility, and high intelligence. Their defining traits, however, are their unwavering loyalty and ease of training, both ideal attributes for a cattle breed. They also make wonderful family dogs because they are gentle, loving, and highly protective of their family.
10. Old English Sheepdog
As their name suggests, the Old English Sheepdog is an expert herder, famous for their shaggy coat and happy-go-lucky demeanor. Although they look soft and cuddly on the outside, these dogs are powerful, muscular animals that are surprisingly nimble and athletic. They also make great family pets and guard dogs, with loads of courage, intelligence, and playfulness to share. They love being as close as possible to their human companions.
11. Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Don’t let the small stature and sweet appearance of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi fool you — these dogs are athletic and agile herding dogs that are capable of holding their own with the larger cattle breeds. They are fearless little animals that love a good day’s work, and this combined with their sweet and loving nature makes them one of the most popular herding breeds in the world. They can be fairly independently minded at times, which is great for herding but can become a challenge in training.
12. Pyrenean Shepherd
The active and ever-enthusiastic Pyrenean Shepherd is a hardy, tough herding breed that was developed in France and Spain. The breed comes in two varieties: rough-faced dogs, which have long, wiry hair around their muzzles, and smooth-haired dogs, which have longer muzzles with shorter, smoother coats. These dogs are expert herders and cattle drivers, and a pair can easily manage a herd of over 1,000 sheep. They are highly loyal to their owners and can be found running closely alongside their human companions when not hard at work.
13. Shetland Sheepdog
Also commonly known as the “Sheltie,” the Shetland Sheepdog was developed in Scotland’s remote Shetland Islands and is a hardworking, intelligent, and obedient herding breed. They are frequently confused with their cousins, the Border Collie, and the breeds do share many traits other than appearance, including their eagerness to please, ease of trainability, agility, and high energy. They, like Collies, make wonderful family pets, although they are known to be somewhat reserved with strangers.
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Featured image credit: cynoclub, Shutterstock