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15 Shepherd Dog Breeds (with Pictures)

Kathryn Copeland

Shepherd dogs have been around for hundreds of years and belong in the Herding Group found in the American Kennel Club (AKC). Shepherd literally means “sheepherder” and is usually associated with the occupation of someone who tends to a flock of sheep.

Shepherd dogs (also referred to as sheepdogs) are working dogs used by shepherds that protect and herd livestock, but usually sheep. Some of these dogs have the word shepherd in their name, but many do not, so some of the dogs on our list might just surprise you.

The 15 Shepherd Dog Breeds

1. Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherd Dog
Image Credit: Daniel Albany, Pixabay
Lifespan: 12 to 15 years
Temperament: Intelligent, energetic, work-oriented
Colors: Blue merle, red, red merle, black
Size: Medium

The Australian Shepherd is clearly a shepherd dog. They’ve been used extensively for herding sheep and anything else they can chase. They have a very strong drive to work and need a lot of exercise for a minimum of 1-2 hours every day.

Aussies are very eager to please and smart dogs that can do quite well with being trained. It would be a great idea to get them involved in agility and herding trials in addition to obedience training.


2. Beauceron

Beauceron
Image Credit: Christel SAGNIEZ, Pixabay
Lifespan: 10 to 12 years
Temperament: Obedient, gentle, devoted
Colors: Black & tan, black & rust, gray black & tan, harlequin
Size: Large

The Beauceron is originally from France and is a large and powerful dog that doesn’t resemble many typical sheepdogs. They make great guardians and watchdogs but are sensitive and gentle dogs.

They need a ton of activity to give them the mental and physical exercises they need. Beaucerons are very intelligent and loyal and are quite easy to train.


3. Belgian Laekenois

Lifespan: 10 to 12 years
Temperament: Loving, intelligent, observant
Colors: Fawn, mahogany, red
Size: Medium

The Belgian Laekenois is related to the Belgian Sheepdog (listed below) and spent the early days tending sheep and guarding drying linen (seriously). They are friendly and affectionate with everyone they know and are protective of their family and property.

Laekenois dogs are very energetic and will require lots of exercise and time spent with their loved ones. Training is generally easy thanks to the intelligence and eager-to-please nature of the Laekenois.


4. Belgian Sheepdog

Lifespan: 12 to 14 years
Temperament: Smart, loyal, watchful
Colors: Black, black & white
Size: Large

The Belgian Sheepdog is an adaptable and intelligent sheepdog that has a gorgeous shaggy coat that is typically black. They are energetic and require more than just a daily walk.

Activities including lots of running and playing fetch as well as enrolling him in herding and agility trials will work well for this breed. Belgian Sheepdogs are easily trained thanks to their intelligence and eagerness to make their owners happy.


5. Bergamasco Sheepdog

Bergamasco Sheepdog
Image Credit: volofin, Shutterstock
Lifespan: 13 to 15 years
Temperament: Intelligent, friendly, independent
Colors: Black, gray
Size: Medium to large

The Bergamasco Sheepdog is famous for its eye-catching and unique coat that consists of dreadlock-like mats, which makes him very easy to groom. They don’t shed, only need a bath 2 or 3 times a year, and don’t need brushing.

The Bergamasco is a calm dog that needs a moderate amount of exercise. It should always come in the form of some kind of activity with his owner and not be left to his own devices. They are independent and intelligent dogs that should be relatively easy to train with patience and early socialization.


6. Border Collie

Border Collie
Image Credit: JamesDeMers, Pixabay
Lifespan: 12 to 15 years
Temperament: Smart, energetic, loving
Colors: Multiple colors
Size: Medium

The Border Collie is probably one of the most famous of the herding dogs, particularly for herding sheep. They are medium in size with medium-length fur and come in various colors, but they are most well-known for their black and white coat.

The Border Collie is an extraordinarily energetic dog that adores his family but is wary of strangers. If you can’t give them a job, Border Collies need a ton of exercise beyond daily walks. They are easily trained but would do better in a house with older children.


7. Briard

Lifespan: 12 years
Temperament: Devoted, intelligent, loving
Colors: Black, gray, tawny
Size: Large

The Briard is a confident dog that is protective towards his family and is smart and hard-working. They come in black, gray, and tawny and feature a peek-a-boo style over their eyes.

Like most herding dogs, Briards need a job to do, or he’ll make himself busy herding everything in sight. Their independence might make them somewhat difficult to train, but with patience and persistence, and positive training techniques, their intelligence allows them to pick things up quickly.


8. German Shepherd

German Shepherd
Image Credit: cvop, Pixabay
Lifespan: 12 to 14 years
Temperament: Brave, Intelligent, Loyal
Colors: Multiple colors
Size: Large

The German Shepherd is not necessarily known for herding sheep these days, but they are probably one of the most renowned of the shepherd dogs. They have thick double coats that come in several colors but are famous for the black and tan combination.

German Shepherds are known for their brave and steadfast natures. They are loving and gentle with their families but are picky about who they become friends with. They need lots of exercise and would do amazing in herding and agility activities. They form a strong bond with their families and shouldn’t be left alone for long periods, but they do very well with training because of their intelligence and devotion to their owners.


9. Icelandic Sheepdog

Lifespan: 12 to 14 years
Temperament: Curious, playful, friendly
Colors: Multiple colors
Size: Small to medium

The Icelandic Sheepdog is the only breed of dog that is native to Iceland. They have a thick coat and come in a variety of colors combined with white. These dogs are faithful and happy but shouldn’t be left alone for long periods.

The Icelandic Sheepdog needs a moderate amount of exercise that includes play sessions and walks. They are eager to please and smart, so they can be quite easy to train.


10. Miniature American Shepherd

Lifespan: 12 to 13 years
Temperament: Loyal, intelligent, energetic
Colors: Black, blue merle, red, red merle
Size: Small

The Miniature American Shepherd is a miniature version of the Australian Shepherd. They come in the same colors and type of coat as the Aussie and are lively and devoted.

Minis are energetic and athletic but only require a moderate amount of daily exercise. They are very trainable thanks to their willingness to please their owners and their intelligence.


11. Norwegian Buhund

Norwegian Buhund
Image Credit: Lenka Molcanyiova, Shutterstock
Lifespan: 12 to 15 years
Temperament: Affectionate, intelligent
Colors: Black, wheaten
Size: Medium

The Norwegian Buhund was bred to guard and herd and spent time with the Vikings. They have thick coats that can be black or wheaten and make fantastic family dogs.

Buhunds need a lot of exercise, which would include running at least two times a day. They are somewhat difficult to train because of their independent natures, but they are highly motivated by food, which can help in the training process.


12. Polish Lowland Sheepdog

Polish Lowland Sheepdog
Image Credit: everydoghasastory, Shutterstock
Lifespan: 12 to 14 years
Temperament: Adaptable, clever, alert
Colors: Multiple colors
Size: Medium

The Polish Lowland Sheepdog is a medium-sized shaggy dog that comes in several colors, and they obviously originated in Poland. They are a little stubborn but are excellent with children and other pets.

The Polish Lowland Sheepdog needs full-on exercise for at least 1-2 hours daily. They can form very strong bonds with their families, but they are highly wary of strangers and can be challenging to train thanks to their stubbornness.


13. Puli

Puli
Image Credit: kidsnewshu, Pixabay
Lifespan: 10 to 15 years
Temperament: Devoted, intelligent, athletic
Colors: Black, white, silver
Size: Medium

The Puli is similar in appearance to the Bergamasco Sheepdog—it also forms dreadlocks, but they aren’t quite as low maintenance as the Bergamasco. They come in black, silver, and white and are very athletic and agile dogs.

These dogs need a lot of exercise, and they excel at agility and herding activities. They are intelligent yet independent dogs, so training can be a challenge, and they need a smart and firm owner.


14. Pyrenean Shepherd

Pyrenean Shepherd
Image Credit: Metz Eric, Shutterstock
Lifespan: 15 to 17 years
Temperament: Energetic, smart, affectionate
Colors: Multiple colors
Size: Small to medium

The Pyrenean Shepherd can be either smooth or rough-faced in their coat varieties, which come in several colors. They form a strong bond and are loving with their families but reserved with strangers.

Pyr Sheps are highly energetic and would love a job to do, but as long as you keep them busy and get them the exercise they need, you’ll have a happy pup. Their connection to their owners and intelligence means they are relatively easy to train.


15. Shetland Sheepdog

Shetland Sheepdog
Image Credit: JackieLou DL, Pixabay
Lifespan: 12 to 14 years
Temperament: Energetic, friendly, affectionate
Colors: Multiple colors
Size: Small

The Shetland Sheepdog looks just like the Collie, just in miniature form. They are obedient and active dogs that are very loving with their families.

Shelties do need regular exercise but only a moderate amount and can do just as well in the country or the city. They are quite eager to please and highly intelligent, so training can be quite easy.

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Conclusion

This is not an exhaustive shepherd list as several dogs form the Herding Group, so we’ve given you a list of some of the well-known and less commonly known shepherd dogs.

One of the most common traits that these dogs all have is to herd. This also means they will attempt to herd your pets and children and almost anything else that moves. Keep this in mind while taking your shepherd out for a walk, as they might be prone to running after moving things outside as well.

Generally speaking, this group of dogs are highly intelligent but have a strongly independent nature. You should always investigate any dog you’re interested in thoroughly before bringing him into your home. Finding the right dog that will be the perfect fit for your family is essential for both you and your potential pup.


Featured Image: BGSmith, Shutterstock

Kathryn Copeland

Kathryn was a librarian in a previous lifetime and is currently a writer about all things pets. When she was a child, she hoped to work in zoos or with wildlife in some way, thanks to her all-consuming love for animals. Unfortunately, she's not strong in the sciences, so she fills her days with researching and writing about all kinds of animals and spends time playing with her adorable but terribly naughty tabby cat, Bella. Kathryn is hoping to add to her family in the near future – maybe another cat and a dog.