Like the name suggests, herding dogs are breeds of dog that have been trained or developed for herding. Commonly herded animals include cattle, sheep, and reindeer, although it is not unusual for poultry to be handled by dogs. Some dogs such as the Koolie and Australian Kelpie, are renowned for being able to herd sheep into a tight pen, then run along their backs when it gets too full in the pen.
Dogs can herd other animals in a variety of ways. Some breeds, such as the Australian Cattle Dog (blue heeler), typically nip at the animals’ heels (for this reason they are called heelers). Some members of these breeds, have a tendency to herd people in the same manner, nipping at their heels so are not suited to very young children. Others, notably the Border Collie, get in front of the animals and use what is called eye to stare down the animals; they are known as headers. As above, Koolies and Kelpies also run along a herd animal’s back where required, and are therefore said to ‘head’, ‘heel’, and ‘back’.
Herding behavior is modified predatory behavior.
Most herding breeds have physical characteristics that help them with their work, including speed and endurance. Shorter breeds, such as Welsh Corgis, were bred so that they would be out of the way when cattle, their primary charges, kicked at them.
Herding dogs as pets
Due to their intelligence and beauty, herding dogs are often chosen as family pets. These dogs have been bred to work and must be kept active. Herding breeds will herd family members, particularly children, in the absence of other charges.
Herding breeds include the following:
Collie (Rough and Smooth),
Anatolian Shepherd Dog – Karabash
Appenzell Mountain Dog (Appenzeller)
Australian Cattle Dog
Basque Shepherd Dog
Belgian Shepherd Dog (Groenendael, Laekenois, Tervueren, and Malinois)
Bouvier des Flandres
Dutch Shepherd Dog
German Shepherd Dog
Great Swiss Mountain Dog
Old English Sheepdog
Pyrenean Mountain Dog – Great Pyrenees
Romanian shepherd dog
Welsh Corgi- Pembroke
Welsh Corgi – Cardigan