Herding dog: the 5 most suitable dog breeds for this job

Since pastoral activity has existed, that is to say for millennia, shepherds have used herding dogs. Certain breeds have been selected over the centuries for their ability to gather a herd, to keep it together on its travels and to protect it from predators or thieves. Protection dogs are rather large in size and their voices are deep and deep. Other species present dogs of smaller size, faster and agile, specialized in herd management. Breeders choose one or the other species – and often both – depending on the characteristics of their territory or their herd. There are many breeds in the world, each pastoral region having developed its own herding dogs. Among them, here are five emblematic species particularly suited to herd work.

1 – The Border Collie: a dog who knows how to direct with the eye!

The Border Collie is a medium-sized, short to moderately long, smooth or wavy-haired dog whose colorful coat is most often preferred in black and white. Its bushy tail and pointy ears emphasize its dynamic appearance. Currently the most used in France for pastoralism, this dog of Scottish origin only arrived in France in the 1980s.

The Border Collie is a herding dog highly regarded for its ability to to assemble. Attentive to bringing down any animal that departs from the herd, he uses a technique of his own to achieve his ends. He moves with his head down, as if ready to pounce, and fixes the sheep with his hypnotic gaze, without aggressiveness. Very responsive to sight and hearing, he watches his herd from a distance, making large circles around him to intervene at the slightest sign of distance or danger.

Constantly on the move, this sensitive, intelligent, energetic and precise dog is capable of exhausting himself at work, a victim of his boundless energy. His education will have to take into account this limitless dedication. Fortunately for him, his pastoral lifestyle allows him to alternate periods of intense work and total rest. His docility and his great intelligence make him an easy dog ​​to train, preferably gently. He will become an efficient collaborator and a pleasant companion, who likes neither loneliness nor aggression.

The Border Collie, not content with being among the best herding dogs, also excels in dog sports, especially agility. But as a pet, although his physique makes him a very sought-after dog, his pastoral instinct coupled with great sensitivity and energy can make him a difficult animal to manage within a family.

2. Beauceron: solidity foolproof

The Berger de Beauce is often called Bas-Rouge because of its magnificent short-haired black and tan coat. If he has accompanied shepherds since the Middle Ages, it is not for his appearance of a “country gentleman”, as Colette defined her own Beauceron. This outspoken and rustic dog excels in both the art of conduct and in the protection flocks, a dual skill that he exercises with rigor and dedication.

Tall, he is an athlete with undeniable physical and mental qualities. His impressive build makes him a powerful and reassuring protector. Particularly enduring, he works gently and sometimes a little harshness, not hesitating to jostle the animals of his imposing mass. He is a dog who loves contact.

Affectionate and obedient, his education nevertheless requires great firmness, the animal can be stubborn! The Beauceron is a dog of temperament that it is necessary to know how to control. But this is what makes him an effective and appreciated helper of shepherds. His loyalty and his attachment to his master are legendary.

In addition to its instinctive herding dog capacities, the Beauceron can adapt without problem to activities such as guarding, tracking or rescue …

3. The Shepherd of the Pyrenees: a hard tooth but a heart of gold

There are two breeds of Pyrenean Sheepdog, one long-haired (the most common) and the other a short-faced. Medium in size, its coat is often fawn, sometimes also black or gray … It is the smallest of the French herding dogs; but he knows how to impose his presence by a very great vitality, not hesitating to give the voice or the tooth! With his look of a little bear, he is very lively and sneaks absolutely everywhere.

This little shepherd is endowed with a strong temperament, which requires a firm and authoritative education. No need to be moved by his plush look … He will not hesitate to question orders (and often his instinct will prove him right)! But with his master, his love is total and exclusive and he then becomes capable of boundless devotion. However, it will be necessary to calm his propensity to bark.

With great endurance, the Pyrenean Shepherd is able to work in harsh climatic conditions. The mountain does not scare him. His reputation is well established, since he is said to be capable of keeping two thousand sheep on his own.

4. The Briard, or Berger de Brie: the air of fun, he works hard

Large in size, the Briard is distinguished by its long-haired coat, which varies in color from black to blue or fawn. Some have known Pollux? It’s him, with extra paws!

His impressive stature gives him a lot of authority with the sheep, who run gentle at his sight. Very good protector, he is also able to move large herds without difficulty.

Very sociable, even easygoing, the Berger de Brie is very fond of playing, even as an adult. Its maturity is also rather late, since it retains the allure and character of a big baby for a long time. Even in the midst of work, he sometimes gives the impression of having fun and frolicking. He doesn’t walk, he jumps, like after a butterfly, and his long hairs fly in all directions!

Despite appearances, the Briard is a motivated and efficient worker, but also a dog with a dominant temperament. This is why his education must be rigorous and firm, but without violence (at the risk of hardening his sensitive character).

This great sensitive is also a champion in dog sports, in particular agility or cani-cross. Very sociable, he will appreciate family life, provided he can exercise himself physically according to his needs – which are great!

5. The Pyrenees Mountain, or Patou: the king of the herd

Among the herding dogs, the Patou is probably the most emblematic with its tall white silhouette popularized by the cinema. He is first and foremost a protection dog, capable according to legend of facing a bear! Because the Patou is the protection specialist herds against large predators, wolves, bears or lynxes. Raised within the herd, which he considers his family, he becomes its natural guardian. His deep voice is enough to keep most prowlers at bay.

He walks at the head of his herd and ensures the location of the places before his arrival, the time to install a protection zone around the sheep. Everything that enters this area is then subject to its control and its deterrent force. It will only attack the intruder in case of insistence or danger. If a walker enters this area, it is recommended that he remain calm and let the Patou carry out his inspection before returning to his herd.

But it is so impressive, despite its gentle and placid character, that it is rarely used nowadays, due to tourism in the summer pastures. This dog with a dominant temperament, sometimes stubborn, needs a firm education on pain of letting it gain the upper hand. Despite his friendship for children, he is not really suited to family life, not always being aware of his strength, and especially not in an urban environment. But if he lives in good conditions, we can count on his natural protective qualities and on his great fidelity.