No matter if you live on a farm or not, getting one of the herding dog breeds as your buddy is an adventure by itself. From protecting livestock to guarding farms, these active, loyal, intelligent pups that have been working besides humans for thousands of years – and yours will want to be useful to you right away!

But with their high energy needs, curious temperaments, and preference for the outdoors, you might also find it challenging keeping your shepherd buddy 100% safe. (There’s a reason why at least a few of these dogs end up on the list of dog breeds most likely to run away from home.)

So here are 10 shepherd and cattle dog breeds we’ve gathered for you – and what little details you should keep in mind to keep them healthy, happy, and safe by your side. (Whether you’ve got a flock of sheep for them to tend or not.)

Shepherd dog breeds’ behavior: What to watch out for

Now living with one of these herding dog breeds might be a ton of fun. But with that said, it’s wise to consider whether you two are a good fit in the first place.

Because once you’re living with one, you’ll find that herding dog breeds tend to be:

Bored easily

Growing up on a farm and learning to herd around livestock takes quick thinking. Which shepherd dog breeds tend to have in droves – being some of the most intelligent, fast-learning dogs out there.

This also means that without a “job” to stay busy – your herding dog is likely to get bored easily.1

Which might turn up as destructive behaviors or even an escape attempt from home for some excitement.

Read more: Why Do Dogs Run Away? 6 Reasons Behind It

A bored Border Collie lying on a wooden floor

So try and:

  • Keep your dog busy learning tricks – playing dead, learning how to high-five, and the like.
  • Install food puzzles and other mentally-stimulating toys around the house. (To keep them busy while you’re gone.)
  • Prioritize outdoor time, whether that’s in your backyard or some other safe, supervised space. Coop up a herding dog indoors too much and you’ll come back to a fine mess and chewed up slippers everywhere at home!

Read more: How to Keep Your Dog Mentally Active

Highly athletic

If you’re sporty yourself or rarely miss a day of exercise – a herding dog bred might just be perfect for you!

These dogs need daily activity for their health and well-being. Plus, they make for excellent dog sports competitors, with both their trainability and high athleticism.

In fact, without enough exercise – besides just your daily walk – herding dog breeds are likely to get bored, anxious, or frustrated. (And just generally more difficult to maintain.)2

💡It’s where tracking your herding dog’s daily activity can help you figure out how much exercise they’ve gotten. (And whether they need some more tiring out at the end of the day!) Plus, it’ll also help you stay motivated to their daily exercise.

So besides regular walks, make sure regular playtime is a part of your daily routine together. You could start by setting up an obstacle course (both indoors or outdoors) to get your buddy on the move!

Read more:

A bit…bossy, temperament-wise

Now whether you’ve just adopted one or are raising them from puppyhood, you’re best off watching out for any “herding” behavior in your dog.

Because without duck, sheep, geese, horses, or cattle to boss around, your little shepherd might end up “herding” – or circling, running around, or even barking at:

  • You
  • Your kids
  • Your other pets (no matter their size)
  • Other animals on walks outdoors (no matter their size)
  • Passing vehicles (like cars, bikes – no matter their size)
  • And anything that moves, really (no matter their size!)

Which, when you think about it, opens up doors to multiple dangers – whether that’s another angry pet parent, a thoroughly pissed off cat…or a road accident. (If your dog runs off into an open street with passing cars.)

⚠️Other herding behaviors your dog might show include nipping or even biting – since that’s how they’ve been bred to keep livestock in line.3 You might even find yours nipping at your heels when you don’t do as they want!

A white dog herding sheep in a snow

So besides training your dog against these behaviors, it’s also wise to keep them firmly leashed while on walks outdoors.

💡 And in an emergency – like if your dog’s bolted their leash and run off to herd a far-off flock of sheep – a dog GPS tracker can be a lifesaver.

With just a glance at your phone, you can track your moving dog in real-time and know exactly where to find them. (And prevent them from running into an angry bull, a passing car, or any other danger.)

Now with all that covered, let’s dive right in – here are 10 shepherd dog breeds that’ll take to a farm or a sporty family like a fish to water.

10 herding dog breeds from around the world

Got an open backyard or a dog park nearby and are ready to get active? Here are 10 shepherd dog breeds that’ll keep you on your toes all day long!

The Pembroke Welsh Corgi

If you thought herding dog breeds were only big and bulky, think again. Pembroke Welsh Corgis are small, sleek, swift little dogs that were bred to herd bigger animals, including cows!

These little dogs originate from Wales and were a favorite of Queen Elizabeth II, the late queen of England. In fact, she owned more than 30 Corgis during her entire reign!

With their agreeable, sociable temperaments, Corgis make for excellent family dogs and might end up following you around everywhere.4

  • However, they do tend to be quite stubborn – so you’ll need to invest in extra obedience training to wean them off any ankle-nipping or barking.
  • Corgis are also highly athletic dogs, competing in flyball, dog sports, and tracking and herding events. You’ll need to consistently keep yours on their toes to ensure they’re happy and healthy.
A Pembroke Welsh Corgi sitting in the woods

⚠️ Don’t be fooled by their cute and cuddly appearance – Corgis are skilled hunters and have a high prey drive (or hunting instinct.)

As a result, they might chase anything that moves when you’re out on walks together – and even end up running away too far from safety. (Where they might run into a predator or passing vehicle.)

So make sure you keep your Corgi firmly leashed while on walks outdoors. Else, in an emergency, definitely make sure yours is microchipped at the very least. (With a dog GPS tracker for extra security.)

Read more:

The Collie family

You might think of Border Collies first – and these are the quintessential example of herding dog breeds that just can’t sit still! Or maybe Lassie, from the famous movie. (Who’s actually a Rough Collie – pictured below:)

But as it turns out, the Collie family includes:

  • Australian Kelpies
  • Bearded Collies
  • Rough Collies (like Lassie)
  • Shelties
  • …and the Welsh Sheepdog (which IS actually part of this family)

Originally from Scotland and Northern England, Collies are another one of the livestock guardian dog breeds that love being around cattle, sheep, and other farm animals.

Plus, with their high energy and intelligence, they’re another breed of contenders in dog sports and agility competitions around the world.5

⚠️ In fact, Collies are so intelligent that they’re likely to get bored or anxious or hyperactive if you don’t give them a “job” to keep them occupied! (Another reason why yours might run away or jump the fence.)

So keep yours on their toes by keeping them both physically and mentally active – practice new tricks and commands on the regular and take them out for walks, hikes, and runs together.

Beauceron dogs

Easy to mistake as a German Shepherd, Beauceron dogs are a shepherd dog breed originating from Central France. In fact, another name for them are Bas-Rouges (or red stockings) – after their distinctive “red” paws.

Unlike Collies, Beauceron dogs tends to be calmer and gentler, temperament-wise – but they do tend to be slow to warm up to strangers.6

In fact, besides herding, your Beau is also a skilled guard dog and might have a tendency to bark in the presence of unfamiliar people or pets. Make sure to wean them off this behavior gradually with plenty of training and quality time together.

Read more: Clicker Training for Dogs: A Step-by-Step Guide to Positive Reinforcement

A Beauceron dog relaxing in the grass

💡 With their thick coats, most Beauceron dogs can live quite comfortably outside – even in cold weather. Which can help them get their exercise and enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of nature, especially if you’ve set up a safe environment outdoors.

Just make sure you’ve escape-proofed your backyard in case you’re thinking of building an outdoor kennel for your Beau. They’re intelligent and athletic enough to jump over (or dig under) any fence and can easily cover several miles by the time you realize they’ve escaped!

(Though you could also set up a “safe zone” with a dog GPS tracker – and get an instant escape alert on your phone if your Beau does step out of it. So you can pick them up that much easier and quicker.)

Bouvier des Flandres

With sheep herding, cart pulling, and cattle droving under their belts, Bouvier des Flandres are a livestock guardian dog breed originating from Belgium. (Translated from French, their names literally mean “cow herders from Flanders.”) They’re also accomplished guard dogs and take excellently to police dog units.7

Much like Beauceron dogs, Bouviers are on the gentler side, temperament-wise – though they do also tend to be quite protective. They’re also highly trainable and can learn a variety of tricks and commands.

💡Socializing your Bouvier from an early age can overcome a whole bunch of behavioral problems you might otherwise experience. (Including dominance and over-protectiveness.) This means getting them used to other pets and people, so they learn how to behave.

Because otherwise, Bouviers can be a bit fearful and panicky – especially if you introduce them to a new environment or situation. (Like a dog park or even a new pet or baby at home.) Another reason you might find them bolting the leash or running away from home.

Read more: Fearful Dog: Our Expert Reveals Everything You Need To Know About Fear In Dogs

The Shepherd family

Probably one the most famous herding dog breeds is the Shepherd family – and yes, there’s more to it than just German Shepherds! These intelligent, active, protective dogs have been working alongside humans and keeping us on our toes from centuries now. Including:

  • Anatolian Shepherds
  • Australian Shepherds
  • Belgian Malinois
  • Dutch Shepherds
  • White Swiss Shepherds
  • …and more!

Pictured below is Opie, a white Shepherd mix whose Activity Tracking data clocks in a whopping 300-500 minutes of activity per day living in a farm.

Opie the Shepherd mix dog standing outside with his red ball.

Opie usually starts the day by chasing a soccer ball around the yard – followed by a 1-2 mile walk through the fields and woods near the farm.

Which just goes to show how much exercise your herding dog is likely to get entirely by themselves – if you’re able to provide them a safe outdoors environment to run and play in.

(And most importantly: a tired dog means one that’s a) healthy, b) happy, and c) less likely to run away from home to burn off some extra energy.)

Living on a small farm means that Opie (and his three other brothers) get to run off-leash. But keeping track of four dogs – especially a high-energy herding dog breed – is definitely a challenge!

Opie the Shepherd mix dog and his three brothers sitting inside the living room wearing Tractive GPS trackers.

“…(though) with Tractive, it’s made our lives much easier. Now, I don’t have to drop what I am doing just to go make sure all of our dogs are where they should be!

I just have to pick up my phone and I can check on them.”

– Autumn, Opie’s mom

Read more: Mud about adventure – Meet Opie the energetic White Shepherd mix

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Catahoula Leopard dogs

Despite its unique name, Catahoula leopard dogs originate from the US – they’re named after the Catahoula parish in Louisiana. This is another active, good-natured dog breed that’s excellent for herding and guarding livestock, as well as taking care of children.

(And yup, their names also refer to their gorgeous spotted coats – similar to leopard fur.)

⚠️ However, much like other herding dog breeds, Catahoulas do tend to have keen hunting instincts.8 Which means you’re better off keeping them firmly leashed when out hiking in the woods or on a run.

Besides, your Catahoula will respond well to daily exercise and dog sport-like activities, including agility training. Just set up an obstacle course with some pillows and chairs – and go!

Read more: Unleashing the Fun: Mastering Agility Training for Dogs!

Canaan dogs

Easily the most wolf-like of the herding dog breeds, Canaan dogs originate from the Middle East – most commonly found in Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, and other countries along the Levant. It’s one of the oldest mixed breed dogs in the world and was used by Bedouin tribes to guard their livestock and camps.9

Much like others in the shepherd dog family, Canaan dogs are highly intelligent and trainable. Some have even been successfully trained as guide dogs for the blind.

A Canaan dog standing in a river

💡Canaan dogs were built to hike and scale the rugged mountains of countries like Israel (of which they’re actually the national dog!) Making them an excellent choice for you if you enjoy hiking or running in the outdoors.

Just make sure you’ve got yours leashed and microchipped at the very least when out in the woods. Canaan dogs tend to be quite independent, temperament-wise – and they’re likely to dominate you if you aren’t firm enough with them!

But if you want your dog to just…well, be a dog and enjoy some off-leash running around:

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Read more: Off the leash: Safer travelling with Tractive GPS

The Mountain Dog family

This exceptionally fluffy herding dog family all tend to originate from cold, snowy, mountainous areas – including Switzerland, France, and Germany. Historically, they were used to herd cattle over the mountains – especially over long distances – as well as pull carts.

Famously gentle and sweet-tempered, the mountain dog family tend to make great family dogs and love the company of children.

Pictured below is the quintessential example – the Bernese mountain dog!

A Bernese mountain dog sitting outdoors

Besides Bernies, this family also includes:

  • Greater Swiss mountain dogs
  • St. Bernards
  • Tibetan Mastiffs
  • Great Pyrenees
  • …and more!

⚠️ Some mountain dog breeds – especially Great Pyrenees – tend to be quite protective of their “herds”. (They’ve been raised to protect them against predators like bears and cougars.)10

So if you’re considering adopting one for your farm or home, make sure you know how to find them – in case your mountain dog goes running off into the woods, chasing down a passing fox or wolf.

Briard dogs

Another large shepherd dog breed from France, Briard dogs have been herding and protecting sheep in farms for centuries – though they’re more commonly kept as companion dogs now.

But much like other herding dog breeds, Briards are intelligent, protective, very fond of children, and need some time to consider strangers as part of their “herd.”

With their shaggy coats, you’ll need to brush your Briard several times a week to prevent matting and tangling. Make sure to use a good pin brush to keep their coat in good condition.11

Read more: 5 Easy Dog Grooming Tips You Can Do At Home: The Ultimate Guide For Dog Parents

A Briard dog standing in a forest

💡 Your Briard will also need an open space they can run around freely in – plus a “job” to keep them occupied. (Whether that’s herding toys into a goal or babysitting your kids.) They might not do as well if they’re left by themselves too much or in a confined apartment space.

But if you’re worried about your backyard fence not being enough or don’t have one – why not set up a safe zone with a virtual fence instead?

Tractive Trustpilot review

Set Up A Virtual Fence

The Hungarian herding dog family

With so many herding dog breeds from Hungary alone, we just couldn’t pick one – so here they all are, in their furry, fun-loving glory! Pictured here is a shaggy Komondor – a Hungarian sheepdog – happiest when playing outdoors:

Besides the Komondor, here are some other herding dog breeds originating from Hungary:

  • Puli dogs
  • Kuvasz dogs
  • Pumi dogs

All of these dog breeds were bred to guard livestock and keep them under control, especially sheep. As such, they tend to be protective, alert, intelligent – but also a bit stubborn. (Though training and early socialization can work wonders.)

⚠️ At the same time, these dogs don’t make the best fit for apartments. (Your Komondor might be too big for one!) Without enough space to wander and get their exercise, they might get bored, restless, and up to mischief.12

But if you’re tracking your dog’s activity with a Tractive device, you’re in luck. With its built-in leaderboard, you can actually compare how your dog’s doing to other, similar dogs – so you can stay motivated to their exercise.

Tractive Trustpilot review

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3 ways to stay on top of your herding dog’s safety & well-being

Herding dog breeds might seem like fun – until you realize the challenges in living with one. Including their seemingly never-ending energy, their need to explore every bit of the outdoors, and you needing to monitor them 24/7.

But with these three steps, you’ll be better prepared to keep them healthy, happy, and safe by your side. Which is why we recommend you…

Ensure they’re getting enough exercise

Like we’ve mentioned, a tired dog is a healthy dog. (Especially if they’ve been able to run and play all day. Which is why regular exercise isn’t just a nice to have, it’s an absolute must if you’re planning on adopting a herding dog breed.

But look, we get it – it can be easy to miss a day or two of walking your dog. (Especially if the weather is rubbish outdoors.) Which actually signals the start of a habit where the two of you fall off the wagon…and now you’re wondering why your dog is making a mess of your house or barking up a storm.

(Plus for most herding dogs, daily walks are just the bare minimum!)

💡But with regular activity tracking, you can stay motivated to get your daily walks and playtime together – kind of like a Duolingo streak for your dog’s daily exercise.

Dog running with tennis ball in mouth in the grass, Tractive GPS app in foreground

Plus, with your trusty Tractive device, you can also:

  • Set daily goals for how many active minutes you want to hit with your dog.
  • Compare how your dog’s doing to other, similar dog breeds around the world.
  • Catch on early to a drop in your dog’s activity. (Which might signal they might not be feeling well.)
Tractive Trustpilot review

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Now given how independent herding dog breeds tend to be, they might need more exercise than you can make time for. (Often by themselves.) Which is where it makes sense to…

Escape-proof your home & backyard

If you’re having to manually check up on your dog every minute to ensure they’re not getting up to any mischief…well, that’s firstly no fun. Secondly, it’s not sustainable either. (Especially since you’ve got work, chores, and every other little task that comes up throughout the day.)

💡So imagine being able to monitor what your dog’s up to – from the comfort of your couch?

It’s where setting up a “safe zone” with a Virtual Fence can be a lifesaver, time-saver, and sanity-saver all in one go.

Infographic Tractive GPS VIrtual fence

Your Tractive GPS Virtual Fence constantly monitors your dog as long as they stay within a “safe zone” – and sends you an escape alert the minute your dog tries sneaking past it.

Which – if you’re like dog parents around the world – means your buddy’s safety is now just a glance at your phone away.

Tractive Trustpilot review

Create A Safe Zone

Figure out their favorite hangout spots

Last, here’s another little hack into your dog’s behavior: their tendency to have “favorite” spots around your home, backyard, neighborhood – and even beyond. Where they might like to hunt, hide, herd, or just hang out.

If you’re able to keep track of these spots, you’re now better-equipped for an emergency. How? Meaning you’ll know where to look first in case they go missing.

Now you could wander after your dog and jot these spots down in a notebook. Or you could let your Tractive device’s Heat Map and Location History log those in for you every few seconds and automatically.

The Tractive GPS Heat Map feature

Now with this data at hand, you can now figure out:

  • Where your dog likes to spend most of their time
  • What areas around your home or neighborhood they shouldn’t be approaching (especially if they’re near garbage dumps or other places they could eat something potentially toxic)
  • If there’s a nearby farm your herding dog likes to sneak off to
  • What parts of your fence need patching

Tractive’s Heat Map even helped save the life of Imogen, a high-energy Borzoi who crashed through the ice of a nearby frozen lake while out on a run.

Through her tracker’s Heat Map, her mom was able to pinpoint her location – even despite being in the water – and rescue her from freezing and drowning.

Read more: Imogen The Dog Saved From Frozen Lake Thanks To GPS Tracker

Thinking of adopting one of the herding dog breeds?

Make sure you’ve done your planning and prep in advance. Because when it comes to enjoying life with your little herder by your side, it makes sense to consider if you two would be a good fit together.

Because in general, herding dog breeds tend to be:

  • Highly intelligent, with breeds like Collies and Canaan dogs picking up tricks and commands at the speed of light. Watch out though – this also means they’ll get bored easily if you don’t keep them occupied!
  • Highly active, with Shepherds, Corgis, and Catahoulas being regular competitors at dog sports, flyball, and herding events. Meaning you’ll have to be similarly active yourself to keep them happy and healthy.
  • Highly protective – often with keen hunting instincts, like with most mountain dog breeds (like Pyrenees). Which might cause them to chase woodland animals, smaller pets, or even children on your walks or hikes together.
A Border collie running through an agility hoop in a backyard
  • Unlikely to enjoy too much indoor time, like with Pulis, Komondors, and Beauceron dogs. (Who are likely to grow bored or anxious if they feel cooped up.)
  • Slow to warm up to strangers – and in some cases, vulnerable to fear (like with Bouvier des Flandres.)
  • Needing a “job” to stay happy, like with Border Collies and Briard dogs.

So we’d recommend adopting a herding dog only once you’re prepared to make daily exercise, obedience training, and plenty of outdoor time part of your life.

Which is also the reason why the Tractive DOG XL Adventure edition comes built with love for all the rough and tumble adventures you and your buddy might get up to together.

With its bite-proof fiberglass-reinforced casing, 30-day battery life, and 100% waterproof build – you can now run, swim, and hike with your herding dog – completely stress-free.

Tractive Trustpilot review
Tractive DOG XL Adventure edition

Always know where your dog is

Follow every step in real-time with unlimited range. Get alerts if they wander too far. Keep them happy & healthy with Wellness Monitoring. And let others – like walkers or sitters – keep an eye on your dog too.

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Because the fear and stress of losing your buddy is never worth it – but the joy and relief of finding them again always is.

Want to see the Tractive DOG XL Adventure edition in action? Here’s a short, sporty video to get you pumped for your next outdoor adventure!

And if you’ve liked this post, share it with a friend or a loved one – and let’s help build a safer, kinder world for our furry friends together.