5 Best Herding Dog Breeds in the World Today

5 best herding dog breeds in the world today petrage

Dogs from the herding group are an indispensable asset to farmers, ranchers, and anyone who needs a dedicated, hard-working companion. With their keen intelligence, strong instinct, and trainable disposition, these herding breeds are capable of controlling and directing livestock with a unique blend of strength and grace. Here, we’ve compiled a list of the five best herding dog breeds (in our opinion) in the world today, each with its own strengths and characteristics.

Is there a difference between a herding dog and a working dog?

Yes, there is a difference between a herding dog and a working dog. Herding dogs are specifically bred and trained to assist in the herding and management of livestock, while working dogs have a broader category that includes various roles such as search and rescue, guarding, and assistance work.

1. Border Collie

The Border Collie is widely regarded as one of the best herding dog breeds in the world, and its unique characteristics and history contribute to this reputation. Known for their intelligence, agility, and boundless energy, Border Collies have been bred to excel in herding livestock. Their intense focus and natural instinct to control the movement of animals make them highly efficient working dogs. Border Collies can also make good family pets, as long as they are given ample attention and exercise. However, it is important to note that they may try to ‘herd’ small children if not discouraged.

One of the key factors that sets Border Collies apart is their exceptional intelligence. They are considered one of the most intelligent dog breeds, capable of learning complex commands and problem-solving tasks. This intelligence allows them to quickly adapt to different herding situations and make split-second decisions in order to effectively manage livestock.


Another characteristic that makes Border Collies stand out is their remarkable work ethic. These dogs have an innate drive to work and a strong desire to please their handlers. They thrive on mental and physical challenges, which is why they excel in herding trials and competitions. Their incredible stamina allows them to work tirelessly for long periods of time without showing signs of fatigue.

The history of the Border Collie is deeply rooted in the border regions between England and Scotland, where they were originally developed as herding dogs. The breed’s name itself comes from its origins along the English-Scottish border. Over generations, Border Collies were selectively bred for their exceptional herding abilities, resulting in a dog that is unparalleled in its instinctive understanding of livestock behavior.

The unique characteristics and history of the Border Collie make it one of the best herding dog breeds. Its intelligence, work ethic, and strong herding instincts set it apart from other breeds. Whether working on a farm or participating in competitive dog sports, the Border Collie continues to prove its worth as one of the best herding dog breeds in the world today.

2. Australian Cattle Dog

The Australian Cattle Dog is truly one of the best herding dog breeds in the world, known for its unique characteristics and rich history. Bred in Australia in the 19th century, these dogs were originally developed to assist farmers in herding cattle over long distances in harsh and rugged conditions. One of their most distinctive features is their intense work ethic and unwavering loyalty to their owners. Australian Cattle Dogs are highly intelligent, alert, and energetic, making them well-suited for herding livestock with precision and efficiency.

In addition to their exceptional herding abilities, these dogs are also known for their remarkable endurance and agility. They have a strong instinct to nip at the heels of livestock, which helps them control the movement of cattle without causing harm. Their muscular build and sturdy frame enable them to withstand the physical demands of herding for extended periods of time.

Another noteworthy characteristic of Australian Cattle Dogs is their striking coat coloration. Most commonly seen with a blue or red speckled pattern, they are beautiful dogs with an eye-catching appearance that sets them apart from other breeds.

Overall, the combination of their intelligence, athleticism, loyalty, and unique coat makes Australian Cattle Dogs a great choice for herding purposes. Their rich history as working dogs and their ability to excel in demanding environments make them truly deserving of their reputation as one of the best herding dog breeds in the world today.

3. German Shepherd

The German Shepherd dog is a breed known for its unique characteristics and rich history. This versatile and intelligent breed was originally developed in Germany in the late 19th century for herding sheep. Today, they are not only renowned for their exceptional herding abilities but also serve as loyal companions, search and rescue dogs, police dogs, and more.

One of the standout features of the German Shepherd is their strong work ethic and eagerness to please. They are highly trainable and excel in various tasks due to their intelligence and ability to quickly learn and adapt. Their strong protective instincts make them excellent guard dogs, while their gentle nature allows them to be wonderful family pets.

In terms of physical appearance, German Shepherds are medium to large-sized dogs with a muscular build. They have a distinctive double coat that provides insulation from both heat and cold, making them adaptable to different climates. The most common color variation is black and tan; however, they can also come in sable or solid black.


The German Shepherd’s history is closely tied to its role as a working dog. Originally bred by Captain Max von Stephanitz with the intention of creating the ideal herding dog, he focused on developing a breed with intelligence, agility, strength, and loyalty. Over time, the German Shepherd’s exceptional abilities were recognized worldwide, leading to its popularity as one of the best herding dog breeds.

In conclusion, the German Shepherd dog possesses a combination of unique characteristics that set it apart from other breeds. Its history as a herding dog has shaped its traits of intelligence, trainability, loyalty, and versatility. Whether serving as a loyal companion or excelling in various working roles, the German Shepherd continues to be celebrated as one of the best herding dog breeds in the world.

4. Shetland Sheepdog

The Shetland Sheepdog, also known as the Sheltie, is a highly intelligent and agile herding dog breed that has been bred for centuries to work with sheep and other livestock in the Shetland Islands of Scotland. One of the unique skills of the Sheltie is their ability to work closely with their handlers, responding quickly to commands and showing a high degree of obedience and loyalty. Their small size and nimble movements also make them well-suited for herding in the rugged terrain of the Shetland Islands.

In terms of temperament, the Shetland Sheepdog is known for being highly alert and protective, making them excellent watchdogs in addition to their herding duties. They are also highly trainable and eager to please, making them a popular choice for obedience competitions and as service dogs.

Historically, the Shetland Sheepdog was used to help farmers manage their flocks and protect them from predators such as wolves and eagles. Today, they are still widely used as working dogs on farms and ranches, but also make excellent family pets due to their friendly and affectionate nature. Their versatility and adaptability have made them one of the best herding dog breeds in the world today.

5. Old English Sheepdog

The Old English Sheepdog is a large, affectionate herding dog breed that is known for its unique appearance, with a shaggy, long coat and distinctive bobtail. This breed has a gentle and patient temperament, making it an excellent choice for families with children. Their gentle nature also makes them great therapy dogs, and they are often used in hospitals and nursing homes to provide comfort and emotional support to patients. Another similar herding breed, the Bearded Collie, has similar looks and is sometimes confused as an OES.

In terms of herding skills, the Old English Sheepdog is known for its ability to work independently, which is an important trait when herding large flocks. They are also highly intelligent and have a strong desire to please their owners, making them easy to train and highly responsive to commands.

Historically, the Old English Sheepdog was bred to help farmers manage their flocks of sheep and cattle. They were also used to drive livestock to market, and their dense coat protected them from the harsh weather conditions during long journeys. Today, the breed is still used as a working dog on farms and ranches, but is also popular as a family pet due to their friendly and affectionate nature. Their unique appearance and exceptional herding skills make them one of the best herding dog breeds in the world today.


5 Best Herding Dog Breeds in the World Today-Final Thoughts

These five breeds represent some of the best herding dogs in the world today. Whether you need a tough and dependable herding dog, a highly trainable and obedient dog, or a friendly and affectionate companion, there is a herding dog breed that is perfect for your needs. If you can give them plenty of exercise and mental stimulation they make great family pets. With their strong herding instincts, intelligence, and trainable nature, these dogs are sure to become a valuable asset to any farmer, rancher, or pet owner.

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