Meet the Dedicated Dogs of the Herding Group

When they're not herding animals (or your family), you can find the typically athletic members of the Herding Group excelling in sports like agility, flyball, tracking and of course, herding trials. Created in 1983, this group is the newest AKC classification, and its breeds used to be members of the Working Group.  

From the intelligent Border Collie to the outgoing Pembroke Welsh Corgi, here are all of the dog breeds of the Herding Group. Just remember, dogs are individuals, so you may come across a Bearded Collie who doesn't bounce when he greets you or an Australian Shepherd who isn't always full of energy. And, while these dogs are athletic, it's important to get clearance from your veterinarian before starting any sort of activity with them, particularly strenuous ones. In fact, that's something all dog owners should keep in mind, regardless of breed.

The Dogs of the Herding Group

Australian Cattle Dog

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Australian Cattle Dog

The Australian Cattle Dog, sometimes known as a Blue Heeler or Queensland Heeler, is a tough herding dog from the land down under. He is often known for being smart and independent, making him generally best suited for owners who are equally as headstrong. It is also important to remember the ACD is meant to work long days and herd unruly livestock, so choose this breed if you are a high-energy person who enjoys long periods of daily activity. He is compact and muscular, generally standing 17 to 20 inches at the shoulder and weighing 44 to 62 pounds.

Australian Kelpie dog

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Australian Kelpie

In their homeland of Australia (as well as in the U.S., Canada and other parts of the world), thousands of Australian Kelpies are employed herding livestock every day. The Kelpie is a medium-size dog, usually weighing 31 to 46 pounds. Although he generally loves the great outdoors, the Kelpie is by no means a yard dog. He is bred to work with people, and if your Kelpie is a family pet, he should live indoors — that is, when he’s not out with you playing, working or showing up the other local dogs at agility and obedience.

Australian Shepherd Dog Breed

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Australian Shepherd

The Australian Shepherd is not from Australia and was, in fact, developed by Basque shepherds in the U.S. The Aussie is typically smart and energetic, so you should be prepared to keep him busy – if his job isn’t to herd, long daily walks, jogs or hikes, plus some home training sessions should meet his physical and mental needs. You might think an Aussie needs a home with a big backyard, but with his medium size (normally between 35 and 65 pounds), he can probably adapt to condo or apartment living.

Bearded Collie running in a field

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Bearded Collie

Beneath the Bearded Collie’s shaggy coat lies a sweet dog who is typically independent and athletic. Like all dogs, the Beardie comes in a range of temperaments, from low-key to lively, but whatever her personality, she's likely to greet you with kisses and a wagging tail. The Beardie can be a devoted and intelligent family member. Along with her heritage as a herding dog comes a loud bark that often makes her an excellent watchdog. The Beardie is a medium-size dog and can weigh anywhere from 45 to 55 pounds.

Beauceron dog close up

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Beauceron

The Beauceron is a shorthaired, French herding breed, commonly used on sheep. Like all farm dogs, he once served multiple purposes, from driving flocks to guarding his property and family. The Beauceron is a large dog, regularly weighing 70 to 110 pounds, with a protective personality. He is also normally active, assertive and independent – qualities that make him ill-suited for most novice dog owners. However, with appropriate training and early socialization, he can be an excellent companion for an active family.

Belgian Laekenois dog breed

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Belgian Laekenois

The rough-coated Belgian Laekenois, pronounced lak-in-wah, is named for the town of Laeken, where he originated. He is the rarest of the four Belgian herding breeds (that in their home country are all considered a single breed) and the only one not yet recognized by the American Kennel Club. He is a medium-size dog, regularly weighing 45 to 65 pounds, who is often devoted to protecting his family and property.

Belgian Malinois

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Belgian Malinois

Often mistaken for a small German Shepherd, the Belgian Malinois (pronounced mal-in-wah) is a distinct breed. His native country Belgium is home to four herding breeds that vary by color and coat type. Named for the town of Malines, where he originated, the Malinois is the short-haired variety. He is a medium-size dog, ordinarily weighing between 40 and 80 pounds, who can have a protective personality and a knack for tracking. The Malinois is a popular choice for police, military and search and rescue work – that's why many of these dogs were conscripted into World War I. He is also generally a high-energy dog who needs plenty of daily exercise.

Belgian Sheepdog standing on a hillside

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Belgian Sheepdog

Her black, long-haired coat gives the Belgian Sheepdog an air of elegance, but don’t be fooled – there’s a lot more to this dog than beauty. She’s usually highly energetic and needs a job that makes use of her intelligence. It’s important to understand that the Belgian Sheepdog’s activity levels necessitate much more than a simple walk around the block. Choose this breed if you are a high-energy person who enjoys active daily exercise. She is an indoor/outdoor dog, frequently weighing anywhere from 40 to 75 pounds, and should have access to a securely fenced yard; however, she should be with her family when they are home.

Belgian Tervuren in the grass

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

Belgian Tervuren

Sporting a mahogany coat with a black overlay and black mask, the Belgian Tervuren is a strikingly handsome member of the four herding breeds native to Belgium. The Terv is usually demanding of attention and has an intense desire to be with his people. He is often an excellent watchdog with the size (typically 40 to 65 pounds) and ability to be protective when necessary. He will need early socialization and training, as well as plenty of exercise, to be at his best.

Bergamasco

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Bergamasco

The Italian Bergamasco is a large sheepdog, typically weighing 55 to 85 pounds. His corded or matted coat comes in all shades of gray, and it is meant to offer limited protection from bad weather and predators he might have to drive off in order to defend his flock. These days, the Bergamasco is primarily a family companion or show dog, though some still have a strong herding instinct. He is typically gentle with his family, and, without a flock, is likely to be instinctively protective of them.

Berger Picard

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Berger Picard

With his rough, shaggy coat, Groucho Marx-style eyebrows and bearded face, this rare, French sheepdog – the Berger Picard (pronounced bare-ZHAY pee-CARR) – certainly looks like a mixed breed. However, the breed’s appearance in the 2005 film “Because of Winn-Dixie” put it on the path to American citizenship. In the ten years since the movie’s release, fans of the Picard have begun importing, breeding and exhibiting the dogs, even forming a breed club. Because of this, the Picard is set to achieve AKC recognition in 2015. He is usually energetic and athletic, normally weighing 55 to 77 pounds.

Border Collie

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Border Collie

Arguably considered the world’s best herding dog, the Border Collie is generally a smart, intense workaholic. She usually thrives on order and values employment. Popular for her good looks and medium size (primarily 30 to 45 pounds), a good BC can be the companion of a lifetime, and can be an ideal dog for an owner who can keep her busy with dog sports – agility, flyball, flying disc games, herding trials, obedience or tracking.

Bouvier des Flandres dog breed

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Bouvier des Flandres

Thanks to his bushy eyebrows, walrus-like mustache and full beard, the Bouvier des Flandres sports a unique look. This herding dog is typically intelligent and independent – and he’s usually happiest when he has a job to do. The Bouvier was created in Belgium as a large (often 70 to 100 pounds) multipurpose farm dog who could drive cattle, pull carts and serve as a watchdog. While he’s still capable of these tasks today, the Bouvier is primarily a family companion or show dog. He does enjoy the outdoors, and Bouviers are generally devoted to their people. When his family is at home, he should be, too.

Briard

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Briard

The Briard has a long history in France as a guard dog and herding breed, but these days, he is primarily a family companion or show dog. While you might think of him as an outdoor dog, nothing could be further from the truth. Briards are typically devoted to their people, including children. And this impressive dog can weigh anywhere from 70 to 90 pounds or more. When a Briard is the right match for you, the reward is a dog his fans lovingly describe as a heart wrapped in fur.

Canaan Dog

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Canaan Dog

The Canaan is said to have originated in the biblical land of Canaan, where he was used to guard camps and flocks. After the Romans came, however, the breed became feral. They were redomesticated during World War II, proving to be intelligent sentry dogs, messengers and land mine detectors. This medium-size dog (normally weighing 35 to 55 pounds) is often an intelligent, independent thinker with natural watchdog instincts – he typically patrols his property and circles and barks at intruders, not permitting them to approach unless given the OK by his owner.

Cardigan Welsh Corgi

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Cardigan Welsh Corgi

The Cardigan is best described as a Corgi with a tail, but he differs from his cousin, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, in other ways. The Cardigan has larger, more rounded ears and he comes in a variety of colors, including tricolor (black and white, with tan or brindle points), blue merle, brindle, sable and red. He regularly weighs between 25 and 38 pounds, and despite his small size, he was once used to drive cattle by nipping at their heels. Today, the Cardigan is more of a companion and a show dog, but he still often has strong herding instincts.

Catahoula Leopard Dog

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Catahoula Leopard Dog

The hardworking Catahoula Leopard Dog, the official canine of Louisiana, was developed to catch and drive wild hogs and cattle to market. He even sports webbed feet to swamp crawl through his home terrain. Today, he’s still more of a working dog than a pet, but when he’s off duty, the Catahoula Leopard Dog can be an excellent family dog who is both protective and affectionate. The breed’s activity level varies among individuals, but it’s generally safe to assume he’s going to demand a great deal of exercise. He can weigh anywhere from 50 to 95 pounds and can usually adjust to indoor or outdoor living, as long as he has plenty of human companionship.

Collie dog breed

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Collie

Collies are arguably one of the best family dogs. They are typically devoted to the entire family, eager to please, housebreak easily and need less grooming than you’d think. Many people aren't aware that there are actually two types of Collies. The most common is the Rough Collie, the classic Lassie, with a long coat. The Smooth Collie sports a short, dense and flat coat that has a lot of undercoat.  In the show ring, they are considered the same breed and are judged by the same standard. As a herding breed, the Collie is bred to work long days and needs quite a bit of exercise. They typically weigh between 50 and 70 pounds.

Entlebucher Mountain Dog

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Entlebucher Mountain Dog

The Entlebucher Mountain Dog is one of four farm dogs native to Switzerland. He is the smallest of the four Swiss mountain dogs, ordinarily weighing 45 to 65 pounds, and takes his name from the Entlebuch valley, where he originated. He is often called the smallest of the four, but don't let that phrase fool you — he's physically powerful and was originally used to herd cattle and other livestock. Generally, he's happy being part of an active family that loves him and considers him worthy of doing a job.

Finnish Spitz dog

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Finnish Lapphund

The Finnish Lapphund was originally developed by the Sami, a seminomadic people native to Finland, to help herd reindeer. These days she is a popular companion in her home country and is beginning to make a name for herself in North America. Because the Lappie comes from the far north, she is generally intolerant of heat – keep her indoors on hot or humid days. She is a medium-size dog (customarily weighing 33 to 55 pounds) who needs exercise that will challenge her mentally and physically.

German Shepherd Dog

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German Shepherd

The German Shepherd is known for being adaptable and intelligent – so much so that he has done almost every job a dog can do, from leading the blind and detecting illicit drugs to bringing down criminals and serving in the armed forces. He also tends to be a natural protector who is versatile and athletic. His size (which can be anywhere from 50 to 90 pounds), herding skills and unforgettable movie role as Rin Tin Tin, have given him legendary status among canines. As a family dog, German Shepherds are usually good with children and can make great companions when they are given early socialization and training.

Icelandic Sheepdog dog breed

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Icelandic Sheepdog

This Nordic breed is said to have come to Iceland on the longboats of early Viking settlers. The Icelandic Sheepdog has the typical pricked ears, curled tail, thick coat and fondness for barking of her Spitz relatives. The Icie is generally friendly and playful and tends to get along well with people – including kids – and other dogs. Males are often more laid-back and cuddly than females, but both tend to thrive on human companionship. The Icie is a small dog, commonly weighing 20 to 45 pounds, but don’t let that fool you; she may be best suited to a home where she can enjoy the outdoors with active people who take her hiking, camping or compete in dog sports with her.

 Norwegian Buhund

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Norwegian Buhund

This dog once stood on the prow of a Viking longboat, waiting to be one of the first to disembark to the New World. The Norwegian Buhund has since served as as a multipurpose farm dog in his homeland of Norway and made a name for himself as a hearing assistance dog and agility and obedience athlete. Like all Spitz breeds, he is characterized by prick ears, a foxy face, a thick coat and a tail that curls tightly over his back. He is a medium-size dog, with a weight that typically ranges from 26 to 40 pounds.

Old English Sheepdog

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Old English Sheepdog

His hair may be the first thing you notice, but it's the Old English Sheepdog's personality that stands out. On the surface, he can be a silly charmer, but underneath his shaggy coat is an independent thinker. The OES evolved from a multipurpose farm dog to a companion and show dog without losing his strong herding instinct. While his mature size (ranging from 60 to 100 pounds) might make you think of him as an outdoor dog, nothing could be further from the truth. An OES should certainly have access to a securely fenced yard, but when the family is home, he should be in the house with them.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi

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Pembroke Welsh Corgi

The Pembroke is the Corgi without a tail. In addition to the lack of a tail, the Pembroke stands out from her cousin, the Cardigan Welsh Corgi, in other ways, including her smaller, more pointed ears and wedge-shaped head. Her weight typically ranges from 25 to 30 pounds, making her a little smaller than the Cardigan Welsh Corgi, as well. The Pembroke originated in Wales some 1,000 years ago and was employed as an all-around farm dog. She herded livestock, killed rats and other vermin and barked in alarm at strangers.

Polish Lowland Sheepdog Running in Water

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Polish Lowland Sheepdog

Also known as the Polski Owczarek Nizinny, or PON, the Polish Lowland Sheepdog helped shepherds move sheep and kept watch over the flock. At 35 to 55 pounds, he is about half the size of his close relative, the Old English Sheepdog. The PON is typically energetic, silly and smart and requires an owner with a sense of humor. He also needs someone willing to put in quite a bit of time and effort into grooming.

Puli Dog Breed

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Puli

This corded wonder is a Hungarian herding breed who looks rather like an old-timey floor mop. The Puli is a small to medium-size dog (usually weighing between 25 and 35 pounds), often with a sensibly suspicious nature that can help make him a good watchdog. These days, he is primarily a family companion or show dog, but he is first and foremost a herding dog and will probably use those instincts if given the opportunity. Early socialization and training are important to help a Puli learn the difference between what is normal and what is actually a threat.

Pyrenean Shepherd Dog Breed

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Pyrenean Shepherd

The Pyrenean Shepherd is the smallest of the French herding breeds. As his name indicates, he is native to the rugged French Pyrenees mountains, but During World War I, Pyr Sheps were taken from the mountains to aid in the war effort. They delivered messages, sought out wounded soldiers and performed guard duty. He comes in two looks: rough coat and smooth face. This is a small dog of 15 to 32 pounds, typically with an oversized personality and energy level. He is generally not the choice for a novice dog owner, but can make an excellent companion to someone willing to put in the time and effort to train and socialize him.

Shetland Sheepdog in a field

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Shetland Sheepdog

The Shetland Sheepdog has Collie in his ancestry and once went by the name Miniature Collie, but is his own distinctive breed. The Sheltie tends to be an active, fun-loving dog who typically weighs less than 30 pounds. His gentle disposition, athleticism and keen intelligence tend to make him a dog who lives to please and loves to show off.

Swedish Lapphund Dog

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Swedish Lapphund

Sweden’s national dog is multitalented. Through the centuries, the Swedish Lapphund has worked as a hunting dog, guard dog and reindeer herder. This is a rare breed that is little known outside of Sweden, as only about 1,200 of the dogs exist. The medium-size Lapphund normally weighs 33 to 53 pounds, wears a thick double coat in brown, black or black and brown (with or without white markings) and has prick ears, a wedge-shaped head and a waving tail that curls over his back as he moves.

Swedish Vallhund

Tara Gregg, Animal Photography

Swedish Vallhund

The low-slung dog resembles his Corgi cousins, but the Swedish Vallhund is a distinct breed that has existed for some thousand years. In his homeland of Sweden, the Vallhund was a valued farm dog used to herd livestock by nipping at their heels. He has many good qualities, including his size (ordinarily 20 to 30 pounds) and easy-care coat. He tends to be energetic and requires early training and socialization to avoid becoming overly suspicious or fearful of anything new or different.

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