It takes a lot of helping hands — and paws — to run a farm.
In her new breed guide, Farm
Dogs, author Janet Vorwald Dohner describes the working traits and history
of a whopping 93 herders, guardians, Terriers and other canine farm workers,
many of whom were first bred for their jobs centuries ago.
These days, some of the breeds in the book are better known
as beloved house pets, so their heritage might come as a surprise. We’ve picked
10 of the breeds Dohner describes for the gallery below, including some
familiar faces and others you may not have heard of before.
Jack Russell Terrier
The typically smart and clever Jack
Russell Terrier can also be assertive, which can make training him a challenge. He generally has
an extremely high energy level and needs lots of exercise and mental challenges
to keep him from becoming bored and destructive. He was bred in England to be
courageous enough to drive a fox from its den — but not to kill it. Once his veterinarian gives him a clean bill of health, he can be a good competitor at dog sports like agility and flyball.
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
This favorite of Queen Elizabeth II might not be the first
breed you’d think of on a farm. The Pembroke Welsh Corgi
is usually independent and strong-willed, but she also tends to be affectionate and willing to learn. Believe
it or not, this little dog has historically been able to drive cattle and
sheep and is known as a good all-around helper on the farm.
These days, the Puli
might be familiar as the family dog of Facebook
co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan. But this Hungarian
dog with a corded coat has a history of working closely with shepherds to move
sheep or cattle from villages out to plains for grazing. Pulik (the plural for
Puli) are often serious and deeply suspicious of strangers and need consistent
socialization. Without training, this generally intelligent guy has been known to outwit
This typically intelligent dog usually likes calm and routine and can be deeply
loyal to his family. The Tibetan
Mastiff generally has the independence needed to be a livestock guardian dog, which
is a category of breeds who generally live outdoors and protect their farm from
predators and other threats, patrolling farm buildings and animal enclosures, according to Farm Dogs.
However, even though the Tibetan Mastiff was bred for his deep, distinctive
bark, many breeders say these days he fares better as a guard around the home
than as a remote livestock guardian. Some owners say he does well on smaller
farms where he has more interaction with his owners.
Hailing from northern Italy, the Bergamasco can be an alert
watchdog who usually forms close ties and wants to spend lots of time with her owners. She has hair that forms into flocks, which tend to be more
irregular in shape and sometimes flatter than the cords on the Puli. She’s a generally a protective and territorial
herding breed. Today, she’s primarily a show and companion dog, though some Bergamascos still herd sheep and cattle.
was bred in Germany to hunt badgers, and the breed can be helpful at hunting down
vermin around farms. He is known to be tenacious and independent-minded — which can get him into trouble. The Doxie also tends to be a talented digger and an alert watchdog
who will bark at disturbances. He’s been one of the most popular breeds in the
U.S. for decades.
The versatile French Briard has been known to work with her
shepherd to move stock out to graze, keep them out of crops and return them to
their barns at night — and she can also pitch in with general farm chores. She
uses her size and strength to bump and shoulder stock to herd them. This striking breed tends to be a courageous and loyal dog who
will often follow her owner from room to room around the house.
The giant but generally amiable Newfie is native to Canada. His large size and loud bark can make him an excellent protective
guardian to his people and property. Newfies tend to be strong
cart dogs who can be hardy helpers around the yard and farm. He’s also earned a
reputation as an expert at water rescues. His typically sweet temperament is considered
the breed's most important characteristic.
is known for her excellent work ethic and can be highly territorial. This German working breed had the job of driving cattle to market and guarding the stock
and owner against theft, being forceful with stock if needed. She typically needs a fair amount of mental stimulation daily, after which she'll likely be content and fairly quiet around the house.
The Schnauzer, who
originated in Germany, is a multipurpose farm dog. He’s considered a general
helper on the farm who can protect the house and yard, hunt rats and assist
with moving cows around the farm or cattle to market. The breed tends to be a companion
and loyal protector who often forms close relationships with his
family’s children. He’s known to be dominant and strong-willed and will probably take charge if his
owner doesn’t establish leadership using consistent positive reinforcement.