Over the years, dogs have played a major part in working alongside farmers in herding livestock and in performing various tasks at the farm.
Today, while they are often companion dogs, there are still dog breeds that have retained their herding instincts.
In this article, we list nineteen cattle dog breeds. Before we go over the list, let’s first talk about which breeds are cattle dogs.
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There are different cattle dog breeds all over the world. Each breed has its own characteristics that suit the climate and geography where it originated.
Intelligent, loyal, hardworking, fast, and committed to his job are only some of the characteristics of a cattle dog. These natural skills are then enhanced through consistent training.
A cattle dog also has sharp instincts and should be able to work independently but is also capable of taking directions from his owner.
These dogs are not satisfied with simple walks. Instead, they need an owner who can give them a job to do. Cattle dogs are definitely not for everyone.
Now that you know what cattle dogs are, let’s go over the nineteen cattle dog breeds on our list.
1. Australian Cattle Dog
True to its name, the Australian cattle dog originated in Australia and is one of the most popular cattle dog breeds. Compact yet muscular, this breed is related to the dingo, Australia’s famous wild dog.
An Australian cattle dog, or ACD for short, has a strong work drive and can be trained for different purposes, such as herding, chasing, and even hunting.
They are agile dogs with a great deal of energy that needs to be burned off through a variety of extensive physical activities.
Give them a job to do, and they’ll be the happiest dog ever.
However, due to their intelligence, ACDs can get bored quickly. They are also curious dogs, which makes them quite stubborn, especially regarding training.
Therefore, keep training sessions short and always use positive reinforcement techniques, such as treats, praise, and plenty of playtime as a reward.
2. Australian Kelpie
Yet another dog breed from Down Under, the Australian kelpie was brought to Australia in the late 1800s from Scotland.
These dogs were selected to herd livestock all day under the extreme conditions of Australia’s huge open spaces.
Today, they are still used for the same purpose both in Australia and the United States.
When they are not herding, Australian kelpies benefit from equally exciting activities, including dock diving and flyball.
Because they are energetic dogs who are capable of relentless work, Australian kelpies must get plenty of physical and mental stimulation.
Otherwise, they can develop destructive behaviors, such as excessive barking or scratching and chewing your furniture.
But if their needs are met, these dogs will make devoted companions who can work with minimal supervision.
3. Bearded Collie
A cattle dog breed from Scottish Highlands, a bearded collie is capable of adapting to unpredictable weather conditions. While they are not as popular as border collies, these dogs are still terrific cattle dogs.
Perhaps the very first thing that you’ll notice about these dogs is their shaggy coat and long ears.
However, behind the shaggy coat is a dog that is hardworking and loving at the same time. Whether they’re working or playing, bearded collies are the happiest when they get to spend time outdoors.
And while they are enthusiastic and serious when it comes to working, they also make excellent playmates for children and other pets. Although supervision is still needed to ensure that they won’t get nippy.
4. Australian Shepherd
Despite its name, the Australian shepherd did not come from Australia. Instead, this dog was developed in the southwestern United States to withstand the harsh landscapes of Colorado, Wyoming, and rural California.
Australian shepherds earned their name because they were brought to the United States by Australian Basque migrants. While they are not closely related to Australian cattle dogs, they have similar herding styles.
Intelligent and eager to learn, these dogs make the perfect option for families with an active lifestyle.
Australian shepherds aren’t just intelligent and highly trainable. They are handsome, with beautiful merle coats and eyes that express alertness.
After a long day outside, these dogs are more than happy to cuddle with their family.
5. Belgian Malinois
The Belgian Malinois came from the city of Malines, Belgium, hence its name. Dedicated and hardworking, this dog breed is used by farm workers.
Because this dog thrives in the presence of its humans, you should not leave a Belgian Malinois alone for long periods of time. Othewise, it may become lonely and suffer from depression or separation anxiety.
6. Bergamasco Sheepdog
Bergamasco sheepdog is an ancient dog breed that originated in Italy.
Famous for their one-of-a-kind, mop-like hairdo, these dogs’ coats have enabled them to withstand the extreme cold and wild predators of the Italian Alps for at least 2,000 years.
There’s more to this breed than appearance. Originally used as herding and working dogs, today, Bergamascos are now found as friendly family pets and show dogs, although they may still be used as herders.
Bergamascos are also outgoing dogs who love to spend time with their humans. In fact, these dogs love to watch over those they consider part of their pack, including children.
While they can be aloof towards strangers, Bergamascos are not unduly aggressive and will only jump into action if they are left with no choice.
A dog breed from South Africa, the Boerboel’s name roughly translates to “farmer’s dog.”
This is a muscular breed that is capable of protecting the livestock and their owner’s property from wild predators, including hyenas and lions.
A Boerboel is also one of the most agile of all mastiff-type dogs.
While their size alone is enough to deter intruders, these dogs are actually gentle and loving towards their family, including children.
However, they can also be confident and territorial, which means that they will need an experienced owner who can provide them with proper training and early socialization.
8. Border Collie
Originally developed in Scotland, the border collie is always included in the list of smartest dog breeds in the world.
Not only are they intelligent, but these dogs are also fast and have tremendous stamina. These characteristics enable border collies to be professional herders.
When they are not herding, border collies should be engaged in intense activities to burn off their energy. And while they are the happiest outdoors, these dogs will be just as happy to spend time with their family.
When it comes to strangers, this breed may be aloof but not unduly aggressive.
9. Bouvier des Flandres
A herding dog breed from Flanders, Belgium, the Bouvier des Flandres’ name roughly translates to “cattle herder of Flanders.”
True to its name, this breed was originally used to work alongside farmers for a variety of tasks, such as driving cattle, herding sheep, and pulling carts.
Known for being bouncy dogs, a Bouvier des Flandres bounces to move herds. They are also independent dogs who can work with minimal supervision.
While they can still be used for herding, today Bouviers are mostly kept as pets and as police dogs. Owners must accommodate this breed’s strong work ethic, especially if they are kept as pets.
Fortunately, the Bouvier des Flandres’ intelligence allows it to be versatile dog that excels in various activities, including agility and herding trials.
10. Old English Sheepdog
Developed in western England, the Old English Sheepdog is known for its shaggy coat and expert herding ability. While they may look soft on the outside, these dogs are actually athletic and strong.
They once ruled the pastures of Great Britain.
They are courageous dogs that are ready to protect their family at all costs.
Old English Sheepdogs are playful and loving towards the people they love. In fact, they like to stay close to their humans as much as possible.
11. Finnish Lapphund
A cattle dog breed from Lappland, Finland, the Finnish Lapphund is popular for herding not only cattle but reindeer as well.
These dogs are known for their thick, shaggy coats which enable them to withstand extreme Arctic climates. Outside Finland, this breed is actually rare to find. In fact, only 11 Finnish Lapphunds live in the United States.
One of the unique characteristics of these dogs is that they startle quickly. This is a desirable trait of a cattle dog breed as it allows them to react quickly to the powerful kicks of livestock.
These dogs bark, which is an ideal trait for a watchdog.
12. German Shepherd
The German shepherd is one of the most popular dog breeds according to the American Kennel Club.
German shepherds are intelligent and versatile dogs that are now mostly used as guard and police dogs. However, some families still use them for herding.
Originating in Germany, German shepherds are adaptable dogs who can be trained for various tasks. With their intelligence and eagerness to please, training these dogs should be a breeze.
13. Cardigan Welsh Corgi
With their small size and cute face, it is easy to underestimate what a Cardigan Welsh corgi can do.
Originating in Wales, these dogs’ small size allowed them to avoid the kicks of cattle hooves.
Agile and energetic, these dogs are happy to be outdoors. These dogs should also be constantly kept engaged with a variety of activities that will keep their body and mind busy.
Cardigan Welsh corgis are adorable and loving dogs that are sure to keep all members of their family entertained.
14. Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Another corgi variety on our list is the Pembroke Welsh corgi. Originating in Wales, this breed is popular online due to its fluffy and cute “corgi butt.”
Like the Cardigan Welsh corgi, these dogs are short. However, their height enables them to effectively work their way over cattle hooves and nip at their ankles.
They have a unique herding strategy: these dogs actually drive the entire herd from the back.
Courageous and independent, corgis can work with minimal supervision.
However, their independence also means that they can be quite challenging to train, as they may not listen to you at all times, especially if they don’t see you as a strong owner.
15. Pyrenean Shepherd
A dog breed from France and Spain, the Pyrenean shepherd is a hardy dog that is capable of herding livestock, including about over a thousand sheep.
These dogs come in two coat varieties: rough-faced and smooth-faced. The rough-faced variety has long, wiry hair above the muzzle, while the smooth-faced ones have longer and pointier muzzles and smoother coats.
Loyal, tough, and enthusiastic with their work, Pyrenean shepherds can easily herd livestock. When they are not herding, these dogs are often found staying close to their humans.
16. Shetland Sheepdog
As their name suggests, Shetland Sheepdogs are expert herders from the Shetland Islands, which are off the coast of Ireland. Although they came from small islands, this didn’t stop them from conquering the world.
Shetland Sheepdogs may be small, but it does not mean that they will be ineffective herders. Like corgis, they use their size to effectively herd livestock.
Aside from herding, these dogs also compete in various canine sports, such as agility sports. They also make outstanding medical dogs and therapy dogs.
17. Spanish Water Dog
The Spanish water dog is an ancient breed that has been working in the lakes and meadows of the Iberian Peninsula for a long time. Like with other ancient dog breeds, there is no exact origin for this breed.
One thing is for sure – a Spanish water dog is a dual-purpose breed that can be used both as a herder and a waterfowl retriever.
This is a dog breed that is rare in the United States, as Spanish water dogs benefit from a family who can give them a job to do.
At home, they are loving dogs who get along well with all members of the household, including children and elders.
18. Swedish Vallhund
A cattle dog breed from Sweden, the Swedish Vallhund is often confused with their corgi cousins. However, this is a separate breed with its own distinction and characteristics.
Built low and long, Swedish Vallhunds have a herding style similar to corgis.
Cheerful and energetic, these dogs like to be involved in all family activities. They also tend to bark frequently using their unique vocalizations, making them effective watchdogs.
19. Texas Heeler
The Texas heeler is a hybrid dog that was developed by crossing Australian cattle dogs and Australian shepherds. While there is not much information about this breed’s origin, it is believed that Texas heelers were first developed in Texas.
With its ancestry being some of the best cattle dog breeds, it is no surprise that a Texas heeler is an excellent cattle dog.
Smart, intelligent, and hardworking, this breed thrives in a home where they are given an outlet to release their energy, such as on a farm, ranch, or a home with a multi-acre backyard.
However, because they can be curious about their surroundings, Texas heelers are not the best choice for first-time and novice pet parents. Instead, they need an experienced owner who can provide them with consistent and firm leadership.
While cattle dogs need an experienced owner who can be firm and consistent with training, these dogs can be excellent pets for the right family.
So long as you provide them with a healthy diet, a great deal of exercise, and plenty of time, attention, and affection, cattle dogs are excellent watchdogs, and adorable family companions.
Is an Australian Cattle Dog the Same as a Heeler?
Perhaps you’ve heard some people calling Australian cattle dogs blue heelers or red heelers. Don’t get confused – they are the same thing.
Blue heelers and red heelers are just variations of Australian cattle dogs, and the only difference they have is their color.
First, let’s talk about blue heelers. This variety is born with black spots and as they grow, their black hair will mix with white hair.
When black is predominant in their coat, they are called blue-speckled. On the other hand, if there is more white hair than black, they are considered blue-mottled.
Meanwhile, instead of black hair, red heelers have brown hair that blends with their white hair.
In summary, all the cattle dog breeds we have talked about have one thing in common: they are energetic dogs who thrive in a home where they are provided with a great deal of physical and mental stimulation.
Regardless of your choice, make sure that you provide for your dog’s needs in order for him to grow into an obedient and well-mannered dog.
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