Is a Dog from the Herding Group Right for You?
According to the AKC 2018 list of the most popular breeds in America, dogs from the herding group include several of the top 50 favorites:
- #2: German Shepherd
- #13: Pembroke Welsh Corgi
- #15: Australian Shepherd
- #25: Shetland Sheepdog
- #34: Miniature American Shepherd/li>
- #35: Border Collie
- #38: Collie
In Canada, the CKC’s 2018 top 10 list also includes breeds from the Herding Group:
- The German Shepherd is ranked at #2
- the Shetland Sheepdog at #7
- and the Australian Shepherd at #8
Learn more about herding dogs here and read on below to find out how to decide if a dog from the herding group is right for you:
Yes. A Dog from the Herding Group Could Be a Good Choice if:
— You are looking for an intelligent dog who learns quickly.
Most herding dogs have above average intelligence because they were bred to work together with shepherds to take direction to control the movement of the flock. In some cases, these breeds have been selectively bred for centuries to be smart enough to learn their jobs quickly and do them with a tireless dedication to their duties.
These intelligent dogs are particularly responsive to positive reinforcement based training methods such as clicker training. In fact, they require high levels of mental stimulation and challenges in order to stay balanced and happy. They require some extra time and attention devoted to their training or they can quickly develop problem behaviors such as chronic barking or destructive behaviors as a result of boredom.
If an intense desire to learn the next trick is something you’re into, a herding breed definitely checks that box.
— You have an active lifestyle and access to open spaces for off leash play.
Bred to work all day long, even in harsh weather conditions, as a general rule, these dogs have high exercise needs. Border Collies and Australian Shepherds in particular are well known for becoming neurotic and destructive if they do not get at least a few hours of vigorous exercise most days of the week, learn more about the specifics of these breeds over at wileypup.com.
Luckily, most of these breeds have a natural athleticism and a strong drive for games like fetch. So, with a little training early on, they can get their exercise in a backyard large enough to enjoy some daily, active fun.
— You are interested in playing competitive dog sports.
Few dogs outperform the herding group when it comes to dog sports such as agility, flyball, and dog parkour. These natural performers thrive in these sports and dedicate themselves to the kinds of fine tuning that excelling in these sports require.
Dog sports also offer those new to dog ownership a wonderful opportunity to master the techniques of reward based training. These techniques translate into a lifetime of strong and trusting relationships with the loyal and hard working dogs in this group.
No. You Should Probably Consider Another Breed if:
— You live in an apartment.
In general, apartment living is not ideal for dogs from this group. For example, German Shepherds are well known to be somewhat vigilant about noises outside and can become chronic barkers and a nuisance to the neighbors.
In addition, living in an apartment usually means less access to open outdoor spaces. That being said, if you can meet this need with dog sports or access to a nearby dog park, then an apartment may be workable.
The Welsh Corgi is one exception to this rule. With slightly lower exercise needs, and a small stature, these dogs can do well in apartments as long as they get a good run in a few times a week.
If you want to learn more about dogs and apartment living, check out this guide on dog friendly apartment living.
— You work long hours.
These breeds do not thrive when left alone for long periods of time on a regular basis. They are prone to developing separation anxiety and other mental health issues when they don’t get enough attention, exercise, and stimulation from their owners.
Having multiple herding dogs in the house doesn’t necessarily solve this problem as pairs are likely to get into trouble as they seek outlets to relieve their boredom while you are away.
One way to accommodate herding breeds if you work long hours is to consider doggy daycare services during the work week. However, this expense can become considerable, so be sure your budget has room for this cost.
— You are looking for a laid back dog.
Forget about it. While dogs from the herding group can make very affectionate and loyal companions, they are almost never described as “chill.” More likely adjectives include: Spaz, nutty, off the chain, cra-cra, persistent to a fault, unrelenting, and “Oh my God. Don’t you have an off switch?!!!”
If you are looking for a companion who won’t judge you for your couch potato lifestyle, there are many breeds better suited for you. Consider for example: Pugs, Basset Hounds, French Bulldogs, Shar Peis, Great Danes, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.
And, deserving of honorable mention in the lazy dog category are Greyhounds. Easy to adopt from rescue organizations devoted to this breed, and surprisingly mellow, the Greyhound often adapts well to apartment living and low maintenance lifestyles.