What is a herding breed?

Herding breeds all share a genetic instinct: the desire to control the environment, especially other animals’ movements. While they can vary in herding style, this genetic instinct rings true across all breeds.

Common Herding Breeds

Two herding breeds, an australian shepherd and mini australian shepherd sit in a yard.

● Border Collie

● Australian Shepherd

● Australian Cattle Dog

● German Shepherd

● Belgian Shepherds

● Pembroke Welsh Corgi

● Cardigan Welsh Corgi

● Bouvier des Flandres

● Briard

● Old English Shepherd

● Shetland Sheepdog

● Collie

● Beauceron

● Bearded Collie

● Mudi

● Swedish Vallhund


This herding behavior is part of who they are – they are wonderful breeds. They are hard-wired to herd and protect livestock, and denying a herding breed this innate behavior could cause some interesting alternatives.

Instinctive herding behaviors can also include:

● Running circles.

● Running along fence lines.

● Chasing moving objects.

● Constantly wanting to be in front of owners on walks.

● Nipping behaviors.

● Barking.

● Following owners from room to room.

● Circling the pool when people are swimming

● Bouncing from the furniture.

Remember, herding dogs have been used to herd livestock on farms for thousands of years. Generations of this work have replicated this behavior and encouraged a strong desire for control in herding breeds. The issue families who own these breeds face is how they can satisfy that impulse if they don’t live on a farm or have access to livestock.

Herding Breed Training

The trainers at The Doghouse are very familiar with training herding breeds. The key is providing outlets that help satisfy their innate desire, teaching them a new skill set to give them an alternate job, and respecting their need to let loose (ensuring they are fully reliable off leash).

Here’s a before and after of an Australian Shepherd who came for training at the Doghouse. Before, he ran ceaselessly in circles to try and fulfill his desire to herd. After, he has proper outlets and is now able to relax and enjoy being outside with his family.

Common Outlets

An Australian Cattle Dog running with a toy.

● Fetch

● Flirt Pole

● Obedience

● Biking

● Off-leash hiking

○ See our post on Dog-Friendly Tampa Bay for more activities!

● Agility training

○ Offered at Dog Training Clubs of St. Pete and Tampa

Herding breeds tend to be brilliant dogs that want to please and follow their human leadership. If you have the privilege of joining a herding class or witnessing your herding dog at its roots, it will surely give you a newfound respect for its capabilities.

A herding dog can lead a happy and fulfilled life as a suburbanite when trained to understand their purpose and have the correct outlets to succeed in that life.

We are here at The Doghouse to help you better understand your canine friend so herding behaviors don’t turn to frustration and sometimes aggression. The constant restraint of your dog to be something they are not could lead to the dog building frustration that is displayed as aggression when we know they are not. Let’s work with this unique thinker and enter a partnership based on leadership and respect toward the same fair goals. You will be happy you did because herding breeds make for loyal lifelong family dogs.