Shepherd dogs are a type of working dog that was bred to herd or protect sheep. They are highly intelligent and have a strong desire to work. Shepherd dogs are also very loyal and protective of their family and property.
Dogs have been domesticated for most of human history and have been a delight to many over the years. Stories have been told about brave dogs that served admirably in wars or that risked their lives to save persons in danger. When the Roman city of Pompeii was destroyed by Mount Vesuvius in AD 79, following the evacuation, searchers found evidence of a dog lying across a child, apparently trying to protect the youngster.
Since dogs have been with humans since prehistoric times, over the years they have been invaluable friends and provided invaluable services to man. Dogs have pulled sleds through the Arctic, delivered messages, herded cattle and sheep and rescued people that have been trapped or lost.
Sheepdogs can be seen as far back at Roman times in early Roman literature.
Types of Shepherd Dogs
There are many different types of shepherd dogs and each of these breeds has its own unique set of characteristics that make it the perfect fit for different people.
The Akbash Dog is a beautiful, large white dog that is alert, independent and highly protective. This dog breed is from Turkey and is quite rare. It was bred to be a powerful and relentless livestock guardian; to protect livestock and sheep in the snow.
It was originally known as the Turkish ‘Akbash Coban Kopegi dog’ and was likely bred as a hunting and protection dog and later became a livestock guardian dog to protect shepherds’ flocks and livestock from predators; such as wolves and even bears. The Akbash Shepherd dog is an amazingly attractive big dog with a pure white-colored coat that helps to camouflage it as it moves amongst the flocks of sheep, and goats, it is responsible for guarding in the snowy terrain of Turkey.
It is not a traditional sheepdog used for herding sheep it is a guardian dog that lives with its flock to protect it.
You may not have heard of the Anatolian Shepherd, but it is actually one of the oldest breeds of all time. Despite not being a very popular dog, these pups actually make great pets and excellent family dogs. They are also often used as working dogs on farms, guiding and herding livestock.
These pups were first seen thousands of years ago, so it is surprising they are not more heard of.
Anatolian Shepherd dogs are excellent companions and working dogs, who excel especially when working as livestock guardians. They are particularly good at defending livestock from wolves, coyotes and other potential predators and farmers rely on them heavily. Since 1994, they have been used by farmers in Africa as a deterrent for big cats such as Cheetahs.
This protective nature can sometimes cause a few issues when introducing the Anatolian Shepherd as a pet to a family. However, with the right socialization, it can be done with no problem.
The Anatolian Shepherd breed has been recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) since 1999. They are currently ranked as the 90th most popular breed.
The Kelpie Dog, also known as the Australian Kelpie, is a medium sized breed of dog that was originally bred to herd cattle for long days in the Australian heat. Intelligent and independent, these dogs are still used across Australia and parts of America for herding today, although they are also commonly seen as companion dogs.
While these dogs can be a little bit of a handle and may not be suited to first time dog owners, they can make wonderful family pets in an environment with people who understand their needs.
The Australian Kelpie is an active dog that excels as a working breed. Very intelligent, these dogs like to be kept busy and this comes from their history as a herding dog in Australia.
The Kelpie Dog is not recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), but is recognized by the United Kennel Club and the Canadian Kennel Club. There is also a North American Australian Kelpie Registry which promotes the interest of the breed in the United States.
Australian Kelpies descend from Collies that were imported to Australia from Britain in the 1800s to herd cattle. It is likely that these Collies then crossed with wild dingoes to create a dog with even better working capabilities and thus the Kelpie Dog was born. It is not known whether the Kelpie really does come from the crossbreeding of dingoes but it is wildly thought, considering how similar the Kelpie and dingoes look!
The Australian Shepherd or Aussie can be a working sheep or cattle dog as well as a family dog. The Aussie is a solid and muscular member of the herding dog breeds. This dog breed is attractive with a medium to long-haired water resistant overcoat that has varied coloration. This Shepherd’s coat colors can be blue merle, black, red merle, or red – with or without white or tan markings.
Despite the name, Australian Shepherds were fully developed in the United States. Spaniards probably brought these dogs to America in the 19th century, along with Australian sheep and cross-bred them with collies. Later they were further developed from sheep dogs to become cattle dogs and today American cowboys still use them to drive cattle. The dogs are also trained for police work and competitive obedience. Australian Shepherds are ranked 34th out of 154 dog breeds in AKC registrations.
All the Belgian Sheepdogs were developed from hardy sheep herding dogs. The initial breed was developed by a breeder from Groenendael Belgium and became the founding stock for all four varieties of Belgium shepherds. The Groenendaels were used as herding dogs, police dogs, guard dogs and family companions. The Belgian was ranked 97th out of 154 breeds registered in 2004 by the AKC.
The Belgian Sheepdog is usually known as the Groenendael elsewhere in the world and is actually the most popular of four Belgian Shepherd dog breeds. The United Kennel Club (UKC) recognized all four varieties as one breed and the American Kennel Club (AKC) has recognized the Belgian Sheepdog or Groenendael, the Malinois and the Tervueren as three separate breeds but doesn’t yet recognize the Laekenois. Belgian shepherds are solid, muscular and very agile.
The Belgians love to play until they fall over from exhaustion. The four breeds or varieties of shepherds are anatomically very similar but have very different coats. The Belgian Groenendael or Sheepdog has a long, smooth black double coat.
The Border Collie was originally bred to herd sheep on the border between Scotland and England. While they’re still sometimes used as a sheepdog today, more commonly these pups are seen as companion dogs and can make an excellent family member to those who can match their personality. With a very strong working drive, the Border Collie has unlimited energy levels that’ll certainly keep you on your toes!
An intelligent breed that needs a lot of mental and physical exercise, the Border Collie can be a handful for those wanting a quieter life. However, they’re also known to be an extremely loving and friendly pup that will happily fit into most homes.
The Border Collie is a well known sheepdog with amazing working abilities and impressive stamina and energy. Many fans of the breed advocate for the Collie to be bred only to working standards, not conformation. This is because they are just so good at what they do!
The Border Collie has been recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) since 1995
The Bouvier des Flandres is a large, powerful dog that is also known as the Belgian Cattle Dog. This rough-coated dog is one of the herding dog breeds and as a result it needs lots of space and exercise. The Bouvier has a large and heavily coated head with distinctive moustache, beard and shaggy eyebrows. The Bouvier has a coarse and wiry outer coat, about 2 ½ inches long, with a thick, dense undercoat.
During World War 1, the Bouvier was used by the army to carry messages and find wounded soldiers. The breed almost became extinct during the war until Flemish breeders rescued the breed in the 1920’s. The Bouviers were imported to the U.S. in the l930’s where they are employed as guide dogs guard dogs, tracking dogs and family companions. The Bouvier was ranked 83rd out of 154 dog breeds in AKC registrations in 2004.
The Russian Bear Dog, often known as the Caucasian Shepherd or the Caucasian Mountain Dog, was originally bred to protect a flock from wolves. Therefore, these pups are known for being a predator and are sometimes controversial as pets. That being said, these gentle giants are also very loyal and devoted, protecting their flock and keeping them calm.
Because of this, these dogs do actually make great family members, but they’re a large dog with a number of requirements that you’ll need to be able to meet!
The Russian Bear Dog was an invaluable tool to many farmers due to the fact they could guard flocks of sheep. They were strong, intimidating and fearless, warding off anything that could harm. They were hardy and could stand the cold, too, which was beneficial. Today, these dogs are mainly companion dogs, watchdogs and property guardians, though they are still used by shepherds to tend to flocks.
The Collie is one of the more popular of the herding dog breeds. There are two varieties of Collies – the Rough-coated Collies and Smooth-coated Collies. The Collie has a long and tapered muzzle, flat head, almond shaped eyes and small ears that are semi-erect when it is alert. Collies have excellent hearing that can detect a shepherd’s whistle or voice from very long distances. The Rough Collie has a profuse long, straight harsh outer coat with a soft furry undercoat. The Rough variety also has an abundant mane and feathering on its hindquarters. The Smooth variety has a short harsh outer coat. Both varieties of this breed have coats that are: sable and white; tricolor; or blue merle; all with white markings.
Collies belong to the American Kennel Club (AKC) Herding Dog Group.
The German Shepherd actually does originate from Germany. Captain Max Von Stephanitz, a retired German cavalry officer, at the end of the 19th century (1899 to be precise) wanted a strong, intelligent working dog. He admired the herding abilities of the various continental shepherd dogs but could not find one that had all the performance traits he imagined an expert working dog should have. So, he began his quest to research into how to breed the ultimate German herding/working dog and eventually achieve standardization of the breed.
One day, while at a dog show in Germany, he spotted an impressive dog that resembled a wolf. He was so impressed with its appearance and form that he bought it and began the breeding programme that produced the now easily recognized German Shepherd dog, as we know it today.
Folklore hints at German Shepherds being part wolf. Even one early name used in the UK, Alsatian Wolf Dog, hints that they are. Despite having similarities in appearance with wolves, they are not!
It is believed that the domestic dog is a genetic divergence from grey wolves and it was humans, possibly nomadic hunters that domesticated dogs in Europe some 15.000 years ago. Not many domestic dog breeds continue to have the appearance of what their ancestors may have resembled like the GSD does.
The Komondor is the official name of this purebred dog, which also uses the nickname of a Mop Dog. Originally bred to keep track of flocks of sheep, they are very loyal creatures today. They are also brave pups as their owners depended on them to keep those sheep safe from bears, wolves and other potential dangers.
They are big dogs with a corded coat that keeps them safe from various weather conditions. This is a dog that is happy playing in the snow and running around in the sunshine. The name Mop Dog comes from that coat, which looks as if the dog has a huge mop on its back. Some will also notice that this coat resembles dreadlocks. Though you probably won’t want to show one, you can bring one home and know that it will remain safe in the great outdoors. Their hair is so thick that it protects their skin from bites from other animals.
Also called a Hungarian Sheepdog.
The Maremma Sheepdog, often called the Maremma-Abruzzese, is a large dog that is known for it’s teddy bear like qualities! Excellent at protecting sheep from any prey, this pup is a true working dog who likes to feel like they have a purpose.
A rare breed, the Maremma Sheepdog only came to popularity in 2015 after the movie Oddball featured them. Ever since, people have been wondering what there is to know about this fluffy canine and whether they might make a good household pet.
The Maremma Sheepdog is indigenous to central Italy. This is because of the wolves that live in the mountains around central Italy, and so the breed remains popular. They are especially popular among farmers who rely on this pup to keep their sheep safe from the wolves.
While the Maremma Sheepdog is not recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), they are recognized by the UK Kennel Club and have their own breed club — the Maremma Sheepdog Club of America.
The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is a small-to medium-sized dog breed although it acts more like a “big dog” on short legs. The Pembroke has a fairly strong body with short strong legs and either no tail or a shortened tail which is usually docked in countries that permit it. The Cardigan Welsh Corgi can be distinguished from its cousin, the Pembroke, because it has a longer body and a brush-like tail.
Both these Welsh Corgi dog breeds have fox-shaped faces and medium to large-sized ears that are slightly rounded and erect.
The Pembroke has a medium length water-resistant coat. Colors can be red, beige, or black-and-tan; with or without white markings on the chest neck and legs.
The Pembroke was probably developed in Wales from progenitors brought to 12th century Pembrokeshire, Wales, by Flemish weavers. Welsh Corgis were developed to herd cattle, guard the farm and hunt rats and other small animals. The Pembroke has always been popular with the British Royal Family.
The Sheltie was developed to herd and guard flocks of sheep in the Shetland Islands off Scotland. Shelties were probably descended from Scottish Rough-coated Collies and were bred down in size over many hundreds of years. Shelties make great sheepdogs and despite their small size are able to herd sheep over long distances and periods of time. Shelties were exported from the Shetlands and the breed underwent further refinement. Today, the Shetland is a popular family, companion and watchdog.
The Sheltie is extremely intelligent, agile, sweet tempered, gentle, obedient, loyal and somewhat sensitive. Shelties are playful, charming and easy to train. Most Shelties make great companions and family dogs and get along well with considerate children.
The Shiloh Shepherd is a breed of dog in the Shepherd family that looks very similar to the popular German Shepherd. However, calm and loving, the Shiloh Shepherd is more docile and has fewer health conditions than the German and was bred to be the perfect family companion.
The Shiloh Shepherd still retains the intelligence of the German Shepherd along with their excellent work ethic, but they are believed to be a little easier to handle while still giving you all the love and attention you want from your furry friend! These dogs are one of the parent breeds of the King Shepherd, which is no surprise given their size.
Back in the 1970s, the biggest concern with the German Shepherd was their health issues and the fact that they could be difficult to handle. Breeders wanted to create a dog that had minimal health issues and was a gentler pup, but still had Shepherd tendencies.
Therefore, the Shiloh Shepherd was created. A very intelligent dog breed, these friendly dogs are often used as working dogs such as guide dogs or search and rescue dogs. However, they are also very clam and loving, making an excellent family pet. They are the least territorial out of all the Shepherd breeds, although they are still very loyal and protective.
The Berger Blanc Suisse, the White Swiss Shepherd, is a beautiful dog. It’s alert, powerful, and a medium-sized breed of dog with erect triangular-shaped ears and a big bushy sabre tail.
It’s attractive and friendly and tends to be more gentle and easy-going than a White German Shepherd or other white Shepherd dogs, and for that reason, this Swiss Snowy Shepherd makes an excellent family dog.
A Berger Blanc Suisse puppy is just like a big fluffy white snowball and the cutest puppy you can imagine. While adorable and playful it will be very attentive and show great loyalty. This breed of dog is gentle with children and would be a loyal family pet and a great companion for any dog owner.