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Herding Dogs

The Herding Dogs are loyal and affectionate companions. Originally these dogs were bred primarily for use on farms. Herding dog breeds were developed to control livestock, with each type being uniquely suited to country where it worked. They were used to move the animals between fields, rescue strays from rugged terrain, and drive the livestock to market. Some were also guard dogs, used as guardians to protect livestock from predators.

Herding Dogs have a lot of energy and love group work and play. They make superb pets for families that enjoy energetic activities. These dogs have great personalities and are appreciated for their keen intelligence and because they are highly trainable. The Herding Group is a recently created group of dogs; its members were formerly members of the Working Group. All breeds share the fabulous ability to control the movement of other animals.

Herding Dogs are loyal and affectionate companions.

Due to their intelligence and beauty, herding dogs are often chosen as family pets. The Collie breeds including the Bearded Collie and Border Collie are well known. Although they make good family dogs and show dogs they are at their best when they have a job to do. These dogs have been bred as working dogs and need to be active. They retain their herding instincts and may sometimes nip at people’s heels or bump them in an effort to ‘herd’ their family, and may need to be trained not to do so. Their activity level and intelligence makes them excellent canine athletes. The Shetland Sheepdog or Sheltie was originally used in the Shetland Islands for herding sheep, but today, like the Rough Collie, Smooth Collie and Old English Sheepdog it is more popular as a family companion dog. All herding behavior is modified predatory behavior. Through selective breeding, man has been able to minimize the dog’s natural inclination to treat cattle and sheep as prey while simultaneously maintaining the dog’s hunting skills, thereby creating an effective herding dog.

Dogs can work other animals in a variety of ways. Some breeds, such as the Australian Cattle Dog, typically nip at the heels of animals. Other breeds, notably the Border Collie, get in front of the animals and use what is called strong eye to stare down the animals; they are known as headers. The headers or fetching dogs keep livestock in a group. They consistently go to the front or head of the animals to turn or stop the animal’s movement. The heelers or driving dogs keep pushing the animals forward. Typically, they stay behind the herd.Herding instincts and trainability can be measured when introducing a dog to livestock or at noncompetitive herding tests. Individuals exhibiting basic herding instincts can be trained to compete in herding trials. The vast majority of Herding dogs, as household pets, never cross paths with a farm animal. Nevertheless, pure instinct prompts many of these dogs to gently herd their owners, especially the children of the family. In general, these intelligent dogs make excellent companions and respond beautifully to training exercises.

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