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Sheepdog Breeds: 31 Sheepdogs and What You Want to Know About Them

Sara Ochoa

By Dr. Sara Ochoa


 

Known for their diligent nature, sheepdogs cover a wide range of working breeds.

Size and color make no difference; from the Old English Sheepdog to the Pembroke Welsh Corgi and every size in-between, dogs historically bred for herding are notoriously intelligent and active. 

 

In today’s post, you’re about to meet 31 stunning sheepdog breeds. Plus, you’ll discover:

  • What sets sheepdogs apart from other breeds.
  • What you need to know about a sheepdog’s personality.
  • What kind of care is specific to sheepdogs.


Let’s take a look at what makes these vibrant dogs so special.

 

Sheepdog Traits

While each individual breed has unique personalities, there are general traits that cross all the different dogs categorized in the herding department.

Having originally been bred to herd sheep and other livestock, sheepdogs are energetic, incredibly intelligent, and unwaveringly loyal.

The desire to herd is so instinctual, sheepdogs are known to herd people (especially small children), other animals in the vicinity, and even robotic vacuums and lawnmowers! 

 

Sheepdog Care

The first thing to remember when bringing home a sheepdog is lots and lots of exercise.

Between their high energy levels and quick intelligence, herding breeds require an active lifestyle and thrive in a training environment.

Exercise focused on speed and agility will keep a sheepdog sharp and happy, burning extra energy and fulfilling their instinctive need to get to work.

Just a quick note: If you are not able to commit to providing your dog with active engagement every day, a sheepdog breed is probably not for you. 

 

Let’s take a look at the top 31 Sheepdog breeds!

 

1. Australian Cattle Dog

Happy dog

Group: Herding

Coat Type: Smooth, double, short

Maintenance: Low to medium

Height: 17-20 inches

Weight: 35-50 lbs

Color: Blue, Blue Mottled, Blue Speckled, Red, Red Mottled, Red Speckled

Lifespan: 12-16 years

This hardworking and loyal breed was developed from the British Smithfield dog, Wild Dingoes native to Australia, and other herding breeds, such as the Scottish Highland Collie. Australian Cattle Dogs have high energy levels but are more reserved around unfamiliar people and other dogs. They function best in an environment where they have work and mental stimulation and are moderately comfortable with children. The Australian Cattle Dog has been known to get into mischief when feeling bored, so their owners often keep them involved in some sort of sport or long-term training activity. 

 

2. Australian Shepherd

Smiling dog on a walk

Group: Herding

Coat Type: Double

Maintenance: Medium

Height: 18-23 inches

Weight: 40-65 lbs

Color: Black, Blue Merle, Red, Red Merle

Lifespan: 12-15 years

This breed originated in Europe, before it was brought to Australia and, finally, to the U.S.; Californians mistakenly assumed the breed originated in Australia, hence the name. Incredibly playful and good with children, the Australian Shepherd is a beautiful dog who is loyal and protective of family and anyone it decides to adopt into its tribe. This pup has high energy levels, needs a lot of mental stimulation, and has a coat that will require a weekly brushing (count on giving your Australian Shepherd a good brushing every other day during shedding season).  Known as ‘The Cowboy’s Best Friend’, you will love your Australian Shepherd and its affectionate personality.

 

3. Bearded Collie

Bearded Collie enjoys flowers

Group: Herding

Coat Type: Silky

Maintenance: High

Height: 20-22 inches

Weight: 45-55 lbs

Color: Black, Blue, Brown, Fawn

Lifespan: 12-14 years 

In existence longer than breeding records have been around, the Bearded Collie has no definitive background information on where it came from; there are, however, historians who believe Beardies have been around since the days of Ancient Rome! Very friendly and vocal, the Bearded Collie is affectionate with children and more than happy to make new friends. Because of the Beardie’s long, silky coat, expect to spend around 10-15 minutes each day removing foreign matter and brushing your pup. Prevent boredom by engaging your Beardie with activities and exercise; they love to play and have a rambunctious personality!

 

4. Beauceron

Group: Herding 

Coat Type: Smooth, Double

Maintenance: Low to Medium

Height: 24-27.5 inches

Weight: 70-110 lbs

Color: Black & Rust, Black & Tan, Harlequin, Gray Black & Tan

Lifespan: 10-12 years

Originating in France during the Middle Ages, the Beauceron is a shepherd dog whose intelligence and calm have been utilized by the military and police. Specifically, Beaucerons were an immense help in the trenches during World War I. This breed does not need much grooming but does shed a lot. Hence, they’ll need regular brushing during shedding season. The well-socialized Beauceron is good with kids and enjoys meeting new people and other dogs. Exercise and mental stimulation is important for this active breed, although they are also known for having a calm and sensitive demeanor.  

 

5. Belgian Malinois

Group: Herding

Coat Type: Smooth

Maintenance: Low

Height: 22-26 inches

Weight: 40-80 lbs

Color:  Fawn, Mahogany, Red, Red Sable, Fawn Sable

Lifespan: 14-16 years

Developed in the Belgian town of Malinois, this hardworking and versatile dog finds employment in a variety of workplaces, from herding livestock to being trained as police dogs. The Mal is eager to please and easy to train, making it incredibly loyal and protective. A well-trained Malinois is good with children and has no problem socializing with new people and other dogs. Grooming for this sturdy pup is minimal except during shedding season when you might have to brush your Mal every few days. Make sure to give your Malinois plenty of love and activity, or your lonely dog will get into mischief!

 

6. Belgian Sheepdog

Group: Herding

Coat Type: Double

Maintenance: Medium

Height: 22-26 inches

Weight: 45-75 lbs

Color: Black, Black & White

Lifespan: 12-14 years

Known as serious workaholics, the Belgian Sheepdog craves both an active lifestyle and a deeply affectionate relationship with their owner. These sensitive dogs are good with children and other dogs. Their favorite though is spending time with their person playing and engaging in rigorous activity. The Belgian Sheepdog has a medium-length coat that requires weekly brushing except during shedding season, when you will have to dedicate a portion of everyday to removing all the hair your dog will shed. Throughout history, this breed has proven its industrious tenderness by working as service, search, rescue, and ambulance dogs.

 

7. Belgian Tervuren

Group: Herding

Coat Type: Double

Maintenance: Medium

Height: 22-26 inches

Weight: 45-75 lbs

Color: Fawn & Black, Mahogany & Black

Lifespan: 12-14 years

Named for the hometown of the breeder who solidified the color selection of this dog, the Belgian Tervuren is almost identical to its brothers, the Belgian Sheepdog and Malinois. Very easy to train and eager to please, the Terv is happy to play with children, socialize with other dogs, or put in a long day of hard work. Grooming is limited to brushing out the Tervuren’s coat once a week, except during shedding season of course. This breed could be physically active all day and never tire, so make sure you plan to have lots of play worked into your daily schedule…a bored Terv is a mischievous Terv! 

 

8. Bergamasco Sheepdog

Bergamasco dog in snow

 

Group: Herding

Coat Type: Corded

Maintenance: Low

Height: 22-23.5 inches

Weight: 57-84 lbs

Color: Black, Gray

Lifespan: 13-15 years

It may look like a giant mop, but the Bergamasco Sheepdog will be a hardworking and loyal addition to your family! Its long locks look like a lot of work but are actually super low maintenance; after the initial mats have been formed when your puppy is around a year old, the Bergamasco requires no brushing, doesn’t shed, and should only be bathed two or three times a year. This loving fluffball will be very protective of its owner and stubbornly set on accomplishing the task set before it. 

 

9. Berger Picard

Group: Herding

Coat Type: Wiry

Maintenance: Low to Medium

Height: 21.5-25.5 inches

Weight: 50-70 lbs

Color: Brindle, Fawn

Lifespan: 12-13 years

To begin with, make sure you pronounce this breed name correctly (bare ZHAY pee CARR); if you can’t tell, it originated in France, taking the name of its home region: Picardy. This quiet but vigilant dog is moderately social and eager to please, making it easier to train. Its wiry coat makes it a relatively low-maintenance dog, requiring a good brushing only once a month or so outside of shedding season. Nearly made extinct by World War II, this lovely dog is a fun addition to any active family. 

 

10. Border Collie

Group: Herding

Coat Type: Wavy, Double

Maintenance: Medium

Height: 18-22 inches

Weight: 30-55 lbs

Color: Black, Blue, Blue Merle, Brindle, Gold, Red, Sable, Sable Merle, White & Black, White & Red, Red Merle, White & Blue, White & Blue Merle, Lilac, Saddleback Sable, White & Red Merle, White Ticked

Lifespan: 12-15 years

The Border Collie is a beloved breed that can trace its lineage all the way back to the Roman and Viking invasions of Britain. This energetic pup is incredibly affectionate and loyal, making it a great family dog. Just remember to plan lots of exercise, and take the time to brush your Collie’s coat at least once a week to prevent matting. 

 

11. Bouvier des Flandres

Group: Herding

Coat Type: Rough, Double

Maintenance: Medium 

Height: 23.5-27.5 inches

Weight: 70-110 lbs

Color: Black, Brindle, Gray, Gray Brindle, Pepper & Salt

Lifespan: 10-12 years

The Bouvier des Flandres is a dog who originated first in Flanders who nearly became extinct during World War I; if not for the Belgian army, this noble pup would be naught but a memory. The loving but incredibly vigilant Bouvier has developed a rapport as a police dog and guide dog for the blind. Bouviers love training and have high energy levels, so make sure to have a variety of activities planned for you and your dog. 

 

12. Briard

Group: Herding

Coat Type: Wavy, Double

Maintenance: High

Height: 22-27 inches

Weight: 55-100 lbs

Color: Black, Tawny

Lifespan: 12 years

Another French breed tracing its roots back to the days of Charlamagne, the Briard was brought to the United States by none other than Thomas Jefferson. The breed exploded globally from there. Briards are social and loving. They’re also quiet, yet vigilant and protective, making them a perfect herding dog. The long coat of a Briard does require regular grooming so make sure you take that into account before purchasing one of these beautiful dogs. 

 

13. Canaan Dog

Group: Herding

Coat Type: Smooth, Double

Maintenance: Low

Height: 19-24 inches

Weight: 35-55 lbs

Color: Black, Cream, Golden, Liver, Red, Tan, White

Lifespan: 12-15 years

Claimed by Israel as its national dog, the aptly named Canaan Dog is a stubborn and hardworking pup that takes happily to a long day’s work. This breed is very vocal and rugged, ready to take on the world if it dares threaten its chosen family. Make sure to establish yourself as the alpha of the pack though; the Canaan Dog will take over leadership of the family if everyone else is passive! 

 

14. Cardigan Welsh Corgi

Group: Herding

Coat Type: Double

Maintenance: Medium

Height: 10.5-12.5 inches

Weight: 25-38 lbs

Color: Black & White, Blue Merle & White, Brindle & White, Red & White, Sable & White

Lifespan: 12-15 years

One of the oldest British breeds still in existence, the Cardigan Welsh Corgi has a stellar herding background and a sociable reputation that wins hearts around the globe. This small but determined dog will put in a long day of hard work. Then? He’ll return home to play with the kids while making sure there are no threats to its home. The Cardigan is very vocal, but is eager to please and loves training, making it a very loyal and stalwart companion. 

 

15. Croatian Sheepdog

Group: Herding

Coat Type: Wavy, Double

Maintenance: Low

Height: 16-20 inches

Weight: 29-44 lbs

Color: Black

Lifespan: 13-14 years

Completely jet-black with a medium-length, wavy coat, the Croatian Sheepdog cuts a dashing picture as it goes about its work tending to livestock. First written about by Prof Dr. Stjepan Romic in 1374, the breed has changed remarkably little, maintaining a very strict bloodline that emphasizes its protective nature and quiet vigilance. This beautiful dog is very low maintenance and will be a loyal companion. 

 

16. Entlebucher Mountain Dog

Group: Herding

Coat Type: Smooth

Maintenance: Low

Height: 16-21 inches

Weight: 40-65 lbs

Color: Black, Blake White & Tan, Black White & Yellow

Lifespan: 11-13 years

This lovely dog was once nicknamed “der Lachen Hunden” (the Laughing Dog), by its native home Switzerland, because of how much joy it gets from doing its job. Bred to herd cattle to and from mountain pastures, the Entle is incredibly affectionate, protective, and social, making it a great match for a family with small children. 

 

17. Finnish Lapphund

Group: Herding

Coat Type: Double

Maintenance: Low to Medium

Height: 16-21 inches 

Weight: 33-35 lbs

Color: Black, Brown, Cream, Tan, Wolf Sable, Blonde

Lifespan: 12-15 years

Bred by the Sami people of Lapland (a region north of the Arctic Circle) to herd reindeer, the Finnish Lapphund is a highly intelligent but intensely relational dog. Lappies are very vocal and energetic, so make sure to have a lot of physical activity planned to keep your dog occupied if you plan to bring one home!

 

18. German Shepherd

Group: Herding

Coat Type: Double

Maintenance: Low to Medium

Height: 22-26 inches

Weight: 50-90 lbs

Color: Black, Black & Cream, Black & Red, Black & Silver, Black & Tan, Blue, Gray, Liver, Sable, White, Bi-Color

Lifespan: 7-10 years

Known for its work as a police dog, the German Shepherd gained all the skills needed to be a successful contributor to K9 police work in the German sheep pastures of the 19th century. German Shepherds will fiercely protect anyone considered family. They view outsiders, however, with careful disdain until their trust has been earned. Their high intelligence makes the German Shepherd ideal for learning complex commands while ensuring they complete the tasks they are given. 

 

19. Icelandic Sheepdog

Group: Herding

Coat Type: Double

Maintenance: Medium

Height: 16-5-18 inches

Weight: 25-30 lbs

Color: Black & White, Cream & White, Fawn & White, Gold & White, Gray & White, Red & White, Sable & White, Tan & White, White Tan & Black, Chocolate & White

Lifespan: 12-14 years 

Claiming the title of Iceland’s only native dog breed, the Icelandic Sheepdog is a beautiful spitz-style dog that will whole-heartedly devote itself to its human and home. This dog is extremely social and happy, making it perfect for a home with kids. The thick coat of the Icelandic Sheepdog requires weekly brushing, so make sure to plan grooming into your schedule. 

 

20. Miniature American Shepherd

Group: Herding

Coat Type: Double

Maintenance: Medium

Height: 13-18 inches

Weight: 20-40 inches

Color: Black, Blue Merle, Red, Red Merle

Lifespan: 12-13 years

Almost an identical, smaller version of Australian Shepherds, the Mini American Shepherd is extremely intelligent and energetic. Fantastic with children and with an affinity for training, the Mini loves being kept busy and engaged. Plan on brushing your pup every week to ensure its coat doesn’t get matted, and you’ll have a happy and healthy Mini American Shepherd! 

 

21. Norwegian Buhund

Group: Herding

Coat Type: Double

Maintenance: Medium

Height: 16-18.5 inches

Weight: 26-40 lbs

Color: Black, Wheaten

Lifespan: 12-15 years

A dog bred to function best in cold weather, the Norwegian Buhund loves doing a long day’s work. Then at the day’s end, he’ll be happy to return home to enjoy bonding time with his owner. This affectionate pup will take care of your children and ensure the safety of your home. He’s a medium-spitz-type breed that’s an all-around hard worker. And yes, it’s because of the Vikings that we even have the Norwegian Buhund!  

 

22. Old English Sheepdog

Group: Herding

Coat Type: Double 

Maintenance: Medium to High

Height: 21 inches & up

Weight: 60-100 lbs

Color: Blue & White, Blue Gray & White, Gray & White, Grizzle & White

Lifespan: 10-12 years

Nicknamed “The Bobtail”, the Old English Sheepdog is one of the most iconic breeds hailing from the British Isle. This affectionate pup is both a gentleman and protector, providing a playmate and loyal guard dog for you and your children. There is a fairly involved grooming process to maintain the OES’s famed coat, so plan that into your regular schedule. 

 

23. Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Group: Herding

Coat Type: Double 

Maintenance: Medium

Height: 10-12 inches

Weight: up to 30 lbs

Color: Black & Tan, Fawn, Red, Sable

Lifespan: 12-13 years

A small pup beloved by people around the world, including Elizabeth II who has not been without a Corgi friend since 1933, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi packs a lot of personality into a deceptively tiny body. This incredibly intelligent dog will guard its family valiantly in times of danger. However, he’ll revert to being affectionate and loving when relaxed. The Pembroke is a versatile breed that fits a myriad of needs and lifestyles. 

 

24. Polish Lowland Sheepdog

Group: Herding

Coat Type: Double

Maintenance: High

Height: 17-20 inches

Weight: 30-50 lbs

Color: Beige, Black, Black & White, Brown, Gray, Gray & White, White, Chocolate & White, Tri-Colored

Lifespan: 12-14 years

Believed to be a mix between the dogs of the Huns and the dogs native to what is now considered Poland, the Polish Lowland Sheepdog is a sturdy working companion whose coat needs regular attention and care. Personality-wise, the PON is affectionate and adaptable, very protective, and moderately sociable, making it an all-around amiable pup. 

 

25. Puli

Group: Herding

Coat Type: Corded, Double 

Maintenance: High 

Height: 16-17 inches

Weight: 25-35 lbs

Color: Black, Silver, White

Lifespan: 10-15 years

Most recognizable because of their corded hair, the Puli is on the smaller side of the herding dog spectrum. However, he’s just as strong, determined, and loyal as the other dogs in the herding category. Excellent with children and easy to train, the Puli is a wonderful family pet. Just make sure you do your research about how to care for your Puli’s coat. Believe it or not, there’s a significant amount of care that goes into making the cords define today’s Puli. 

 

26. Pumi

Group: Herding

Coat Type: Curly, Wavy

Maintenance: Medium 

Height: 15-18.5 inches

Weight: 22-29 lbs

Color: Black, Fawn, Gray, Silver Gray, White

Lifespan: 12-13 years

Hailing from Hungary, this adorable and whimsically expressive dog is also known as a hardworking herder. He first developed a reputation for fearlessly guiding flocks between pastures in his native home. While the Pumi doesn’t shed, he does require a regular brushing and bathing routine to maintain those distinctive curls. 

 

27. Rough Collie

Group: Herding

Coat Type: Rough, Smooth

Maintenance: Medium

Height: 22-26 inches

Weight: 50-75 lbs

Color: Black White & Tan, Blue Merle, Blue Merle & White, Blue Merle White & Tan, Sable, Sable & White, Sable Merle, White, Sable Merle & White, White Merle

Lifespan: 12-14 years

Collies may be well known because of Lassie, but it was Queen Victoria who first popularized them back in the 19th century. These vocal pups will dote on your children while providing steady protection if anything should go amiss. Exercise and play are important parts of a Collie’s routine, and they take to training very happily. If you’re looking for a well-balanced family pet, this is the breed for you!

 

28. Shetland Sheepdog

curious fluffy dog

Group: Herding

Coat Type: Double

Maintenance: Medium to High

Height: 13-16 inches

Weight: 15-25 lbs

Color: Black & White, Black White & Tan, Blue Merle & White, Blue Merle White & Tan, Sable & White, Sable Merle & White

Lifespan: 12-14 years

A close cousin of the Collie, the Sheltie is a lot of love and loyalty packed into a very small body. The Shetland Sheepdog is intensely affectionate and fiercely faithful, making it a wonderful guard-dog. Take time to check out this playful pup! 

 

29. Spanish Water Dog

Group: Herding

Coat Type: Curly, Corded

Maintenance: Medium

Height: 15.75-19.75 inches

Weight: 31-49 lbs

Color: Black, Black & White, Brown, Brown & White, White & Black, White & Brown, White w/ Black Nose, White w/ Brown Nose, Beige w/ Black Nose, Beige w/ Brown Nose, Beige & White w/ Black Nose, Beige & White w/ Brown Nose, White & Beige w/ Black Nose, White & Beige w/ Brown Nose

Lifespan: 12-14 years

Don’t let this pup’s fancy hairstyle fool you; the Spanish Waterdog is hardworking, having been bred for the dual purpose of herding and retrieving waterfowl. That mop of a coat does require some special attention though. Simply make sure to do your research before adopting a Spanish Waterdog. This way you can be sure you understand what its care involves. 

 

30. Swedish Vallhund

Group: Herding

Coat Type: Double

Maintenance: Low

Height: 11.5-13.75 inches

Weight: 20-35 lbs

Color: Gray, Red

Lifespan: 12-15 years

The origin of the Swedish Vallhund is a mystery. However, it is thought they were probably originally a mix between Welsh corgis and Scandinavian spitz dogs. These extremely happy and energetic dogs can easily become an important member of your family; the Vallhund adores children and will quickly adopt any little ones it can find. 

 

31. Tornjak

Group: Herding

Coat Type: Double

Maintenance: Medium

Height: 23-28 inches

Weight: 62.110 lbs

Color: White

Lifespan: 12-14 years

The Tornjak is known for being incredibly loyal to its master and suspicious of all others who might try to approach, especially other animals. No need to fear though. The Tornjak will adore your children and endeavor to protect them. Claiming a distant connection to the Tibetan Mastiff, the Tornjak is both regal and practical. 

 

What to Consider when Buying a Sheepdog

  • Will your lifestyle allow time to sufficiently exercise your pup? All Sheepdog breeds are high energy and usually require medium to high mental engagement. Training and playing are necessities to work into your daily schedule.
  • What are the grooming needs for your specific breed? Sheepdogs cover a wide variety of coat types and grooming needs; make sure you understand what your dog will need to stay clean and happy. 
  • Are you looking for a family dog or a guard dog? While all Sheepdogs are loyal and vigilant, some do better with children than others. Because you want your family to feel safe and happy with your pup, make sure you choose a breed that will work best with your home life. 
  • Are you ready to have a dog that loves to herd? Sheepdogs literally have herding bred into their blood, they are compelled to do it. That being said, the best solution to this is to keep them as active as possible. Although be prepared to have your other pets, children, and even lawnmower herded!

FAQ

Q: Should I get a male or female sheepdog?

A: Just like any breed, there are pros and cons to both male and female dogs in each breed. Make sure to take the time to read up on the details of each breed to decide what will work best for you.

 

Q: Do I need to socialize my sheepdog?

A: Because of a sheepdog’s suspicious and protective nature, it is best to give it time to spend with other dogs and humans in order to ensure it will be friendly when the occasion calls for it. 

Q: Should I get a sheepdog if I don’t have an assertive personality?

A: Probably not. In an environment where the human isn’t the alpha of the pack, your sheepdog will take over and will very happily run the entire household for you. These dogs thrive in a well-defined hierarchy and will follow you with adoration and affection if you take control. 

 

Ready to bring home your very own sheepdog? Don’t miss these newest puppies for sale

 

Until next time!

-Sara

 

Picture of author Dr. Sara Ochoa in her scrubs with a cute dogSara Ochoa, DVM is an expert veterinarian ready to help you give your dog an amazing life. Stationed in East Texas, Dr. Ochoa specializes in small and/or exotic animals. She’s currently loving life alongside her husband Greg and their three fur babies: Ruby the Schnoodle, Monkey the tortoise, and Oliver James (affectionately dubbed “OJ”) the cat.

 

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