Whether you’re looking for a working dog or just a dog that will enjoy life on the farm, a herding breed or herding breed mix is probably your best option. But herding breeds will herd, and if you’re looking or a non-herding breed, there are several breeds and breed mixes that do well on the farm. Don’t feel as though you have to get a purebred dog. Lots of breed mixes make excellent farm dogs and are available at shelters, rescues or in “free-to-a-good home” advertisements in local newspapers.
The border collie is a medium-sized herding dog, weighing between 27 and 45 pounds. Border collies are high-energy dogs and among the easiest dogs to train. With a double coat, the border collie is naturally outfitted to deal with the elements he may encounter in farm life.
The Scotch collie isn’t quite as energetic as the border collie, but is happy as a working dog and is a natural herder. Weighing 40 to 70 pounds, and sometimes called a farm collie or old farm collie, Scotch collies often develop a seemingly intuitive relationship with the farmer.
The Australian shepherd, also known as an Aussie, is a popular farm dog. Aussies are natural herders and have a coat that provides the dog with protection from the elements. Weighing 40 to 65 pounds, Australian shepherds are good watchdogs, good with children and usually do well with other dogs.
Australian Cattle Dog
The Australian cattle dog, also called a blue heeler, is another natural herder that does well on the farm. The Australian cattle dog is a good guard dog and easily trained. The dog, which weighs 30 to 35 pounds, has a short coat that is weather-resistant.
The corgi is a smaller herding dog, weighing between 24 and 30 pounds. Corgis have very short legs and a double coat with a weather-resistant undercoat. Originally bred to drive cattle, hunt vermin and guard farms, the corgi herds by barking and nipping at the heels of livestock.
Considered a herding dog, the German shepherd can be trained as a sheepdog and often makes an excellent guard dog on the farm. A large dog, the German shepherd weighs between 77 and 85 pounds and is an intelligent, natural learner.
Bernese Mountain Dog
The Bernese mountain dog is a non-herding dog, weighing 80 to 110 pounds. Easily trained, the Bernese mountain dog has a weather-resistant coat, but may not be suited to warmer climates because of heat sensitivity. A good watchdog, the Bernese mountain dog has a strong pack instinct.
The Great Pyrenees is an excellent non-herding farm dog and is a guardian of family, farm and livestock. With family, the Great Pyrenees is calm and loyal, but because of her independent spirit, training is slow. Great Pyrenees males weigh at least 100 pounds and females at least 85 pounds.
Old English Sheep Dog
Another great herding breed for the farm is the Old English sheepdog. The Old English sheepdog has a shaggy, double coat with a waterproof undercoat. Old English sheepdogs herd by bumping rather than nipping. These dogs weigh at least 60 pounds and many reach a weight of more than 100 pounds.