Choosing family-friendly dogs is sort of a science, as your goal is to match the time and energy you have for a pet's needs with your kids' ages and the type of home you have. A herding dog might fit the bill since this high-energy pup is often great with little people. However, small herding dogs and their larger counterparts have some drawbacks too, which are based on their natural tendencies. When considering the best herding dogs for your family, take a look at each breed so you can determine which canine is best suited to your gang.
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The pros of large herding dogs
Before you select a pet from among the best herding dogs, it's wise to learn about the characteristics of both large and small herding dogs. Dogs who are bred to herd require a lot of exercise because their athletic, energetic nature is built into their DNA. If you're a runner or avid hiker or if you have active kids who love to play outside for hours, this is the pet for you.
Short-hair herding dogs and their longer-coated brethren are loyal and intelligent too, and they do best in an environment that's challenging and fun. If you and your family are keen to offer lots of activities, games, and toys, you'll easily keep this type of animal busy and happy.
The cons of sheepdog breeds
Without enough exercise and mental stimulation, sheepdog breeds and other herding canines may become bored and potentially destructive in the home. A herding dog without a job to do could rip apart your favorite pair of shoes or destroy her dog bed.
Consistent training is also important for herding breeds, as their nature can sometimes take over. Herding dogs are known to nip when they herd their charges, which can mean tears from your tots if your pet is trying to herd your kids in the yard. Herding breeds have a tendency to protect their home, which can mean barking at the mailman, passersby, or any person your dog deems to be a stranger.
Best herding dogs for families
As you shop around or consider a rescue pet for your gang, take a look at a bunch of the more common herders and their particular characteristics:
- Australian shepherd: With boundless energy, this extremely smart dog can herd children, birds, and other dogs all day long.
- Belgian malinois: Originally bred in Belgium, this dog type is often seen working as a guardian alongside police and the military.
- Border collie: Is it possible to work too hard? If so, this dog fits the bill. If you have lots of drive as well as outdoor space for a dog to run and play, give this canine a try.
- German shepherd: Steadfast and true are the hallmarks of the breed. Plus, this animal's gorgeous, thick coat attracts many fans.
- Corgi: Both the Pembroke Welsh and the Cardigan Welsh are excellent herders and make lovely family dogs if they've been properly socialized.
- Old English sheepdog: They're gentle, shaggy-haired, and pretty mellow too — what's not to love? This breed is also good with little kids thanks to a protective nature.
- Puli: Are you ready to play hairdresser? A puli's corded coat takes some care to keep it looking good. This dog type is a faithful companion known for agility and strength.
- Pumi: A Hungarian breed with a super curly coat, a pumi has the ability to work and play for hours without seeming to tire.
- Bearded collie: Is there rough weather where you live? This canine won't be put off, as its origins are in the Scottish highlands, where wind and rain are a constant.
- Briard: Get out your brush! A briard's fur needs constant upkeep to remove mats and tangles, but underneath all that hair is a faithful and spirited family dog.
- Oregon Humane Society: Oregon Humane Society | 1067 NE Columbia Blvd. | Portland, OR 97211 Pet Behavior Help Line: (503)416-2983 | oregonhumane.org/training Herding Breeds: Joys and Challenges
- American Kennel Club: Bored Dogs: How to Recognize Doggy Boredom (And Help!)
- American Kennel Club: Best Family Dogs
- American Kennel Club: Herding Group