Dogs have been bred for centuries to work in unison with man and one breed that has evolved over the years is the herding dog. Also known as a stock dog or shepherd these breeds have been trained to herd livestock. The interesting thing about a herding dog is that their behaviour has been selectively bred to alter the dog’s natural inclination to treat cattle or sheep as prey and work to herd instead of hunt.
Various breeds are known for their ability to work with other animals. The Australian Cattle Dog, typically nip at the heels of animals (for this reason they are called heelers) and the Cardigan Welsh Corgi and the Pembroke Welsh Corgi were historically used in a similar fashion in the cattle droves that moved cattle from Wales to the Smithfield Meat Market in London. The Corgi is rarely used for herding today but has become one of the favourite breeds of Queen Elizabeth. The Border Collie, are known as ‘headers’ as they get in front of the animals they are herding and stare down animals to fetch dogs or keep livestock in a group. They consistently go to the front or head of the animals to turn or stop the animal’s movement. Breeds such as the Australian Kelpie and Australian Koolie are known as “Heelers” or “Driving” dogs as they push the animals forward typically by staying behind the herd. Australian Shepherds, English Shepherds and Welsh Sheepdogs are moderate to loose eyed, working more independently. Belgian Shepherds, German Shepherd Dogs and Briards are historically tending dogs, who act as a “living fence,” guiding large flocks of sheep to graze while preventing them from eating valuable crops and wandering onto roads.