10 Best Farm Dog Breeds: From Herding to Guarding

When it comes to choosing the best farm dog, it’s important to consider the unique needs of your operation. With 67% of livestock farm owners also owning dogs ¹, and 70% allowing their dogs access to livestock, selecting the right breed is crucial for both the safety of your animals and the happiness of your hardworking canine.

The ideal farm dog should have the intelligence, stamina, and instincts to excel at herding or guarding, while also possessing the loyalty and affection to be a trusted companion. Here’s some of the best farm dog breeds for this demanding role.

1. Border Collie

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Border Collies are the workaholics of the dog world. Well-known for their intelligence, these dogs excel at herding. Their gaze alone can control sheep, and when paired with their boundless energy, it makes for an impressive sight. Border Collies are so good at their jobs that they can often herd sheep using sheer willpower.

Farmers rely heavily on these dogs. They are quick learners and are always looking for ways to help. With a Border Collie by your side, you can move your livestock anywhere they need. These dogs are the epitome of a reliable farm dog breed.

2. Australian Shepherd

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Australian Shepherds, or “Aussies,” are born to be on a farm. Despite their name, they were developed in the United States. Their versatility is unmatched – they can herd livestock, catch rats, and protect the farm from pests. Aussies are always on their toes, anticipating a farmer’s needs.

The stamina of Australian Shepherds is a farmer’s dream. They can work for hours without needing a break. Aussies are also protective, which means your livestock and family have an extra layer of security. With an Aussie around, things on the farm run smoother.

3. German Shepherd

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German Shepherds are well respected for their role in police and military work, but they are also stellar farm dogs. Their courage and strength make them ideal for guarding property and livestock. German Shepherds are also intelligent and easy to train, which is a must on a busy farm.

These dogs form strong bonds with their owners and will protect their family with fierce loyalty. Their versatility also means they can handle many tasks on the farm, from herding to guarding.

Having a German Shepherd on your property is like having a fearless, all-purpose farmhand.

4. Jack Russell Terrier

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Don’t let their small size fool you. Jack Russells may be tiny, but they make up for it with courage and drive. These dogs were bred to hunt foxes and control vermin on English farms, a job they still excel at today. They dive into holes, chase down pests, and free your land of unwanted critters.

Their high energy levels serve them well on the farm. Jack Russells can go all day long, scouting and hunting for rodents, and they never seem to tire. Having a Jack Russell means fewer pests and a happier life on the farm.

5. Labrador Retriever

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Labrador Retrievers are the most popular dog breed in the United States, and for good reason. Their good nature and trainability extend to farm life, too. Labs are excellent at retrieving games for hunting, making them valuable on farms with hunting and sport.

A Labrador’s temperament is as reliable as their work ethic. They’re great with families and gentle around children. They’re even-tempered, which is useful on a mixed-animal farm. With a Lab, you get a versatile, family-friendly farm dog.

6. Old English Sheepdog

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Old English Sheepdogs are iconic farm dogs with shaggy coats. First bred to drive cattle and sheep to market, these dogs thrive on having a job to do. Their strong herding instinct makes them natural watchdogs and herders.

These dogs are also known for their friendly personalities. They’re patient and kind, forming close bonds with their farm family. The Old English Sheepdog is a dependable helping hand—or paw—for those long days out in the fields.

7. Rottweiler

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Rottweilers have a heritage of being cattle drovers and cart pullers, and they are powerful and protective, making them perfect farm dogs. They’re obedient, confident, and great guardians, well-suited for keeping a watchful eye on the property.

These dogs are devoted to their owners. They will not hesitate to protect their family and their territory. A Rottweiler’s presence is enough to deter intruders, and their formidable appearance is matched by their capacity for hard work.

8. Great Pyrenees

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The Great Pyrenees, known for their size and patient demeanor, are natural-born protectors. They have been guardians of sheep on mountain slopes, looking out for predators and threats. Their thick coat protects them from harsh weather, and they are self-sufficient dogs that can make decisions independently.

Farm animals like chickens and sheep are safe with the Great Pyrenees around. These dogs watch over their charges with a calm assurance. They are the gentle giants of the farm, providing peace of mind for the farmer through day and night.

9. Belgian Malinois

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The Belgian Malinois is often mistaken for a German Shepherd, but it is a distinctive breed. It is smart and trainable, making it exceptional for herding dogs. Its speed and agility also help in managing livestock effectively.

Belgian Malinois are one of them most protective dog breeds. They’ll keep the property safe without a second thought. They require a lot of exercise, which a farm lifestyle can provide. This breed is for those who need an energetic and intelligent dog for their farming duties.

10. Maremma Sheepdog

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Lastly, the Maremma Sheepdog, less known but just as reliable, hails from Italy. It’s a quintessential livestock guardian, bred to protect sheep from wolves. It has a thick white coat and a solid, muscular build suited for defending its flock.

Maremma Sheepdogs are independent thinkers. They can work without guidance, watching over the animals with an active eye. They’re not a dog for every farm, but if you need a dog to take charge of your livestock’s safety, Maremmas are up to the task.


  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28677886/
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Davin is a jack-of-all-trades but has professional training and experience in various home and garden subjects. He leans on other experts when needed and edits and fact-checks all articles.