12 Shepherd Dog Breeds – Guardians of Skill and Loyalty

Shepherd Dog Breeds

Last Updated on August 16, 2023 by Fumipets

12 Shepherd Dog Breeds – Guardians of Skill and Loyalty


Shepherd dog breeds encompass a diverse group of canines celebrated for their remarkable intelligence, unwavering loyalty, and exceptional working abilities. These breeds have earned their place as trusted companions and invaluable working partners across various roles and industries.

Ranging from herding livestock to guarding property, assisting in search and rescue, and even aiding people with disabilities, shepherd dog breeds are a testament to the power of the human-canine bond.

With a keen sense of responsibility and a deep desire to serve, these dogs showcase their talents while forging deep connections with their human handlers.

Shepherd Dog Breeds

Unaccompanied cattle used to confront a variety of risks, including other animals, bad weather, you name it. Shepherds’ responsibilities included keeping their charges safe and guiding them to their destinations.

Farmers valued and relied on this position so much that Christianity adopted the name “shepherd” as a symbol. In the New Testament of the Bible, Jesus calls himself and is referred to as “the Good Shepherd.”

Aside from Sunday School, dog breeders began to train members of the herding group to carry out virtually the same tasks as their human shepherd counterparts. Enter: shepherd dog breeds.

What Are Herding Dogs?

The American Kennel Club (AKC) states that herding dogs, commonly referred to as “shepherds,” were developed to “gather, herd, and protect livestock.”  

According to Mari-Beth O’Neill, vice president of sport services for the AKC, “The herding breeds evolved to assist man in moving, safeguarding, and serving as fences for livestock.” The terrain and environment in which they operate, as well as the cattle they are accustomed to working, determine breed variations.

Many of these same tasks are being carried out by herding dogs today on farms all over the globe, particularly border collies and Australian shepherds. These breeds maintain a tight ship on their farms, keeping an eye on the sheep and caring for the cattle.

Other herding breeds, like the German shepherd and the Belgian Malinois, are often used by law enforcement agencies as K-9 units or as TSA workers (without the human component, of course).

These creatures together possess great reflexes for regulating the motion of other creatures. You may have sometimes felt like you were being gently herded if you had a herding dog! It’s all for fun.

Why Do Some Dogs Have ‘Shepherd’ in Their Name, but Aren’t Herding Dogs?

Despite having the word “shepherd” in their name, breeds like the Anatolian shepherd are not herding dogs. They were instead raised to perform a little different function on the farm, a guard dog function.

According to O’Neill, these breeds served as flock guardians and assisted the shepherd in caring for the flock.

Breeds of flock guardians patrol inside the flock to keep an eye out for trespassers rather than attempting to regulate the flock’s movement. This is due to the guardian breeds’ perception of the sheep as a member of their own pack, claims Cornell University. Amazing connection!

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In addition, Lisa Radosta of Florida Veterinary Services noted that “shepherd” is a made-up name, much like John or Smith, to put it frankly. Breeders who created a breed are free to choose whatever name they choose!

Here are 12 shepherd dog breeds we believe you’ll like, however, without further ado.

Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherd

Since the 1800s, there has existed the Australian shepherd, or “Aussie,” as they are often called. Interestingly, these canines are not native to Australia. They were mainly developed to labor and herd among Western pioneers on the American frontier. 

They now rank 12th on the AKC’s list of the top-selling dog breeds for 2020, making them one of the most popular breeds among dog owners today. They have excellent training potential due to their high intelligence and desire to please their owners.

Due to their activity, Aussies fare best in the care of an experienced dog owner who can refocus their attention via regular training and exercise. This dog may not be for you if you want the traditional afternoon sleep.

The Australian is a great fitness buddy if you have a large backyard and are ready to walk or trek for at least 40 minutes each day.

German Shepherd

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Someone is well-liked. According to the AKC, the ever-faithful German shepherd is the third most popular breed in the country, most likely as a result of their bravery and composure. 

The look of German shepherds is also well-known; they have perked ears and almond eyes that may be deceivingly solemn. The truth is that these stern-looking canines like their owners and gain greatly from early canine socialization.

Like the Australian shepherd, the German shepherd enjoys physical activity, but German shepherds need much more exercise than their canine counterparts. The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) in the UK suggests that these dogs exercise for an astounding two hours per day!


Border Collie

Do you want to learn some linguistics? Actually, the term “collie” is the Scottish word for “sheepdog.”

Medium- to large-sized Collies are distinguished by their thick coats of fur and wedge-shaped features. This kind of dog was first discovered in northern England and the Scottish highlands, and it was well known for guarding both the farm’s cattle and the family people who lived there. However, collies eventually found themselves in more aristocratic settings.

The popularity of collies in England skyrocketed when Queen Victoria acquired many various colored collies after learning about the breed while on vacation in Scotland. Since then, many American presidents have acquired collies, and the breed has appeared in several made-up movies.

Despite their beauty, collies like playing and have excellent senses for being around people, sensing when to back off and be more friendly.

One piece of collie care advice: Don’t shave your dog’s long hair if you live in a hot region! Both the heat and the cold will be kept out by their garment. Cool! Literally.

Old English Sheepdog

Old English Sheepdogs (OES) have clearly recognized fur coats and a moniker that is prone to misunderstanding. Contrary to what their name would imply, Old English sheepdogs were really raised as “drovers,” with the duty of efficiently transporting cattle from one place to another.

The severe grooming requirements of the breed are one of the most critical components of having an OES, if not the most important aspect. OESs have double coats, and novice owners sometimes misjudge the amount of care required.

If you’re not cautious, the dog may develop a fully matted undercoat, necessitating a full shave. To keep your dog happy in between visits to a groomer, be sure to invest in a durable brush for regular brushing sessions.

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The OES enjoys being in social situations and other high-energy environments, like many of its other herding pals. Schedule ample time for your huge companion to play and exercise!

Pembroke Welsh Corgi

You probably know someone who likes corgis if you don’t live under a rock. After all, the New York Post named them the trendiest dog breed of 2019. This well-liked breed is recognized for its joyful disposition that matches its wide smiles and marches about on short legs. 

The Pembroke Welsh corgis, who are just 10–12 inches tall, make up for their little stature with a fantastic sense of humor and a love of activities, particularly when those activities include toys.

Although Pembroke Welsh corgis are adorable, they need your assistance to remain so. Corgis have a double coat and shed often. They will mostly benefit from a weekly brushing session.

Corgi care is all about giving them mental and physical stimulation. If you check that box, they’ll stick with you for a long time.

Australian Cattle Dog

Australian Cattle Dog

Looking for a canine companion that shares your resolve? Due to the Australian cattle dog’s (ACD) constant search for work and exceptional efficiency, its owner must provide them duties to fulfill.

To guarantee healthy relationships with other dogs, people, and children, be careful to socialize with these pups from a young age. Understimulated ACDs could turn to destructive behaviors, such as destroying your brand-new furniture.

Due to the breed’s multicultural heritage, which is mostly unmatched, the Australian cattle dog has a diversity of hues. ACDs have Dalmatian lineage, despite what you may not be able to tell from their adult look. No one knew. Now you have.

Another interesting fact: Bluey, an Australian cattle dog, was one of the canines with the longest lifespans, surviving to reach 29 years old. WHAAAAT?

Belgian Malinois

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The Belgian Malinois could be mistaken for a German shepherd at first appearance. But these breeds are totally unrelated, despite their similarity and role as police dogs.

The Belgian Malinois, sometimes known as Mal, is frequently mistaken for a German shepherd. These two huge breeds are distinctive despite the similarity in their looks!

The Mal’s reputation as a skilled herder in his native Belgium stemmed from his dedication to his profession. They were among the first Belgian varieties to arrive in the United States in 1911, but when European imports were briefly halted during World War II, their popularity fell.

Mals are now often commended for their dedication to duty, particularly in military contexts. In fact, there is a statue of a life-sized Belgian Malinois in North Carolina that honors and remembers military canines around the nation.

Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie)

Shelties, or Shetland sheepdogs, are adorable. Try saying it five times quickly! They effortlessly achieve a balance between intellect and devotion, so even if you mistake them for a collie, they’ll be quick to forgive you.

They also achieve an excellent balance between the need for exercise and unwinding at the end of the day. Once a week, take advantage of the downtime to brush their gorgeous coats, which are stuffed full of fluffy hair!

The Sheltie gets along brilliantly with other family members, especially those of the kitty cat kind, while other herding breeds may have a tendency to be rather possessive of their people. However, if your Sheltie gets the chance to interact with a stranger, let them initiate the greeting so they may make new friends at their own pace.


As the biggest French herding dog, the Beauceron (Beauce) is extraordinarily enormous and in control, or grand et en charge in French. They combine strength and intelligence in one special breed, weighing ranging from 70 to 110 pounds.

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The Beauceron is not a very well-known breed in the United States; it is most often used by police or military personnel to detect explosives, follow odors, and take part in search-and-rescue operations. They are often inappropriate for novice dog owners and owners who cannot dedicate every day to exercise their dog due to their intensity.

The Beaucerons, like other herding breeds, need sometimes be brushed to maintain a healthy coat. However, the breed is distinguished by its dewclaws, which need regular clipping. Although dewclaws—thumb-like appendages—are no longer necessary, your Beuce could still wish to preserve them in order to grip onto certain items. They’re also sort of awesome!

Border Collie

Your border collie is prepared to run, so move aside. So a ranch or a farm would be the finest place for this amiable breed to flourish. If you give them a mission, they’ll make you proud.

The border collie is a highly intelligent dog that benefits from training. They often participate in agility contests as a result, particularly if they don’t have a flock to tend to at home. As the best herding dog in the world and a generally healthy breed, they make a trustworthy family member with a tail that never stops wagging.

Belgian Sheepdog (Groenendael)

The picture of bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, with sparkling eyes and a fluffy black coat, is this attentive, intelligent dog. One of eight herding dogs that were originally endemic to Belgium, thus the name, is the Belgian Sheepdog, also known as the Belgian Shepherd or Groenendael, which also includes the Belgian Malinois.

In the past, the Belgian sheepdog has worked as a show dog, police dog, search and rescue dog, and more. They are intelligent, energetic canines who like being trained and demand attention.

Miniature American Shepherd

We reserved one of the tiniest herding breeds, apart from the corgi, until last. The little American shepherd, which has a variety of coat colors, resembles the Australian shepherd. 

The small American shepherd will only reach a maximum weight of 20 to 40 pounds, therefore the name. That’s around 15 pounds more than an Australian shepherd, to put it in perspective.

Miniature American shepherds gain greatly from mental and physical stimulus, as befits herding dogs. They were originally developed to be smaller rodeo dogs, and they quickly gained popularity among riders, making them excellent traveling companions!

Do you feel like traveling across the country? One of these dogs may make the ideal travel companion.

Questions & Answers:



What are some common traits shared by shepherd dog breeds?

Shepherd dog breeds often possess high intelligence, strong work ethics, loyalty, and protective instincts. They are adaptable and excel in roles that require vigilance, responsibility, and cooperation.

What are the primary roles these breeds excel in?

Shepherd dog breeds have versatile skills that suit a range of professions, including herding livestock, guarding properties, search and rescue operations, police and military work, and even service dog roles for individuals with disabilities.

Are shepherd dog breeds suitable for families and homes?

Yes, many shepherd breeds can make excellent family dogs with proper training and socialization. Their loyalty and protective nature often extend to their human family members.

What kind of physical and mental stimulation do these breeds require?

Shepherd dog breeds have high energy levels and require regular exercise and mental engagement. Activities like training sessions, playtime, and interactive games help satisfy their need for both physical and mental stimulation.

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Do shepherd dog breeds require experienced handlers?

While some shepherd breeds benefit from experienced handlers due to their strong personalities and intense instincts, they can also thrive under dedicated owners willing to provide proper training, socialization, and leadership.

Shepherd dog breeds stand as remarkable examples of the potential for collaboration between humans and canines.

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Their diverse talents, paired with their loyalty and dedication, contribute to their status as beloved companions and invaluable working partners in a multitude of fields.

If considering a shepherd breed, it’s essential to understand their unique characteristics and needs to ensure a fulfilling partnership built on trust and mutual respect.




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