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sheepdog breeds

Discover which dogs belong to the Sheepdog Breeds Group!

First of all, there is no such official group recognized by the American Kennel Club as 'Sheepdog Breeds'. Instead, these dogs fall into either the 'Herding Dog Group' or the 'Working Dog Group'. 

I thought it would be helpful and fun to put all the dogs that have worked with sheep in the past and present into one group, for clarification.

Sheepdog Breeds

So, which breeds belong to this group? I have selected all the breeds that I could find that either have a history of working with sheep, or are still used with sheep.

In the past, dogs were used as guardians, to protect flocks of sheep and goats from wild animals and poachers. These are the livestock guardian breeds. In addition, dogs were used (and still are) for rounding up sheep into a flock and helping the shepherd to bring them in from the fields.

Akbash

Origins:  Turkey
Size:  Giant
Grooming:  Average
Training:  Easy
Recognition: UKC:  Guardian

The Akbash is originally from Turkey. This breed is an alert, courageous, independent guardian that is happiest on the farm, guarding livestock. They have the speed of a sighthound and the power of a guardian coupled with elegance and grace.

This is not a breed for inexperienced or first-time dog-owners. They need thorough socialization as puppies, and careful training. Some Akbash dogs can be aggressive towards other dogs.

Anatolian Shepherd Dog

Sheepdog BreedsAnatolian Shepherd Dog

Origins:  Turkey
Size:Large to Giant
Grooming: Average
Training: Demanding
Recognition: FCI:  Group 2, AKC:  Working, ANKC:  Utility, CKC:  Working, KC:  Pastoral, NZKC:  Working, UKC:  Guardian


Australian Shepherd

Origins:  United States
Size: Medium to Large
Grooming: Average
Training:  Easy
Recognition: FCI:  Group 1, AKC:  Herding, ANKC:  Working, CKC:  Herding, KC:  Pastoral, NZKC:  Working, UKC:  Herding

This breed is very smart and very active, continuing to act like a puppy well into adulthood. They need regular daily exercise, and also mental stimulation. They are used to having a job to do, and get bored easily.

They get on well with children, but may try to herd them if they are small.

AKC Standard says…

“Temperament: The Australian Shepherd is an intelligent, active dog with an even disposition; he is good natured, seldom quarrelsome. He may be somewhat reserved in initial meetings."

Sheepdog Breeds

Bearded Collie

Origins: Scotland
Size: Medium to Large
Grooming:  Extensive
Training:  Easy to Moderate
Recognition: AKC (Herding), ANKC (Working Dogs), CKC (Herding), FCI (Group 1), KC (Pastoral), NZKC (Working), UKC (Herding)

Also called:  Highland Collie, Beardie

Bearded Collie Dogs originated in Scotland. They are energetic and lively, and happy to play outdoors in any weather, come rain, hail, sleet or shine. This breed has a natural exuberance and energy. They are very lively, and love romping around a large backyard or out in the countryside. Of course, some individual dogs are more active than others, but in general they are more boisterous than most other breeds.

Beauceron

Origins: France
Size: Large to Giant
Grooming:  Easy
Training: Easy
Recognition:  AKC (Herding), FCI (Group 1), KC (Pastoral), NZKC (Working), UKC (Herding)

Other Names:  Berger de Beauce, Bas rouge, French Short haired Shepherd

A herding dog originally from France, and used to look after sheep as well as cattle. They are intelligent, calm and confident, and are used more nowadays as guard dogs and family pets. They are naturally suspicious of strangers, and prefer being with their family rather than sleeping outdoors - although they are perfectly capable of sleeping outside.

Belgian Laekenois

Origins: Belgium

Size: Large
Grooming: Average
Training: Average
Recognition:  AKC (FSS), ANKC (Working), CKC (Herding), FCI (Group 1), KC (Pastoral), NZKC (Working), UKC (Herding)

Also Called Chien de Berger Belge, Laekenois, Belgian Shepherd Dog

The 1st (alphabetically) of the 4 related Belgian shepherd breeds. It is the most rare of the 4, and has a shaggy, rough coat. It is named after the Belgian town of Laeken. They are usually happiest in a rural setting, rather than an apartment lifestyle, although it depends on the degree of socialization, and how much exercise you can give the dog.

Sheepdog Breeds

Belgian Malinois

Origins: Belgium
Size:  Medium
Grooming:  Easy
Training: Average
Recognition:  AKC (Herding), ANKC (Working), CKC (Herding), FCI (Group 1), KC (Pastoral), NZKC (Working), UKC (Herding)

The 2nd (alphabetically) of the 4 Belgian shepherd breeds, the Malinois is an incredibly agile and strong dog, possibly one of the best guard dogs in the world. While not quite as large as a German Shepherd, their energy and acrobatic skills are remarkable. Very intelligent and smart.

Belgian Sheepdog
(aka. Groenendael)

Origins: Belgium

Size: Medium
Grooming: Average
Training: Average
Recognition:  AKC (Herding), ANKC (Working), CKC (Herding), FCI (Group 1), KC (Pastoral), NZKC (Working), UKC (Herding)

Also Called Chien de Berger Belge;  Groenendael;  Belgian Sheep Dog

The 3rd (alphabetically) of the related Belgian shepherd breeds.


Belgian Tervuren

Sheepdog BreedsTervuren

Origins: Belgium

Size:  Large
Grooming:  Average
Training:  Easy to Average
Recognition:  AKC (Herding),  ANKC (Working),  CKC (Herding),  FCI (Group 1),  KC (Pastoral),  NZKC (Working,  UKC (Herding)

Also Called Tervuren, Belgian Sheepdog, Belgian Shepherd Dog, Chien de Berger Belge

The 4th (alphabetically) of the 4 Belgian shepherd breeds, the Tervuren.

Bergamasco Sheepdog

Also called Bergamasco Shepherd Dog, Bergermaschi, Cane da pastore Bergamasco

Origins:  Italy
Size: Large
Grooming: Extensive
Training: Challenging
Recognition: AKC (Herding),  ANKC (Working),  FCI (Group 1),  KC (Pastoral),  NZKC (Working),   UKC (Herding)

Other Names used:  Cane de Pastore

This breed has 3 distinct coats, which gradually becomeentwined as the dog gets older to form the typical 'dreadlocks'. Despite the long hair they only shed lightly, so they are suitable for folks with allergies.

They are suspicious of strangers, but are not aggressive. They tolerate other dogs well. Not best suited to apartment living, they really need a decent-sized back yard for exercise. They do well in cooler climates, but not so well in the heat.

Sheepdog Breeds

Border Collie

Origins:  England and Scotland
Size:  Medium
Grooming:  Average
Training:  Easy
Recognition:  ANKC (Working),  CKC (Herding),  AKC (Herding),  FCI (Group 1),  KC (Pastoral),  NZKC (Working),  UKC (Herding)

One of the most intelligent dog breeds on Earth. They have seemingly endless energy, and need a lot of exercise. They are active, bright, and constantly looking for something to do, unlike some other breeds that will sleep an afternoon away.

The Border Collie needs room to move, mental stimulation, and a job to do. This is not really an apartment dog nor a quiet family dog. They are simply too clever and too bright!

Briard

Sheepdog BreedsBriard

Origins: France
Size:  Large
Groom:  Average
Training: Average
Recognition:  ANKC (Working),  CKC (Herding),  AKC (Herding),  FCI (Group 1),  KC (Pastoral),  NZKC (Working),  UKC (Herding)

Also called Berger de Brie, Chien Berger de Brie


Canaan Dog

Sheepdog Breeds

Origins:  Ancient Canaan (Modern day Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Egypt
Size: Medium
Grooming:  Easy
Training:  Challenging
Recognition:  CKC (Working),  ANKC (Non-Sporting),  AKC (Herding),  NZKC (Non-Sporting),  UKC (Sighthound & Pariah),  FCI  Group 5

The Canaan Dog breed is well known for being fairly shy. They are notoriously territorial dogs, not cozying up to every guest. This being said, they aren't known to be aggressive with strangers, but they are very wary of them.

Caucasian Shepherd

Origins: Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan 
Size: Giant
Grooming: Average
Training: Time Consuming
Recognition:  AKC (FSS),  UKC (Guardian),  FCI (Group 2)

This is NOT a breed for inexperienced owners or first-time dog owners. The Caucasian Shepherd is most happy with a job to do and room to move. They are fiercely protective of what they regard as their family (including the family cat), and may attack everything else they regard with suspicion, including your children's friends. They don't bother with intimidation.

With full and thorough socialization and careful, consistent training, they may become great family dogs, but the protective nature of the breed is always under the surface.

Sheepdog Breeds

Collie

Origins:  Scotland
Size: Large
Grooming: Time Consuming
Training: Average
Recognition:  CKC (Herding),  ANKC (Working),  KC (Pastoral),  AKC (Herding),  NZKC (Working),  UKC (Herding),  FCI (Group 1)

The Collie comes in 2 versions of coat - Rough and Smooth. They are identical in all aspects except for the coat. The Rough is the better-known variety and sports a long harsh-textured coat. 

Their coat is thick and long everywhere on their body except the head and legs. The Smooth Coated variety has a short, dense, flat coat. 

This breed became popular as early as the 1920s when the Lassie books by Albert Payson Terhune were published.

German Shepherd

Origins:  Germany
Size: Large to Giant
Grooming: Average
Training: Easy
Recognition:  FCI:  Group 1,  AKC:  Herding,  ANKC: Working,  CKC:  Herding,  KC:  Pastoral,  NZKC:  Working,  UKC:  Herding

One of the most recognizable breeds in the world, and immensely popular. The German Shepherd inspires intense loyalty from their owners due to their own loyalty and intelligence.

This is an active breed, and they are happiest when they have a job to do. They do not tolerate being left alone in a back yard, and need human company and direction. A fantastic breed providing you have the time and space they need.

Icelandic Sheepdog

Sheepdog BreedsIcelandic Sheepdog

Origins:  Iceland
Size:  Medium
Grooming:  Average
Training:  Average
Recognition:  FCI:  Group 5,  AKC:  FSS (Herding).  CKC:  Herding,  UKC:  Herding


Komondor

Origins: Hungary
Size: Large to Giant
Grooming:  Time Consuming
Training: Time Consuming
Recognition:,  FCI: Group 1,  AKC:  Working,  ANKC: Working,  CKC:  Working,  KC:  Pastoral,  NZKC: Working,  UKC: Guardian

The Komondor is a rare dog breed originating from Germany. Known for their protective, watchful personality, this herd dog is massive, weighing over 100 lbs,  and has a thick, almost dreadlock style coat that sets it apart from many other dogs. This coat was especially advantageous for guarding sheep, as it blended in with them.

Sheepdog Breeds

Kuvasz

Origins: Hungary
Size: Giant
Grooming: Extensive
Training: Time Consuming
Recognition:  FCI: Group 1,  AKC: Working,  ANKC: Working,  CKC: Working,  KC: Pastoral,  NZKC: Working,  UKC:Guardian

The Kuvasz is well known as a Hungarian guard dog throughout Europe. Owners value the breed for its intelligence and ability to act independently while still remaining loyal and protective of family. Alongside their working aptitudes, they make for playful and affectionate companions. These dogs are a great addition to most families.

Leonberger

Sheepdog BreedsLeonberger

Origins: Germany
Size: Giant - up to 200 lbs !
Grooming: Time Consuming
Training: Average
Recognition:  FCI: Group 2,  AKC: Working,  ANKC:  Utility,  CKC:  Working,  KC:  Working,  NZKC:  Utility,  UKC:  Guardian


Sheepdog Breeds

Old English Sheepdog

Origins: Great Britain
Size: Large
Grooming: Time Consuming
Training: Average
Recognition:  FCI: Group 1,  AKC: Herding,  ANKC:  Working,  CKC:  Herding,  KC: Pastoral,  NZKC: Working,  UKC:  Herding

Originally bred to drive sheep and cattle to market, the Old English Sheep Dog is intelligent and kind, with a sense of humor. Widely known in the U.K. as 'the Dulux Dog' owing to an Old English Sheepdog featuring in the Dulux paint company's television advertisements.

Polish Lowland Sheepdog

Origins: Poland
Size: Medium
Grooming: Time Consuming
Training: Time Consuming
Recognition:  FCI: Group 1,  UKC: Guardian

Polish Tatra Sheepdog

Origins: Poland
Size: Giant
Grooming: Time Consuming
Training:Time Consuming
Recognition:  FCI: Group 1,  UKC: Guardian


Sheepdog Breeds

Schapendoes

Also called Dutch Sheepdog

Origins: The Netherlands
Size: Medium
Grooming: Average
Training: Time Consuming
Recognition: FCI: Group 1,  CKC: Herding,  UKC: Herding

Looking a little bit like a cross between the Old English Sheepdog and the Bearded Collie, this breed from the Netherlands (Holland), and has been around since late 1800's, when they were quite common in that country. It is a medium-sized dog with a long, shaggy coat, amiable and good-natured.

Shetland Sheepdog

Origins: Scotland
Size: Small
Grooming: Time Consuming
Training: Easy
Recognition:  FCI: Group 1,  AKC: Herding,  ANKC: Working,  CKC: Herding,  KC: Pastoral,  NZKC: Working,  UKC:  Herding

The Shetland Sheepdog breed looks like a small version of the Rough Collie, and originated on the Shetland Islands, north of Scotland, the most northerly point of the United Kingdom. These dogs are bright, playful and have lots of energy. Shetland Sheepdogs are affectionately known as the 'Sheltie' for short.

We hope you enjoyed our unofficial list of Sheepdog Breeds! Please let us know if you think we have missed a breed, by using the Contact Me link. Thank you!


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