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Farm life requires a good working companion to keep things running smoothly. There are dogs that are more than up to the job, such as shepherd breeds, but there are some that will cause quite a ruckus such as huskies who just love to play. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule, but it can’t be argued that not every dog can cut it out on the open farm. A true farm dog needs to protect his land, and be able to take charge of the animals in his territory.
Certain breeds are better suited to carry out certain tasks. For example, a sheepherding dog would definitely need to have the energy and stamina to keep the herd together. To help you find the perfect canine companion for your farm, we have narrowed down a list of the top-performing dogs for multiple tasks that will contribute to a smooth-performing and functional farm.
Best Farm Dog Breeds for Protection
Their name could be misleading as they aren’t the best herding dogs around. However, the word shepherd is often given to farm dogs or working dogs that can perform similar tasks. While an Anatolian Shepherd isn’t a great herding dog, it sure does make a great dog for protection. Not only will they protect your livestock, but they are also great guardians of family members and make a good family dog as well.
Anatolian Shepherds aren’t a common breed we hear of often, but amongst farmers, this dog is an absolute lifesaver. They are intelligent and easy to train, two of the most coveted traits in a farming dog. They are also super adaptable to different environments and have a work ethic that human bosses might envy. Another amazing trait about this breed is their ability to make decisions without you directing them. You can allow this dog breed to have total autonomy over how the farm is run.
However, good workers aren’t without their faults at times. This breed is one of the best dogs for farm living, but they can be quite territorial. This is where the hard work comes in. To make great farm dogs and even family dogs, Anatolian Shepherds need to be taught at a young age about what is a true threat and what isn’t. Since they are such amazing guard dogs, you often reach beyond your land with their territorial instincts. This is where sturdy fencing comes in.
The Great Pyrenees is a large dog that may be mistaken for being lazy. However, this breed is as protective as they are cuddly and loveable. They make a great livestock guardian and can also be given the amount of freedom allotted to Anatolian Shepherds once they are fully trained.
Not all guard dogs are aggressive and mean, the Great Pyrenees takes friendliness to a whole other level, but that doesn’t take away from their firm and stern nature when situations call for it. Their gentleness also makes this farm dog breed a great family dog that supplies endless love and comfort to all family members.
The Great Pyrenees is very smart and intelligent, but their downfall is their stubbornness. This undesirable trait is one that makes many dogs hard to train, so make sure you have plenty of treats ready for these gentle giants because they respond better to positive reinforcement training.
A few other things to watch out for if you decide to get this breed is they tend to bark quite a bit. Not only that, but they also need plenty of socialization (which many dogs need and they will get their fill of with other farm animals), and never forget to remind your livestock guardian who’s boss and the pack leader.
Have no fear, it’s not a walking mop it’s just a Komondor! This breed makes a great dog for farm living and they have the natural characteristics to do so. Their mop-like coat isn’t just for kicks, but it actually protects them from harsh climates and weather conditions as well as attacks from potential threats. They are independent farm dogs, much like many other guardian breeds, but they are as much fun as they are fierce.
The Komondor will not only ensure the safety of your livestock, but also the members of your family as well. They are great family pets and companion dogs that blend well into family life. Unfortunately, watch out if you have other dogs around. Komondors like to be the only dog on the land and due to their aggressive and suspicious nature, they can exhibit confrontational tendencies.
A good way around these undesirable traits is to embark on obedience training and socialization to turn them into a semi-house dog and one that is suitable for livestock farms.
Tibetan Mastiff (other Mastiffs too)
Originating centuries ago from the mountainous region of Tibet, the Tibetan Mastiff is used guard not only the farm and livestock but property as well. They are jumbo-sized gentle giants and require a lot of space to roam. With the presence of a Mastiff by your side, you won’t have to worry about potential animal or human threats. At the sight of your impressive guard dog, even the ones with the most courage would flee.
Yes, their appearance is more than intimidating, but when it comes down to spending time with family, these farm dogs are big fluffy softies. Tibetan Mastiffs are not extremely aggressive by nature, and they make good farm animals because of their natural alertness. They are always wary of strangers and any unfamiliar noise, so training from a young age is advised.
They look even more cuddly than a Great Pyrenees or Mastiff, with their soft and fluffy fur, the Maremma Sheepdog is another great protection/family dog. They were bred to do the job of protecting sheep and goat in Italy and can go toe to toe with wolves in the wild if needed. An admirable yet heartbreaking trait of the Maremma Sheepdog is their willingness to fight to the death. So as a pawrent and farmer, you know you can always count on these lovable fur companions.
Like with other guarding dogs, obedience training is recommended from an early age. Their defining traits are playfulness, intelligence, determination and lots and lots of love. Since they are so smart, training must be done from early on. Also, they don’t take to teasing and rough play the way some other breeds do. So make sure all members of the family know how to treat a good working dog like the Maremma Sheepdog.
Bernese Mountain Dog
One of our favorites, Bernese Mountain Dog is another large breed dog that is full of love and affection. They are also a loyal dog, which allows the breed to perform multiple tasks around the farm. The best farm dogs are ones that are energetic and hardworking, both characteristics are ones that the Bernese Mountain Dog has in spades.
Unfortunately, similar to most giant and large breed dogs, Bernese Mountain Dogs are susceptible to many health problems and illnesses that smaller farm dogs may not have to face. This is why thoughtful care and training from an early age will benefit your livestock guardian dog.
Best Farm Dog Breeds for Herding
Australian Cattle Dog
First on our list of best herding dog is the Australian Cattle Dog. As their name suggests, they are responsible for herding cattle and is among the best dog breeds for farms. Unlike our guardian dogs above, the Australian Cattle Dog is a much smaller size, but that doesn’t take away from their power. They are fast, intelligent, and easy to train and are among the best family dogs.
Their lovable nature and independence make good traits for a working dog. The Australian Cattle Dog can wear multiple hats on your farm and one role also includes a sensitive watchdog. They are a breed that does well with lots of praise and encouragement. When training this breed, make sure you have plenty of their favorite snacks and treats ready for positive reinforcement.
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
This cute stumpy-legged breed could easily fool people into thinking it does not deserve a spot on the best farm dog breeds list, but they would be wrong. The Corgi is great for herding sheep, in fact, it’s one of the top choices of a farm dog for sheep herding. Herding is so ingrained in their nature that they not only herd sheep, they may even try to herd children. Their natural instincts make the Corgi fit into farm life seamlessly.
They aren’t generally an aggressive dog breed, but we have seen our fair share of barking and guarding Corgis. This is why these elongated fur babies make a great guard dog as well. Due to their intelligence and eager to please nature, Corgis are great livestock guardian dogs that are recommended for newbie dog owners as well.
Thanks to Lassie the movie, Border Collies have remained popular and have become a representative breed for herding dogs. Not only are these dogs intelligent and obedient, but they are also adaptable as well. They are full of energy and vitality but can be suitable cuddle buddies for rainy days. This breed is a great choice for families with kids and are great pullers (though still not as good as the Husky) and can be gold-standard fetchers as well. It’s so fun to play with them, here’s some great toys Border Collies will surely enjoy!
One thing to be aware of with the Border Collie is they are among the most common dog breeds that exhibit nuisance barking. It’s great for guarding dogs to have a bit of bark in them, but not when you’re at home trying to relax. They need plenty of distractions and training to not cultivate their bad habits such as digging and barking, but they mostly need your love and care to thrive.
The Australian Shepherd is a farm dog breed known for herding. Similar to their cousins the Border Collie, Aussie Shepherds are also intelligent and independent. They know how to get the job done and come home and be lovely domestic dogs. As a herding breed, Aussie Shepherds need a ton of exercise and consistent training to curb unwanted behaviors.
Even when they aren’t exerting all their energy running after livestock, you need to give them plenty of things to do. To make a successful livestock guardian dog, Aussie Shepherds need positive reinforcement and early training.
Old English Sheepdog
With a name like that, it’s hard to debate what is ingrained in this dog. The Old English Sheepdog is known to be a bit clumsy because they can’t see where they’re going! Often seen with bangs covering their eyes, this dog breed is actually quite the bullet when herding livestock. It’s among the best farm dog breeds due to its focus and ability to complete the task at hand.
They love to please and are among the best dog breeds that are quick learners, so you don’t need to adopt a strict training regimen. Herding dogs like the Old English Sheepdog can be very friendly and affectionate companions. One thing to note is their long coats don’t make them a good fit for warmer climates.
Best Farm Dog Breeds for Vermin/Pest Control
Oftentimes, dog breeds get their names from what they do best. Moving on from herding dogs we are going to tackle the best farm dogs for vermin and pest control. At the top of our list is the rat terrier that will make farm life more enjoyable. With the word “rat” in their name, you know what their specialty is. They will rid your property and your land of the pesky furry creatures in no time at all.
They are a compact-sized dog breed with a lot of force and power. Due to this, they need sufficient exercise every day or it could result in undesirable habits. As a hunting dog, similar to other ones we will list in this category, once they latch onto their prey with their strong jaws, they won’t let go. So make sure you’re standing by and ready to capture the critters.
Jack Russell Terrier
Here is another terrier dog with a reputation that precedes it. These cute little farm dogs make great hunters and can handle rats, squirrels or other creature that may visit your property. They are powerhouse dogs known for their speed, strong jaws and high jumps. Many experts also claim that the Jack Russell Terrier are very intelligent and easy to train, but not without effort.
They have graced the big screen in many movies such as The Mask, but all that couldn’t have been done without proper training. These dogs are the definition of what a dog is. They love to dig, run, bark and play, so be sure you have the space for it.
The Miniature Pinscher is another strong and robust little dog that has a strong prey drive. A prey drive is needed for these vermin-ridders to seek out their potential victims. These little sturdy dogs do well as a city dog and as a farm dog. They are prominent barkers too, which makes them great guarding dogs. However, if you’re living in the city, you may not enjoy your little dog to come home with a sewer rat between his teeth. We’re also sure the neighbors wouldn’t enjoy the excessive barking, which is why early training is recommended for these dogs.
Best Multi-Purpose Farm Dogs
The Standard Schnauzer is a great pet to have on your farm for many reasons. They are larger than the average Schnauzer we see in the city and they make great herding dogs and also do some rudimentary vermin catching. Schnauzers are also amazing companions and make great house dogs in the city as well. For city living, the smaller size is more suitable while the larger Standard Schnauzer is recommended to make the best farm dogs.
The German Shepherd is hands-down one of the best dog breeds in the world. They are known for their superior work ethic, strength and agility, obedience and loyalty. These aren’t police dogs for nothing, and they love their humans and companions with all their heart. They are very versatile and can make great herders, protectors, best friends and everything in between.
They are such a smart breed training them will be a breeze. They pick up new commands easily and can manage livestock, hunting and even rescuing efforts with the right development. They are a really tough breed but can get quite big in size This is why it’s important to be sure you have the space to raise one of these dogs.
Similar to the Husky and the Belgian Malinois, which we will go over later, the German Shepherd is a dog capable of much destruction if left alone or bored for too long. They are great homestead dogs when their humans are around, but this family pet may tear your furniture apart if they miss you too much.
They are the cousins of German Shepherds and also exhibit the same tendencies. They are hardworking, loyal and obedient dogs and like their counterparts, they rival Golden Retrievers as one of the best dog breeds. We see them perform exemplary and at times unbelievable tasks in John Wick 3 (as Halle Berry’s dogs) , and this is where we can truly see what these best farm dogs can do with proper training.
That’s not to say that these majestic canines aren’t without their flaws. The Belgian Malinois is a big dog that requires sufficient stimulation. Unlike Golden Retrievers, the Belgian Malinois can turn their destructive and aggressive tendencies towards the sheep and livestock if not properly stimulated. Always offer them enough work to do and tasks to complete to keep them in line.
Known to wear stud-collars and be super intimidating, Rottweilers are actually surprisingly lovable. They get a bad rap due to their fierce loyalty and intelligence, which makes them a cunning breed. Dog trainers will tell you that with proper development, Rottweilers are excellent predators and will protect their people even to their death. They are powerful in every sense of the word but can match their unwavering loyalty with the same amount of aggression.
To have a Rottweiler that can function with other animals and people, they need to be raised by very experienced dog owners that can establish themselves successfully as the pack leader to avoid their Rottweilers from turning on their cattle, other people and livestock. A formidable predator, the Rottweiler can be just as sweet.
Depending on what sort of work you need done around the farm, there is are dog breeds out there ready to serve. Different dog breeds have different habits, tendencies and temperaments and are suited for different tasks. We have carved out three main categories for farm dogs and narrowed down the best choices for each. Farm dogs are considered working canines, and like other working dogs, farm dogs require consistent training and a lot of patience.
A lot of these breeds are either large, high energy or both, so as pet parents, you need to be sure you have the right space and conditions to accommodate them to allow your farm dogs to develop and thrive.