Top 11 Sheepdog Breeds


Sheepdogs, with their unwavering loyalty and remarkable intelligence, were bred for a far more noble purpose than mere companionship or aesthetic appeal. These regal canines were meticulously created to serve as invaluable working partners on farms and ranches across the world. Bred specifically for their ability to manipulate herds of sheep, these tireless guardians possess an unmatched instinct and an indomitable spirit. Whether they are rounding up woolly flocks or defending against potential predators, these dedicated creatures carry out their duties with unwavering vigor and utmost devotion.

Whether you are in search of a diligent sheepdog to assist you on the farm or a loyal companion to welcome into your family, or if you simply possess an insatiable curiosity about the diverse world of sheepdog breeds, fear not! This article is here to cater to your every need.

A collage of different types of sheepdogs

However, it is worth noting that while all the breeds mentioned herein bear the esteemed title of "Sheepdog," there exists a plethora of other remarkable herding breeds that do not share this particular moniker. Allow me to enlighten you with a few examples, such as the illustrious Border Collies, the tenacious Australian Cattle Dogs, and the versatile Australian Shepherds. With this knowledge firmly in place, let us now delve into the captivating realm of the top 11 sheepdog breeds.

1. Old English Sheepdog

An Old English Sheepdog standing by a river

The Old English Sheepdog, with its rich history and innate herding abilities, is undeniably one of the most capable and accomplished herding breeds in existence. Renowned for its intelligence, agility, and natural instincts, this impressive dog possesses all the necessary traits to excel in the role of a formidable herder. The name of Old English Sheepdogs is derived from their original purpose - herding sheep! And, when it comes to herding, this breed possesses an incredibly strong instinct, making them one of the best sheepdogs in the world.

Moreover, their powerful physique and sturdy build enable them to control livestock effortlessly while displaying remarkable endurance. With a keen sense of observation and an unparalleled ability to anticipate sheep's movements, the Old English Sheepdog consistently demonstrates exceptional decision-making skills during herding sessions.

2. Shetland Sheepdog

A Shetland Sheepdog running in a field

Shetland Sheepdogs are an incredibly versatile breed, renowned for their impressive agility and herding abilities. With their nimble and athletic build, Shelties excel in agility courses, effortlessly navigating through obstacles with precision and speed. Their natural intelligence and quick thinking make them highly trainable in this discipline, allowing them to perform elaborate maneuvers flawlessly. 

Furthermore, Shetland Sheepdogs have a long history of being exceptional herders due to their remarkable instincts and keen sense of direction. They possess a natural inclination to gather and control livestock, which can be traced back to their origins as working dogs in the Shetland Islands of Scotland.

3. Pyrenean Sheepdog

A Pyrenean Sheepdog sitting down on top of a rock

The Pyrenean Sheepdog, known as the Chien de Berger des Pyrénées in French, is a captivating and versatile breed of herding dog hailing from the majestic Pyrenees Mountains region of France. This remarkable canine is adept at guiding and managing flocks of sheep across the picturesque Pyrenees landscape, working in perfect harmony with its larger counterpart, the Pyrenean Mountain Dog, which serves as a formidable guardian of the flock.

4. Belgian Sheepdog

A black Belgian Sheepdog standing in a field

The Belgian Sheepdog is an exceptional herding breed, renowned for its remarkable ability to effortlessly control and guide livestock. With a keen sense of intelligence and intuition, these dogs possess both the physical agility and mental acuity needed to excel in their herding tasks. Their bold and fearless nature makes them fearlessly confront any obstacle that may arise during the herding process, ensuring the safety and efficient management of the flock. Blessed with boundless energy, they are capable of working tirelessly for hours on end, displaying remarkable stamina and determination.

5. Bergamasco Sheepdog

A Bergamasco Sheepdog standing in a field

Bergamasco Sheepdogs originated in the Alpi e Prealpi Bergamasche, where they were utilized as proficient herding dogs for both sheep and cattle. These magnificent working dogs possess an innate instinct and talent for maneuvering livestock with unparalleled precision and efficiency.

The Bergamasco's intelligence combined with their strong build and endurance allows them to effortlessly navigate challenging terrains while keeping a watchful eye on the flock under their charge. Their thick, matted coat serves as protection from both inclement weather and predators, making them resilient and reliable guardians of the herd.

6. Dutch Sheepdog

A Dutch Sheepdog

The Dutch Sheepdog, also known as the Schapendoes, is a distinguished breed of dog that hails from the Netherlands. Originally bred as herding dogs and versatile farm companions, these remarkable canines have evolved to excel in various dog sports, including agility and flyball.

7. Polish Lowland Sheepdog

Three Polish Lowland Sheepdogs in a field

The purpose of the Polish Lowland Sheepdog, commonly known as Polski Owczarek Nizinny, is highly sophisticated and deeply rooted in its historical background. Originally bred in Poland in the Middle Ages, this intelligent and versatile herding dog was specifically developed for herding and guarding livestock. With its robust build, weather-resistant double coat, incredible stamina, and agile nature, the Polish Lowland Sheepdog excels at handling stubborn flocks over challenging terrain.

However, the purpose of this breed extends beyond mere herding skills; they are also exceptional companions and family dogs. Renowned for being affectionate, loyal, and highly trainable, Polish Lowland Sheepdogs make wonderful additions to households seeking a loving yet protective four-legged member.

8. Icelandic Sheepdog

An Icelandic Sheepdog

The Icelandic Sheepdog stands as Iceland's sole native dog breed, tracing its roots back to the very inception of the nation. As per the AKC, these spitz dogs accompanied the island's earliest settlers in the late 800s. Their primary role encompassed herding and safeguarding sheep, horses, and cattle.

As time passed, concerns arose about the potential extinction of this extraordinary breed. In the 1950s, the Icelandic Sheepdog embarked on a new journey, crossing the vast ocean to find a new home in the United States. This bold move ensured the preservation of their lineage and allowed them to flourish in foreign lands.

Today, these small-to-mid-sized working dogs have seamlessly transitioned from their historical roles to become cherished members of countless families. Their unwavering loyalty and affectionate nature make them the epitome of loving shepherd dogs for families. Whether it's frolicking in the backyard or snuggling up on the couch, the Icelandic Sheepdog brings joy and companionship to all fortunate enough to welcome them into their homes.

9. Croatian Sheepdog

A Croatian Sheepdog standing in the middle of a bush

The Croatian Sheepdog epitomizes agility, helpfulness, and humility, making it an exceptional shepherd dog. This breed is remarkably self-reliant, demonstrating unwavering loyalty and bravery towards its owner. With an unwavering sense of trustworthiness, the Croatian Sheepdog assumes the role of the true master of its flock. It effortlessly maneuvers through the herd, swiftly reaching the point of intervention with unparalleled speed and precision.

However, according to The Pet Spruce, the Croatian Sheepdog is an exceptionally rare breed. Even in their native Croatia, these dogs are not commonly found in significant numbers. Consequently, if you are interested in acquiring a puppy from a reputable breeder, it is highly likely that you will need to join a waiting list or be prepared to travel a considerable distance.

10. Portuguese Sheepdog

A black Portuguese Sheepdog standing in a field

The Portuguese Sheepdog is a breed of medium-sized dog that possesses exceptional intelligence and liveliness. Renowned for their unwavering devotion to their shepherd and the herd, these dogs may exhibit a certain wariness towards unfamiliar individuals and remain vigilant during the night. In addition to their traditional role as herding dogs, Portuguese Sheepdogs have also proven themselves to be outstanding companions, adept at both sporting activities and guarding duties.

They have gained recognition for their remarkable ability to maintain livestock within pastures and locate stray animals. With an ever-watchful eye, they dutifully alert their human counterparts if any predators encroach upon their territory. This breed's unwavering dedication to their work is evident as they carry out their tasks with utmost joy and pleasure.

11. Polish Tatra Sheepdog

A white Polish Tatra Sheepdog guarding sheep

The Polish Tatra Sheepdog is a breed of large flock guardian dog that hails from the Tatra Mountains in the Podhale region of southern Poland. In contemporary Poland, it is commonly employed as a guard dog or cherished as a companion animal. Despite their calm and intelligent nature, these dogs necessitate ongoing socialization to overcome their independent disposition and powerful guarding instincts.


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