Meet the Top 15 Hardy Shepherd Dog breeds

photography of three playing dogs on grass field

Dogs and humans have coexisted for centuries and have developed the most profound inter-species bond in the history of humanity. One of the biggest and best evidence for this is the breeds in the herding or shepherd group of dogs. The herding breeds are sharp, brilliant, loyal, loving, and have the right amount of independence to work independently. All in all, the shepherd group of dogs is a complete package. With their working attitude and the capacity for unconditional love, no early man could ask for anything more. So, if you’re a farmer, shepherd or just someone who wants a skillful dog capable of being an excellent companion, the shepherd dog breeds are your best bet! Owing to the following dog breeds don’t only leave you with a dog that’s head over heels for you and the animals they work with, but these breeds also symbolize the rich history shared between humans and canines.

1. Australian Cattle Dog

adult black and tan dog
  • Group: Herding (AKC)
  • Height: 17 to 20 inches
  • Weight: 35 to 50 pounds
  • Coat: Smooth, hard double-coat
  • Color: Blue, blue mottled, blue speckled, but may also be red
  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 16 years
  • Temperament:  Willful, outgoing, playful aloof
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Price: Average $400 – $1000 USD
  • Origin: Australia

Australian Cattle Dogs are perfect for farm life, where they use their prowess in herding to keep the livestock in place. These dogs are the farmer’s best friend and often go by the nicknames: Australian Heeler, Blue Heeler, Queensland Heeler, or Halls Heeler. Wherein the “heeler” in the name refers to their habit of nipping at the feet of cattle, sheep, and kids. Safe to say, the Australian Cattle Dogs take their job seriously and let no nuisance pass them by. Another trait that makes this dog unique is its eye-catching blue-speckled coat which only a handful of breeds possess. Although, this robust work ethic is only a part of this breed’s package. Australian Cattle Dogs are also known for their ability to form a deep bond with their chosen person. To this person, they’re highly devoted and loyal and often referred to as “velcro” dogs within this context. Their need to be in physical contact with their chosen human makes them highly affectionate, reliable, and intelligent family dogs cut out for an active lifestyle. 

2. Australian Kelpie

Australian Kelpie standing on a dry field
  • Group: Herding
  • Height: 15 – 20 inches
  • Weight: 25 – 45 pounds
  • Coat: Medium double coat
  • Color: Black, tan, cream, blue, brown
  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years
  • Temperament: Intelligent, agile, athletic, loyal, enthusiastic, independent
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Price: Average $1000 – $2000 USD
  • Origin: United States

Australian Kelpie was developed with the end goal of having a clever herding dog that can work all day long in the hot climate of Australia without much supervision. The breed today models precisely the same traits for which it was developed. Australian Kelpies are high-energy dogs that can keep on going till the sun goes down. They’re also independent thinkers, so if you fail to meet their energy demands, the Kelpies will invent an outlet for themselves. These outlets usually feature chewing, digging, or other destructive behavior. However, despite being independent dogs, the Australian Kelpie must not be left alone for long periods, or they may act out. Training these dogs requires patience and consistency. Besides this, these dogs are wary of strangers unless appropriately introduced. Therefore, this may lead to a lot of barking. 

3. Australian Shepherd

White Australian Shepherd on grass field
  • Group: Herding
  • Height: 18 to 21 inches (female), 20 to 23 inches (male)
  • Weight: 40 to 55 pounds (female), 50 to 65 pounds (male)
  • Coat: Medium double coat
  • Color: Blue merle, red merle, black, or red; all colors may have white markings and tan (copper) points
  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years
  • Temperament: Intelligent, active, energetic
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Price: Average $1000 – $2000 USD
  • Origin: United States

Australian Shepherd dogs originated in the western United States instead of Australia. These dogs are clever and intelligent and can round up a flock of sheep with a piercing gaze. Like all breeds we have discussed so far, the Australian shepherd is not light on energy too. These dogs have a lot of energy to expend; therefore, they’re best suited for families with an active lifestyle. Plenty of walks and exercise are a part of the daily routine of a healthy non-destructive Australian Shepherd. These dogs are incredibly loyal, alert, and suspicious of strangers. Therefore, early socialization and exposure to many people and animals are essential for a family environment to mold the Australian shepherd into a good family dog. 

4. Bearded Collie

Bearded Collie on snow field
  • Group:  Herding
  • Height: 21 to 22 inches (males); 20 to 21 inches (females)
  • Weight: 45 to 55 pounds
  • Coat: Double coat with straight, coarse, shaggy outercoat and soft undercoat
  • Color: Black, blue, brown, or fawn; Commonly fades to white or silver markings upon aging
  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years
  • Temperament: Intelligent, alert, friendly, energetic, bright
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Price: Average $1500 – $2000 USD
  • Origin: Scotland
Also Read:  Top 10 Dog Breeds With Long Floppy Ears

Bearded Collie is one of the oldest dog breeds hailing from Britain. They were developed to assist farmers and herd livestock. The Beardies are known for their enthusiasm and bouncy nature. Legend goes that the Beardies bounced and jumped to better view the sheep. This bouncing about also helped these dogs deal with stubborn sheep as a way to intimidate them. The Bearded Collie has all the characteristics of a herding dog breed, including enthusiasm, loyalty, working ability, high energy, and exuberant nature. However, despite the intelligence, this breed is not for everyone. Only people who can match this bouncy dog’s energy level make good dog parents for this dog. Additionally, prospective owners also need to factor in the high grooming demands of this breed. The long shaggy coat needs daily brushing and grooming to stay healthy and shiny. 

5. Belgian Malinois

brown and black german shepherd running on brown grass field during daytime
  • Group:  Herding
  • Height: 22 – 24 inches (female), 24 – 26 inches (male)
  • Weight: 40 – 60 pounds (female), 60 – 80 pounds (male)
  • Coat: Double coat with straight, coarse, shaggy outercoat and soft undercoat
  • Color: Fawn, fawn sable, mahogany, red, red sable
  • Life Expectancy: 14-16 years
  • Temperament: Outgoing, hardworking, intelligent
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Price: Average $1000 – $1800 USD
  • Origin: Belgium

Belgian Malinois looks like a German Shepherd and has all their traits. However, they’re a bit leaner than a typical German Shepherd dog. These dogs were originally developed to herd sheep and cattle in the farms of the Melines, Belgium. However, they have become a favorite choice for military service over the years. Malinois are clever, intelligent, loyal dogs who like to be included in all family activities. Therefore, they’re not well suited for owners who must leave their dogs at home alone. One trait that makes the Belgian Malinois a prime choice for military service is their eagerness and ability to learn quickly. Just like the German Shepherds, these dogs can be trained to do about anything. 

6. Belgian Shepherd


Belgian Shepherd sitting on the ground during daytime
  • Group:  Herding
  • Height: 22 – 26 inches
  • Weight: 60 – 75 pounds
  • Coat: Medium-length double coat 
  • Color: Black, Black & Cream, Black & White, Brown, Fawn , Fawn & Black, Gray, Gray & Black, Sable, Silver, Silver & Black, Wolfgray & Black
  • Life Expectancy: 12 – 14 years
  • Temperament: Energetic, loyal, watchful, needy, intelligent, and serious
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Price: Average $1500 – $3000 USD
  • Origin: Belgium

This elegant and graceful dog is a medium-sized herding breed. They are similar to the Malinois in many ways. In fact, in their native country, the Belgian Malinois and Belgian Shepherd are clubbed together as one breed. They are known for their agility, herding and obedience. These dogs are well-suited for families who can match their energy requirements. When appropriately socialized, the Belgian shepherd does well with other dogs and cats. Due to this breed’s suspicious and wary nature, they make excellent watchdogs. Besides their herding abilities, the Belgian Shepherds are loyal and loving towards their and are known to protect kids. However, with all this loyalty and love, this breed is not suited for a notice owner as they’re intense dogs with an independent streak who fare well with a seasoned owner. 

7. Bergamasco Sheepdog

brown, black, and white dog lying on floor
  • Group:  Herding
  • Height: 22-24 inches (54-62 cm)
  • Weight: Male: 70-84 pounds (32-38 kg); Female: 57-71 pounds (26-32 kg)
  • Coat: Double coat with straight, coarse, shaggy outercoat and soft undercoat
  • Color: Black, gray
  • Life Expectancy: 13-15 years
  • Temperament: Determined, quiet, patient, vigilant
  • Hypoallergenic: Yes
  • Price: Average $1000 – $2000 USD
  • Origin: Italy

Bergamasco Sheepdogs are believed to be originated in the Middle East. They are famous for their unique matted mop-like coats. The Bergamasco Shepherd have outgoing and attentive personalities. They’re many people’s favorite due to their calm, intelligent and often intuitive nature. Unlike many other breeds whose intelligence makes them stubborn, these dogs remain obedient and loyal to their humans. Being a herding dog, the Bergamasco Sheepdog loves an excellent yard to run and expend all its energy. Therefore, they’re not well-suited for a quiet life in the apartment. Also, due to their herding nature, this breed makes a great companion for children. 

8. Border Collie

Black and White Border Collie with One Leg Raised
  • Group:  Herding
  • Height: Male: 19-22 inches (48-56 cm), Female: 18-21 inches (46-53 cm)
  • Weight: Male: 30-45 pounds (14-20 kg), Female: 27-42 pounds (12-19 kg)
  • Coat: Double coat straight, smooth, long
  • Color: Black, white, blue, red merle, lilac, chocolate, liver, brindle, gold
  • Life Expectancy: 10 – 17 years
  • Temperament: Intense, active, devoted
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Price: Average $800 – $1500 USD
  • Origin: United Kingdom
Also Read:  Top 10 Dog Breeds for Seniors

Border Collies developed between the borders of Scotland and England. They’re known for their agility, intelligence, companionship and working ability. These dogs are a proper package that can round up livestock with only a piercing gaze. And while excelling at this role, these dogs quickly make the best of canine companions. Lassie, the dog from the movie, Lassie Come Home, made this breed a favorite of many people. However, despite being affectionate and loving, Border Collies don’t aren’t overly cuddly. Moreover, these dogs aren’t lazy and have a high stamina and workaholic attitude. Therefore, owners of the breed need to keep their Border Collie mentally and physically engaged till their energy wears down (which takes a lot more time than one estimates). 

9. Cardigan Welsh Corgi

Funny dog with collar and leash near owner
  • Group:  Herding
  • Height: Male: 10-13 inches (25-33 cm), Female: 10-13 inches (25-33 cm)
  • Weight: Male: 25-30 pounds (11-14 kg), Female: 25-30 pounds (11-14 kg)
  • Color: White, red, sable, tan, black, blue merle (black/gray marble)
  • Life Expectancy: 12 – 15 years
  • Temperament: Smart, loyal, intelligent, affectionate, active
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Price: Average $1200 – $2200 USD
  • Origin: United Kingdom

Cardigan Welsh Corgi belongs to the royal ancestry of Wales, where they’ve been known to exist for as long as 3000 years. They are alert, friendly, and watchful dogs. Although this breed was developed to be a herding dog breed, they are no longer popular in that role. Today, these dogs are popular companion dogs that love their place in family life. However, because of their lineage and history, the Cardigan dog retains his herding instincts, making this breed less sociable and friendly towards strangers. Besides this, the Cardigan is also known to be an independent dog who sometimes likes to do things his way. 

10. German Shepherd

German Shepherd in the wood
  • Group:  Herding
  • Height: Male: 24-26 inches (60-65 cm), Female: 22-24 inches (55-60 cm)
  • Weight: Male: 66-88 pounds (30-40 kg), Female: 49-71 pounds (22-32 kg)
  • Color: black, tan, red, silver
  • Life Expectancy: 9 -13 years
  • Temperament: Alert, intelligent, loyal, obedient
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Price: Average $800 – $2000 USD
  • Origin: Germany

German Shepherd is one of the most popular dogs in the United States. This dog’s lovable, friendly, yet intimidating looks have a cult following across the globe. This breed was developed by Captain Max von Stephanitz, who wanted a dog with a ready-to-work attitude and off-the-chart obedience. And the captain succeeded in fashioning such a dog as this breed is now the epitome of a working dog breed. They’re intelligent, clever, loyal, and obedient, and when appropriately trained, they can take up any role you want them to. This eagerness to learn, unique muscular build and friendly personality make the breed a favorite. 

11. Great Pyrenees

Great Pyrenees
  • Group:  Herding
  • Height: Male: 27-32 inches (69-81 cm), Female: 25-29 inches (63-74 cm)
  • Weight: Male: from 100 pounds (45 kg), female: from 85 pounds (38 kg)
  • Color: White, gray, tan, red, badger
  • Life Expectancy: 10 – 12 years
  • Temperament: Calm, intelligent, vigilant, affectionate, trustworthy, hardworking, independent
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Price: Average $800 – $1500 USD
  • Origin: France

This majestic white dog has enamored many people at first sight. These dogs were bred to guard livestock and assist the shepherds. However, over the years, this breed has refined its guarding instincts to become the protector of everything that exists. This elegant-looking dog can guard kids, pets, birds and much more. This protective instinct makes this dog an excellent companion dog for kids. Besides being the dream dog for every kid, the Great Pyrenees takes care of the sick and ill as a therapy and rescue dog. However, despite all these loving characteristics, an ill-trained Pyrenees is 160 pounds bad news. These dogs tend to have a mind of their own, and that helps keeps them engaged and their owners entertained. But this trait poses a problem during the training phase. Therefore, a competent and firm trainer is required to mold this already wonderful pet into the ideal image of the breed. 

12. Old English Sheepdog

Old English Sheepdog out in the sun
  • Group:  Herding
  • Height: Male: 22-24 inches (56-61 cm), Female: 20-22 inches (51 cm)
  • Weight: Male: from 65 pounds (29 kg), female: from 60 pounds (27 kg)
  • Color: Blue merle, gray, blue, black and white, gray and white, gray with white or black markings
  • Life Expectancy: 10 – 12 years
  • Temperament: Intelligent, playful, loyal, strong-willed, adaptable, friendly, loving
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Price: Average $1800 – $3000 USD
  • Origin: United Kingdom

The Old English Sheepdog is a large and athletic dog breed. They’re known for their adaptability, easygoing nature, and unmistakable shaggy coat. The OES, as enthusiast call this breed, is adored for their sense of humor and playful personality. They’re full of antics and masterful entertainers who don’t let a day pass by without making their owners laugh. Being 50 to 100 pounds, these dogs are already extensive, but their profuse coat makes them look even more prominent. This coat must be regularly brushed and groomed to keep it from overgrowing. Besides this, despite its enormous size, the breed can adapt well to apartment life. 

Also Read:  Top 20 Ugliest Dogs 

13. Pembroke Welsh Corgi

 Pembroke Welsh Corgi sitting in the grass
  • Group:  Herding
  • Height: Male: 10-12 inches (25-30 cm), Female: 10-12 inches (25-30 cm)
  • Weight: Male: 24-31 pounds (10-14 kg), Female: 24-28 pounds (11-13 kg)
  • Color: Tan, sable, fawn, red, black- may have white markings
  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 13 years
  • Temperament: Intelligent, friendly, loyal, affectionate, gets along with other pets
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Price: Average $1000 – $2000 USD
  • Origin: United Kingdom

Pembroke Welsh Corgi was developed to work on farms herding cattle, sheep, and horses. However, today they’re primarily found in their owners’ laps as a companion dogs. These dogs are intelligent and eager to learn, which makes them easy to train. They have risen to popularity massively due to Queen Elizabeth II’s interest in the breed. The Corgis have a happy, playful and vibrant disposition. They love snuggling around with their owners but enjoy a good play session. Therefore, owners need to meet the dog’s energy demands and keep them mentally and physically engaged. Although easy to train, the breed is also known to be notoriously stubborn, which makes training and early socialization significant for the dog. 

14. Rough Collie

white and brown long coated dog
  • Group:  Herding
  • Height: 24-26 inches (male), 22-24 inches (female)
  • Weight: 60-75 pounds (male), 50-65 pounds (female)
  • Color: Sable and white, White, Tri-color, Blue merle, Sable merle, Sable
  • Life Expectancy: 14 to 16 years
  • Temperament: Sweet, loving, loyal and trustworthy
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Price: Average $1200 – $1800 USD
  • Origin: United Kingdom

Rough Collie is a popular herding breed along the borders of Scotland and Northern England. They share many characteristics with Border Collies, although they’re less active than their counterparts. Being a herding dog breed, the Rough Collie is a smart cookie known for its protective and guarding abilities. These dogs are eager to learn and adapt to any lifestyle reasonably quickly. These dogs tend to be vocal when bored; therefore, barking signifies that they want your attention. The Rough Collie is great around children as these dogs love to play. They are loyal and affectionate, making them great family dogs. 

15. Shetland Sheepdog

brown white and black long coated dog lying on floor
  • Group:  Herding
  • Height: 13-16 inches (33-41 cm)
  • Weight: 14-27 pounds (6-12 kg)
  • Color: Sable, black, blue merle, white, tan
  • Life Expectancy: 12 – 15 years
  • Temperament: Active, energetic, friendly, affectionate, protective, intelligent
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Price: Average $1000 – $2000 USD
  • Origin: United Kingdom

Shetland Sheepdog, or Shelties as the fans call them, are affectionate, loyal and caring family dogs. These dogs were developed on Shetland Island in Scotland. The Shelties look like their Border Collie cousins, who originated in the same area. Moreover, like the Collies, the Shetland Sheepdog is equally adept at herding and gives tough competition to their Border Collie counterparts in intelligence. Their energetic, vibrant, and a tad bit suspicious nature makes them great at being a watch dogs in addition to being excellent canine companions. Although, the working dog heritage makes the Shetland Sheepdog destructive in the absence of physical and mental stimulation. Therefore, owners must take care of and structure the Sheltie’s day to keep them engaged and entertained all day long. 

Final Thoughts

The shepherd group of dogs is some of the most famous canines on the planet. Owning one of the canines mentioned above is a dream for many, but it’s not an endeavor everyone can undertake. These breeds are born and brought up as working dogs meaning lazy owners and passive families are just not their jam. So, before you rush to own one of these beauties, be thorough in your research and abilities, as these breeds don’t take it easy on you. However, if you’re just the right owner, these dogs can be an absolute delight, as many shepherd dog enthusiasts attest. 

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