Best Farm Dogs

What Are the Best Farm Dogs?

Farm life is difficult but it can be made easier with the help of the right furry friend. Below we have composed a list of great dogs best suited for farm life whether you need them to herd cattle, herd sheep, protect your livestock, or catch vermin.

The Purposes Behind Farm Dog Breeds

Each farm dog featured here has great qualities but not all dogs may suit what you’re looking for in particular. The typical jobs of farm dog breeds include the following:

  • Herding livestock
  • Protecting/ Guarding livestock
  • Hunting and exterminating vermin

Therefore it’s crucial that you make sure to take a thorough look into the breeds that catch your attention before you settle. So without further ado, here are the best farm dog breeds separated into their specific area of expertise.

Best Herding Dogs

Herding animals is a tricky business and the more livestock you have the harder it is. Fortunately, there are plenty of dog breeds that were bred specifically for herding livestock Take a look at the following breeds:

1. Australian Cattle Dog

Dog in autumn. Australian cattle dog.

Breed Group: Herding

Height: 18 – 20 inches (M) 17 – 19 inches (F)

Weight: 35 – 50 pounds

Life Expectancy: 12 – 16 years

Related to the well-known wild dog the Dingo, Australian cattle dogs are muscular and intelligent farm dogs. The ACD is one of the best farm dog breeds for herding cattle and will seldom tire as their immense stamina can have them running and herding for hours.

For aspiring pet parents looking for a clever and independent farm dog breed, this pooch may be the right one for you. However, it’s worth considering that Australian Cattle dogs are a breed that needs an appropriate amount of mental and physical stimulation to keep them in top shape if they are not being put to work on a farm. If they are not given an adequate amount, these vivacious pups can get up to all kinds of mischief.

For more about the Australian Cattle dog, look at our in-depth guide.

2. Australian Shepherd

dog on beach. An active pet on the lake

Breed Group: Herding

Height: 20 – 23 inches (M) 18 – 21 inches (F)

Weight: 50 – 65 pounds (M) 40 – 55 pounds (F)

Life Expectancy: 12 – 15 years

The Australian Shepherd is considered one of the best ranch dog breeds and is closely linked with the cowboy way of living. Best known for their herding expertise, Australian Shepherds are lean, agile, highly intelligent, and also make great companion dogs for those with active lifestyles.

Since Australian Shepherds are incredibly active they may not mesh well with homes that are not particularly energetic. They love to be around children but will require copious amounts of exercise and stimulation if not used as working dogs. Not only this, but as these are renowned herding dogs, smaller animals maybe need to steer clear or be ushered into an allotted area.

If Australian Shepherds have taken your fancy, take a look at our guide detailing everything to know about this popular farm dog breed.

3. Border Collie

Dog breed Border Collie in the autumn forest

Breed Group: Herding

Height: 19 – 22 inches (M) 18 – 21 inches (F)

Weight: 30 -55 pounds

Life Expectancy: 12 – 15 years

The Border Collie is a breed that is known and loved worldwide but they are typically used as farm dogs. They are famously intelligent and make great family dogs as they are renowned for being doting and loving towards their humans.

Similar to the Australian Shepherd and Australian Cattle dog, Border Collies are agile and smart animals. Therefore it’s important that they receive the care and attention required to keep them out of trouble.

Learn more about Border Collies here, with our complete guide to the dog breed.

4. Scotch Collie

Shetland Sheepdog, Sheltie, Collie. Running Outdoor In Summer Grass.

Breed Group: Herding

Height: 21 – 24 inches (M) 19 – 22 inches (F)

Weight: 45 – 70 pounds (M) 40 – 60 pounds (F)

Life Expectancy: 12 -16 years

Much like the Border Collie, the Scotch Collie is also incredibly bright and loveable. They are durable herding dogs that are commonly bred to perform other valuable tasks around farms such as pulling carts, retrieving items, and even protecting livestock.

Also known as the rough and smooth collie, the Scotch Collie dotes on children and adores playtime with them. Due to their protective nature, they will also alert the house of any suspicious activity so they can be considered a vocal breed.

Other Herding Breeds Suited to Herding:

  • Pembroke Welsh Corgi
  • Cardigan Corgi
  • Vallhund
  • Old English Sheepdog

Best Guarding Breeds

Keeping your farm animals safe and out of reach of predators can prove incredibly difficult. However, there are a number of dog breeds that have been around for decades and even centuries that can help protect livestock given adequate canine education. Take a look at the following breeds:

1. Anatolian Shepherd

Anatolian Shepherd Dogs in Australia

Breed Group: Working

Height: 29 inches (M) 27 inches (F)

Weight: 110 – 150 pounds (M) 80 -120 pounds (F)

Life Expectancy: 11 – 13 years

The Anatolian Shepherd is perhaps one of the best farm dog breeds if you’re particularly looking for a livestock guardian. These muscular large dogs are fierce and loyal companions and are well used to trekking over difficult terrain.

Compared to other breeds featured here, the Anatolian Shepherd is perhaps not the best family dog but he is known to be incredibly loyal. What we mean to say is, that they may not be the most affectionate pooches and will perhaps enjoy their independence over cuddling up on the couch in the evening.

2. Bernese Mountain Dog

Bernese Mountain Dog in evening sun

Breed Group: Working

Height: 25 – 28 inches (M) 23 – 26 inches (F)

Weight: 80 -115 pounds (M) 70 – 95 pounds (F)

Life Expectancy: 7 – 10 years

The Bernese Mountain dog has a plethora of endearing qualities. Not only are they familiar with farm life and are a perfect fit to guard livestock but they are also immensely loving dogs. Despite their heavily shedding tendencies, there are very few drawbacks of owning a Bernese as they reward homes with unwavering loyalty and love.

This working dog breed is sturdy, strong, loyal, and hard-working. They have a distinct appearance and are of a large build much like other famous guard dogs.

3. Dalmation

Dalmatian dog laying on a grass

Breed Group: Non-sporting

Height: 19 – 24 inches

Weight: 45 – 70 pounds

Life Expectancy: 11 -13 years

The Dalmation has a surprisingly vast history as they have been affiliated with an array of family and working backgrounds. In particular, they make suitable and hard-working farm dogs due to their brave nature.

In a family setting, they are excellent companion dogs that adore spending time with their humans. However, like other active and intelligent breeds, they will require consistent training when young to prevent them from developing bad and/or destructive tendencies.

To understand more about this dog breed, read through our handy guide found here.

4. German Shepherd

Beautiful german shepherd dog, smart and easy to train on the edge of the forest in Hungary

Breed Group: Herding

Height: 24 – 26 (M) 22 – 24 (F)

Weight: 65 – 90 pounds (M) 50 – 70 pounds (F)

Life Expectancy: 7 – 10 years

Don’t let this dog’s official breeding group deceive you. Yes, the German Shepherd is a phenomenal herding dog, but the breed is also talented at protecting livestock farms. These fearless dogs are not only strong, enduring animals but they also make great family pets.

Whereas German Shepherds are brave, strong, and somewhat intimidating in appearance, they are soft and loving companions. They are perfect for families as they are affectionate and playful too.

There’s a lot to say about the German Shepherd and we have plenty more information to offer.

5. Great Pyrenees

Acceglio, Piedmont, Italy: livestock guardian dog standing on alpine pasture under the rain.

Breed Group: Working

Height: 27 – 32 pounds (M) 25 – 29 inches (F)

Weight: 110+ (M) 85+ (F)

Life Expectancy: 10 – 12 years

Any list of the best farm dogs wouldn’t be complete without the Great Pyrenees. They are large and intimidating dogs that have been trained to protect sheep from relentless wolves in the harshness of mountains. With this in mind, you can guarantee that the Great Pyrenees will protect fearlessly.

Moreover, the Great Pyrenees is also regarded as a gentle and devoted pooch making it a popular breed choice amongst pet lovers. However, it’s important to note that although this breed is a great family dog, they may need a bit of attention when socializing.

Interesting in learning more about the Great Pyrenees? Take a look at our information and fact guide.

Other Farm Dog Breeds Suited to Protection:

  • Maremma Sheepdog
  • Komondor
  • Rottweiler

Pest Control Farm Dogs

It’s completely common for farms to have unwanted visitors on occasion so if you’re on the lookout for another caliber of a guard dog, take a look at the breeds below.

1. Jack Russell Terrier

Jack Russell Terrier dog stands sideways in summer - conformation

Breed Group: Terrier

Height: 10 – 12 inches

Weight: 9 – 15 pounds

Life Expectancy: 12 – 14 years

Don’t let the size fool you. Some of the best farm dogs may be little in appearance but what they lack in size they make up for in temperament and tenacity. These small dogs are immensely energetic, fast, and tireless workers known to be relentless and determined vermin catchers. Their keen vision helps them spot rodents that will scurry undetected by humans.

Highly intelligent and active, Jack Russell Terriers will need obedience training from an early age to ensure they don’t develop bad habits or behaviors.

Find out more about the Jack Russell Terrier here where we have in-depth breed information and facts.

2. Rat Terrier

White Terrier Puppy Playing Fetch at a Dog Park in Denver, Colorado

Breed Group: Terrier

Height: 10 – 13 inches (Miniature) 13 – 18 inches (standard)

Weight: 10 – 25 pounds

Life Expectancy: 12 – 18 years

This small dog comes in two recognized sizes; miniature and standard. Regardless of what size you choose, you will be getting a tough, active, and muscular vermin exterminator. However, its working nature doesn’t mean to imply that they are a cold killer. Rat Terriers are actually social animals that love their families – especially children.

Learn more about this farm dog breed here with our comprehensive guide.

Other Farm Dog Breeds for Vermin Control:

  • Dachshund
  • Schnauzer
  • Yorkshire Terrier
  • Miniature Pinscher

Qualities to Look for in Farm Dog Breeds

When scouring the internet for information regarding the best farm dog breeds, it’s important to know what the best qualities to look for are. A good farm dog will have the following traits which are crucial for working:


Intelligent dogs will take to training quickly and you can be sure that any teachings will stick too. These breeds will also likely have a great attention span and won’t lose interest quickly as they tend to appreciate the stimulation.

Stamina & Endurance

The best country dogs will need to be active for a long period of time throughout the day. They will need to be able complete tasks quickly or will have to take time completing jobs. Therefore dogs with incredible stamina and endurance will benefit farms more as they are able to withstand what a typical day has to offer.

Temperament & Personality

Working is hard on humans and can be especially draining to dogs also. Farm dog breeds should generally have a lot of patience and not get distracted easily. In addition, they must also have the ability to be independent to enable them the opportunity to wind down from busy days of herding animals and taking orders from their humans.

A Note About Farm Dogs:

All dogs require training as they grow up and the same applies to farm dogs too. Training will help you bond with your dog and establish a good work ethic and nature. Each breed may require a different strategy when training so always make sure to do your research when settling on a particular pup.

Things to Consider Before Owning a Farm Dog


Owning and raising a farm dog will require a lot of time and dedication as your prepare them for work so it’s vital to ensure that you have the resources to train them.

If you need assistance in training your pooch, take a look at our training archive here.

Living Arrangements & Resources

If you’re looking at owning a farm dog and have no intention of training them for work, ensure that their living space is adequate and suitable for their needs. These dogs tend to have energetic personalities and will need a large amount of physical activity. Therefore a decent-sized outdoor space or access to a dog park may be necessary for them to run around and play.

Similarly, making sure they are stimulated mentally is essential as they can often become bored and destructive. Taking them to classes is a great way to combat this and you can even purchase interactive dog toys to keep them occupied.

As a pet owner, it’s also important to understand whether or not a dog will mesh well with current pets and children residing in your home. Some of these breeds have a high prey drive or herding tendencies which may pose a problem to smaller pets and children.


  1. Amy Sinatra Ayres, Farm Dogs: 10 Breeds That May Surprise You, VetStreet
  2. Melvin Pena, What Are the Best Farm Dogs?, Dogster

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