Whether you’ve decided to move out to the country and are looking for a new best friend to join you on your hiking adventures, or whether you’ve taken on your own holding- or bought an entire farm! – having the right company can fill your days with fun and love.
Not to mention that the right dog, with the right training, can make your job a thousand times easier. That’s why we’ve gone through hundreds of breeds to pick out the best dogs to have with you in the country- whatever the reason for your new lifestyle is.
Also referred to as the Farm Collie, these long-haired, Lassie lookalikes have an amazing temperament and are naturally attuned to living life on a farm (as you may be able to tell by their nickname). Surging to prominence across the world from their Scottish homeland, these collies become prominent in the early 1800’s and are a popular breed with farmers today, despite dwindling numbers in favor of the more common collie breeds.
They are easy to train and hardy enough to handle the long days that being on a farm often comes with yet remain surprisingly independent which makes them ideal for the busy farmer. Bred to be outdoors and handle all aspects of farm life, these tough pups are perfect for herding and are best suited to an active lifestyle.
Unfortunately, there are said to be only a few hundred Scotch Collies left in the world and finding a reputable breeder can be difficult. Their long coat also requires plenty of grooming, so be sure to dedicate time and love to your pup, in the same way they will to you.
One of the oldest breeds in the world, it is thought that the Dalmatian was initially bred to run alongside carriages and ward off potential threats, although their heritage seems to go much farther back than even this. Their spotty coats and long gait, combined with large stature are instantly recognizable among dog lovers and the community at large but, deep down, these dogs are simple solid companions that come with boundless energy that works perfectly with farm life.
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Naturally attuned to life with horses, these dogs are popular with equestrians and are known to keep up both in endurance and speed- making this the ideal dog for farms with a focus on horses. Just be aware that Dalmatians are prone to shedding and also need a firm hand with training- otherwise, they can become very mischievous and can cause havoc around the home.
Check out our review of Dog Foods for Shedding.
Australian Cattle Dog
Highly intelligent and extremely energetic, with plenty of endurance to boot, the Australian Cattle Dog is a sturdy, chunky, and- perhaps not surprisingly, given the name- excellent dogs to have on cattle farms. They’re also tough enough to not require constant attention from their owners, which is ideal if you’re looking for a working dog that you aren’t able to dedicate your entire attention to (within reason, of course).
Still, their keen intelligence means they respond well to positive reinforcement and are quick on the mark when it comes to learning new skills. Overall, these are very alert, protective and intelligent dogs that are keen to please without becoming overbearing. Just be aware that these pups like to roam around and could go missing if not kept busy with work- therefore they may not be suited to smaller farms or those without a specific task for your new dog to undertake. They’re also very much a one-person dog, so aren’t typically suited to larger families, as they will likely just want to be around their master only.
Hailing from Turkey and with a bloodline that is related to both the Tibetan Mastiff and the Roman War Dog, the Anatolian Shepherd is a fast breed that stands up to 27 inches at the withers. As you can imagine, a dog this large and with such a keen guarding instinct will need a lot of training to fulfill its potential. They are surprisingly independent and their natural instinct works in harmony with farmers as they instinctually seem to understand when to become aggressive and when to take a step back.
Luckily, these gentle giants are also very intelligent and highly trainable, with the ideal energy levels and endurance that fit in perfectly as a farmhand. Bred to protect livestock and with a strong instinct to guard, the Anatolian Shepherd fits in perfectly as a friendly pup to those they know and a strong protector against those they don’t. As such, socialization is imperative from a young age, so that these dogs can get to know who should and shouldn’t be around them- without this, they can become aggressive against both foe and friend.
One of the most popular breeds in America, the German Shepherd (or Alsatian, as they are also known) is used across the board as working dog. Known for wholeheartedly protecting their masters in dangerous work, such as with the police units or during military duties, these obedient, faithful, and intelligent dogs are a firm favorite for many farmers.
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The instincts of these dogs include herding, protecting and even patrolling around their territory, which makes them great all-rounders when it comes to farm work. Their keen noses are also able to track down any livestock that may have gone AWOL- another handy trait of the German Shepherd.
If you’re thinking of bringing an Alsatian into the home, be advised that proper socialization is required, as these dogs can become aloof and aggressive when not properly trained or well-socialized.
Take a look at our review of the Best Dog Food for German Shepherds.
Extremely large and extremely soft, the Great Pyrenees is a gentle giant that requires tons of positive reinforcement to shape them into excellent watchdogs. These dogs were initially bred to be obedient, while remaining gentle and patient- perfect for keeping an eye on livestock, without scaring them away.
These dogs show a little of their mountainside history with a tendency to wander, in the sense they often seem to patrol territories and ensure the safety of their herd. They are very sensitive and require proper training that allows them to use their keen sense of smell and exceptional intelligence to their full capabilities. Once trained, however, they make excellent family and farm pets- making them a great choice for smaller farms and hobbyists who are looking for a little extra protection from these guardians.
Easy to train and with a charming nature that wins over the hearts of both professional and everyday owners, the Standard Schnauzer is calm, loyal and an exceptionally good ratter. For farmers who are looking for a pup to help keep away any smaller critters, the Schnauzer is absolutely the number one choice for many.
Being intelligent, reliable and holding exceptionally high stamina, these dogs have been used on farms for centuries, as herders, protectors and as pest control dogs. This makes them a great addition for smaller farms who are looking for a pup that will fit in to both family and working life, with ease.
Again, these dogs will need to be properly cared for from a young age, with decent mental and physical stimulation throughout their life, in order to ensure that they do not get bored. When this happens, the Schnauzer can become aggressive or seek to find anything and everything to herd and nip at- including children, if they are not properly cared for.
A firm favorite across the board, Border Collies hail from the English and Scottish borders with a long history that revolves mostly around farm life. Being bred to help farmers herd sheep, these beautiful, intelligent and highly energetic dogs take a lot of time and energy but are quick to learn and keen to please.
They are extremely sensitive and require a lot of positive reinforcement during training, or else they can become fearful and unresponsive. They are also forever in need of a job. This is not a dog that is designed to be a couch potato- they need constant work and a lot of physical and mental stimulation in order to be happy.
That said, life on a farm is indeed the perfect fit for this pup, whose natural instinct to herd and incredible stamina is unmatched in the canine world. With a desperate desire to please their humans and an unwavering loyalty, these are amazing dogs that will never let you- or your farm- down.
Check out our article on the Best Dog Food for Border Collies.
Factors We Considered
Any dog who is going to be spending the majority of their time outside needs to have high energy levels, so that they’re not left behind. For this reason, many toy breeds aren’t able to meet the standards required by dogs who are happy living in the country. Luckily, however, many dogs are full of beans and raring to go- most notably the ones on our list.
While it can be helpful to have speed, endurance is much more likely to be required from any dog who lives in the country. Having a high endurance means that your canine companion can be by your side, all day long, without a hint of becoming bored or too tired to continue with their work or play.
If you’re looking for a pup that will work with you on your farm, it’s important that your dog be highly susceptible to training. This will make your work much easier, as a loyal, easy to train dog will become more of a partner in your escapades, than another farm animal that you need to keep an eye on.
Those pooches who aren’t too keen on their training are also more likely to wander off, which can be incredibly dangerous on farmland. Aside from having other animals who can react badly to a dog encroaching on their territory, there are the added concerns regarding the machinery which can lead to terrible circumstances.
Farm dogs need to be able to handle being surrounded by loud noises, long days and other animals on a near-constant basis. Getting the right temperament means that, not only will your job be much easier, but that your dog is happy in their setting.
Nervous, anti-social or lap dogs aren’t really suited to the farming lifestyle, so breeds that are known for these traits have instantly been ruled out, for everyone’s happiness. Instead, we focused on dogs that are happy to be surrounded with the constant work and buzz that being on a farm brings. They’re happy to be left alone when you’re busy but equally happy being around other animals large and small while being gentle enough to not excitedly cause any accidental damage around your land.
What You Should Consider When Choosing a Farm Dog
When choosing your dog, your main priority should be their place on your farm. Are you looking for a dog that will come with you on walks and simply keep you company, or are you after a pooch that will have an assigned job?
Some dogs have been bred to become more naturally attuned to working on a farm. Naturally, this background puts them ahead of the competition when it comes to choosing the best dog. Looking into the background of each breed will allow you to opt for a pup that will work with you for the best outcome, naturally.
We’ve given you the best all-rounders for farm life, above, but you will likely need to consider the purpose of your pup before you check into breeders or where to adopt your dog. Border collies have been bred to herd, so using this ability on a sheep farm can mean that you work in complete harmony together, meanwhile the Schnauzer is a natural ratter and can be a huge help when it comes to pest control.
As you can see, not every dog is fit for every purpose, so consider your needs when picking your pup and you’ll find that your new family member will be much more likely to thrive in their role.