Life in the country is both peaceful and bustling, but one thing you can count on is that your loyal farm dogs will always be by your side.
If you're considering introducing livestock to your farm, a working dog is an essential choice for herding and guarding your cattle, sheep, chickens and goats (just to name a few) from predators. They're also adept at keeping rodents out of the barn and feed storage, and some will happily follow you into the field for the day
According to author and renowned farm dog expert Janet Vorwald Dohner, "the dogs that historically filled these roles on farms and in rural settings still excel at the work their ancestors did." These breeds have a strong work ethic and thrive when they have tasks to do. It's important to keep them active, so give them plenty of chores!
A working dog require extensive training and patience. Part of the necessary training includes safety, such as avoiding dangerous equipment, establishing the boundaries of his territory, and enforcing appropriate interaction with the animals (and people) with whom he works. An experienced animal trainer can teach your pup the ropes.
Keep in mind that herding and guarding dogs have different approaches to working on a farm. "Herding dogs see a flock of sheep as prey (though they won't attack them), and will bunch and guide them," explains Modern Farmer. "Guardian dogs, usually raised with livestock from a young age, will view them as part of their pack and therefore protect them at all costs. Most dogs excel at just one task or the other." Some breeds, however, can do both well!
Here are just a few options for dog breeds for farms that excel at working and living in the country.
Because a breed isn't necessarily an accurate indicator of a dog's temperament, spend quality time with your prospective pup before adopting him. Plan ahead by installing fencing where necessary and researching the proper nutritional requirements for dogs, from energetic puppies to seasoned veterans.
Whether he's herding cattle or chasing mice out of your barn, it won't take long to cultivate a loving, lasting bond with your farm dog.
Christine O'Brien is a writer, mom, and long-time cat parent whose two Russian Blues rule the house. Her work also appears in Care.com, What to Expect, and Fit Pregnancy, where she writes about pets, pregnancy, and family life. Find and follow her on Instagram and Twitter @brovelliobrien.