Best Farm Dogs for Life in the Country

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.

Border Collie

Black and white border collie laying in a farm field. One of the most popular farm dogs, border collies have a strong work ethic and are the ultimate herding dog. "These very intelligent animals have been developed to think independently when tending livestock," explains Petcha. "In the field, their handlers might not be around, so they need to make decisions on their own. Well-trained border collies also want to please their owners and will do as they're told — even if they are acres away." Their keen intelligence requires diligent training.

Standard Schnauzer

Gray Schnauzer in a yellow collar outdoorsPerhaps not the first breed that pops into your head as a farm dog, this bearded pup actually has a long history dating back to 1492. Viewed as an "all-purpose" dog, he assisted German farmers by guarding the livestock and keeping out the rodents, notes Vetstreet. He's also deeply attached to his family. Once his shift on the farm grounds is over, he'll be ready to snuggle up in a warm, comfy spot next to you.

German Shepherd

German Shepherd on the meadow with dandelionsA guard dog known for his agility and prowess (there's a reason they work with police and armed forces around the globe), this breed also is great for watching over your chickens! "The German Shepherd is an immensely versatile dog, displaying a keen intelligence while dutifully performing its tasks," says PetMD. This dog's original occupation was to watch over sheep in Germany, hence his name, and he's a popular choice of farm dog throughout Europe. He's good at herding and protecting and is fiercely protective of his family and flock.

Great Pyrenees

Portrait of Great Pyrenees Dog in nature. Happy couple in the background.A large breed, this tried-and-true livestock guardian stands between twenty-eight to thirty-one inches tall and is one of a select few capable of protecting his small, more vulnerable charges (including human family members, too) without displaying any aggression toward them. A beautiful, majestic dog, the Great Pyrenees is trustworthy and low-key but always alert, making him an excellent choice for country living.

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.

Contributor Bio

Christine O'Brien

Christine O'Brien

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.

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