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Herd protection dogs, herding dogs, shepherd dogs: difference?


Shepherd dogs, herd protection dogs, herding dogs: When it comes to dog breeds that were originally bred as working dogs for shepherds and other shepherds, there is a lot of confusion. It is important to distinguish the individual dog breeds and to be aware of their tasks and needs so that a species-appropriate attitude is possible and any behavioral problems are avoided. Are German Shepherd Dogs Shepherd Dogs, Herding Dogs or Herd Protection Dogs? - Shutterstock / miroslavmisiura

Are shepherd dogs the same as herd guard dogs or a generic term for all dog breeds that work with shepherds, including herding dogs? Or is the shepherd dog an independent breed? It is not easy to unravel this mess of cuddles ... how you can still differentiate between the different dog breeds can be found here.

Similarities of the herd protection dogs, herding dogs and shepherd dogs

Whatever you call the individual dog breeds, they have in common that they were bred as working dogs for herding. Mostly it is herds of sheep that shepherd dogs, herd guard dogs and herding dogs take care of. But herds of goats or herds of cows can also benefit if a dog that has been bred and raised for this purpose protects and protects them. The four-legged friends are intelligent and learn quickly, but are more or less prone to stubbornness. In addition, they usually have other tasks besides herding, such as taking care of their shepherd's farm and family.

What are the tasks of herding dogs?

The term herd protection dogs comes from the English. There these dogs are called "Livestock Protection Dogs" and "Herdenschutzhund" is the literal translation. Because it is indeed the main task of a herd protection dog to protect the herd entrusted to it from predators and other intruders and to drive away possible attackers. Unfortunately, the term is partly prejudiced. In the past, a protective dog was understood to be an aggressive animal with a low threshold of irritation and which immediately attacks anyone who approaches his owner, his family or his property.

The dogs were trained with drill and sometimes with violence. Fortunately, rethinking has taken place these days, and guard dogs are being trained with much love, consistency, patience and appropriate training to become reliable companions who only offer protection when it is necessary and are otherwise self-confident, obedient and their owners absolutely trust. However, this only works with the right training. You can read more about this in our guide "Schutzhundesport: Training for budding protection dogs".

At the same time, however, the term "herd protection dogs" also poses a risk of confusion with shepherd dogs, shepherd dogs and herding dogs, which have a less pronounced protective instinct and have different requirements for keeping, training and employment. It can lead to the fact that herding dogs are not used properly due to ignorance and then tend to behavioral problems, which can be dangerous in some cases. Such dogs need - if not a herd - a large property that they can guard. It should be borne in mind that the breeds were bred for independence, so that it is difficult for them to build a bond with their owner and make their own decisions rather than showing obedience. Inexperienced dog lovers who have little or no garden at all quickly reach their limits. They are also often not enthusiastic about dog sports. Herd protection dogs include, for example, the Akbash, the Kangal or the Karabash.

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What herding dogs are responsible for

Herding dogs usually work with the shepherd. Depending on the size of the herd, there are also several herding dogs that work together to ensure that the herd stays together, safely from one pasture to the next or back to the stable. A herding dog can also pull individual animals out of the herd, for example when they are sick. You can also work independently, but always pay attention to your owner and his instructions. Their obedience and willingness to learn are therefore very pronounced, as is the motivation to communicate with their owners and to establish a bond with them. Typical herding dogs include Border Collie, Australian Shepherd and Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie).

And what are shepherd dogs?

Opinions also differ as to what exactly shepherd dogs are. Some say that "shepherd dog" is actually the correct term for "herd guard dog". Others see shepherd dogs as a generic term for herding dogs and herd guard dogs. And still others see them as independent breeds that both look after and protect the herd and can serve as a companion dog for the shepherd. The Belgian Shepherd Dog, the German Shepherd Dog and the Bobtail are considered shepherd dogs.