Guild of Shepherds & Collies

How to Choose Your First Herding Breed Dog

Choosing Your First Herding Breed Dog

herding breed dog

Whether you have a farm or are looking for a furry companion, you've decided your family needs a herding breed dog. Now, you might be asking yourself, “Where do I start?” This question can be answered in many ways, depending on what you’re looking for in a herding breed dog - a dog to herd, a dog for show, or a dog as a companion with all the wonderful traits of a herding breed.

For this article, we’ll look at the Border Collie - this breed is a good “beginner” herding dog that will present few challenges for the prospective trainer. Originating in Great Britain over three hundred years ago, the Border Collie is the most widely used herding dog around the world. As an emerging herding dog enthusiast, this canine friend is a pretty safe place to start - whether you are looking to train from a pup, or looking to use a trained dog effectively on your farm.

When purchasing a Border Collie, there are a few things that you will want to look for in your selection. By now you should know what you want out of your herding dog - whether you are looking to have a family friend or a working canine.

If you are looking to use a dog out in the fields, keeping your animals safe and in line, then it is recommended you look for an ABCA registry on the bloodline of the dog. This is a working dog registry that will confirm a working bloodline, which is an important factor in choosing an effective breed. The AKC is a show dog registry and can provide an aesthetically pleasing dog for a family friend, but the dog is unlikely to come from a strong, working bloodline, and will be much more difficult to mold into a hard-working dog.

Another good idea when buying a herding dog is going to a USBCHA trial. These are competitions where any dog, registered or not, can compete. Watching the dogs in action can be a way to see that particular bloodline at work before purchasing. These trials are held across North America and provide an entertaining way to see herding dogs in action while you look for your perfect canine partner. It is important to note that a dog present at these shows may be carried by a particularly effective trainer instead of a hereditary prospect. Look for a dog that is behaving and expressing a personality you are looking for, while watching for the level of trainer input needed to carry out it's trial. This will help separate the trainer from the dog as you evaluate potential canines.

If you are committed to buying a pup, you will need to look closely at BOTH parents to determine the likely traits and characteristics of the canine. Both parents will directly affect the behavior and ease of training, and you should really see the parents working before you agree to take a pup home. This is an unnecessary precaution if you are just looking for a pet, but can be critical in achieving a happy relationship with a herding dog.

No matter what your use for the dog is, a Border Collie is a wonderful and safe choice for those looking to get into the herd dog community, as well as those looking for a family pet. This is a loving, gentle breed that will bring many years of joy and companionship, while easing a farmer’s work load - if the selection process is done correctly.

Good luck on finding your perfect herding breed dog match, and enjoy the rewarding feeling unique to working with a loyal companion each and every day.

Article By:
Paul Setser

Learn more about Border Collies HERE

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