German Shepherds As Herding Dogs

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The German Shepherd is a breed of dog that has been widely recognized for its intelligence, loyalty, and versatility. Known for their courage and strength, German Shepherds have been used for a variety of tasks, including search and rescue, police work, and even as guide dogs for the blind. But did you know that these remarkable canines were originally bred for herding? In fact, German Shepherds have a long history of working as herding dogs, and with the right training and guidance, they can excel in this role. In this article, we’ll explore the history of German Shepherds as herding dogs and examine what it takes to train them for this task.


What is herding?

Herding is a type of livestock management that involves directing and moving livestock such as sheep, cattle, or ducks from one place to the other. The objective of herding is to ensure the animals stay together and move in a certain direction. Herding dogs serve as the primary tool for assisting in this task, and these dogs can learn specific behaviors and movements that help them maneuver the animals in the desired direction.


Can German Shepherds be herding dogs?

German Shepherds were originally bred as herding dogs in Germany in the late 1800s. They were initially developed to help farmers herd their sheep, cattle, and other livestock. Later on, German Shepherds were bred as working dogs to help with other tasks such as guarding, police work, and search and rescue.

German Shepherds have a strong instinct to herd and their intelligence and trainability make them excellent working dogs. Although they have been bred to perform different tasks, their herding instincts can still be tapped into and honed with the right training.


Are there different types of herding?

Yes, there are different types of herding, and each requires a different set of skills and behaviors from the herding dog. The most common types of herding are:

– Gathering: Gathering involves bringing the animals together into a group in one specific area.
– Driving: Driving involves moving the animals from one location to another.
– Shedding: Shedding involves separating one or more animals from the flock while leaving the rest together.
– Penning: Penning involves moving the animals into a pen or corral.

Herding dogs must learn different commands and behaviors to execute each of these types of herding.


What training is required to turn a German Shepherd into a herding dog?

Turning a German Shepherd into a herding dog takes time, patience, and consistency. The training process involves teaching the dog specific behaviors and commands to herd the livestock. This training typically includes the following steps:

– Introduction to stock: The dog is introduced to the livestock in a controlled and safe environment. The dog must learn to stay calm and not attack the animals.
– Introduction to commands: The dog is taught basic commands such as “come,” “stay,” “lie down,” and “leave it.” These commands set the foundation for the dog’s herding training.
– Introduction to herding: The dog is trained to move the animals in a specific direction using various commands and behaviors such as “walk up,” “come by,” “away to me,” and “steady.”
– Advanced training: As the dog gains experience and confidence, more complex training is introduced, such as shedding and penning.
– Working with a handler: The dog is trained to work with a handler who gives commands and directs the dog’s movements. The handler and dog become a team and work together to move the livestock.


How long does it take to train a German Shepherd to be a herding dog?

The training time required to turn a German Shepherd into a herding dog varies depending on the dog’s age, temperament, and previous training. On average, it takes about six months to fully train a German Shepherd to become a herding dog. However, some dogs may take longer to learn the necessary skills, while others may pick it up quickly.


Can any German Shepherd be trained to be a herding dog?

Not all German Shepherds are suited to be herding dogs. Herding requires a specific set of traits and behaviors that not all dogs possess. The ideal herding dog should have a strong work ethic, high energy, and willingness to please. They should also be able to adapt to various situations and work well with other dogs.



In conclusion, German Shepherds can be trained to be excellent herding dogs with the right training and temperament. If you are interested in turning your German Shepherd into a herding dog, consult with a professional dog trainer who has experience in herding to help you with the training process. Herding can be a rewarding experience for you and your dog, and it provides an opportunity for your dog to display his natural instincts of leadership and loyalty.

Anthony Lopez

Anthony Lopez

German Shepherds Are Awesome!

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