Farm dog breeds have helped humans for centuries in rural countrysides and on farms. They thrive on a farm and have been bred specifically to help with farmwork, whether it's herding livestock, protecting livestock and the humans who live on the farm, getting rid of farm pests, or other farm-related jobs.
Do keep in mind that farm dog breeds are working dogs, which means they're happiest and healthiest when they have a job to do. If you don't live on a farm, you'll have to find other ways to keep your dog busy with mental challenges and physical exercise. If not, your farm dog breed may become depressed or anxious, and start behaving in less than stellar ways (chewing, pacing, overeating, etc.). Some of these farm dog breeds will overlap with our 10 best dogs for runners list, so make sure you check out both!
Farm dog breeds are fantastic working breeds that are energetic, loyal, and a great help to have around on the farm. Here are ten farm dog breeds you should consider.
1. Australian Shepherd
Australian Shepherds are a cowboy's favorite herding dog. Despite their name, Australian Shepherds originated in the US in the 1840s - right around the time of the Gold Rush. They were bred to herd livestock and are energetic, loyal, and affectionate. They'll need a lot of exercise and mental stimulation, and can be a bit shy around strangers. Australian Shepherds aren't very large dogs, with the biggest males standing at around 23 inches tall and weighing 65 pounds. They're known for their medium-length coat that comes in striking patterns.
If you're looking to rescue an Australian Shepherd, head to AussieRescue.org.
2. Border Collie
Border Collies are incredibly popular dogs that are also great dogs for people who love to run - not just farm-dwellers! Border Collies come from the Scottish/English border (hence their name) and were bred mainly to herd sheep. They're still a very popular farm dog breed today, as they're incredibly intelligent (considered one of the smartest breeds in the world) and make great family dogs. Border Collies have a lot of energy, so you'll need to make sure they get plenty of exercise and mental challenges in order to thrive. Their work ethic is very high, which is why you'll often see Border Collies competing in dog agility competitions. Border Collies can be anywhere from 18-22 inches and 28-50 pounds.
3. Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Don't be fooled by their size - Pembroke Welsh Corgis make great farm dogs. Their low-riding bodies make them perfect for herding livestock as they can nip at their heels and avoid getting kicked by sheep or cattle. You may recognize Pembroke Welsh Corgis as Queen Elizabeth II's favorite dog breed. They're smart and affectionate, but don't have as much intense energy as other herding breeds, so they're great for families! They're one of the smallest herding breeds at 10-12 inches and 24-30 pounds and have short, muscular legs and stubby tails.
Check out the best Corgi rescues (opens in new tab) if you're interested in taking one home.
4. Jack Russell Terrier
Jack Russell Terriers are another tiny but mighty farm dog breed. Jack Russells are especially good at getting rid of farm pests as they are determined vermin catchers. They're smart, confident, and energetic - very energetic, so make sure they get plenty of exercise or that energy can turn destructive. Their intelligence makes them incredibly alert, which is why they're popular pest killers, but they can be a bit strong-willed, so make sure you've got a good trainer on hand! Jack Russell Terriers are around 10-15 inches tall and about 13-17 pounds.
Head to Russell Rescue (opens in new tab) to find a Jack Russell Terrier for your family.
5. Great Pyrenees
These big beautiful pups make for great farm dogs, especially if you're looking for a livestock or farmyard guardian. The Great Pyrenees originated on the French side of the Pyrenees Mountains that separate France and Spain, and were bred to guard livestock way up in the mountains. Despite being watchdogs, Pyrenees are rather mild-mannered, calm, and affectionate and make great family pets. They can be very stubborn, however, and considering males can be up to 100 pounds, you'll want to train them well - as you won't be able to make one go on a walk if it's not in the mood!
Check out National Pyr Rescue (opens in new tab) if you're looking for a gentle giant.
6. Australian Cattle Dog
Not to be confused with Australian Shepherds, Australian Cattle Dogs are another great farm dog breed. Originally developed in Australia, Australian Cattle Dogs were bred to help drive cattle over long distances across uneven ground - they make great herders, as they can dash amongst the legs of animals and nip at their heels. Australian Cattle Dogs are affectionate and do well with kids, but they can be wary of strangers and therefore often double as great watchdogs as well. Loyal and intelligent, you'll want to socialize Australian Cattle Dogs young and provide them with consistent training. Luckily, their short, wiry coats are incredibly easy to care for, and they're not very big: between 18-20 inches and 35-50 pounds.
If you're looking to adopt, head to the Australian Cattle Dog Rescue Association (opens in new tab).
7. German Shepherd
With German Shepherds, their farm dog capabilities are in their name - but they aren't just good at herding cattle. German Shepherds are incredibly versatile farm dogs that can guard livestock and herd them as well. They are highly trainable and incredibly loyal, but you'll want to make sure they get proper socialization and training so that their guarding instincts don't get overwhelming. German Shepherds can be anywhere from 22 to 26 inches and weigh from 60 to 100 pounds. They originate from - you guessed it - Germany.
Head to German Sheperd Rescue and Adoptions (opens in new tab) to find the perfect German for you and your family.
8. Bernese Mountain Dog
Easy-going, mild-mannered, loyal, and brave, the Bernese Mountain Dog makes for a great livestock guard on the farm. Bernes Mountain Dogs are descendants of Roman mastiffs and originated in Switzerland. They're incredibly easy to train and love to be outdoors, so you can easily task them with other farm work as well. They're hard-working and energetic, but don't expect them to be a guard dog against people - they're just too affectionate! Bernese Mountain Dogs can be anywhere from 25-27 inches tall and weigh 70-150 pounds - these aren't small dogs!
If they seem like the perfect fit, check out the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America (opens in new tab)for rescuing and rehoming options.
9. Old English Sheepdog
Old English Sheepdogs hail from England and were bred as herding dogs. They are incredibly popular shaggy dogs that make for great herders in colder climates, but their shaggy coats don't make them the best fit for warmer farmland. You'll need to manage that coat as well, with regular trims and brushes to prevent matting. Old English Sheepdogs love people and are sensitive and loyal. They can be anywhere from 20-24 inches tall and can weigh up to 100 pounds!
If you'd love a shaggy goofball, there are several region-specific rescues you can check out, including New England Old English Sheepdog Rescue (opens in new tab) and Old English Sheepdog Rescue of Southern California (opens in new tab).
You may not know the Komondor by name, but you will certainly recognize this corded coated mop dog. Komondors hail from Hungary and make great livestock guards as they're inherently independent and can be a bit suspicious. Their corded coat helps keep them safe from any sort of attack. Komondors make good family dogs, as they'll follow you around from room to room, making sure you're safe from harm. They can be anywhere from 25-30 inches tall and weigh around 88 to 130 pounds.
Komondors aren't incredibly popular breeds, but check out the Komondor Club of America (opens in new tab) for mop dogs looking for homes.
Friend for life
While this farm dog breeds list is intended to help offer information and advice for people looking for a working dog breed, every dog is different - as is every family. Adopting a dog means you'll have them for the rest of their lives, so make sure you do your own research to be certain that one of these dogs is right for you. Farm dog breeds need exercise and mental challenges, so if you're looking for a coach potato, these dogs probably aren't the ones for you!