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Choosing a working dog for your farm is like picking what car to use. Sedans are great for cities and the occasional road trip, while a pickup is good for hauling loads. Just like each vehicle type has different roles, every dog breed is specialized for something.
Sure, there are dogs that can work as a jack-of-all-trades, but that isn't the only role. Some of the main roles of a working dog include guarding livestock and property, herding sheep or cattle, and pest control for those who have crops. Depending on your needs and budget, you may invest in more than one dog or get one that’s great at different roles.
No matter your requirements, here are 5 of our recommended dog breeds:
Often the partner of choice for police and armed forces for good reason. German Shepherds are protective, intelligent, and relatively easy to train. These traits make them just as effective in any ranch or farm.
Their protectiveness makes them ideal guards, their intelligence means they’re capable herders, and their strong jaws make them great at pest control.
Loyalty, responsiveness to commands, and high energy make the Border Collie another great choice at an all-rounder. This breed has been known as arguably the smartest dog breed in the world, according to canine psychologist Stanley Coren. They have been known to learn commands faster and execute them successfully on the first try more than any other dog breed in obedience tests.
Also known as “heelers”, Australian Cattle Dogs are perfect for herding livestock because they usually guide by nipping at their feet. While they are territorial and need to be socialized with the farm animals to gain familiarity, they’re alert and agile – crucial traits for herders.
Great Pyrenees are also among the most intelligent dog breeds. Combine this with their loyalty, and they make excellent guards. One thing that sets this breed apart is that they’re also affectionate towards the owner’s family. If you have children with you in your farm, this is the top breed to consider.
Proficiency, courage, and high energy make Jack Russell Terriers a perfect fit for pest control. They’re small, agile, and bred to hunt small animals. These include rodents, racoons, and other pests that can damage crops and steal eggs from poultry.
One downside is that their high energy requires a bit of attention and training to get under control. They don’t tolerate boredom well and you may need to play with them from time to time.
The Huntaway is a cross-breed between Border Collie and other working dogs like the Doberman, Rottweiler and Labrador. It’s unique to New Zealand and was bred as a herder with fast reflexes and great stamina.
Its defining characteristic is that it uses its bark to shepherd. This is useful to have, especially if the sheep are free-range and may not always be within the farmer’s line of sight.
While Huntaways are great at patrolling and herding, they require a lot of training and exercise in order to bring out their full potential. In return, farmers get a working dog that’s extremely loyal.
These working dog breeds are among the most popular to have on a farm or a ranch. No matter which one you pick, the most important thing is to give them proper training and adequate nutrition so that they can keep up with the demands of the farm life.
One way to do this is to give them Wishbone Gold, a dry dog food formula specially made for your working farm dogs. It’s enriched with Taurine for a healthy heart, and is made with 100% New Zealand Beef and Lamb to keep their muscles strong. Click here to shop today and give your working dogs the proper nutrition they need.