Throughout history, man has always been wary of unaccompanied livestock’s dangers. For this purpose, they reared shepherds and sheepdogs. They served as loyal companions and took the responsibility of protecting the flocks. Today, they make excellent family dogs, rescuers, police dogs, and even therapy dogs. Some types of shepherd dogs are as old as the Bronze Age, while some were bred recently.
They come in all shapes, sizes, coats, and colors. However, most of these breeds have similar dispositions and temperaments. This article enlists 16 shepherd dogs that excel on the field and in-home. If you want to adopt one, study their personality traits to find the one that would be best for you as a companion.
1. German Shepherd
Not needing an introduction, German shepherd ranks third in AKC’s most popular dog breeds list. Also known by the name “Alsatian,” they are purebred dogs. Intelligent and eager, the German shepherd makes excellent family pets, companion dogs, and police dogs. They are extensively used in search and rescue and drug detection operations.
They get bored and anxious if you leave them for more extended periods. They are highly active and intelligent. So, it would be best to keep them busy in both physical and mental exercise. They are suspicious of strangers. You can make them behave well and socialize by obedient training. They are both kid-friendly and pet-friendly. You can keep them indoor or outdoor depending upon their energy needs.
2. Australian Shepherd
Affectionately known as “Aussie,” Australian shepherds were bred around the 1800s in the American frontier among the settlers of the West. They are descendants of Basque shepherd dogs. Ranking 12th in AKC’s list of most popular dogs 2020, Australian shepherds still herds on forms worldwide.
Aussies are incredibly intelligent, quick learners, and eager to please owners. These attributes make them easy to train. They must be kept under the eye of an experienced dog owner through both grooming and exercise. They love to roam with children and other pets.
3. Belgian Shepherd
All four varieties of Belgian shepherd dogs have common ancestors who hailed from Western Europe in the early 1800s. These include Belgian Groenendael, Belgian Laekenois, Malinois, and Tervuren. They were reared in history as show dogs, police dogs, herders, rescuers, and search dogs.
Belgian shepherd dogs are known for their playful and pleasing nature. They are attention seekers and rarely calm enough for apartment life. They have highly developed preying instincts that make them unsuitable for other pets. However, they are kid-friendly. They can adapt well to any environment due to their high adaptability.
4. White Swiss Shepherd Dog
Also known as Berger Blanc Suisse, these shepherd dogs are descendants of white German shepherds imported from Canada. This medium-sized breed with erect triangular-shaped years and big bushy tails gives ethereal looks. They are highly alert, decisive, and vigilant.
These snowy shepherds are more easy-going and gentler than their ancestors. That is why they are less aloof with strangers and more passionate and friendly companions. This breed has a herding instinct and a strong working nature with a compassionate and active disposition. They are protective, easy to train and socialize well with strangers.
5. Shiloh Shepherd Dogs
Shiloh is a hybrid of Alaskan Malamute and German Shepherd. They were bred in New York in 1970 by Tina Barba, a German shepherd enthusiast. Although similar in various traits, these dogs are more extensive and softer-natured than their parents. Due to their gentle disposition, they are used as service and therapy dogs, child companions, flock guards, guides, rescuers, and search dogs.
The “gentle giants” are described as the most caring and affectionate types of shepherd dogs. However, early grooming and training are necessary for raising a friendly and social dog. They have medium to high energy levels so need regular exercise. These softballs are always lovely and patient with strangers, children, and other pets.
6. Basque Shepherd Dog
Basque shepherd dog or Perro de pastor Vasco originated from Basque country in northern Spain. Described as a Landrace breed, these unique dogs are renowned for adapting well to Modern Family life and understanding children.
Being bright and quick in learning, Basque shepherd dogs are incredibly tolerant to training and exercise. They are affectionate towards all the family members and pets. An early socialization training can keep them from acting up around strangers.
7. Old English Sheepdog
The old English sheepdog served as a drover and herding dog. Their origins are unknown; however, evidence shows they were bred in South-Western England in the early 1800s. Their parents might be the Scottish Bearded Collie, Russian Owtchar, or another dog breed with a similar disposition.
These dogs are a treat for the owners who look for an affectionate, loving, and protective companion. With an easy-going disposition, they can fit well into apartment life. Ensure they get enough exercise from walks and play sessions to keep up with energy levels. They are reasonably good for newbies. As they are not easy to train and groom, you might need expert help to control his destructive behaviors.
8. Finnish Lapphund
Raised in native Lapland, in the far north of Finland, Finnish Lapphunds are pure breeds that fare well in cold climates. Semi-nomadic Sami people specifically reared these types of shepherd dogs to herd reindeers. They’re highly affectionate and intelligent dogs.
Finish Lapphunds are the epitome of affection and polite nature. Their bond with the family members is unparalleled. Due to their protective nature, they get along well with children and other pets. Although suspicious of strangers, they never show aggressive nature towards them. Being easily trainable, they are suitable for novice owners.
9. Shetland Sheepdog
Popularly known as “Shelties,” these types of shepherd dogs stood guard for the farmers in the rugged Shetland Islands stretching across the coast of Scotland. They are mixes of Collies and other smaller dogs. They are still used as herding and guard dogs.
With intelligent and pleasing nature, these dogs click well to the training. They are affectionate and polite towards everyone, including kids, family, and strangers. However, they are sensitive and prone to destructive behaviors if left unattended for more extended periods. They do not adapt well to apartment living or city life.
10. Miniature American Shepherd
Miniature American shepherds were bred in California in the 1960s. Their hybrids of Australian shepherds and undersized dogs resembled them. Like his forbearers, miniature shepherds retain their herding ability. Their high energy levels make them perform well in many dog sports.
Miniature American shepherds love spending time with the family in a rural environment. This intelligent and active breed is best for experienced owners who can provide regular exercise and training opportunities. Already loving, polite and affectionate, these herding dogs do not hit it off well with children and other pets. However, they enjoy playing with their canine playmates.
11. Bouvier Des Flandres
As the name suggests, these shepherd dogs originated from the European region of Flandres. Its name translates to cow herder or ox herder from Flandres. Their history is unknown, but they might be the descendants of Sheepdogs, the Dutch Griffon, and the Barbet. They make ideal herders, guides, police dogs, and rescuers.
They have solid and fearless personalities. They do not show aggression without any cause. But to avoid destructive behaviors, obedience training and regular grooming is required. They can live in apartments but need regular exercise and outdoor activities several times a week. Due to their assertive personalities, they are not recommended for new pet parents.
As natives of Scotland, Collies can be primarily found in Scottish Highlands and northern England. These dogs come in various varieties with different looks and coat colors. They were reared as herders. They also do well as therapy dogs and child companions.
Collies love being a part of family activities. They connect well with the kids and other pets. As long as they have enough exercise, Collies live comfortably in any lifestyle. However, they bark excessively when left alone for long. Early socialization and obedience training is imperative. Collies top their positive energy with their intelligence, agility, and loyalty.
13. Icelandic Sheepdog
You might have never heard of such types of shepherd dogs. Interestingly, Icelandic sheepdogs stood 24th on AKC’s most popular dog breeds list in 2019. As the name suggests, Icelandic sheepdogs are the only breed native to Iceland. As a small-to-medium dog with a dense coat, bushy tail, and pointed ears, it resembles an Atlantic fox.
“The dog of The Viking” is known for its agility and obedience training. They get along well with other children and pets. Being highly active and vocal, they are not accustomed to apartment life. You can deal with this by letting them frequent outdoor visits and plenty of exercise. They are intelligent and able to perform a variety of herding and flock guarding tasks.
14. Pembroke Welsh Corgi
It is not hard to recognize a Pembroke Welsh Corgi with a furry face, perky ears, long body, and short legs. Originating in Pembrokeshire, Whales, this enchanting shepherd dog has its background steeped in folklore and Welsh legends. Historically, Welsh Corgi is a descendant of Vallhund, a Swedish cattle dog brought by Vikings in the 9th and 10th centuries. AKC recognizes them as pure breeds.
Pembroke Welsh Corgi has a dynamic, intelligent, and eager nature. This makes it easy to train and socialize. They make excellent companions with children and other pets. Make sure you provide them with plenty of exercise and active play stations. They are suitable for novice parents. Keep in mind; they are highly prone to overeating.
15. King Shepherd
King shepherd is a mix of many breeds. Most likely, a German shepherd and Alaskan malamute, Great Pyrenees or Akita could be its parents. Their intimidating size is the absolute opposite of their affectionate and loyal nature. They can do many jobs including working as herders, child companions, guards, guides, police dogs, and rescuers.
King shepherds are highly intelligent and versatile breeds. They can leave it in the apartment but need regular outdoor activities and exercise due to their active disposition. They are kid and pet friendly. Being easily trainable, they thrive in positive reinforcement. They are prone to separation anxiety and depression if you leave them for longer periods.
16. Anatolian Shepherd
Anatolian shepherd dogs, also known as Kangal, have been used as livestock guards and herders. They were bred during the Bronze Age to develop a muscular presence with a sharp and intelligent personality. That is why, although a family dog, the Anatolian shepherd has not a good reputation for first-time pet owners and strangers.
These types of shepherd dogs see you as something to be looked after. This is why they show utmost love, care, and affection for family members. However, they need early socialization and obedience training. They are not well suited for apartment life.
Suitable Types of Shepherd Dogs for your Home
Each type of shepherd dog is unique in its way and temperament. It is not easy to decide which shepherd dog would be the best fit for you. But if you want to adopt one, ask yourself the following questions and choose accordingly.
- Are you a newbie?
- Do you have an active lifestyle?
- Do you have enough time and energy to groom your dog?
- Are there other pets, children, or the elderly in your home?
- Does your dog need to socialize?
- Do you leave your home during the day for long hours?
- Do you need a companion dog or a guard dog?
- Do you live in a city or rural area?
- Do you live in an apartment?
- Can you accommodate a large breed or a small dog breed?
Each breed of shepherd dog is unique. But generally, we can describe them as highly intelligent, affectionate, protective, and obedient. Bringing any of them home would be an excellent treat for pet lovers who need a companion and loyal friend. Although the types of Shepherd dogs and their hybrids are numerous, this article enlists the most suitable ones for adoption in modern family life.