For centuries, dogs have assisted humans with farm work. There are a lot of dog breeds that adjust well to living in a rural countryside setting. But some dogs have been bred specifically to thrive doing farm work, whether herding livestock, protecting the farm and its inhabitants, exterminating vermin, or helping with other tasks.
Here are 10 dog breeds that are considered a good match for farm life.
These breeds tend to be intelligent, hardy, and athletic dogs that enjoy the great outdoors. While they vary greatly in size and temperament, they're all known for being driven to do their jobs.
01 of 10
The Airedale terrier is the largest of all the terrier types, traditionally bred to work as versatile, all-around farm dogs. Airedales have the natural terrier prey drive and make excellent vermin catchers, but they're also keen protectors of their land. With the right training, they can help to drive livestock.
Height: 22 to 24 inches
Weight: 40 to 65 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Hard, wiry, dense, straight, short topcoat with a softer undercoat; tan head and ears; body is a mix of tan and black or dark grizzle; distinctive beard
02 of 10
If you have livestock that need to be driven over long distances, you won't find a more hardy or determined candidate for the job than the Australian cattle dog. Also known as heelers, they got this name because they guide cattle by nipping at their feet. Cattle dogs are intensely loyal, intelligent, and eager to please. They also can be territorial. This is helpful if you're looking for a watchdog, but proper socialization is necessary to prevent their guarding instincts from becoming an issue.
Height: 18 to 20 inches (male); 17 to 19 inches (female)
Weight: 35 to 50 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Athletic, muscular build; smooth, hard double coat; color is usually blue, blue mottled, or blue speckled; also comes in a less common red speckled variety
03 of 10
Despite their name, Australian shepherds were developed in the U.S. as intelligent, energetic, and loyal herders. They have long been associated with herding cattle out on the high plains of the American West. While they tend to be affectionate and eager to please, these dogs need lots of mental stimulation and exercise. Aussies also can be shy around strangers, so early and ongoing socialization is important.
Height: 18 to 23 inches
Weight: 40 to 65 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Muscular and agile; medium-length straight to wavy coat that comes in blue merle, black, red merle, or red; sometimes has white markings
04 of 10
Developed on the Scottish-English border for their natural ability and drive to herd sheep, border collies continue to be widely used as working farm dogs around the world. Many experts argue that the border collie is the smartest dog breed. These dogs are known for their obedience, loyalty, and desire to please. Border collies' work ethic is incredibly strong, and ensuring they have a job to do will help them to thrive. This is why they also excel in dog sports.
Height: 18 to 22 inches
Weight: 28 to 48 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Rough or smooth medium-length double coat; body slightly longer than it is tall; long head that comes to a point at the nose; ears standing erect and tips curling overContinue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10
The low-slung Pembroke Welsh corgi is one of the smallest herding breeds. Developed in rural Wales to herd cattle and guard the farm, these dogs gained popularity as a favorite breed of Queen Elizabeth II. Corgis are smart, hardworking, and affectionate dogs. They aren't as intense or energetic as some other herding breeds, which makes them a popular family pet. But they still need plenty of exercise and socialization. And they can be prolific barkers and might nip at heels.
Height: 10 to 12 inches
Weight: 24 to 30 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Long, low-set dog with short, muscular legs, a stubby tail, and erect pointy ears; medium-length double coat in black and tan, red, sable, or fawn (all colors are typically seen with white markings)
06 of 10
This German dog breed was originally developed for its badger-hunting skills. And the smaller version of the dachshund was commonly used to catch rabbits, mice, and other smaller prey. This makes them a good choice as a vermin catcher on a farm. They can also be good watchdogs, though you do have to train them so their alert barking doesn't become excessive.
Height: 5 to 9 inches
Weight: Up to 32 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Low, long body; smooth, wire-haired, or long-haired coat; colors include chocolate, tan, black, red, and more
07 of 10
The Dutch shepherd, also called the Dutch herder, is sometimes confused with its German shepherd relative. This lesser-known breed is actually regarded as easier to train. Although Dutch shepherds were developed for their herding skills, these dogs were prized for their versatility. For instance, they can also pull carts and guard farms. Known for being loyal, affectionate, and eager to please, Dutchies can make excellent companion dogs, too.
Height: 22.5 to 24.5 inches (male); 21.5 to 23.5 inches (female)
Weight: 45 to 75 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Short, long, and rough-coated varieties; brindle coloring
08 of 10
If you're searching for a family-friendly dog that makes an excellent livestock or farmyard guardian, even in cold climates, look no further than the Great Pyrenees. These dogs are still used today to guard livestock in the mountainous region between France and Spain, where they hail from. They're known for being calm, affectionate, and devoted to their family, including children. While they're gentle with those they know, they're also excellent watchdogs.
Height: 26 to 32 inches (male); 25 to 29 inches (female)
Weight: Around 100 pounds (male); around 85 pounds (female)
Physical Characteristics: Thick, weather-resistant double coat; usually all white though sometimes contains light markings in gray, red, tan, or badger; males especially have a pronounced ruff around their neckContinue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10
The German shepherd is known for being a versatile and intelligent working dog. Smart, hardworking, highly trainable, loyal, and protective, they make good multipurpose farm dogs. They have strong natural guarding and herding skills. Lots of positive-reinforcement training is necessary to get the best from your German shepherd. Their guarding instincts can become excessive if not kept in check, and they'll need appropriate socialization.
Height: 22 to 26 inches
Weight: 60 to 100 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Large, athletic build; double coat with a thick undercoat and a dense, slightly wavy or straight outer coat; tan and black or red and black coloring
10 of 10
If you have a barn, stable, or other farmyard building that you want to keep free of pests, then the Jack Russell terrier could be the perfect fit. Highly proficient, brave, and determined vermin catchers, Jack Russells have lots of personality and love to play. They're also known for being hardy and healthy. But they can be feisty and strong-willed, so consistent training is a must.
Height: 10 to 15 inches
Weight: 13 to 17 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Square, compact build; head is small and blocky with almond-shaped dark eyes and dropped ears set high; slim, erect tail
Breeds to Avoid
Some dogs were bred primarily as companions rather than to work. Thus, those dogs aren’t typically the rugged, athletic canines you see working on farms. Some breeds that are better suited to a lap than a field include the Coton de Tulear, chihuahua, Maltese, Shih Tzu, and Bichon Frise.