10 Best Dog Breeds for Farms

Great Pyrenees dog laying on grass near sheep

The Spruce / Kristie Lee

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.


Dogs that were bred to work on farms thrive when they have a job to do. That means if you don't live on a farm, you'll have to provide your dog with lots of mental and physical exercise to keep it happy and channel its energy. Otherwise, it might start to engage in problem behaviors, such as chewing.

Breed Characteristics

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

    Airedale Terrier

    Airedale terrier headshot in front of grass

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    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.

    Breed Overview

    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

    Australian Cattle Dog

    Australian cattle dog standing

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    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.

    Breed Overview

    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

    Australian Shepherd

    Australian shepherd on wooden post

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    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.

    Breed Overview

    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

    Border Collie

    Border collie lying on grass

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    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.

    Breed Overview

    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 over

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  • 05 of 10

    Pembroke Welsh Corgi

    Pembroke Welsh corgi herding sheep

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    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.

    Breed Overview

    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


    Wirehaired dachshund lying in straw

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    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.

    Breed Overview

    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

    Dutch Shepherd

    Dutch shepherd walking

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    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.

    Breed Overview

    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

    Great Pyrenees

    Great Pyrenees dog laying on grass in farm

    The Spruce / Kristie Lee

    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.

    Breed Overview

    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 neck

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  • 09 of 10

    German Shepherd

    German shepherd standing in field

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    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.

    Breed Overview

    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

    Jack Russell Terrier

    Jack Russell terrier on a hay bale

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    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.

    Breed Overview

    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.