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From Border Collies to Shetland Sheepdogs, breeds of herding dogs are well-known for directing other animals’ motions. Some herding dogs control with their eyes, while others use bumps, nips or barks. Herding dogs have a stick-with-it drive for work — no good comes from misdirecting livestock! Celebrated for intelligence, discretion and obedience, herding dogs were developed to respond easily to man. Because they’re quick to learn and respond to commands, we usually consider herding dogs among the most trainable and smartest dog breeds. These five breeds of herding dogs below agree!

1. German Shepherd Dog

German Shepherd Dog.

German Shepherd Dogs are one of the most popular herding dogs. Photography courtesy Deb Stern and Diane Silver-Strasser.

Remarkably intelligent problem-solvers, we were developed in Germany from sheepdogs to guard, protect and work alongside man. Captain Max von Stephanitz specifically molded us for brainpower and utility. Not surprisingly, we’re one of the most popular police and military dog breeds. We also excel in search-and-rescue and service work for humans. Considered one of the smartest breeds, we absorb learning like sponges. We’re also among the most loyal guard dog breeds, sounding the alarm if newcomers approach. After all, like many (but not all) herding dogs, humans developed us to watch out for livestock — not simply herd them.

2. Bearded Collie

Bearded Collie.

Bearded Collies aren’t just delightfully groomed and bouncy — they’re also amazing herding dogs. Photography courtesy Debbie Chandler.

We’re an old breed, developed in Scotland from some combination of Polish Sheepdogs, Scotch Sheepdogs, Highland Collies or Mountain Collies. Our jobs included both herding livestock and driving them to market. Our harsh, long coats helped protect us in adverse weather conditions (yes, it rains in Scotland!). Some refer to us as bouncy. Our reputation perhaps derives from our bouncy approach for finding, and motivating, sheep to obey. Our personality is slightly bouncy, and altogether upbeat, too.

Thumbnail: Photography ©chris-mueller | Getty Images.

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