Explaining the AKC Dog Breed Groups: Herding Breed Group

Patrick MacFarland Patrick MacFarland · Updated May 1, 2024

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Two herding breed dogs sitting in a grassy field, one black and one tan, both looking upwards with open mouths.

Maybe you’re thinking that adding a new member to the family would be a great idea — and what’s not to love about a dog? They can make for an amazing addition to the household, but it’s important to choose the right breed for your living situation.

Are you unsure about what breed to choose? The American Kennel Club (AKC) categorizes dog breeds into seven distinct groupings, making it easier to narrow down your choices. There are the sporting, hound, working, terrier, toy, non-sporting, and herding dog breeds.

This article focuses on the herding breed group, to help you make the best decision on the kind of dog you get.

Herding Breed Group at a Glance

When it comes to the herding breed group, these dogs have the instincts and the notions to control what other animals do. This can have a significant effect on the dog’s behavior.

For example, some dogs have been bred to protect livestock. Some of them herd the livestock to ensure that they’re in the proper place. Some examples include the Belgian Malinois, the Border Collie, and the German Shepherd.

Popular Breeds in the Herding Group

The American Kennel Club has a list of the most popular breeds of dogs that people buy. When it comes to the herding group, the following dog breeds come up in the top 200 list. Let’s take a look at them now.

A brown and white herding breed dog standing on a dirt road with a stick at its feet, looking towards the camera.

Australian Shepherd

Number 12 on the popular breeds list, Australian Shepherds are herding dogs that actually originated in the United States, not Australia. They hail from California and are known to be intelligent, affectionate and protective. They can live to about 15 years and weigh roughly around 60 pounds. The colors they come in are merle, black, blue merle, red and others.

Responsible Breeders Test Australian Shepherds For:

  • Hip & Elbow OFA
  • Eye disorders
  • Autoimmune thyroiditis
  • Collie Eye Anomaly
  • Multiple Drug Sensitivity

Australian Shepherd Grooming Tips

  • Bathe them every few months
  • Brush them everyday or every other day for tidiness
  • Nail trimming is essential every 2-4 weeks

Australian Shepherd Exercise and Training Needs

Australian Shepherds are extremely energetic dogs, which means that they have to have movement throughout the day. It is recommended that a minimum of two hours be set aside for walking them and having them do exercise.

When it comes to training, Australian Shepherds are very smart and will catch on to training quickly. Positive reinforcement is an essential for Australian Shepherds.

A happy herding breed dog sitting on a white platform against a plain background, tongue out, looking directly at the camera.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Number 11 on the popular breeds list, Pembroke Welsh Corgis are herding dogs that hail from Pembrokeshire, Wales. There are two breeds of Welsh Corgis, and the other one is the Cardigan Welsh Corgi. These dogs are playful, outgoing, protective and friendly. They can live up to 15 years and they come in various colors including black and tan, red and fawn.

Responsible Breeders Test Pembroke Welsh Corgis For:

  • Elbow and hip dysplasia
  • Eye disorders
  • Cardiac issues
  • Degenerative myelopathy
  • von Willebrand’s disease

Pembroke Welsh Corgi Grooming Tips

  • Brush them at least twice per week
  • Bathe them every 2-3 months
  • Occasional trimming is great, but not overall haircuts
  • Nail trimming every 4-6 weeks
  • Brush their teeth daily for good, healthy teeth

Pembroke Welsh Corgi Exercise and Training Needs

Pembroke Welsh Corgis usually require about an hour of exercise per day, so make sure you get those walks in with them. When it comes to training, these dogs are extremely smart, but they need to have more of a firm training.

A Herding breed dog lying on a forest path with trees in the background, looking attentively towards the camera.

German Shepherd

Number four on the popular breeds list, German Shepherds were developed by Max von Stephanitz in 1899 in Germany. They usually live up to 13 years. These dogs are known to be protective, obedient, loyal, courageous and brave. Usually, German Shepherds come in various colors including black, black and tan, red and black, gray and others.

Responsible Breeders Test German Shepherd For

  • Degenerative Myelopathy, DM (SOD1A)
  • Platelet Factor X Receptor Deficiency, Scott Syndrome (TMEM16F)
  • MDR1 Drug Sensitivity (ABCB1)
  • Achromatopsia (CNGA3 Exon 7, German Shepherd Variant)
  • Canine Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency Type III, CLAD III (FERMT3, German Shepherd Variant)
  • Factor VIII Deficiency, Hemophilia A (F8 Exon 11, German Shepherd Variant 1)
  • Factor VIII Deficiency, Hemophilia A (F8 Exon 1, German Shepherd Variant 2)
  • Hyperuricosuria and Hyperuricemia or Urolithiasis, HUU (SLC2A9)
  • Ichthyosis (ASPRV1 Exon 2, German Shepherd Variant)
  • Mucopolysaccharidosis Type VII, Sly Syndrome, MPS VII (GUSB Exon 3, German Shepherd Variant)
  • Renal Cystadenocarcinoma and Nodular Dermatofibrosis, RCND (FLCN Exon 7)
  • X-linked Ectodermal Dysplasia, Anhidrotic Ectodermal Dysplasia, XHED (EDA Intron 8)

German Shepherd Grooming Tips

  • You should brush them every few days, up to four times per week
  • Never cut German Shepherds’ hair
  • Bathe them every few weeks

German Shepherd Exercise and Training Needs

It is preferable that German Shepherds have at least two hours of exercise every day. They are a very energetic animal that requires a lot of movement.

When it comes to training, German Shepherds are very intelligent, which means that training will come easy. Positive reinforcement and continuing training is also important for them as well.

A herding breed dog sits on grass at sunset, its fur illuminated by golden light, with a blurred natural background.

Shetland Sheepdog

Number 26 on the popular breeds list, the Shetland Sheepdog hails from the Shetland Islands in Scotland. These dogs can live up to 13 years and they are known to be intelligent, alert, loyal and lively. They come in various colors including blue merle, sable, merle, black and white, black and tan and others. They usually grow to be about 26 pounds.

Responsible Breeders Test Shetland Sheepdogs For:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Thyroid disease
  • Eye diseases
  • Dermatomyositis (Sheltie skin syndrome)
  • Von Willebrand’s disease (vWD)
  • Gallbladder mucoceles
  • Epilepsy

Shetland Sheepdog Grooming Tips

  • Brushing every few days is a smart idea
  • Never cut a Shetland Sheepdog’s hair, but you can trim it occasionally
  • Bathe them every one or two months

Shetland Sheepdog Exercise and Training Needs

Shetland Sheepdogs require at least one hour of exercise per day, but sometimes a bit more is needed. When it comes to training, Shetland Sheepdogs are extremely intelligent, which means that training will come easy for them and you won’t have a lot of problems.

Miniature American Shepherd

Number 29 on the popular breeds list, The Miniature American Shepherd is usually a smaller version of the American Shepherd dog. These dogs are known to be intelligent, obedient, energetic and loyal. They come in various colors including red merle, black tricolor, blue merle and others. They can grow up to be as much as 39 pounds.

Responsible Breeders Test Miniature American Shepherds For:

  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Hereditary cataracts
  • Multidrug Resistance 1 (MDR1) drug sensitivity
  • Canine distemper
  • Hip issues
  • Elbow issues

Miniature American Shepherd Grooming Tips

  • Brush them every few days
  • Nail trimming should be done every few weeks
  • Monthly grooming is essential with a professional
  • Bathe them every 2-3 weeks

Miniature American Shepherd Exercise and Training Needs

Miniature American Shepherds usually need some exercise, but not as much as their bigger counterparts. Make sure you walk them several times throughout the day. When it comes to training, they are extremely intelligent, which means they will catch on to the training methods in no time.

New Breed Alert! Introducing the Lancashire Heeler

The Lancashire heeler hails from England and Wales, and it is believed to have origins with various dog breeds including the Welsh Corgi. It was recognized as an official breed in 2024 by the American Kennel Club and can now compete in AKC events. This dog is a small breed of dog, but it has huge amounts of energy.

Is a Herding Group Breed Right for Your Family?

The great part about herding group dogs is that they are a fantastic breed for your family. They are loyal and loving dogs. They will fill your house with a wondrous energy and atmosphere. Herding dogs are very smart and will know when to be loving, when to help, and when to protect.

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