One of the more popular dogs is the humble shepherd. There are many shepherd breeds, but they all share some commonalities.

In today’s article, we look at common shepherd characteristics and different popular shepherd breeds.

Common Shepherd Characteristics

A shepherd, or sheep dog, is a kind of working and herding dog. These dogs were very useful to early agrarian societies. They seem to have an innate ability to control the movements of other animals. Let’s discuss some common shepherd characteristics.

The shepherd’s herding instinct is so strong that they can often be found trying to herd their owners. This is especially true of small children who may have gotten a little too far away for the dog’s comfort. Because of this, shepherds are not usually recommended when there are very small children at home because the dog can nip heels. This is never meant to be aggressive, but it’s something to consider. Shepherds are great companions for school aged children, however.

Shepherds are also very smart and capable. This is one of the reasons you can still see shepherds being used on modern police forces and by government militaries. Their intelligence lends very well to search and rescue, obedience training, assistance for the handicapped, and as a means of drug detection.

Shepherds are also fiercely loyal. They work hard to gain the love and devotion of their owners. And when a shepherd is treated right, they will stop at nothing to help their family. Whether you’re looking for a companion or a watchdog, a shepherd is an excellent choice.

Popular Shepherd Breeds

When it comes to shepherds, the term can usually be applied loosely. A shepherd more does the job of shepherding, rather than is a specific breed of dog.

Because of this, there are many breeds that do not explicitly have the name Shepherd, but historically would have been used to herd. These dogs can be found originating from many continents. They have also been used for several different purposes.

Here is a short list of popular shepherding dogs.

German Shepherd

Probably the best known of the shepherding class, the German Shepherd is a very intelligent, loyal muscular. These dogs have an easy gait that reflects their confident and steady attitude. When need be, however, they can show their true skill and agility.

The breed originates from the late 1800s when a retired German cavalry officer took up dog breeding. After 35 years of refining his breed, we have today’s modern German Shepherd.

The German Shepherd has a lot of energy, so you had better make sure they get daily exercise. If not, they can become destructive by chewing, digging or barking. They also do very well with crate training because they are so loyal that they often form separation anxiety. A crate is a great way of teaching them calmness when separated.


Hailing from the Scottish Highlands, the Collie is another popular shepherd. Most people are familiar with Collies from the show Lassie. The main character is actually a very good representation of how Collies are. They are very smart, hardworking dogs that will watch out for their own.

Collies are also sensitive. Collie owners often say that they seem to know when something is wrong. Whether it’s a gentle nudge to cheer you up after a bad day, or a bark to get your attention to something you forgot to take care of, Collies truly love to serve.

Australian Shepherd

Despite their name, the Aussie originated in the United States during the Gold Rush of the 1840s. The dog was bred to herd livestock, and they still do love the task today. The Aussie is a very high energy dog that needs at least 30 to 60 minutes of exercise each day. Without adequate exercise, they will become destructive and loud.

The Aussie is pushy with livestock, and that can carry over from early days too. They are confident and know what they want. This means that a first-time dog owner may find them a challenge, and small children may need to be watched around them.


The Briard is a herding dog that is known best for its devotion. They live to serve their owners and are aloof with strangers. They love nothing better than to be a fly on the wall while you run around the house cleaning. They’ll follow you into every room. They’ll also wait for you to grab a seat for them to make their move, onto your lap. They are loving dogs that serve to please.

They want to take care of their families and are weary of strangers. This makes them great guard dogs. It also means you’ll have to work hard to socialize them very well so they can be more accepting of unknown people. They also are very independent, so it’s important to train them so they’re not an unruly adult.

Border Collie

The Border Collie is known to be in full control of their herd. They are agile and make great use of “the eye” to control their herd. And if that doesn’t work, they are able to unleash an incredible amount of energy to take charge. In fact, many Border Collie owners say this dog has an unlimited amount of energy.

That energy needs to be focused. Flying disk and agility training is a great choice for a Border Collie, as a game of catch each day won’t be enough. They need to work out their energy, or they can become destructive.

Entlebucher Mountain Dog

The Entlebucher is a Swiss herding dog that is known for its independent spirit. They are territorial, so they make great guard dogs. They’ll also love spending time with their family, especially when there is work to be done.

They love completing tasks, so it’s a great idea to train them from a young age. They’ll love getting your slippers or cleaning up dirty laundry. Just be sure they have jobs to do, and they’ll be perfectly content. Otherwise they’ll need to get out and throw the frisbee around.

Hopefully this discussion of common shepherd characteristics and different breeds has given you a good idea of what this noble and capable group of dogs can be like. They make great additions to any household once their stimulation needs are met.