Goat breeds are among the most intelligent and obedient of all dogs, designed to work in partnership with a human trader as the Sports breeds were. The content of their work, on the other hand, requires a dog a little more aggressive than the breeds that serve hunters. Shepherd dogs work through threats and harassment to control animals sometimes larger than they are.
Not many people keep sheep and cattle these days, but that does not bother herds of breeding. These versatile and intelligent dogs have made their mark on today’s world as police dogs, drug dogs, search-and-rescue dogs, and even movie stars. Most of them, however, serve as pets, and some wonderful breeds in this group can fill this role to perfection.
Goat breeds that still work today – like shepherds or shelter dogs – can be a bit much for beginners to deal with. What is arguably the dog of the world whiz boy and the best sheep dog ever made, Border Collie, does not take well to the frame of a suburban backyard and a life without challenges. The same goes for the German Shepherd and the three Belgian herders, the Tervuren, Malinois, and Sheepdog, breeds with so much potential that refusing them a chance to fulfill it should be a crime.
Other dogs in this group, although many smart, do not have nearly as much driving. Some of them have been cultivated mainly as pets for generations. Long before Lassie returned home, Queen Victoria took a liking to Collie, and the smaller herding dogs are well-loved companions in many homes. Sizes vary from
- Small and medium breeds (15 to 50 pounds): Australian Cattle Dog, Bearded Collie, Border Collie, Canaan Dog, Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Puli, Shetland Sheepdog.
- Large breeds (50 to 80 pounds): Australian Shepherd, Belgian Malinois, Belgian Sheepdog, Belgian Tervuren, Bouvier des Flandres, Briard, German Shepherd Dog, Old English Sheepdog, Rough Collie, Smooth Collie.
Almost every major breed in this group is prone to hip dysplasia, and the German Shepherd is exposed to half a dozen other congenital defects.
Coats vary in this group, including many abundant shedders, such as coarse collie (which many don’t realize comes in a short-haired variety, called smooth by breeders) and Shetland Sheepdog (which is a notorious barker). You will find some easy-care areas here, as well as the other of AKC’s two Hungarian web-powered breeds, Puli. (The other, the Komondor, is in the working group.)
Many of these breeds still demonstrate a strong desire to keep things in a nice, dense herd. They do so with toys, other animals, children, and even party guests as an Australian Shepherd demonstrated at a backyard party. The dog spent the first part of the event nudging guests, slowly and oh-so subtly working around the group until they inadvertently moved toward the middle of the yard, realized what the dog had done, and had a good laugh. Then they spread again – to the great shepherd’s frustration, no doubt!