The Difference Between Herding Dogs and Field Dogs

Kiera is 100% Australian Shepherd. She’s a herding dog through and through. All of her instincts are to stay close to her flock and protect, while looking for guidance and direction from her team-mate (me). I got Graidy from a Border Collie Rescue group. They thought he was a BC mix. He sure has the breed’s extremely high energy. But the only thing he herds are birds. Oh, and planes. And helicopters. In other words, anything moving up in the sky. So I’m thinking he’s got some kind of field dog/spaniel in him. And Wink, our Cavalier Spaniel’s instincts are also to run off through the fields.

You can see that Kiera starts to run off with Graidy and Wink (both of whom never look back), but then her instincts kick in and she wants to check in with me to see where I am. If the outside gate was open, I wouldn’t see Wink or Graidy until the cows came home. Or until Kiera caught up to them and got them herded back home.

Another big difference between herding dogs and field dogs is that herding dogs are a snap to train. Field dogs take a bit more work. Where as it only took me a couple of days to teach Kiera a rock-solid “Come,” it took me a month to teach Graidy. Wink…? He’s still learning. : )

I use this little example to illustrate the value in really understanding what each dog is bred to do. Because there are very distinct differences. So please don’t just get caught up with how a dog looks. Please do your research to make sure the breed of dog you get is something that fits your lifestyle. Both your happiness and your dog’s happiness depend on it!

4 thoughts on “The Difference Between Herding Dogs and Field Dogs”

  1. I grew up with German Shorthaired Pointers. That’s exactly how they’d take off when we’d let them run. I always thought it was thrilling to see them run like that. But of course we had a couple hundred acres and no roads to worry about… : )

  2. If I was in a position to have another dog, I’d want one like Kiera. Yeah, yeah, I know herding dogs aren’t for everyone. And I agree everyone should think twice about what dog they get. But there’s something special about Kiera– I dunno, like she’s an old soul.

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