Last Updated on April 21, 2023
What comes to mind when you imagine a shepherd dog? Genial, obedient, intelligent?
Shepherds are, first and foremost, guard dogs. These dogs keep their charges safe from harm.
They need to be ferocious enough to keep away predators like coyotes, wolves, and even bears or the occasional leopard.
On the other hand, some sheepdogs come in a smaller size. Read on to find out which is the smallest shepherd breed!
Shepherd breeds: How many types of Shepherd dogs are there?
A shepherd dog can be in reference to a specific breed of dog or a mixed breed dog that happens to guard sheep.
In this article, we will be discussing breeds that have been used as shepherds throughout history.
Sheepdogs and cattle dogs are sometimes used interchangeably, as they both guard livestock. Depending on their job scope, they can be big or small.
Some dogs need to be big enough to ward off predators, as mentioned above, but some breed’s only job is to round up the cattle.
As they are working dogs, you should be prepared to exercise for more than an hour every day. These dog breeds aren’t for those looking for a lapdog but rather those who lead active lifestyles.
1. Anatolian Shepherd
A large breed, these dogs have been known to fight off wolves and bears.
While the Anatolian Shepherd is used as a fearless protector in the field, they are gentle and loving companions at home and get along well with children.
These dogs are young at heart and will continue to act like puppies until they are four years old.
However, early training is essential to ensure that they don’t become unmanageable due to their large size.
Unlike most shepherd dogs, they don’t have thick coats and often have a cream to tan coat, with dark markings around their heads.
2. Australian Cattle Dog
Believed to have Dingo blood, the Australian Cattle Dog, also known as Blue Heelers, can be rather excitable and destructive if left to their own devices.
The American Kennel Club states that they are “intelligent enough to outsmart their owners”, which means that first-time dog owners should probably look for a different breed.
They require work, and it’s highly recommended that they participate in sports to keep him happy.
3. Australian Shepherd
Don’t be fooled by their name, the Australian Shepherd was developed in America for livestock herding. They can come in very striking colors and may have blue eyes.
One of the most sought-after colors is merle blue, where the dog’s coat is broken up into scattered spots.
They are energetic companions and are as sweet-natured as they are hardworking. Intelligent and athletic, they are one of the most popular herding breeds.
4. Belgian Sheepdog
At first glance, you might mistake him for a Black German Shepherd, but the Belgian Malinois is a breed in its own right. Developed in Belgium, these dogs are highly active and need to be challenged to be happy.
They have a strong prey drive and are not suited for households with cats and other small animals.
However, as with many other shepherd breeds, they bring joy to children and don’t mind being terrorized by younger kids, especially since they are slow to mature.
Allow him three to five years to grow out of his puppy behavior!
5. Bearded Collie
Originating from Great Britain, Beardies are one of the oldest herding breeds.
As they were bred to operate independently, they may be better with a skilled dog handler than a novice due to their free-spirited nature.
The Bearded Collie is well known for its long flowing locks and its propensity to leap into the air to check on its flock, also known as the Beardie Bounce.
They are a delightful addition to any family, provided that they get enough exercise and stimulation.
As you can imagine, their long coats need to be well taken care of, and they shed pretty heavily.
6. Bohemian Shepherd
Standing at only 18.5 inches (47 cm) and weighing 35 lbs (16 kg) at most, the Bohemian Shepherd, also known as Chodsky pes, is a small shepherd breed.
They are eager to please hard workers and make great pets.
They come in two variations and can be rough- or smooth-faced, although the AKC doesn’t recognize any distinctions between the two.
In rough-faced Bohemian Shepherds, they have a fluffier ruff around the neck.
7. Border Collie
Considered one of the most intelligent dog breeds, training the Border Collie is no mean feat.
Experienced owners are a better fit for these dogs because they would run circles around someone that isn’t on their toes.
They can be challenging to handle, especially since they tend to herd small children with nips. If you aren’t highly active and don’t plan to spend time exercising your dog, this is not the breed for you.
Border Collies thrive on attention and are highly people-oriented, but their one true love is work.
It would be best if you make preparations to give your dog some kind of work to do, be it agility classes or moonlighting as a therapy dog. Work is their purpose.
The Collie is the breed used to represent “Lassie” from the beloved film.
Hailing from Scotland, these medium-sized dogs are adept at both tracking and herding. They also make wonderful pets with the proper amount of exercise.
Like the Belgian Malinois, there are two types of Collie, the rough-coated and smooth-coated. The rough-coated Collie has a long and silky coat, whereas the other type has a short and dense coat.
Unlike the Belgian Shepherd, the AKC recognizes both standards and allows them to participate in dog shows.
The Collie comes in a variety of colors, including the classic tri-color, merle, sable, and white.
9. Dutch Shepherd
Another GSD look-a-like, the Dutch Shepherd, hails from the Netherlands. It’s believed that they are descended from the same dogs that created the German Shepherd dog and Belgian Shepherd dog.
The Dutch Shepherd is highly versatile and also serves as a cart dog, farm dog, and has also been used as police dogs.
These rare dogs are seldom seen outside of Europe, but they have a beautiful brindle coat that is relatively easy to care for.
10. East-European Shepherd
The German Shepherd’s spitting image, the East-European Shepherd, shares the same bloodline as their shepherd cousins since they were bred from the Alsatian.
These dogs are larger and explicitly bred for military work. Due to this, they are much easier to train than other shepherd breeds.
While they can be suited for first-time owners, they require lots of training and exercise in order to be happy, as they have a strong desire to work.
11. German Shepherd
A popular dog in the police force, German Shepherds have become almost synonymous with the police academy and are also employed for search and rescue.
These dogs are ranked second most popular in America, beaten only by the family-favorite Labrador Retriever.
Their iconic tan and black saddle coloring are not the most common. Sable is their original color and also the most prevalent in working GSDs.
These dogs have a double coat that can be a handful, especially during molting season.
12. Icelandic Sheepdog
Another small breed shepherd, the Icelandic Sheepdog, weighs less than 30 lbs (14 kg). Called the “Dog of the Vikings”, this breed is small but courageous.
These fluffy dogs need loads of grooming on top of the exercise. They are not for those who lead busy lives.
They also aren’t suitable for apartment life as they are yappy dogs that love to express how they feel about everything.
13. Miniature American Shepherd
These little doggos are basically miniature Aussies, but since being recognized as a purebred dog by the AKC, they were renamed MAS or Miniature American Shepherds.
These rugged little dogs don’t grow past 40 lbs (18 kg), and they can thrive in all living arrangements.
Whether you’ve got a tiny apartment or a large farmhouse, these dogs will be happy where the party is.
Like all shepherds, they tend to bark to alert you of anything out of the ordinary. It would be prudent to teach him the “quiet” command from a young age.
14. Old English Sheepdog
Star of “The Shaggy Dog”, the Old English Sheepdog is a kindly and gentle fella. They have copious amounts of fur that used to be spun into yarn.
A thorough daily brushing is needed to keep the coat in tip-top condition. Neglect may cause tangles and painful mats to form.
Some owners choose to shave their Bobtails because they don’t fancy going through all that trouble to groom them.
It isn’t recommended because their lush double coat helps keep them warm in winter and cool in summer.
15. Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Surprised to see this adorable meme dog on this list? The Pembroke Welsh Corgi, popularized by Queen Elizabeth II, once herded cattle.
These short dogs don’t exceed 12 inches (30 cm) in height and were perfect for herding cows and ox as they are short enough to avoid their kicks.
If you’re curious to see how they look while herding, here’s Flynn showing off:
The Corgi is undoubtedly one of the more popular breeds for those looking for a family dog. Unlike many dogs from the herding group, Corgis are accepting of all creatures, even small pets, and cats.
They don’t have any tails, but their cousin, the Cardigan Welsh Corgi, surely does.
16. Shetland Sheepdog
The Sheltie is a fun-loving dog that does exceptionally well in family settings. They still need lots of exercises, but they aren’t as focused on work as many other sheepdog breeds are.
With proper socialization, they can even get along well with any felines in the home!
Other types of Shepherd dog breeds also include the following:
That’s not all the shepherd dogs that walk this planet! There are a lot more from all corners of the world.
If you’re interested to know what other sheepdogs are out there, check out our list below! However, bear in mind that this is not a complete list of all shepherd breeds.
- Belgian Laekenois
- Bernese Mountain Dog
- King Shepherd Dog
- Shiloh Shepherd Dog
- Bergamasco Sheepdog
- Berger Picard
- Bouvier des Flandres
- Canaan Dog
- Entlebucher Mountain Dog
- Finnish Lapphund
- Norwegian Buhund
- Polish Lowland Sheepdog
- Spanish Water Dog
- Swedish Vallhund
- Swiss Shepherd
Frequently Asked Questions:
Do different types of Shepherd dogs have different temperaments?
Yes! All breeds have their own distinctive temperaments.
As you can see from all the different breeds above, there are sheepdogs that can live with cats, are better off in childless households, or require a more experienced hand.
There’s one thing that you can be certain of, and that’s all herding dogs need lots of exercises!
They make lovely family pets, but only if their needs are met. This means that they aren’t suitable for everyone.
To decide whether a shepherd breed is suitable for you, ask yourself the following questions:
- How much time can I spend on exercise each day?
- Will the neighbors mind excessive barking?
- Do I have a job for my dog?
Which type of Shepherd Dog sheds the least?
If you’re looking for a dog that herds and doesn’t shed, you’re better off with a Poodle. While they weren’t bred to be cattle drovers, they can still be trained to herd, and the best part is?
They don’t shed and are considered to be a hypoallergenic breed. The Spanish Water Dog is also a good alternative.
Which type of Shepherd dog is best?
To be sure, these dogs aren’t for everyone, as they are notoriously high-maintenance. However, if you have the energy to keep up with them, you will be rewarded tenfold by their versatility.
They are excellent watchdogs, nannies, companions, and service dogs.
Collies and Corgis have been touted as two of the easiest breeds to own, but at the end of the day, it all boils down to how much effort you’re willing to put in.
Let us know what you think and which shepherd breed is your favorite!
Further reading: Curious for more? Learn more about dog types!
- Types of Golden Retrievers
- Types of Terriers
- Types of Huskies
- Types of Spaniels
- Types of Poodles
- Types of Pitbulls
- Types of Bulldogs
- Types of Yorkies
Cess is the Head of Content Writing at K9 Web and a passionate dog care expert with over 5 years of experience in the Pet Industry. With a background in animal science, dog training, and behavior consulting, her hands-on experience and extensive knowledge make her a trusted source for dog owners.
When not writing or leading the K9 Web content team, Cess can be found volunteering at local shelters and participating in dog-related events.