What are the Best Farm Dogs?

Border collie walking with many sheep

Humans and dogs have had a relationship for thousands of years. Usually, there is a bit of a give and take where humans care for their four-legged friends, who in turn provide a service. In many countries, dogs have an important role on the farm. What are the best farm dogs?

When you think of a farm dog, you’re probably imagining a large, majestic creature herding cattle. Over the centuries, there have been many different dogs working on farms and providing different kinds of services for their owners.

Farm dogs earn their keep by working for their owner, and in turn, they would be cared for. The dog would receive food and shelter as repayment for a task well done. With so many different dog breeds in different shapes and sizes, have you ever thought what are the best farm dogs?

The answer to that question is not so simple as it may seem. You might think a farm dog does a job, so which one is the best at its job? The difficult part comes in when you ask yourself what job are you talking about.

Most dog breeds were developed to complete a specific task. On the farm, there are many different tasks that a dog can complete. So there really can’t be one breed of dog that is the best on the farm. There are only dogs that are good at completing a certain task. Of course, some breeds can overlap tasks, but let’s take a look at the different kinds of farm dogs.

Types of Farm Dogs

Normal farm dogs usually fall into one of four categories. These categories include guardians, herders, ratters, and multipurpose dogs. Read below to learn about the specific tasks each group might complete.


Dogs in the guardian group are usually large and hearty. As farmers raised livestock, they couldn’t possibly be with their flock all day, so they would rely on these dogs to keep an eye on livestock for them. These dogs were usually large and intimidating to keep away any predators.

A livestock guardian would watch over cattle, sheep, goats, and even hens. This would allow the farmer to grow his flock while also attending to other tasks. Livestock guardians are constantly vigilant. They’ll be prepared to face danger day or night to keep their herd safe. Good examples of livestock guardians include:

  • Great Pyrenees
  • Mastiffs
  • Anatolian Shepherd


Herding dogs may have some overlap with guardians, but they perform very different tasks. While the livestock guardian simply keeps watch over livestock, dogs in the herding category are actively working with their herd and pushing them in certain directions. Each morning, the herding dog takes their livestock out to the field. Once night falls, they bring their herd back to the farm.

These dogs are quick and agile, they watch over the herd and make sure the animals don’t stray too far. These dogs have developed an expert skill at taking commands. They might take auditory commands or gestures depending on how they’ve been trained.

Some examples of great herding dogs include:

  • Australian Cattle Dog
  • Border Collie
  • German Shepherd
  • Welsh Corgi


Ratters have the kind of job you might not have considered necessary on a farm. They control the pest population. A farm needs to produce as much food or livestock as possible. Because of this, any pests must be dealt with quickly.

Ratters are the ones who deal with these pests. Common pests on the farm include mice and even snakes who might steal eggs. But ratters have also been known to exterminate animals like raccoons, possums, and even badgers. These dogs are usually small, but they’re tenacious and work hard to keep food storage and livestock safe.

Popular ratter breeds include:

  • Brussels Griffon
  • Dachshund
  • Miniature Pinscher
  • Yorkshire Terrier

Multipurpose Dogs

While there are dog breeds that were developed for a specific purpose, there are also dog breeds that excel at multiple jobs. These multipurpose dogs can perform most of the tasks on the farm. They might even be used in place of mules or horses.

Most multipurpose dogs are larger in size, so they might be used to pull a cart to or from the market when not protecting the farm’s livestock.

Examples of multipurpose dogs include:

  • Newfoundland
  • Saint Bernard
  • Swiss Mountain Dog

Looking at which breed is the best farming dog doesn’t mean looking at the dog, rather it means looking at the task. What kind of job is expected to be done? From there, you can decide the best breed.