Not just any dog is cut out for farm life. Just like with people, there are a certain set of skills and a certain attitude that makes a canine shine in the country. While not all breeds will have everything that you need, these are the best farm dog breeds that will offer the most bang for their buck.
Farms dogs have to protect their land and the animals they are in charge of. They also may need to protect human farm workers from time to time. They need to be tough enough to keep predators away, while also being sensitive enough to know when a farm animal needs assistance.
Depending on the particular job that farm dog breeds will be performing, they'll need a unique set of skills. For example, if you expect your furry farm hand to help herd cattle or sheep, you better select a dog with speed and endurance.
If you're considering one of these breeds, you know about the work that needs to be performed by a dog on the farm. From this list, you can choose one breed (or possibly more) that will work out best for your specific needs. Just remember, that all dogs will need effective training to be all they can be. If you’re not willing to put in the effort, you won’t reap the rewards.
This list contains 20 of the best dogs for performing multiple tasks that could be required of a farm dog. Some of these dogs are rather large, while others don't even weigh 50 pounds. As with any dog that you adopt, you need to choose a breed that will meet your needs and also fit in with your home and your lifestyle.
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20 Best Farm Dog Breeds
Farm Dog Breeds for Protection
1. Anatolian Shepherd
Although this breed from Turkey is called a “shepherd”, they do not make great herding dogs. Pictured above, these dogs were traditionally used as a shepherd’s companion and as a protector from wild animals.
Intelligent and loyal, pups in this breed are easy to train. This rugged breed does well living outside in many climate types. They are independent, and once trained, they can make the right decisions without their master standing over them.
These pooches are territorial. While that is a good trait in protector dogs, care must be taken to teach them what truly is a threat. Anatolian Shepherds will often expand their protected territory outside your boundaries. Fencing is recommended.
With tons of energy, Dalmatians need a lot of exercise and diversion. This makes them great for working on a farm. These fur babies are descended from the old dogs of war, and still retain that bravery and courage.
The reason you often see this breed in fire stations and police stations is because they are intelligent and easy to train. Not only do they make good protector dogs, they make great companions, too. There endurance means they can keep up with whatever you have in mind.
Like other guarding breeds, these four-legged family members can become aggressive and destructive if bored or left alone too much. Although they are tough dogs that do well in the outside, you need to make sure that they get plenty of human companionship.
3. Great Pyrenees
Dogs are good, Pyrenees are great – big. These white giants look cuddly and friendly, but don’t let that fool you. They are very protective. The breed was developed to guard livestock, and they can do that without much human intervention.
Unlike some other watch dogs, these fur-babies are gentle and mild mannered. They make great family pets. Being sensitive to human emotion, it is better to train these majestic animals with reward based training rather than punishment based training.
While they are intelligent, they are stubborn. This stubborn streak makes them harder to train. Canines of this breed need consistent obedience, pack leader, and socialization training. They love to sound the alarm and will need training to curb nuisance barking.
With a corded coat, this dog is easily recognizable as the one that looks like a mop. It isn’t just for looks either. This type of coat protects these farm dog breeds from attacks and helps them to weather many climate conditions.
Independent and suspicious, these fur-babies make great livestock guards. They aren’t all business, either. They have a silly playful side to go with their silly looking hair. While not guarding livestock, they will guard you and your family with an intense, alert stare.
Komondors prefer to be the only dog around. Like all good guard dogs, they are territorial and suspicious. They need to be well socialized with different people and animals from puppyhood on so that they do not become overly aggressive.
5. Marremma Sheepdog
Bred to protect flocks of sheep and goats in Italy, this little known breed is seeing a rise in popularity. In their traditional role, they were guardians against wolves, and they would fight to the death if needed.
The Marrema makes a perfect guardian for animals and people. Obedience training can be started early with these playful, intelligent pups. With energy and determination, this breed can meet many challenges.
These dogs don’t have a high tolerance for teasing and rough play. People in the home must be trained on how to properly treat a dog. These fur-babies are intelligent and independent. Training must start from the beginning and must be consistent.
6. Bernese Mountain Dog
If you are looking for a livestock guard that is also easy going and mild tempered, this may be the breed for you. Although loyal and brave, this pooch is a family dog at heart. They don’t mind wearing many different hats around the farm.
Easy to train, these energetic farm dog breeds need work. Whether that is pulling the kids around in a cart, protecting the livestock, or being a swimming buddy is completely up to you. These hardworking dogs are energetic and enduring.
While they are a protector of livestock, they love almost all people and will not be able to protect against poachers or robbers. Like other giant dogs, their life isn’t long – only about 8 years. They almost went extinct, so there gene pool is not diverse. Care must be taken to avoid genetic illnesses.
Farm Dog Breeds for Herding
7. Australian Cattle Dog
These compact dogs make great herders. Their size makes it easy for them to dash in and out of the herd, and through and between legs. Dogs in this breed are intelligent and easy to train, but they still retain some independent thought, making then entertaining companion dogs.
Affectionate and kid friendly, these four-legged family members aren’t just work dogs. However, they are suspicious of strangers and will make an excellent watchdog. Their short wiry coat is easy to care for after a long day in the fields.
While these farm dog breeds are easy to train, they are rather sensitive to criticism. Therefore, they are not recommended for the first time dog owner. They need a trainer that can be firm and consistent, but also gentle and loving.
8. Pembroke Welsh Corgi
I’ll admit that I was a little surprised that the Pembroke Welsh Corgi makes a great herding dog. In fact, they try to herd everything including children. Since they are brave defenders, they may even keep your farm free of varmints.
While they are not considered aggressive, these farm dog breeds will sound the alarm if anyone dares to approach its space. Intelligent and obedient, this breed is even recommended for inexperienced dog owners.
Like a Dachshund, Corgis have a long spine. They should avoid climbing stairs is much as possible. These four-legged family members love to eat, so care must be taken so they don’t pack on the pounds. An overweight dog is an unhealthy dog.
9. Border Collie
A much loved breed, the Border Collie is one of the most popular arm dogs in the world. Their intelligence and intuition make them great for someone who is just starting to learn how to train a farm dog.
These gentle and loving dogs make excellent family dogs. One of the smartest dogs in the world, they can learn a wide variety of tasks and tricks. These pups will be great around kids and strangers alike.
One cannot overstate the amount of energy and stamina that these canines have. They need daily activity and exercise that keeps them mentally and physically fulfilled.
10. Old English Sheepdog
While you might think that this dog’s hair should be cut away from his eyes, it is actually great in protecting this fur-babies vision while on the trail. Like all good herders, this dog can stay on the task at hand. It doesn’t wander, and it isn’t easily distracted.
This is a sensitive, loyal dog. They are quick learners and do not need harsh training methods. They are friendly and loving and do well and households with children and other pets.
With a thick coat, the Old English sheepdog is not suited for warmer climates. Speaking of coat, they shed quite a bit, and their hair needs constant attention to prevent matting. This is not a breed that can be left outside to fend for itself. These farm dog breeds need almost constant human companionship to be healthy and happy.
11. Scotch Collie
Similar to a Shetland Sheepdog, but not as popular, the Scotch Collie is also referred to as the Rough and Smooth Collie. While they are not as well known, they are considered to be as intelligent as the Border Collie and the Shetland Sheepdog.
Sweet and lovable, dogs of this breed make excellent companion dogs for families with children. They love to bark and make great watchdogs. While a traditional herder, they can be trained to perform other duties on a farm such as fetching items or pulling carts.
Their barking can easily get out of control and they will need gentle but consistent training to avoid nuisance barking. While they are sturdy outdoors dogs, they need daily human companionship to be mentally and physically healthy. They love to chew and dig and will need diversions to curb this desire.
Similar in build to the Welsh Corgi, these distant cousins are known as the Swedish “Cow Dog”. This breed is believed by many to be a working dog for the Vikings, but the facts are debatable. What is not debatable is that these four-legged family members make great farmhands.
While these far dog breeds make excellent herders, they also retain a high prey drive and will chase off any unwanted animals. Swedish Vallhunds are merry creatures often inventing games to amuse themselves and their humans.
These dogs love to bark and will need training to avoid nuisance barking. Their energy and cleverness make them great at their job, but can lead to problems if they don’t have optional outlets for their energy. They shed quite a bit.
Farm Dog Breeds for Varmint Catching
13. Rat Terrier
Although many people believe that this dog isn’t good for anything, but it doesn’t have “rat” in its name for nothing. These tenacious boogers are what give the Pitbull its bite. If you have a problem with small furry animals, this is your solution.
A lot of dog in a small package, the Rat Terrier is surprisingly muscular. Brave and determined, it will chase any small animal until it catches it – even if that means going into his underground home. Once its jaws latch on, it won’t let go until its prey is dead.
This is another working breed that has abundant energy. While they are good with children, these farm dog breeds do not do well with other dogs. They can be jealous and territorial with anything that they consider “mine”.
14. Jack Russel Terrier
Another small dog with a big personality, the Jack Russell Terrier can be a handful, but in the right situation, it can be the perfect dog for the job. If that job happens to be catching sneaky rats or raccoons, then it is an expert.
Clever and confident, these pooches can give animals and humans a good run for their money. Nothing gets past these alert and curious canines. Not only do they make great working dogs, their playfulness makes them great companion dogs as well.
These dogs love to be a dog. That means that they bark, they dig, they chase, and anything else the traditional dog likes to do. They have unlimited energy, and if they don’t have an outlet, they will tear through anything that looks entertaining.
15. Miniature Pinscher
Commonly believed to be a Miniature Doberman Pinscher, the “Min Pin” is actually an independent breed. This common companion dog retains much of its prey drive. This means it is an excellent ratter in the city and on the farm alike.
While these little firecrackers may not make a great guard dog, they do make excellent watchdogs. They will sound the alarm when anything is out of place. With the natural instinct to wander, these dogs are happiest on a farm where they have plenty of space to roam.
If you plan on keeping this dog in the backyard fence, good luck. These clever animals are known as excellent escape artist. Like many small dogs, these canines cannot tolerate temperature extremes. They need to be kept indoors and not on the job.
16. Fox Terrier
With the word Fox and the name, it is not surprising that this dog breed is made for hunting down little furry rodents and rodent -like animals. Like all the terriers that I know, these pups are very vocal and have no problem making themselves heard.
High energy and prey drive is what makes dogs in this breed a great choice to keep varmints out of the food bins and the chicken coop. They can still do double duty as a playful, clever companion.
These scrappy dogs love to pick fights with other dogs, socialization training needs to be started in puppy hood. Pups in this breed need to get plenty of entertainment and exercise or they can become very destructive. Self-confident and inquisitive, they can often get themselves into tough situations.
Best All-around Farm Dog Breeds
17. German Shepherd
The classic working dog, a German Shepherd is great at any task he puts his mind to. They’re aloof with strangers, protective of their charges, excellent herders, and can kill little animals with their powerful jaws. If you can have only one animal on your farm, this would be a great choice.
Sensitive and intelligent, you won’t have to put a lot of effort into training this dog. They can easily pick up new commands and implement them with independent thought. They have an excellent sense of smell, and can root out any hiding rodents.
While the German Shepherd is a tough outdoors dog, it usually has separation anxiety. They can be destructive if left alone too long. They need pack leader training and socialization skills from a young age to avoid becoming overly aggressive. These furry beasts shed quite a bit.
18. Catahoula Leopard Dog
Also known as the Catahoula Cur, this Louisiana native breed can fill multiple jobs. Brave and strong, they will fight away any predators. Loyal and nimble, they also make excellent herders.
With eyes of different colors and a spotted coat, this breed is a head turner. With bountiful endurance and energy, they can put in a full day’s work, and then some. Not content to just do the work, they are playful and loving with family.
Unlike some other dogs commonly used to protect livestock, these pooches are companion dogs. While they are made for the swamps of Louisiana, they need daily human companionship and do not make good “outside” dogs. Isolation can lead to aggressiveness.
19. Belgian Malinois
In color and size, the Belgian Malinois is very similar to a German Shepherd. In fact, these dogs are usually used in police work, including in my hometown. This pup will even make a great all-around farm dog
They are hard-working and obedient. They are intelligent and nimble enough to do any herding work needed, but they have enough natural suspicion to make them great watchdogs, too. A healthy breed, these canines can live up to 15 years.
These dogs are intense and active. If not kept busy, they can become destructive and aggressive. Care should always be taken around children and other dogs. Suspicious and alert, these four-legged family members need socialization training.
With intelligence, loyalty, and bravery, this breed makes a great all-around farm dog. This dog is can do whatever you need doing – protecting livestock, herding farm animals, or killing the opossums and rats that won’t keep their nose out of your business.
These farm dog breeds have a powerful bark and the muscle to back it up. You won’t have to worry about furry intruders or human intruders. They are calm, quick learners, and can be trained to do whatever it is that you need done.
Known for aggressiveness, the Rottweiler must be trained and handled by someone who is fluent in pack leader training. They need to be well socialized in puppyhood so that they are not overly suspicious and territorial.