Howdy, Y'all. Dogs are an intrinsic part of our lives as humans. We’ve been with them and they have been with us for millenia; being bred for a variety of purposes to suit our needs. But what is the best dog to have if you have a ranch of your own? We may have our normal everyday dogs like our Beagles and that is well and all and they have their purpose but in owning a ranch you may be missing out on some key attributes if we leave it up to our Yorkies to guard the homestead.
To start, what makes a good dog for ranching? What qualifies one dog for ranching over another? What attributes should you look for? One of the main characteristics of a good boy or girl you will see is intelligence. This intelligence manifests in many different qualities for specific dog breeds. Intelligence includes things like: Taking commands, being easy to train, and being able to decipher what/who is friendly or an intruder to the land. Dogs of such intelligence include: Germans Shepherds, Border Collies, Australian Cattle Dogs, and Australian Shepherds.
Another highly valuable and sought after attribute is protection. This can be protecting the herd and other dogs on the ranch from big predators but also handling smaller animals like foxes and rodents from getting to the calves or other small animals on the ranch. For larger predators dogs such as the German Shepherd, Great Pyrenees, Airedale Terrier, Bernese Mountain Dog, Anatolian Shepherd, or the Belgian Sheepdog (Groenendael). Dogs that are good for smaller predators include: Dachshunds, Jack Russell Terriers, Rat Terriers, Miniature Schnauzers, and Cairn Terriers.
Herding is no small part of a farm. Dogs that are bred for herding are Intelligent in nature. Intelligence as was alluded to earlier such as taking commands and being decisive and confident in their motions. These dogs will also be highly athletic too as their breed required them to be wrangling sheep or cattle around a property. Canines of this nature include: German Shepherds, Border Collies, Great Pyrenees’, Pembroke Welsh Corgis, Australian Cattle Dogs, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Australian Shepherds, Anatolian Shepherds, Dutch Shepherds, Belgian Sheepdogs (Groenendael), and Shetland Sheepdogs.
You will see on this list that many dog breeds come up multiple times in multiple sectors. This is not for a lack of quantity of how many good dogs there are for a ranch life but because a lot of these dogs are “Jack of all Trades” types. Not to be said that they are masters at none. They are highly skilled in what they do and can be considered masters but what is a master if they are only skilled in one thing? Highly effective in what they do and also highly skilled and competent in other areas of their lives. That being said just because these are working type dogs does not mean they are emotionless and don’t want your love and attention. Most if not all of the dogs on this list are great dogs in general and can be a very loving family dog. Specifically the Collies, the Australian Cattle dog, the Great Pyrenees, the Jack Russell Terrier, the Corgis, the German Shepherd, the Schnauzers, the Anatolian Shepherd, the Sheepdogs, and even Labradors.
Choose your ranch dog wisely, one that suits your needs and suits your family. These dogs are good, very good, at what they do but that doesn’t mean they won’t have time for you and your family when the work day is done for the both of you.