Sheepdogs: three breeds to (re)discover

Herding dogs are mostly ancestral breeds, some selected from prehistoric times with specific criteria related to their activities. These dogs especially protected herds from predators, and therefore had to be born protective, strong and not too afraid. They have a gift for rounding up and driving cattle, especially when breeding, even in small parts; they are also excellent trackers, capable of searching for lost animals to bring them back to the herd.

Australian Shepherd, intelligent and very energetic

This breed, which has been very popular in France for several years, is known for its thick coat and beautiful eyes, which can be amber, brown or blue. The Australian Shepherd, despite its name, is not native to Australia; the breed was developed in the United States in the early 20th century and may be of Basque origin. Very intelligent and versatile, this dog has proven itself on American ranches, but is nevertheless an excellent companion for a family. Full of energy, he is facetious and curious, nimble and not too fragile; he needs a firm upbringing, but without any ferocity and good socialization, so that his strong character does not make him unmanageable. He needs a lot of activity and is definitely not made for living in an apartment.

The German Shepherd is an athletic and friendly dog

Descended from different types of German Shepherds, this breed was first identified in 1899 and has been successful all over the world ever since; also one of the favorite dogs of the French for more than 10 years. Sporty and elegant, supple and versatile, the German Shepherd is a dog of medium height, muscular and built for physical exertion. He is also very playful and needs space: he can stay outside whatever the weather and enjoys country life, but he does not tolerate solitude well. Affectionate and very attached to his masters and territory, he is a good guard dog as he is naturally cautious; therefore, it is important to teach it to strangers. If he is well-educated, he is extremely obedient and loves to please his loved ones.

The German Shepherd has been one of the favorite dogs of the French for more than 10 years.
The German Shepherd has been one of the favorite dogs of the French for more than 10 years. – Anna Aybetova/Shutterstock

Belgian Shepherd, born protector

There are four varieties of this same breed, of which the hardiest and most common is the Belgian Shepherd Malinois. He is somewhat reminiscent of a German shepherd in appearance, short dark red hair often marked with gray or black, and in silhouette. However, he wears a characteristic black mask. The Tervueren variety is very similar to it, but with a long coat forming an impressive collar and jabot. The Belgian shepherd Groenendael also has long and straight hair, but always black zain; finally, the rarest of the four breeds, the Laekenois is known for its coarse and harsh coat and bears little resemblance to other Belgian shepherds. Lively, intelligent, agile, agile and very attached to their adopted family, these dogs are exceptionally talented in many sports and working disciplines. Bold and very protective, Belgian Shepherds are good watchdogs, but they need a master who is completely committed to their training and do not appreciate solitude or small spaces.

Belgian shepherds are good watchdogs.
Belgian shepherds are good watchdogs. – Ria Putzker Photography / Shutterstock

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