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11 Different Types of Shepherd Dog Breeds (With Pictures)

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Shepherd dogs, aka sheepdogs, are a type of working dog bred to herd or protect livestock. They come in all shapes and sizes and are often classified by the AKC as herding dogs. Shepherd dogs are very smart and possess a strong desire to work. These intelligent dogs possess a natural instinct for controlling the movement of livestock, including sheep and cattle.

While several dog breeds are classified as shepherds or have the term 'Shepherd' in their name, not all are herding dogs. Rather, they were developed to serve a slightly different purpose on the farm, which is guarding livestock instead of herding them. Nevertheless, both herding breeds and guardian breeds are often referred to as shepherd dogs. On this list, I only included dog breeds that have 'Shepherd' in their name. This means that you won't find Shepherd dogs such as the Border Collie or Pembroke Welsh Corgi in this article.

For your information, all Shepherd dogs are energetic and therefore are not recommended as pets for sedentary pet owners.

1. Australian Shepherd

A well-groomed Australian Shepherd

The Australian Shepherd is a medium-sized breed of herding dog developed in the U.S., despite its name. Legend has it that the breed's ancestors, English sheepdogs, came to the U.S. through Australia, hence the name. Australian Shepherds were originally bred to herd cattle and therefore don't make good guard dogs. They are the cowboy's herding dog of choice and are described by the AKC as the "picture of rugged and agile movers of stock." When kept as pets, Australian Shepherds are known for forming strong attachments to their owners and being protective of them. They are generally healthy dogs with a life expectancy of 13 to 15 years. 

2. Miniature American Shepherd

A red merle Miniature American Shepherd

The Miniature American Shepherd is a very smart and biddable herding dog that resembles a small Australian Shepherd. Of course, the breed was developed in the United States in the late 1960s by breeding what was thought to be small Australian Shepherds. The Miniature American Shepherd is described by the AKC as a true herder, in spite of its compact size. Minis are bright, energetic, versatile, and rugged, and share many physical traits with their ancestor, the Aussie, only on a smaller scale. Like its forebear, the Mini American Shepherd doesn't make a good guard dog, although they love their humans are are protective of them.

3. Anatolian Shepherd

An Anatolian Shepherd standing in a field

Unlike the Aussie and the Mini American Shepherd, which were bred to control livestock, the Anatolian Shepherd was bred to guard livestock against predatory bears and wolves, as well as human thieves. The American Kennel Club describes the breed as "a rugged, imposing flock guardian of ancient lineage." Anatolian Shepherds are large, sturdy dogs who are diligent at their jobs. If you are looking for a livestock guardian dog to, for example, keep your backyard chickens or farm-sized flock safe, your search might end here.

4. German Shepherd

A German Shepherd and its puppy

The German Shepherd is a popular breed of working dog widely deemed dogkind's finest all-purpose worker. The breed is renowned for its loyalty and willingness to put their life on the line in defense of their owners. Originally bred as a herding dog, the German Shepherd is very versatile and has since been used in many other types of work, including police work, search-and-rescue, and therapy work.

5. Caucasian Shepherd

A giant Caucasian Shepherd

Like the Anatolian Shepherd, the Caucasian Shepherd is a large livestock guardian dog. The breed is considered one of the largest and fluffiest in the dog world. The AKC warns that the Caucasian Shepherd never be taken lightly due to the breed's serious guarding instincts. The breed is described by the AKC as bold, fearless, and self-confident, but soft, devoted, kind, and endearing to their owners. These large, fluffy dogs are known for protecting properties from intruders, guarding livestock from predators such as coyotes and wolves, and for many other duties. In this day and age, Caucasian Shepherds, for the most part, are used as companions and watchdogs.

6. Dutch Shepherd

A Dutch Shepherd

A herding dog of Dutch origin, the Dutch Shepherd is known for its keen intelligence and versatility. Dutch Shepherds were used by farmers who needed a smart dog, with few demands, that could adapt to a harsh and meager existence. In terms of Temperament, the Dutch Shepherd is described as:
  • Reliable
  • Obedient
  • Alert
  • Affectionate
  • Loyal
  • Trainable
According to the AKC, Dutch Shepherds' original duties were to keep flocks of sheep in a particular location, which makes them herding dogs. Although the breed isn't widely known, they are used for various roles including herding, tracking, search and rescue, and police work.

7. English Shepherd

An English Shepherd in snow

Like the Australian Shepherd, the English Shepherd is a breed of herding dog that originated in the United States. The breed was so named because its ancestors were collies of various types brought to the U.S. by early settlers from Britain and Ireland. As such, the English Shepherd shares ancestry with the modern Australian Shepherd. Although the English Shepherd is not recognized by the AKC, the UKC has been registering the breed since 1927. The breed is described as smart, kind, energetic, independent, adaptable, and bossy, in terms of temperament.

8. Bohemian Shepherd

A leashed Bohemian Shepherd

Originating from the Czech Republic, the Bohemian Shepherd is a stable, smart, trainable, active, and courageous ancient sheep herding dog and watchdog. According to the AKC, the breed enthusiastically welcomes virtually any activity introduced, making it rather versatile. The Bohemian Shepherd is also known for its devotion to family members and adoration of children, making the breed very family-friendly.

9. White Swiss Shepherd

Two White Swiss Shepherd dogs

The White Swiss Shepherd is a Swiss shepherd dog breed that descends from North American White Shepherds imported to Switzerland. It is a medium-sized white dog whose herding abilities are similar to those of the German Shepherd. The White Swiss Shepherd was recognized as a breed in Switzerland in June 1991 and by the British Kennel Club in 2017. The American Kennel Club is yet to recognize the dog as a breed.

10. Central Asian Shepherd

A giant white Central Asian Shepherd

The Central Asian Shepherd is a livestock guardian dog breed used traditionally for guarding sheep and goat herds, as well as to protect and for guard duty. The American Kennel Club describes the breed as quiet, proud, self-assured, balanced, and independent. Central Asian Shepherd Dogs possess a natural territory instinct and are known for their fearlessness towards large predators. As such, they are not recommended for first-time or inexperienced dog owners.

11. Kangal Shepherd

Two Kangal Shepherds protecting sheep

The Kangal Shepherd is a large livestock guardian dog from Turkey. The breed is known for protecting flocks of sheep against wolves and other predators. Popular accounts say that a number of Kangal Shepherds have been exported to Namibia, Kenya, and Tanzania to protect local flocks from cheetahs.


The Australian Shepherd, Miniature American Shepherd, Dutch Shepherd, English Shepherd, Bohemian Shepherd, and White Swiss Shepherd are all livestock herding dogs. On the other hand, the Kangal Shepherd, Central Asian Shepherd, Caucasian Shepherd, German Shepherd, and Anatolian Shepherd are livestock guardian dogs. So it is up to you whether you want a livestock guardian dog or a livestock herding one.


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