17 Types of Shepherd Dogs – Breed Information & Profiles

shepherd dog breeds

Shepherd dogs, commonly referred to as sheepdogs, are a type of working dog traditionally used for herding and guarding sheep. These dogs have a natural instinct for controlling the movement of sheep, often using their gaze, body position, and sometimes barking to direct the flock.

While there are a number of dog breeds classified as shepherds, not all of them are actually herding dogs. Rather, they are guard dogs that tend to the animals rather than herd them. 

There are many different breeds that fall under the category of Shepherd, though they may not have the title in the name.

These dogs, however, are all of the working variety and need to stay stimulated, both physically and mentally. 

Shepherd Dog Breeds  

There are many different types of Shepherd dogs, each with its own unique characteristics, though their jobs tend to be similar. Let’s take a look at a few. 

1. German Shepherd Dog

shepherd dogs
GROUPHerding dogs
HEIGHT22″ to 26″ 
WEIGHT50 to 90 pounds
COAT AND COLORShort or long-haired double coat; Black and Tan, white, black
LIFE EXPECTANCY7 to 10 years

Believe it or not, the German Shepherd Dog was originally bred in Germany for breeding. However, as time went on, German Shepherds became more of a working dog regularly seen serving our military and police forces. 

German Shepherds are fiercely loyal animals that love their families and make great companions. The German Shepherd is incredibly intelligent and is one of the most popular dogs in the country.

German Shepherds can also be dopey and goofy, which is a sight to see. 

2. Australian Shepherd Dog

shepherd dog breeds
GROUPHerding dogs
HEIGHT18″ to 23″
WEIGHT40 to 65 pounds
COAT AND COLORMedium-length double coat; blue merle, red merle, red, black
LIFE EXPECTANCY12 to 15 years

The Australian Shepherd is a combination of herding and guard dogs. Despite its name, it’s not actually Australian at all; instead, it was developed in the United States in the 19th century.

It’s a very intelligent breed that’s easy to train, and if you live an active lifestyle, your Australian Shepherd will tag along. 

The Australian Shepherd dog is very high-energy and is not ideal for apartment life. You should make sure you have a backyard or large parcel of land for your Australian Shepherd to run.

Australian Shepherds do great at agility competitions. Australian Shepherds are also very loyal dogs who love their families and make wonderful companion dogs.

3. Australian Cattle Dog

shepherd breeds
GROUPHerding dogs
HEIGHT17″ to 20″ 
WEIGHT35 to 50 pounds
COAT AND COLORSmooth, short double coat; blue, blue speckled, blue bottled, red mottled, red speckled
LIFE EXPECTANCY12 to 16 years

Commonly referred to as the Blue or Red Heeler, the Australian Cattle Dog is a resilient breed that originally came to be in the early 1800s. Thomas Hall, a cattle farmer, crossbred two dogs — believed to be dingoes and smooth-coated Collies. 

An extremely intelligent dog, the Australian Cattle Dog is known for consistently outsmarting its owner. Cattle dogs are very muscular — it helps with their work — and excel in agility.

The Australian Cattle Dog seems to have boundless energy and can get into trouble if it’s not kept busy enough.

They are loyal dogs that are devoted to their families, but they can be very wary of strangers.

4. White Swiss Shepherd Dog

types of shepherd dogs
GROUPHerding dogs
HEIGHT21″ to 26″ 
WEIGHT55 to 88 pounds
COAT AND COLORFluffy white coat
LIFE EXPECTANCY10 to 12 years

The White Swiss Shepherd dog hails from — wait for it — Switzerland. It’s a very new breed, having been developed in 1966 when the white German Shepherd was imported into the country.

It is often mistaken for being albino, which it is not. White Swiss Shepherds are very active dogs and need to be kept busy, but they are, by nature, very friendly. 

This breed is also sensitive and, therefore, may suffer from separation anxiety if left alone. They are often confused for the white German Shepherd, which is a rare color, but it is its own breed. 

5. Bouvier des Flandres

shepherd breeds of dogs
GROUPHerding dog
HEIGHT23′ to 27″ 
WEIGHT60 to 88 pounds
COAT AND COLORBlack, brindle, fawn, black and brown, salt and pepper, grey, hypoallergenic coats
LIFE EXPECTANCY10 to 12 years

The Bouvier des Flandres is a giant floofball that is content to love its owner, but you need to keep it busy and entertained; otherwise, they can get into trouble.

The Bouvier des Flandres was developed in Belgium’s Flanders region and in Northern France and is believed to be a cross between the Beauceron and the Griffon. It’s a very good-natured dog that enjoys playing as much as it does working. 

Early socialization is key when introducing it to other dogs because they tend to have aggressive tendencies.

It’s an independent breed, so don’t be surprised if when you command this shepherd dog, it doesn’t react immediately. 

6. Collies

shepard dogs
GROUPHerding dog
HEIGHT22″ to 26″ 
WEIGHT50 to 75 pounds
COAT AND COLORSable and white, tricolor, blue merle, or white
LIFE EXPECTANCY12 to 14 years

There are a number of different Collies, though the Border Collie dog breed is undoubtedly the most well-known and popular. This fun-loving dog comes from England and Scotland and is believed to be named after the sheep they were bred to watch over. 

Like other herding breeds, Collies have endless energy and love to play and work, and you will need to keep them entertained and give them lots of exercise.

The Border Collie is more of a sheepdog in appearance and is commonly associated with the long-running show “Lassie.”

Border Collies are very sweet and friendly dogs, and they do great in families and make great family pets. Like the Rough Collie, the Border Collie is easy to train and eager to please. 

7. Icelandic Sheepdog

shepherd puppy
GROUPHerding dog
HEIGHT16.5″ to 18″
WEIGHT20 to 30 pounds
COAT AND COLORDouble coat, medium length, comes in a variety of colors, including red and white, black and white, cream and white, gold and white, and others.
LIFE EXPECTANCY12 to 14 years

The Icelandic Sheepdog is a true beauty and one that isn’t often heard of, having likely come from canines originating from Sweden and Denmark more than 1,000 years ago. It looks very much like a fox with unique markings that draw attention. 

The Icelandic Sheepdog is, like most of the other breeds on this list, a high-energy dog that needs regular exercise and would probably not fare well in an apartment.

It also has a high prey drive, which means other animals on the smaller side are a no-go.

The breed is extremely lively and playful, and they are exceptionally friendly dogs who require an active family life.

8. Miniature American Shepherd

different kinds of shepherds
GROUPHerding dog
HEIGHT13″ to 18″
WEIGHT20 to 40 pounds
COAT AND COLORMedium-length double coat; red, red merle, black, blue merle
LIFE EXPECTANCY12 to 13 years

The Miniature American Shepherd is proof that good things come in small packages. Miniature American Shepherds were bred down from the Australian Shepherd and resemble them. Breeders continued to pair them with smaller dogs to create the mini version.

They are both tough and energetic, and watching them with horses is a thing of beauty. The Miniature American Shepherd is very intelligent and loves to please its owners.

While it thrives in the country and rural areas, the Miniature American Shepherd also does very well living in the city, provided you take it out for enough exercise.

If you have children, you’ll be pleased with how the Miniature American Shepherd jives with them.

9. Briard

rare shepherd breeds
GROUPHerding dogs
HEIGHT22″ to 27″
WEIGHT55 to 100 pounds
COAT AND COLORDouble coat that is long and wavy; Black, tawny, gray, white, or a combination thereof

One look at the Briard, and it’s so hard not to say, “Aww!” This breed is more of an outdoor canine that is content to roam the yard and sleep outdoors.

Its origins date back to France, where it was rumored to have existed in the dates of Charlemagne and Napoleon. It debuted at the first dog show in Paris in 1865. 

Despite having wanderlust, the Briard can also be a very affectionate breed. It’s very high-energy, so don’t be surprised if it keeps up with you when you ride a bike or take a long jog.

They are a very smart dog breed and retain information extremely well. Proper socialization will ensure they don’t become aggressive toward strangers and other animals. 

10. Pembroke Welsh Corgi

cute shepherd breeds
GROUPHerding dogs
HEIGHT10″ to 13″
WEIGHTMax of 38 pounds
COAT AND COLORDouble coat, short; fawn, red, sable, black and tan
LIFE EXPECTANCY12 to 15 years

The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is a cute little pup that always looks smiling and happy. Some accounts say the breed ended up in Wales in the 10th century, where it was named after Pembrokeshire.

Don’t let its size fool you, though; this is a very tough herding dog built for working. 

The Pembroke Welsh Corgi and Cardigan Welsh Corgi are both low maintenance, and while they do require exercise, they prefer to work.

The Welsh Corgi is very energetic and friendly, and it absolutely adores children. Pembroke Welsh Corgis are also independent and sensitive, so don’t be surprised if they miss you while you’re gone. 

11. Bergamasco Sheepdog

long haired shepherd breeds
GROUPHerding dog
HEIGHT22″ to 23.5″
WEIGHT57 to 84 pounds
COAT AND COLORLong, corded coat; grey or black
LIFE EXPECTANCY13 to 15 years

The Bergamasco Sheepdog is one of the more calmer on this list. While its origin isn’t quite known — some believe its ancestors were Middle Eastern — the breed has been prominent in Bergamo, Italy, for centuries.

It’s a docile breed that’s known for being friendly and low-maintenance, which means it’s equally at home with children or seniors. 

They have a strong willingness to please their owners but are also independent, which can lead to stubbornness that is hard for first-time pet owners to handle.

The Bergamasco Sheepdog can do without tons of exercise and, as a social breed, prefers to be around its owner or other pets. Separation anxiety is not uncommon with the breed.

12. Anatolian Shepherd

all shepherd breeds
GROUPWorking dog
HEIGHT27″ to 29″
WEIGHT80 to 150 pounds
COAT AND COLORSmooth, short coat; brindle, fawn, liver, white, biscuit and white
LIFE EXPECTANCY11 to 13 years

The Anatolian Shepherd is an independent old dog breed that dates back more than 2,000 years. Some accounts say it derives from the Tibetan Mastiff.

It is a fierce guard dog that can be dominating and demanding, but it’s also a breed that is well known for its love and devotion to its family. 

The protection of an Anatolian Shepherd extends to children, family, and any flock it may guard. They’re very wary and strong-willed when it comes to strangers.

If you’re a first-time dog owner, an Anatolian Shepherd may not be the best one to start out with, as they need a lot of training and a dominant owner. 

13. Old English Sheepdog

short-haired shepherd breeds
GROUPHerding dogs
HEIGHT20″ to 24″ 
WEIGHT60 to 100 pounds
COAT AND COLORLong double shaggy coat; gray and white, merle, blue and white, grizzle and white
LIFE EXPECTANCY10 to 12 years

The original shaggy dog, the Old English Sheepdog, is a bundle of fun, though they can be big (up to 100 pounds!). Despite its size and penchant for lounging at times, the Old English Sheepdog is known for its agility.

Its history dates back to 1800s England, where it’s believed to have been derived from the Russian owtcharka or the Bearded Collie. 

This pup is fun-loving and good-natured, both qualities that make it a wonderful family pet. They do need exercise, but not as much as some of the other shepherd dog breeds on this list. The Old English Sheepdog is sweet and social and will require training.

14. Beauceron

shepherd dog breeds list
HEIGHT24″ to 27.5″
WEIGHT70 to 110 pounds
COAT AND COLORShort, smooth, double coat; black and tan, black and rust, gray black and tan, Harlequin
LIFE EXPECTANCY10 to 12 years

The Beauceron, at first glance, looks much like a rottweiler with a leaner stance. It is a pup that was originally bred in the 1500s to hunt wild boar but adapted quickly to herding and guarding. It’s believed to be related to the Doberman Pinscher, as well as the Briard.

The Beauceron is a great watchdog and loves to protect its family, though it needs experienced dog owners who know how to assert dominance.

Mental stimulation and exercise are a must for a Beauceron pup; otherwise, you can expect some destructive behaviors.

This is one herding dog that prefers to live outside, though it can do well inside with proper training. The Beauceron is a faithful and loving pup. 

15. Caucasian Shepherd Dog

large sheep dogs
GROUPFoundation Stock Service
HEIGHT23″ to 30″
WEIGHT99 to 170 pounds
COAT AND COLORMedium-length double coat; cream, fawn, gray, white, red, rust, grizzle, sable, agouti and white, black and gray
LIFE EXPECTANCY10 to 12 years

The Caucasian Shepherd Dog is one of the more serious breeds on our list. They are massive, hailing from the Caucasus Mountains in Georgia, where they were guard dogs bred to defend territory. 

This breed is very bold and fierce, particularly when it has something to protect. However, when it comes to spending time with the family, this devoted pup loves to cuddle — despite its size! — and will be extremely gentle and affectionate, especially with children.

Training is essential.

16. Belgian Malinois

best shepherd dog
HEIGHT22″ to 26″
WEIGHT40 to 80 pounds
COAT AND COLORSmooth short coat in many colors, including fawn, mahogany, fawn sable, red, red sable, and others
LIFE EXPECTANCY14 to 16 years

The Belgian Malinois dog is one of four varieties of the Belgian Shepherd dogs. They originated in Belgium and were later brought to the United States in the early 1900s. They even have a history of serving as military dogs during WWI. 

The Belgian Shepherd dogs are agile, athletic, and extremely intelligent, which can make them difficult to live with. Obsessive and destructive behaviors will ensue if your Belgian Malinois isn’t properly exercised or stimulated.

Belgian Shepherd dog loves to compete in dog sports, and the Belgian Malinois is the cream of the crop in the category. Like the Belgian Shepherds, the Belgian Malinois can be protective and territorial, but it loves its family.

The Belgian Sheepdog is also related to the Belgian Malinois, yet is often less assertive and more mellow in temperament.

17. Shetland Sheepdog

large shepherd breeds
HEIGHT13″ to 16″
WEIGHT15 to 25 pounds
COAT AND COLORLong double coat in many colors, including sable and white, black, white and tan, blue merle and white, black and white, among others
LIFE EXPECTANCY12 to 14 years

The Shetland Sheepdog looks much like a Collie and is well known for herding sheep. It hails from Scotland, the Shetland Islands, specifically. The first one was registered in 1908. 

Agility is one of its top qualities, and it has a habit of nipping in order to get herds (and sometimes, small children) to do its bidding.

The Shetland Sheepdog is independent and does well left to its own devices but thrives on attention when you’re home.

They do shed a lot and need some regular grooming. One thing you’ll notice about Shetland Sheepdogs is that they are vocal and often reserved rather than lively.


Which Shepherd Breed Is the Best?

This is a very subjective question, and it’s not uncommon for people to have their own favorite breeds.

On this list, the German Shepherd, Old English Sheepdog, and Collies tend to hit most people’s preferences and are one of the most popular dog breeds.

Which Shepherd Dog Breed Is the Biggest?

The Caucasian Shepherd dog is the largest shepherd dog breed.

Which Shepherd Breed Is the Tiniest?

The Miniature American Shepherd is the smallest in the herding group category. 

Final Thoughts 

According to the American Kennel Club, shepherd dogs are highly intelligent breeds that often come with a built-in herding instinct. These breeds gather, herd and protect livestock. All of the energetic dogs on this list are very hard-working and will need proper socialization and training in order to be great family dogs.

However, these herding breeds also all have similar traits in that most of them tend to be high-energy and have at least moderate exercise needs. 

When considering adopting one of these breeds, it’s very important to do your homework and make sure they will not only fit in with your lifestyle but also that the pups you adopt come from a reputable breeder.

Christina Drury
Meet Christina Drury, a dedicated animal enthusiast, and proud pet parent. She has a deep-rooted affection for all creatures, and Christina has called the Buckeye State home for the past four years. As a seasoned writer, she possesses a versatile writing style that spans various niches, yet her heart truly belongs to animals. With her innate connection and expertise, Christina is committed to crafting engaging and insightful content for animal-related issues.

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