No horse farm is complete without a loyal canine friend!

Over the years, dogs have played the role of companion, guardian, herder, and much more! It’s rare to find a farm without a dog. In modern days, most people see them as companions, but they can also have important roles. Many keep predators away, handle pest control, herd cattle and sheep, and even go on leisurely trail rides with us.

It would appear that certain breeds and temperaments do better with farm life than others though. If you’re ready to add a canine friend to your horse property, then check out these dogs!

Livestock Guardian Dogs

These dogs stand guard day and night- protecting the flock and entire farm from predators. Most of them are large and hardy! Guardian dogs are gentle with delicate newborn animals, but fierce and aggressive with coyotes or unwelcomed strangers. They possess a rumbling growl and bark that easily intimidates.

Your farm may find one of these dogs particularly helpful if you have smaller animals like goats and sheep. Some horse owners may get one if they’re concerned about predators attacking their herd. They also keep unwelcomed people away from the farm.

These breeds have earned the title as exceptional guardians: Great Pyrenees, Maremma Sheepdog, Anatolian Shepherd, Komondor, and Mastiff.

Pest Control Dogs

Also known as ratters, these smaller dogs will keep the rodents away. Almost all farms can benefit from a controlled pest population. Those that manage produce like fruits and vegetables will find these dogs particularly helpful. However, horse farms also need their assistance around and in the barn. Grain can drive mice and rats to your door! 

These dog breeds tend to be small and energetic. They’re amazingly good at tracking scents, as well. Not only do they keep small pests away, but possums, raccoons, and badgers are also hunted. These breeds have a job and they do it expertly! 

You’ve probably seen a farm or two with some of these ratters: Jack Russel Terrier, Dachshund, Rat Terrier, Brussels Griffon, Miniature Pinscher, and Yorkshire Terrier. 

Herding Dogs

Herding breeds are frequently associated with cattle and sheep, but these dogs also round up ducks, goats, pigs, and chickens. Their job usually consists of leading the livestock out to their pasture during the day and bringing them back to their pens in the evening. This can save the farmer time and make their job a little easier. These breeds are gold on working farms!

A herding dog can also find their place on a horse property. Because of their breeding, they’re very agile and alert. They seem to know their way around large animals and can avoid getting kicked or trampled. These dogs are also highly trainable. You can teach them commands and gestures with ease.

A few of the more common ones include: Australian Shepard, Blue Heeler, Border Collie, Welsh Corgi, and Old English Sheepdog.

All-Round Farm Dogs

Some breeds have earned that coveted role as an all-around farm dog. They aren’t just good at one task, rather they check off a whole lot of boxes. These dogs tend to be even-tempered, confident, athletic, and obedient. They can guard the farm, but won’t chase livestock, keep the barn vermin free, run along you as you trail ride, and spend quality time with the family. When you find one of these dogs, hold onto them like treasure!

Among the best farm dogs, you’ll find: German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Rottweiler, Bernese Mountain Dog, and many of the previous breeds already mentioned.

It’s a fact of life that not all dogs can make the cut of farm life. It’s tough! When you find a pup who has mastered it, you’ll have an amazing partner. Also keep in mind, there are many mixed breeds and rescues that find their home on a farm. Keep your eyes open for your next best friend!


Emily Fought discovered her passion for horses early on in life. When she isn’t writing about them, you can find her in the barn riding. Although Emily’s background is in dressage, she enjoys cross-training and is an avid trail rider. She resides in Northwestern Pennsylvania with her husband and small dog. Together, they own and operate Humblewood Farm.

April 8, 2020
April 14, 2020