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5 Small Herding Dog Breeds (With Pictures)

Written by: Patricia Dickson

Last Updated on April 8, 2024 by Dogster Team

two happy welsh corgi pembroke dogs at a beach

5 Small Herding Dog Breeds (With Pictures)

Although you may need a herding dog to help around the farm, you’re not limited to medium or large dogs. Small herding dogs are excellent workers that do not require as much food to stay healthy.

Breeds in the herding category are known for their excessive barking, making eye contact, and speed, which they need to herd animals effectively. While these dogs are often used more as companions than herding dogs, they still have a strong, instinctual prey drive. Below, we’ll discuss five of the best small herding breeds.


The 5 Small Herding Dog Breeds

1. Cardigan Welsh Corgi

Cardigan Welsh Corgi in Road
Image Credit: Serova_Ekaterina, Shutterstock
Weight: 25 to 38 pounds
Lifespan: 12 to 15 years

The Cardigan Welsh Corgi is a lovable companion and skilled herding dog. They’re available in several colors, such as merle, red, and brown. You need to be careful with the Cardigan Welsh Corgi around other dogs since they have a strong prey drive and may chase smaller animals. However, you can train and socialize the Corgi to get along with other dogs if you start when the dog is a puppy.

You’ll want to ensure your Corgi has something to do to prevent boredom; they have a high drive and plenty of energy. They need at least an hour or more of exercise and require a large yard to run around in and explore if they don’t live on a farm.

The Corgi is an extremely vocal dog, and unless you train them to reduce their barking, they’ll bark at practically anything. They are great with children and love to play, so if you’re looking for a pet that will entertain the kids, the Corgi is an ideal choice.

2. Shetland Sheepdog

tricolor shetland sheepdog
Image Credit: Lisjatina, Shutterstock
Weight: 14 to 27 pounds
Lifespan: 12 to 13 years

The Shetland Sheepdog makes an amazing herding dog and is gentle and loving. They have a strong herding instinct and will try to herd anything on your property, including the children. Not only has the breed been used for herding, but they’ve also been used as therapy dogs and service dogs. If you’re looking for a herding dog that you can put into sporting shows that feature agility and obedience, the Shetland Sheepdog is an excellent choice.

One important thing to consider if you’re going to give this breed a forever home is that they are extremely energetic. You’ll need to keep the dog occupied if you don’t want them to become bored and anxious. You don’t have to worry about the Shetland Sheepdog being aggressive to people coming onto your property, but they’re loyal and protective and will bark when unfamiliar people approach.

The Shetland Sheepdog needs a lot of grooming due to their double coat. They shed the most in the spring but could do with a trip to the groomer once a month to be brushed and pampered. You can also try to handle the grooming at home if you have the time.

3. Pumi

Pumi Dog Breed
Image Credit: Enna8982, Shutterstock
Weight: 22 to 29 pounds
Lifespan: 12 to 13 years

Pumi dogs are known for their herding abilities but make excellent pets since they are affectionate and loving. If you adopt one as only a companion, know that they have high energy levels, and you’ll need to keep them occupied constantly for them to avoid becoming bored.

Unlike Corgis, Pumis don’t shed much and only need to be brushed about once a week.

Their intelligence and quick-to-learn nature make them excellent herding dogs that will herd any animal, even down extremely narrow paths. Even though they prefer to be working, they love to cuddle on the couch at the end of a long day with their pet parent. They also need to be mentally stimulated, and you can enter your dog in agility or herding competitions to keep them happy.

4. Pembroke Welsh Corgi

pembroke welsh corgi with fawn fur coat
Image Credit: Nataliya Vaitkevich, Pexels
Weight: 25 to 30 pounds
Lifespan: 12 to 14 years

The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is one of the larger herding dogs on our list but only weighs 25 to 30 pounds as an adult. They have quite a few similarities to the Cardigan Welsh Corgi but also a few differences. For example, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi does well around other dogs but may not do well around children, even though they are loving and affectionate pets.

They shed a lot, and if you have allergies, you might want to reconsider the Pembroke Welsh Corgi as a pet. You’ll need to be prepared to clean and vacuum often to keep the fur at bay. Their coats need to be brushed daily and trimmed monthly by a professional groomer unless you have grooming experience. They are full of energy, and besides herding, they enjoy playing frisbee, going on hikes, and running around in the yard.

Pembroke Welsh Corgis are very protective and will warn you if anyone is coming up to your house that they don’t recognize. While that is a good quality, you need to socialize and train your furry friend early on so that they know how to behave. They will even let you know when there is a squirrel in the yard, so if you don’t like a ton of barking, you might want to consider another breed as a pet instead.

5. Swedish Vallhund

Swedish Vallhund
Image Credit: Olga Aniven, Shutterstock
Weight: 20 to 35 pounds
Lifespan:  12 to 15 years

The Swedish Vallhund is affectionate, loving, and like nothing more than to be out herding cattle and nipping at their heels to head them in the direction they should go. However, they have a unique history and once assisted Vikings on longships over 1,200 years ago. If you’re looking for a working dog that is still great with children, the Swedish Vallhund could be the perfect pet for your family. They are intelligent, enjoy participating in family activities, and are friendly to strangers within reason.

They don’t always get along with other dogs, so you’ll need to train your canine pal as a puppy if you have other pets. They have thick coats that keep them warm in colder climates. Although they shed, their fur only has to be brushed a few times a week, and it’s easier to maintain their coats compared to Corgis.

divider-dog paw

How to Select a Herding Dog

When choosing a small herding dog to give a forever home, you can’t go wrong with one of the remarkable breeds on our list. However, you need to take a few things into consideration, such as whether you have other dogs and how well the dog you choose will get along with the children. For example, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi gets along with other dogs but is not patient around small children. In contrast, the Cardigan Welsh Corgi gets along with kids but not other dogs.

You should also consider how much time you have to groom your dog. The Swedish Vallund’s coat is much easier to maintain than the Cardigan Welsh Corgi’s. Lastly, you’ll also need to ensure you have plenty of room for your dog to exercise. Herding breeds, even small ones, need a large fenced-in yard or farm to explore and run around in.



There are several herding dogs you can adopt, from small to large. However, the smaller dogs are better at nipping at the heels of livestock to keep them on the move, and they work better in smaller environments.

All of the dogs on our list make great companions, but some do better with kids than others do. If you’re looking to adopt a small herding dog from our list, consider your options carefully before visiting a breeder or shelter. Remember, owning a herding dog is a huge responsibility, so make sure you’re ready for the job before you decide to take it on. In return, you’ll get a loyal, loving, hard-working companion that will love you and your family for many years.

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Featured Image Credit: Jus_Ol, Shutterstock

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